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Published by nijimasu on 14 May 2008

Dawns and Sunsets

 

I was probably in my late teens the first time I saw “the boys,” camped in the deer spot I had been told to check out.  They all seemed ancient to me even that first year.  The oldest one of the four was truthfully at least 80 years old then, I later came to find out.  His hair was white, and always perfectly oiled back, even when he was wearing his hunting hat.  He stood about 5’6”, and was somewhat slight of frame, but solid as a rock.  When he was hunting, he always wore a one-piece jump suit with the old duck-hunter style camouflage on it, and carried a very nice compound bow with orange aluminum arrows. Camped with him were two brothers who were “only” in their 70’s.   Bringing up the rear of their group was a stray cousin who they treated like “the kid,” presumably because he was only in his 60’s.  “The kid” carried a battered recurve, and rather than wearing camo, usually wore a blue plaid shirt and jeans to hunt in.

My hunting partner Steve and myself dismissed them without much notice the first few years we hunted that area.  We’d slow down and wave politely as we drove past their camp, but always ended up chuckling at the idea of them out hunting.  Never bothering to find out their names those first years, we simply referred to them as “the boys,” and the visibly elder octogenarian as the “extra-old boy.”  Jokes were made about beating deer to death with canes, or walkers with wheels on them that could serve double-duty as deer carts if need be.  We were teenagers in small-town southern Idaho, and being ignorant came pretty easily to us.

 After we had gained a year or two, and I suppose some degree of maturity, we did start to be sincerely concerned about the welfare of the gentlemen — though we still chuckled at the thought of these white-haired men out roaming the woods.  We never really talked to them, but we would make a point of driving past their camp after our day of hunting, even if it was a little out of our way, just to make sure the lights were on in their big wall tent, and that they were home.  Every year they had their camp set up by Labor Day, and they stayed put there for at least two weeks.  We came to respect them for their persistence, and truthfully, I think I took it for granted that they would always be there — like they were part of the mountain — despite the obviously inevitable. 

Steve and I really weren’t so great of hunters in those days.  We were young and tough though, and we thought nothing of hiking up canyons and down cliffs for ten or more miles a day. We would always see plenty of deer bounding out of their beds and we’d send arrows after them, so we thought we were great hunters — even though our arrows never came close to connecting.  We had heard archery hunting was supposed to be tough, and we figured that if we just put in enough time, one of us would get lucky sooner or later.  Wasn’t that the way everybody did it?   I can remember one particularly “tough” day when we had forgotten to bother bringing any food with us.  We’d gotten into a small herd of does and ended up chasing them hither and yon through juniper-covered coulees for several hours.  Eventually, I just up and fainted.  When I came to, Steve was standing over me laughing and calling me a pansy.  It never even occurred to us that someday our bodies might not be invincible.

One evening well after dark, the lights weren’t on in the boys’ tent when we drove by, so we took the turn-off to their camp to see if things were all right.  We were a little worried, but when we got closer we were relieved by the sound of voices and laughter.   When we got to where we could see behind the tent, there was a good campfire burning and the four men were standing around it with beer in their hands. One was tending a griddle propped over the flames in the dark night.  We stepped out of the truck, and the smell of frying liver and onions was delicious and thick in the air.

“You fellas musta’ smelt that from the road, eh?” greeted  “extra-old boy” as we walked over.  “Ya like fresh deer liver?”

I’m glad it was pretty dark, because I wouldn’t have wanted him to have seen the mixed look of shock and jealousy on my face.  We were pretty hungry after our fruitless day of hiking and wasting arrows, and we gladly accepted their offer of a hot meal.  They were happy to celebrate their kill with us, and I was happy to try my first venison liver. 

“Yep, Dale got her with his recurve behind camp this evenin’.”

Dale (the kid) told us his story:

“Well, I’s just walkin’ the little canyon like I usually do back here when I saw her.  She just stood up real slow to have a look at me, so I pulled back and let ‘er fly.  She took off down the crick an I thought I’d missed her.  Looked fer the arrow and blood and the like and didn’t find nothin’ so I went on my way abit, but when I come back, I found this here piece a’ cedar arrow a’ mine I’d shot at her.  It was just layin’ where I would a went if I were a shot deer.  I looked around a little bit and there she were- four hooves straight up in the air –hee hee!”

Steve and I were pretty excited to see that someone had been successful, but we still chuckled about how lucky Dale had been to get that deer.  How could somebody who moved as slowly through the woods as those guys did ever be lucky enough to get close to a deer?  Steve and I always spent days cruising the ridges and valleys, covering as much ground as we could. We always saw plenty of deer, but we never found the ones that were foolish enough to stay put and let us to shoot them. Besides that, how lucky did the guy have to be to just happen to find the spot where a mortally wounded deer would end up?  “Million-to-one odds,” we decided.   We laughed about it all the way back to our camp.

A year later on opening day of archery season, two deer were hanging by their hams in the boys’ camp. We had stopped by just to say hello on our way into the area.  It was late afternoon then, and Ollie (the extra-old boy) and Chris (one of the brothers) came out of the tent to greet us.  By the size of their grins, I could tell that they didn’t care that we’d disturbed their naps.

 “The doe,” Chris explained, “took a spine shot.”  “I was right up on this hill this mornin’, first thing.  I could see her butt stickin’ out of the trees, and I could tell by the way she was flickin’ her tail around that she knew somethin’ fishy was goin’ on.  I went around and waited by the fence on the other side a’ the trees and sure enough, here she come.  But instead of jumpin’ over the fence like you’d expect a big ‘ole deer to do, she tried getting’ under it all sneaky-like.  Didn’t work!   We backed the pickup right up to her.” 

Ollie’s spike was another good story.

 “Yep, I was back here behind camