9 votes, average: 4.00 out of 59 votes, average: 4.00 out of 59 votes, average: 4.00 out of 59 votes, average: 4.00 out of 59 votes, average: 4.00 out of 5 (9 votes, average: 4.00 out of 5)
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Published by wingerwingbones on 28 Aug 2008

Wingbones Made Easy….

For most people placing the tail and beard of there wild turkey on a plaque is enough of a remembrance for there trophy. For me and many other people thats not enough, one of the best parts of the wild turkey is in there wings which is often overlooked but can be just as beautiful, if not more beautiful then the tail itself. I am not talking about just the wings of course but the bones that lie inside. These bones are very unique and have been used to make turkey calls for hundreds of years, in fact these bones where used by Native Americans to produce the first tool ever to imitate a wild turkey. I am going to show you a step by step guide on how to turn your birds wings into beautiful turkey calling machines.

Step 1: Wingbone Removal

There are three separate bones that are used in a wingbone call. The largest bone of the call is the Humerus it is the bone that connects the wing to the bird so be careful removing the wings as this bone cannot be cut so you need to cut the wings out around this bone. The next bone needed is the Ulna it is the second largest bone and the center of the wingbone call, this bone and the Radius bone are connected at the ends. The Radius is the smallest bone of the call but its length is important in making proper pitch of wild turkeys.

Step 2: Wingbone Prep.

Once you have all three bones needed for your call you can start cleaning them up. After you have the bones out of the wing and uncut, boil them in a pan for 10-15mins. Once the bones are boiled cut any excess meat off the bones using a knife, the meat should pull right off since the bones have been boiled. Now that all meat is off the bones cut each joint end off the bones using a hand saw or cut off wheel, cut about one inch off both ends on the Humerus and Ulna, cut only the joint ends off on the Radius, this will leave your mouth piece small enough to fit comfortably on your lips. Once the bones have been cut you will notice right away that each bone does of course have bone marrow. The Humerus bone is the only that the marrow is webbed into the bone and will need a little elbow grease, I use a knife to break the majority of it out and then a rat tail to file the inside walls smooth. The other two bones have mostly liquid and the majority will come out with a pipe cleaner. Now that you have the bones clean, soak the bones in 50/50 water/bleach (to much concentrate of bleach will eat bones away) for about three-five hours. Once the bones have dried from the bleach use fine sandpaper and file the outside of the bones smooth, the ends of the Ulna may need some excessive sanding to fit properly into the Radius and Humerus.

Step 3: Bonding Bones Together

Now that you have your three bones clean, sanitized, and smooth you can get them ready for the epoxy. Each joint will need to be stuffed with cotton for support and strength, make sure the cotton does not go to deep into the joint, blocking the inside of the bone. When the bones have been supported with cotton you can turn the bones so they are lined up how you want them. To bond the joints together you will need 2 ton epoxy, mix the epoxy with a Popsicle stick and apply the epoxy so it lays smooth around the joint. You can stick the bone on an arrow or a pencil so the epoxy can set with the bone propped upward. After the epoxy has set about 10-12 hours you can now sand any excess epoxy off so the joint transition is smooth, this will make it easier to wrap any kind of thread over the bone.

Step 4: Decorate Your New Call!

Well your wingbone is assembled, now you can make it yours by decorating and perfecting it. I like to use Gudebrod rod wrapping thread to wrap the joints, this will really “make” the call since the transition will be smooth it makes the three bones look like they are one. The options are endless for your call, you can get very creative, I like to use a fine point sharpie and draw art on the bones, sign and date them, you could also write the specs of the bird. Many people add a camo lanyard for easier field use.To give the call a finishing look, add several coats of clear coat enamel, be careful on the first few coats, the ink you wrote on it will “run” if the enamel gets to thick to quickly. The best way to coat your call is just lite coats to thick coats as the call gets covered with the enamel.

Talking Turkey

Your call is complete and your probably wondering “how the heck does this thing talk turkey?” Well your wingbone will talk turkey very well with a little practice. First you need to grip the biggest bone of the call between your index and base of your thumb, leave the rest of your hand open and let the call just sit in the base of your thumb and index. Pucker your lips together firmly and make small sucks, bring the tip of the Radius bone to your lips so the tip just presses against your puckered lips. Make small sucks with the call pressed on your lips, these sucks should sound somewhat like a yelp, perfect that yelp until it sounds exactly like a yelp. From there you can make yelps, clucks, putts, purrs, and even gobbles (so I am told).

HOW TO USE YOUR WINGBONE-VIDEO

 

 

8 votes, average: 3.13 out of 58 votes, average: 3.13 out of 58 votes, average: 3.13 out of 58 votes, average: 3.13 out of 58 votes, average: 3.13 out of 5 (8 votes, average: 3.13 out of 5)
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Published by mark kennedy on 27 Aug 2008

GREAT CANADIAN BEAR HUNT

Just this year I found the biggest hunt of my life being dropped into my lap like a ball of string to a cat. On my way to a local 3D shoot a long time friend and fellow archer decided to relive one of his canadian bear hunting tales to myself and another gentleman nearby. As he revealed his hunting story I tuned my bow a little more and tried to concentrate on winning the shoot. Noticing my blatant disregard for what had become group story time, my friend looks to me and says “you know mark i have to tell ya, I could talk on and on about that bear hunt but it would be a little better if you tagged along this year and seen it for yourself.” he continued on to tell how another archer in his party had dropped out last minute and if I gave him half the original cost of the trip, he’d give me the last seat on the trip.

At first i was skeptical but by the time the last arrow was shot that day I was heading to the bank to get the trip money and before i knew it I was headlong into the biggest hunting trip of my life. Now being from Michigan some might say that I should be used to the weather, being so close after all. First off, I’m not all that close it was a 20 hour drive straight through to the guides cabin. Secondly I was definitely not well acclimated to the rough weather. The first morning of our excursion it was a scorching negative12 degrees, and as we slipped into our hunting gear i wondered if a bear was really worth the long cold hours that awaited me. Unfortunatley it was already too late as our guide shuffled our small hunting party to the first zone on our bear hunt.

As we entered the first zone the sun was just peaking the tree tops and the departing night sky was a crisp red against the oncoming pale blue morning sky as the start of our hunt began. Our guide was a little old fashioned, said he didn’t believe in the use of calls. So we stuck to t

he tried and sometimes true method of “spot and stalk”. After 3 and a half hours rumbling amongst the bushes hour guide motioned us into a clearing it was hear about one hour later we saw our first bear. in the clearing stood a large male bear n

ot more that 350 yards out and heading towards us. The wind was in our favor as jason the group photographer decided to snap a few shots.

first kill by kirk 30 yardsAs the bear moved in I was personally in shock as to how quickly our first kill was going to come to us.

Never count your trophies before they are tagged right? Well in this case it is true for at thirty-five yards the bear looked directly at us and took off in the nearby thicket. the group decided right then that it was the camera and no more pictures were allowed. the next two hours were pointless as we tried to find our runaway bear, eventually we decided to head back and put an end to our first day on our great Canadian bear hunt.

On our second day we decided to move into the second zone our guide had provided for us, and as a surprise to all involved our runaway bear showed up early off, and he had brought some friends, two more males had pulled into the clearing one larger than our runaway one roughly the same size. All three males were focused on a female padding through the thicket putting us at 40 yards out and closing we all had good shots and being as how this was our second of a small 3 day trip we were ready to take a shot. I drew my bow first followed by the old veteran kirk. both of us let loose one after another mine striking in the shoulder while kirk shooting the larger bear dropped his 15 yards from impact. The third bear never took a hit because our photographer decided shooting pictures was more important than getting his bear, his loss. It took us the next 45 minutes too find my bear dead beneath a large pine tree, the arrow barely piercing his heart.

All in all we had a successful trip and with both our tags filled kirk and I called in our kills to be mounted, and started packing for the return trip as soon as we reached the cabin. Jason too was satisfied with his abundance of bear pictures, he stated he probably would have missed anyways. What I look forward to the most is next years 3d season because this time I am telling the hunting story.

7 votes, average: 3.00 out of 57 votes, average: 3.00 out of 57 votes, average: 3.00 out of 57 votes, average: 3.00 out of 57 votes, average: 3.00 out of 5 (7 votes, average: 3.00 out of 5)
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Published by mark kennedy on 27 Aug 2008

The Mud Upon My Boots

I was a fox, gliding swiftly through the underbrush, my footsteps falling upon deaf ears as I searched for my prey. The wind whistled through the branches of the trees I clung to, chilling the already crisp air. Nature seemed to fight against the wind as if it were trying to steal the very life of the trees around which it whirled.tree in the rocks

I had seen nothing in the last hour and a half; the sun was now clearly visible through the widening holes in the murky fog. The crisp early air had begun to warm, and the winds had stilled. All was quiet in the forest near my home, as I shuffled across a fallen tree I give the view a once over.

I am at the highest point of the grounds now and can see most of the layout. In the distance I see what i think is a field of brush, excellent hunting territory. I slowly descend towards the supposed field, careful not to scare any wandering game. As I near my destination i realize it is not a field of brush as i had supposed but a stream of rocks and brush.

As I make a steadfast climb to a rocky outcrop in far corner of the grounds, as I near the top I spy the thing I have been searching for. Unfortunately my game has spied me as well. As I clamber down the opposite side of the rocky slab, the beast is making a dash for the underbrush. Chance must favor me today; the rocks are solid and extend for a good mile, this whole area is a silhouette against the rest of the hunting arena, a rocky scar upon the beauty of the forest. Rocky Outcrop Beneath Brush Pile

There is a kind of silent triumph as I weave my way down towards the brush; at ten yards I stop to load my bow. Slowly I jounce the limbs of the brushpile under which my prey now waits, My hands are slick with sweat and mud from the morning’s travels. Patience is unneeded; this is the most exciting, exhilarating and distressing part of the hunt. The snap of a twig brings me back to the situation a hand, just in time to see a patch of fur. The string creaks as I break back my meager 55 LB bow, and settle in. Then it happens, in a split second of action that lasted a lifetime, action you only expect from the movies, my game takes his first steps from his hiding place, the first step is cautious but crucial, and as I take aim he steps out. In 2 seconds he is running from the brush.

The climax of my day’s adventures has arrived, this is the breaking point, and as I release the bow the beast looks at me. Looking at me as a man condemned would look upon himself. Then the lights leave his eyes, and my catch is still. Not a bad day all in all, the beast is the largest rabbit I have seen all week and well worth the wait.

The sun is now high in the sky as I sling my catch over one shoulder and lean my bow over the other. As I start home I can’t help but think about how I am going to explain to the misses, all the mud upon my boots.

5 votes, average: 4.20 out of 55 votes, average: 4.20 out of 55 votes, average: 4.20 out of 55 votes, average: 4.20 out of 55 votes, average: 4.20 out of 5 (5 votes, average: 4.20 out of 5)
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Published by kbrando on 27 Aug 2008

BLOG CONTEST

Still lots of time to get your Blog submissions in! Archery Talk is giving away awsome prizes for the winners!

So get blogging people! all the rules and regs are posted. I look forward to reading all of your blogs!

Kbrando

13 votes, average: 3.38 out of 513 votes, average: 3.38 out of 513 votes, average: 3.38 out of 513 votes, average: 3.38 out of 513 votes, average: 3.38 out of 5 (13 votes, average: 3.38 out of 5)
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Published by tim9910 on 21 Aug 2008

Preparations for Fall

By

Tim Hicks

It’s almost upon us, the time of year that brings little tingling feelings on the back of our necks. The excitement of finding a heavily used trail and seeing the beginnings of a great mast in the canopy above your favorite stands can be almost overwhelming.

That is of course, if you go out and do some scouting and put your efforts into being prepared for opening day. For many, they poke around a week before season, half-heartily throw up a stand, blow the dust off their bows and hope for the best. But for successful hunters, it began right about the end of last season. Unfortunately for us in northeastern Oklahoma, a blizzard hit the last weekend of archery season. And now, heavy downpours and heavier clouds of mosquitoes are keeping us out of the field. But it’s always a good time to stay on top of your game, shooting the many 3D tournaments of the summer, and just practicing out in the back yard help keep your abilities tuned. Passing the time by thumbing through the catalogs and magazines to see the newest gear and read about the great far off hunts of the past season can also thwart the onset of preseason blues. It’s a great time to drag out your hunting garb and make sure the off season didn’t make your clothes “shrink”. You should also check your hunting arrows and broadheads, refletching and replacing blades as needed. I usually start shooting broadheads a month before season so there are no surprises when that opportune moment presents itself come October. I like to scout and hang a trail camera to get an idea of the deer using the area I plan to hunt. Plus this gives you something to get excited about, even though the patterns will change before opening day. Talking with locals in the area you hunt is also a great benefit, they can tell you about the “big one” that comes to pasture each evening right before dark. Anything you can do to get the mindset and the blood pumping for the days ahead.

A great thing about September is the fact that here in Oklahoma, dove season opens. That gives us a chance to rekindle our hunting spirit, and form friendships with other hunters. It’s also a good time to meet new land owners, most are not objected to dove hunting on their property, provided you remember to pick up your spent shells and take care of their land. This can lead to a possible archery hunt in the future as some will see you are a good steward, and grant permission on their land. This is also a great time to scout, usually the action of dove hunting dies off, and you can walk the crop edges looking for good trails. Following these trails back and finding staging areas and hopefully some good stand locations along the route. Then you can hang a trail camera or two, and check out the quality of the local population. Walking in the fields also helps to condition you for the hunts ahead, but jogging or a regular exercise program is recommended. I don’t know how many times I have had everything ready, take a deer in the first couple days, and then nearly have a heart attack dragging him out. I always seem to find reasons not to prepare myself, and usually regret it soon enough.

The great thing about early scouting, as opposed to right before season, is the fact that you can march right in and turn over every blade of grass. I even check bedding areas that I would normally avoid like the plague closer to season. This gives the chance to find any new trails or feeding areas you may have overlooked last season. You can hang stands early and get shooting lanes cut, and maybe block a trail or two and hopefully funnel the movement in your direction. One of my favorite things is walking the fence lines on our property, noting the heaviest crossing route. I also tighten up the fence and then tie down the top strand to the next lower near that area of travel. This insures deer will continue crossing here, as using the easiest route is in their nature. Then I will place a stand 20 to 30 yards back in the woods from this site to avoid detection before they cross the fence. Once they have crossed a fence, it has been my experience that if they feel something awkward they typically won’t go back over the fence but run towards me. That is if they haven’t seen me or caught wind of a two-legged predator. I also like planting a fall clover or the like, giving the deer and turkey a different menu than the normal summer browse. Hanging a feeder or two in the area also works great, I don’t hunt within sight of them but it keeps the deer moving on a predictable route prior to the pre-rut. I have seen more bucks this way early on in the season than I ever have during the rut. I always want to be in the field as much as possible during the rut, but the buck sightings seem more like a chance encounter if they are truly chasing does. It’s just the excitement of knowing that huge deer can walk out at any given moment that gives me the drive to stay on stand as long as possible. But the early days are a great time to stock the freezer and get a good idea on the herd you are hunting. I had so many pictures and regular sightings last season, I named most of the deer in the area. Passing up several different four and six pointers, and a couple of does that still had twins with them. There are enough deer in the area I hunt that I try not to orphan little ones prematurely, and let the young bucks grow a couple more years.

As I sit here right now, I am ready to go stomping about in search of that perfect spot not remembering the chiggers and seed ticks until I am already covered with them. My pulse is quickening just thinking about that first morning on stand, watching the world wake up beneath my feet. It’s one of the best feelings in the world, a time when one can relax and be at peace, if only for awhile. But then I awake from the daydream, and realize there is three months left before season, and about a million things left on the “honey-do” list. But at least I have run through a beginning stage of mental preparation for the season ahead.

11 votes, average: 3.36 out of 511 votes, average: 3.36 out of 511 votes, average: 3.36 out of 511 votes, average: 3.36 out of 511 votes, average: 3.36 out of 5 (11 votes, average: 3.36 out of 5)
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Published by tim9910 on 21 Aug 2008

A god friend of mine Dean Cote with a nice mulie taken with a bow.

A good friend of mine Dean Cote with a nice mulie taken with a bow.

Christmas in November

By

Tim Hicks

“The bucks are chasing!”. This statement brings excitement to the hearts of hunters. Towards the last week of October, the doe’s begin showing signs of the forthcoming mating season, more commonly known as the rut. The bucks have rubbing, and sparsely scraping for awhile now, but more territorially and “practicing up” if you will. But now you start finding the sign post rubs, highly visible rub lines, and what may have been a twelve by six inch scrape a week ago is now the size of a four wheel drive tire, sometimes with several under the same tree.

This time, for me, is my favorite time to be in the woods. The chances of trophy buck encounters are better, albeit early or late in the day typically, and they can be coaxed in since the doe’s aren’t completely receptive to the bucks displays of “alpha male syndrome”. Setups are simpler, because the deer are still predictable and the odds are still in your favor. When it gets into this stage, I usually target food sources just as earlier on in the season, making a point to locate heavy mast white oaks if possible. This will congregate doe’s, and therefore also lure in bucks. The difference as compared to early October, is try and find out of the way food sources, because even though the bucks are starting to chase they still have their wits about them. They are just a little more curious and likely to investigate potential mates or threats to their territory. I use a different approach for stand placement also, by finding likely routes for deer to move from bedding areas to food sources. But now I look for cross routes running perpendicular to these main routes. I have found that more mature whitetails in search of receptive doe’s cross main trails in this way to pick up on the pheromones left behind and are able to cover several travel routes quicker with less risk of exposing themselves to danger. To find a likely candidate, I look for things like a ridge with either a bluff or extremely thick cover on one end. If one side of the ridge is extremely steep, and their backs are protected by the bluff or cover, the bucks can bed with their backs to the cover and can see or smell any danger approaching from the front or the other, less cumbersome side of the ridge. When you can find a sanctuary like this, you will also find an escape route. Somewhere along this route is the place to ambush them. The trick is getting in and setting up undetected, and not having your scent carried by the thermals all over the ridge. You can almost bet there is another escape route you missed. Scent control is paramount, and staying on stand for the long haul is the best way to succeed.

There are many other ways to attack “grand daddy tall tines” at this time also though. A lot of hunters have good success lightly rattling and using grunt calls. Decoying with a smaller buck decoy also proves highly productive. Just don’t go setup a decoy that looks like Michael Waddell just arrowed it in Pike county, and go banging horns together like there’s an all out war.

You will scare the acorns out of every buck in the region around the places I hunt. Don’t laugh, I have seen it done before. Be reasonable with your approach, even subtle, and use scents sparingly. I have no doubts that quality pheromone scents produce good results, but at the same time I don’t want to be targeted as a doe-in-heat while I am walking the woods. I have also attracted other things besides deer, I once had a bobcat trying to climb my tree near Copan, OK. That will wake you up real quick!

As this session passes by, then the real thing begins. For about ten days, it’s full on rut time. Bigger deer are breeding as many doe’s as possible, and chasing away younger bucks from potential mates. Getting their attention now can be tough, once they catch scent of a ready doe, it seems like it takes a Mack truck to pull them off the trail. If you hunt in an area with an abnormally high buck to doe ratio, they may be more willing to respond to scents or more aggressive calling, if they are having a hard time finding a mate. Bucks are known to move very long distances at this time, so you may encounter deer that have never been seen earlier in the year. One of the biggest deer I have seen in my life came through right before dark on the last couple days of black powder season. I had never seen him before, or any sign that he had been around. Later that year I heard a farmer talking about a huge buck that lived on his property, about five miles away. His description of the buck he saw in velvet sounded exactly like the one I saw chasing does. I did get a shot off at that deer, but missed clean. After he heard the shot he turned his head towards me raised it high, he was about eighty yards out and the size of his rack got me so rattled that I opened the wrong end of my speed loader and all the powder fell from my treestand. Luckily I always carry two, and the second made it all the way out of my pocket before it bounced of the stand and landed some twenty feet below me. By now he was onto me, and I had my worst case of buck fever ever. Anyway, back to the point, big buck sightings are a lot more common during this heavy rut period. This is why in my opinion, everyone gets so excited about it. I like the opportunity to chance a sighting at trophy deer as much as the next guy, but have found that harvesting one can be pretty much summed up by being extremely lucky. They are cruising around, their caution is pretty much thrown to the wind, and if you happen to have a stand by a place a doe leads him, then you just won the lottery. I typically find myself driving by check stations grumbling at all the nice deer hanging on the scales, while I drive to the house empty handed and still shivering from hours on stand.

Then, as this period grinds to a halt, it’s like someone hit a light switch. The bucks are exhausted from chasing and fighting, and not getting proper nutrition, that they lay up and can be hard to come by. There is always a few immature bucks still looking for action, but the ones we dream about are usually bedded down and staying close to their lair. Going back to the locations like you hunted in the first phases of the pre-rut, near his home on an escape route, is a profitable option at this time. If you hunt public lands, gun season has usually passed, and the deer are much more alert and harder to hunt. Throw in all the quail hunters, and you have a real mess on your hands. But that shouldn’t slow you down, late season bow hunting can be a very good time to be in the woods. There are less deer hunters in the woods, and if it is a hard winter, food sources are in high demand. There is also the so-called second rut, where some of the does that were not bred before come in heat late. It’s usually not very eventful, but has been proven to occur by wildlife biologists. I try not to hyped up about that, and just get back to basics. Find bedding areas, water sources and feeding grounds, then find the yellow brick road in between. This is a great time to stock up on venison and manage the herd a little. Unseasonably warm temperatures which we seem to experience a lot in recent years, followed by a strong oncoming cold front, can really amp up the action. As soon as the barometer starts falling, it seems like the deer are running around like people preparing for a hurricane. Then after it moves through and you get those “blue bird” clear sky days, with a high and steady barometer, someone flips that light switch again. I wish I could find that switch myself, I would rewire it so it’s on in both positions.

In closing, I just wanted to give you a run down on some of my theories and experiences with this time of year. I dream of it like every other red-blooded American with a bow in hand, and hopefully this will be the year. I killed my biggest buck to date during the peak of the rut, yes I was one of the lucky ones who happened to be crossing the same opening as a buck at the same time. And that time I had a rifle that luckily held its own bullets, so I couldn’t drop them!

The next buck to see my living room though, will be harvested by arrow. I take more pleasure and remember smaller deer harvested with a bow at ten steps, than one I dropped with a rifle at a hundred yards. So as the rut approaches your area, have your spots ready and pack a lunch. I’ll be on stand from daylight to dark, and I don’t want to be the only one freezing and cramping up out there! Good luck on your hunts this winter, and remember to harvest a doe or two if you have the tags. It will help ensure a balanced herd for years to come, and more chances at a trophy for yourself or your kids. Hope to see you out there!

9 votes, average: 3.33 out of 59 votes, average: 3.33 out of 59 votes, average: 3.33 out of 59 votes, average: 3.33 out of 59 votes, average: 3.33 out of 5 (9 votes, average: 3.33 out of 5)
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Published by ike_osu on 21 Aug 2008

Mentors

I don’t have a reputation as a world class hunter that kills giant deer every year. I do have a reputation for being an honest ethical sportsman. People who know me are always willing to let me hunt their land. They know I won’t blaze a trail with a three wheeler or send a bullet through their home. They know I won’t destroy fences or litter the land. Actually most of the time they don’t even know I am there.

These are lessons that all hunters must learn and they are the most important lessons we can teach our children. How to hunt and how to take a deer are important but how to do it the right way ethically and legally are far more important. We teach by example what we do and what we say influence our children. Even the things our friends do can teach a child the wrong lesson. If a family friend, relative, or complete stranger do things that are illegal or unethical, we should tell our children that this is not right. We do not have to confront the wrong doer but we have to make sure that the hunters of tomorrow do not follow their examples.

When I was a young hunter I was forunate to be surrounded by men who were hunters in the truest sense of the word. They taught me to respect the land and the landowner. To respect the animal, and to protect my quarry from those who would harass or harm these animal for misguided fun or for a piece of bone on top of a skull. My father was chief among these men. He used hunting to keep me from trouble, jail, or a young death. He never scored on a world class animal but all of his kills were treated as such. He taught me how to make the most of the animal and how to be a true hunter. He may not have killed a Pope & Young buck, but he did something most hunters never do. He left behind a legacy that I carry in my heart. He left his mark in not only my life, but the lives of many. I like to think that mark looks an awful lot like a big ol’ buck. He has been gone for ten years, and I still miss him everyday and I thank the Lord he helped me become a good man and more importantly a good hunter.

11 votes, average: 2.55 out of 511 votes, average: 2.55 out of 511 votes, average: 2.55 out of 511 votes, average: 2.55 out of 511 votes, average: 2.55 out of 5 (11 votes, average: 2.55 out of 5)
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Published by Benchleg01 on 21 Aug 2008

“Murphy’s” first Archery Elk

 

It was still dark when I softly closed the door on my old beater nissan pick-up truck and started up towards the ridge above me, the fog was so thick that I had only about twenty yards visibility. I had bedded down a monster bull (7×7) on the back side of the ridge the previous night, and was hoping to find him this morning. I was “still hunting” my way up through the middle of a two year old clear cut, and as luck would have it, my Ol’ pal “Murphy” was hunting with me.

I had not gone more than one hundred yards up the clear cut when I heard a noise off to my right, I slowly hunkered down and looked over my right shoulder, I could just barely make out through the fog, two Cow Elk at twenty yards and they were looking right at me. I slowly faced forward again and as the fog rose I could see another Elk directly in front of me, I pulled up my range finder and ranged him at seventy yards,  (25 yards beyond my comfort zone) it was a 5×5 bull, Not the monarch of the forest I had bedded down the night before, none the less he was a respectable “Freezer Pet” for a meat hunter like myself.

The fog was lifting fast now and I could see that there were Cow Elk all around me, I had sneaked right into the middle of his harem and he was not sure what to do about it. The “Lead Cow” was not sure what was going on either but she did not want any part of it, she turned an trotted directly past the Bull, headed for the timber line gathering the rest of his Cows as she went. I had not moved a muscle after rangeing the Bull, and I watched them as they hit the edge of the timber, and instead of dissapearing into the thick reprod, they turned, went up the ridge line, and bedded down on a small knoll just below the top. Three of the bedded Cows were positioned such, that they could cover every approach from below.

I very slowly backed out the way I had come in, this satellite bull and his harem were now bedded between me and the Ol’ Monarch bull; it was time for a new game plan. After about ten seconds of extensive and extremely agonizing soul searching, I decided that a “Rag Horn” in the freezer is better than a “Monarch” in the bush, and on the bright side….I can always horn hunt next year.

With Murphy hunting the same bunch of elk that I was, I did not feel comfortable attempting to stalk them up the middle of the clear cut; too many eyes to observe me. By the same token, the reprod was only about 25′ tall and thicker than the fleas on a dogs back, also not a good choice. After studying the approach very carefully through my binoculars, I finally decided to sneak up the edge of the timber line on the South side of the clear cut, using the stumps and root wads as cover.

Two of the Cows were looking my direction initially, I had to wait untill both were looking elsewhere before I could cross the open ground of the fire break to the saftey of the first stump. After that it was just a matter of moving quietly from stump to root wad to snag when they were not looking. After two hours and approximately 800 yards I was pinned down in a position directly below the the knoll the Elk were bedded down on, I was a little nervous as there was a 40 yard stretch of ground with no cover in front of me and I could only see two of the Cows.

I was trying to decide how to proceed when the Cow directly above me stood up, I ducked back down behind the root wad thinking that I had been busted. The fog was still moving in and out sporadically and what slight breeze there was was in my favor, as it was still fairly cool and the thermals were moving downhill. I peeked around the root wad in time to see that the Cow above me was gone and the other was just vanishing around the back of the snag that she had been bedded down at.

It was now or never; I crossed the stretch of open ground to an old snag that had been pushed over and left lying at the edge of what I took to be a small bench. I dropped my pack, removed the quiver from my bow, took out two arrows, knocked a muzzy 100 grain 3 blade broadhead, set my Parker Hunter Mag beside me at the ready and began to scan everything in front of me with my range finder.

I heard noise from above me and to me left, I set my range finder down on my pack, and peeked out around the left side of the root wad. It truly does not get any better than this; the Elk had dropped down around the timber side of the knoll, The Bull was leading the way and he would pass directly in front of and about 30 feet above me at approximately 40 yards.

I quietly slithered back over and picked up my bow; I came to full draw while still on my knees and hunkered down behind the log. When I heard the Elk passing directly in front of me, I slowly raised up bringing my bow to shooting position in the same fluidly smooth motion, I was in perfect form, my sight pin tucked in low and tight behind the front shoulder with a perfect, slightly quartering away broadside shot. Enter “Uncle Murphy”. It was a cow Elk filling my sight picture and not the Bull. They had traded places after I had ducked down.

The 5×5 Bull was about two paces behind the Cow and quartering to me, not a shot that I would take. I had a decision to make and not a lot of time to make it. I could wait, and hope that the Bull would take a couple of steps and give me a broadside shot before the Cow came to her senses and bolted, or I could flex my shoulder muscles and put this freezer pet where it belongs, in the freezer!

Just before I heard the Cow give her alarm “bark”, I recalled the words of my late father. “Horn soup don’t stick to your ribs the way Backstrap does”. So I flexed my shoulder muscles and sent out a dinner invitation, in the form of a Beman 340 ICS Hunter, and she graciously accepted my invitation with no reservations.

They would not leave after the shot ! they would not leave after the shot.

Its almost like he can not believe that he is still alive.

She dropped where she stood, and rolled down to me.

She dropped where she stood, and rolled down to me.

The Moral of this story is, If you are going to hunt with “Murphy”, you have to be prepared to change plans in mid stream without losing your game.

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Published by kbrando on 20 Aug 2008

Stalking Know-How

Stalking Know-How

Use these tips to effectively ‘close the gap’ on open-country game.

 

By Joe Bell

 

       Sweeping across the stark, table-like landscape with my binocular, I easily picked out the mule deer buck and his group of does; their grayish hides strongly contrasted against the snow-covered backdrop.

       With nearly a mile of desolate prairie grass separating me from the deer, an appropriate ambush looked rather bleak, if not impossible. Yet, as I looked harder, I recognized my only hope—a few gradual slits in the ground, possibly channels carved out by flowing rainwater, zigzagging closely to the deer’s hangout.

       Equipped with my bow, hydration pack, kneepads, and a leafy overcoat, I began the stalk. Soon, I was dipping behind every nook and cranny in the gentle topography, knowing any display of myself would go unnoticed by the binocular vision of my quarry.

       Before I knew it, I was on my knees and began the process of maneuvering, taking one kneecap step at a time, while supporting myself with my right hand. My left arm was curled into my bow, keeping it tucked away and safe.

       Now 400 yards from the deer, I meandered into a belly crawl, effectively cupping my legs into “wings,” clawing forward. Each slide of a knee offered about 18 inches of stride.

       Still 150 yards out from the buck, I was close, but not close enough. Allowing only one eyeball to scan above the wind-blown grass, I was plum out of cover, other than what was afforded by a few scraggly sage bushes and yucca plants.

       Over the next 60 minutes, with the pace of a caterpillar, I inched my way in behind each of these camouflage shields, continually questioning my sanity as I slinked along. I was clearly in the open now, but “blurred” by my effective camo, an illusion of grass, sticks and muted earth tones held into one thin, deceptive layer. Only the thought of getting a shot made me press on.

       When the time came to pull out the rangefinder, holding it on the buck’s sweeping, polished horns, I couldn’t believe my great fortune, and I was utterly exhausted, physically and even more so mentally.

       My body screamed with aches and pains as I fought the bow to full draw, keeping the limbs parallel to the ground. Ever so slowly I raised the bow vertically until the 50-yard sight pin was bobbing on the sweet spot. Now was not the time to rush things.

       Arrow flight was blurry, and the hollow thump of arrow impact reassured me of a good shot. In a matter of seconds, the buck reacted to the impact, and made a frantic last run down slope. I couldn’t believe it. I had pulled off the “impossible.” Killing a sharp-eyed buck, with three does, in wide-open real estate.

       Trophy animals are not dumb. They usually situate themselves well out of harm’s way. They bed where they can, smell approaching danger, with their eyes glued to where their noses can’t reach. When they are rutting, bucks and bulls tend to take the center position, encircled by a perimeter of sharp-eyed females. Sometimes they seek out the safest, thickest, noisiest cover imaginable, making one’s attempt of a stalk seem like nothing more than foolish play.

       After years of orchestrating some pretty “unachievable” stalks, I now believe the limits to killing game on the ground remain only within the bowhunter. Outfitted with the right amount of patience, skill, and willingness to succeed, one can definitely beat the odds in terrible stalking conditions.

       The following covers some of the challenges you’ll face as a stalking hunter and tips on how you can overcome them.

 

Analyze the ‘Big’ Picture

       Observe thoroughly before you react. That’s rule number one in effective stalking. Study the animal’s whereabouts, the terrain as a whole, wind direction, time of day, and so on, before you ever plot your stalking course. Consider short routes, but also the smartest ones, no matter how long they may be. One way may be shorter, but the other safer and quieter. Perhaps you’re stalking a pronghorn antelope with a harem of does; these animals are much less prone to bed for hours on end compared to mule deer or elk.

       Consider an approach where you can keep a constant visual on the animal you’re hunting. This way, if the buck decides to vacate the area, you can redirect your stalk accordingly, instead of waltzing over an edge after a long, tiring stalk, only to find nothing more than dirt and rock and no buck.

 

Terrain: Identifying the Weak Link

       Nearly every type of stalking setup has a chink in the armor. Find it and make your ground attempt count. Of course, there will be times when a stalk just is not possible at all, due to terrain and even more so the wind. When this is the case, you must wait, sometimes for days, depending of course on how bad you want that animal.

       However, 90 percent of the time, there’s a window of opportunity in which to stalk. In vast, open country, as I illustrated in the opening of this article, usually there’s enough swell in the terrain where a willing bowhunter can make a legitimate sneak. Of course, you’ll fail most of the time, but that’s part of the game. Failure is common in stalking, but don’t ever focus on that; always focus on making the stalk work.

       Also, in those heavily forested regions, where you’ll surely have brushy areas to circumnavigate, always choose the path of least resistance. Follow a deer or better yet a cattle trail. Also, realize in these types of attempts, combining stalking and still-hunting technique is par for the course. Improvise as you go along and remain flexible and, most importantly, hopeful.

       In super-steep country, where there are rocky bluffs, cliffs, talus slopes, etc., remember the steeper, more jagged way may seem the most frightening, but it’s usually the best. In these areas, loose, pebbly granite prevails in most if not all places, other than along larger bedrock. This is where quiet footing exists, not to mention “solid” camouflage to maintain stealth. Plan your route along these locales.

 

Wind: Wait ’Till It’s Right

       A few weeks ago, I stalked a massive desert mule deer. The entire morning I watched him rally does, feed and eventually bed, all by himself. Immediately I felt the urgency to rush out on the stalk. Experience told me otherwise.

       I knew planning my route with a 10 o’clock wind would end up being a mistake because, by 11:30 or so, about the time I’d be hovering over the deer maneuvering for a shot, I’d be caught completely in a sideward-drifting wind leading straight to his nose. Smell is an animal’s best friend—don’t get caught in it.

       Instead, I made my move at 11:30 a.m. Later that day I looked downward at the public-land buck of my dreams. Only, I missed the steep, downward shot. Even so, in terms of the stalk, it was a success.

       It’s my experience that thermals maintain their consistency anytime after 11 a.m. and stay pretty consistent until 3:30 to 4:00 p.m. So, if you can’t get in position before or after this window, be sure to wait and then start your stalk once the midday breeze is on.

 

Learn the Moves

       Polish your foot-hunting skill beforehand by going out in the yard and practicing. Prior to deer season, I usually “suit up,” throw on my low-profile daypack, and stalk around in the yard with my bow while maneuvering for shots at 3-Ds. In between shooting, I move on knees, crawl on my belly, lay for a few minutes at a time before rising to plunk the target, and so on. In due time, you’ll sharpen your ground-hunting savvy.

       Realize it’s vital to maintain a low profile during your maneuvers, despite cactus, rocky terrain, and other natural obstacles. Crawling around in this stuff is rough, but that’s life on the ground.

       Most importantly, don’t leave out the belly crawl. The best stalk-hunters I know spend hours on their bellies in order to outsmart the craftiest of game. No predator has the ability to stay as low as a wiry, patient hunter. It’s the best secret weapon I know of. When belly crawling, I like to slide my bow out in front of me with one hand, usually my left. To eliminate noise on rocks, you should pad one side of your bow to dampen the sound. This is a tip I learned from Randy Ulmer.

 

Eliminate the Shadow

       In sunlight your body’s shadow is your worst friend. If you fail to disguise it from the eyes of your opponent, you’ll surely get busted. I lost my chance at a mighty big Nevada mule deer because of my laziness to keep my shadow in check. The only way to remain hidden from your shadow is to travel in shady areas only. There is no other alternative.

 

Time Factor

       Only you can size up how much time you have to close the deal based on past experiences and your intended quarry. Generally speaking, mule deer and blacktails tend to linger in an area if they are grazing. Elk, in my experience, usually do not. This goes for free-ranging wild boar, too.

       With these animals you’ve got to bust a move. Also consider that elk and wild boar are notorious for bedding in dense cover, so in most cases, your chance of an opportunity may be right before your eyes, requiring you to hustle <now!> Consider the wind and hope for the best. Again, only you can assess the “small” and “large” pictures of stalking conditions.

       Antelope, depending on the September rut, are perhaps the most enjoyable animals to foot-hunt. Difficult, yes, but so visible, they sometimes allow you to hone your stalking ability all day long, forming you into a well-oiled ground killer.

       Prior to the rut, bucks are easier to stalk since they are focused on watering and grazing. During the rut they become twice as difficult since they are undoubtedly on the move and doing their best to partner up with females. Antelope eyes are the best around, and more of them never help your cause.

       However, a combined effort of stalking-and-ambushing, a technique commonly used on animals like elk and wild pigs, works great on rutting antelope. Anytime you see a buck leaving a herd to run off an opponent—and you will if it’s September on the plains—remember to always to remain with the does. The dominant buck will always return to the group.

       If the does move, and they will, since most of them don’t want to be grouped up, be sure to bridge that gap between the does and the buck, paying close attention to the “walking trail” left by the does. Nine out ten times, the buck will scent trail his way back to the does, even when he sees them in the distance. This is your prime spot of ambush, especially along a fence line or ditch.

       Stalking Western game is kind of like playing a challenging game of chess. You’re opponent is smart, and you must identify its weakness. Only through skill, patience, methodical assessment, and perseverance will you win in the end.

 

Sidebar 1:

Gear for the Stalk

       Low-Profile Pack: Don’t hunt with a bulky daypack. Choose one that rides snuggly to your back, maintaining that much-needed inconspicuous outline. I favor today’s miniature hydration-type daypacks for serious stalking. Badlands and Blackhawk make great models.

       Some bowhunters don’t like the idea of stalking with a pack. I agree, but only in certain cool-weather conditions. However, during warm August and September hunts, I always want water and some food just in case I need to stalk out all day. Having that ability could mean the difference between success and failure.

       Kneepads: Sometimes I use them, sometimes I don’t. I find them vital along sharp, jagged terrain or on the plains where those ground-hugging cacti seem to be everywhere. You can find good foam kneepads at most hardware stores, but be sure to try several types. Some are noisy, and some are not. I really like the athletic fabric ones; they are very quiet, but they don’t slip over camo pants as well, nor do they last as long.

       Leather gloves: I favor some kind of hand protection along harsh ground, such as thin elk or cowhide gloves, otherwise, any jersey-style camo glove will work just fine.

       Quiver choice: A bow quiver is hands-down the easiest to manage on the ground. However, a well-designed hip quiver or back quiver works well, too. The key is to learn how to use it. I use a hip quiver and sometimes crawl on my side to prevent the fletching from rising above my back. In some situations, where I have to belly-crawl a lot, I fasten the quiver to my back in a place where I can draw out an arrow with ease.

       Bow setup and arrow rest: Don’t deck out your bow with a bunch of flimsy accessories. I like to use stout products with large lockdown screws. Anything that exhibits “play” when wiggled by your hand is too flimsy for this kind of hunting. Today’s 3-D-like bow sights are most vulnerable to this.

       Also, an arrow rest that offers full-containment of the arrow is useful when drawing the bow horizontal to the ground. I prefer models like the Trophy Taker Xtreme FC, Quality Archery Designs Ultra Rest, Ripcord, and other similar models for this reason. The Whisker Biscuit is another great stalk rest. <—J.B.>

 

Sidebar 2:

Quiet Footwear

       No serious stalker should be caught dead donning backpack-style boots on his feet. The only exception I see is when bivy hunting with a heavy pack on.

       I favor light “stalking”-specific style boots or sturdy athletic footwear. In most situations, I prefer Danner Jackal or Russell Bowhunter or Safari boots. These are both dead-quiet, light and offer protection against rain, creek-crossing, tall shrubs, and so forth. However, top-quality cross-trainer running shoes, especially those with Gore-Tex liners, work great in many situations. Experiment to see what works best for you based on the climate and terrain you most often hunt. Also, slipover-boot fleece stalking slippers are helpful when footing is just too noisy for an approach in regular boot soles.

       I’ve also found that stalking in my socks is the only way to go when that “crunch” is too audible. The thing I do a lot nowadays is leave the stalking booties behind and carry only an extra set of thick wool socks. During that last 100 to 200 yards of the stalk, I remove my boots and wear the socks directly over my feet and pant legs for added protection. This offers the quietest step possible, and will be your only defense in lots of situations, especially when stalking mule deer in the high country. If you’ve found stalking in socks too tender for you, you won’t do well in killing big, high-country bucks. Be sure to build up some calluses on those tender feet by walking outdoors this next summer. You’ll be glad you did come deer season. <—J.B.>

 

Good technique is required to get close to open-country critters. The author shot this record-book-size woodland caribou after jogging to get in front of the animal. Joe Bell photos

 

An effective stalking bowhunter goes afield with all the necessary elements. This includes gear that’s durable and well-camouflaged (non-reflective), a high-quality binocular, kneepads, quiet footwear, and incredible patience.

 

Nearly every open-country stalk includes the act of crawling. It’s the only way to stay below radar from wary, super-smart public-land trophies.

 

Ninety percent of your shooting will be done from this position, so practice accordingly.

 

The author shot this mule deer after exhaustive stalking efforts. His quiet Russell stalking boots allowed him to get close, undetected.

 

Chris Denham, the author’s friend, arrowed this free-ranging wild boar after a long ambush. He was forced to think and move quickly, since the hog was covering ground in high gear.

 

The only way to effectively spot and stalk game is to use your binocular, constantly.

 

Don’t blow the final outcome of your ambush by getting caught drawing your bow. Practice drawing it while flat on the ground so you can slowly pop up and shoot.

 

When the sun is out, pay attention to your shadow; it’s your worst enemy. Travel in shaded areas only, and strike close to cover.

 

Don’t make the mistake of stalking game with heavy, noisy boots. Use cross-trainer shoes or boots with soft outsoles—ones with small or no lugs, which greatly dampen sound, especially across loose dirt and pebbles.

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Published by kbrando on 20 Aug 2008

TECHNICAL BOWHUNTING

NEWS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                        

 

The Ultimate Bowhunting Book –

Designed to Give Archers a Serious Edge

 

Orange, California (April 1, 2008) – As a bowhunter, do you find something missing?  Do you have a hard time dealing with shooting pressure?  Are you missing easy shots in the field?  Are you lost when it comes to choosing good equipment, setting it up, and tuning it properly?  Are you frustrated or losing motivation for the sport? 

 

If any of these problems plague you, TECHNICAL BOWHUNTING is the answer.

 

TECHNICAL BOWHUNTING was designed to change the way you think about shooting a bow, choosing equipment, setting up gear, making tough shots in the field, and dealing with buck fever and target panic, by delivering powerful advice, anecdotes, and tips to help unlock your skill and potential as an effective archer and bowhunter.

 

This book, written by Joe Bell, expert bowhunter, technical archery writer, and longtime editor of Bow & Arrow Hunting Magazine, includes interviews and tips from some of the sport’s greatest pros, including Chuck Adams and Randy Ulmer.  It’s created to help you, the reader, reach new heights as a participant of the sport. 

 

TECHNICAL BOWHUNTING is ultra-effective at teaching all levels of archers, due to its easy-to-follow, well-organized, and concisely written format.  It starts with the most important component in archery success – utilizing proper shooting form.  From there, you move into more chapters of “un-chartered” archery and bowhunting wisdom found nowhere else. You’ll find many secrets the pros use to obtain high success, both on the shooting range and in the deer woods. 

 

No other guide matches the true-to-life shooting and hunting experience found in TECHNICAL BOWHUNTING.  It’s an outstanding tool for achieving success.  Whether you’re a serious bowhunter or a recreational 3-D archery enthusiast, you’ll find this book inspiring and worthwhile to read.

 

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*Powerful Insights For Optimizing Your Shooting Skill

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*How To Overcome Shooting Pressure, Target Panic & Buck Fever

*Expert Advice on Release & Fingers Shooting

*Bow Tuning the Way the Pros Do

*Making Extreme Shots in the Field

*Home Bow Maintenance

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This book is one of a kind! It’s a true shortcut to archery success!

 

TECHNICAL BOWHUNTING is available by calling 1-866-834-1249, and requesting item #216. Cost is $21.95; shipping extra, CA residents pay sales tax. 

 

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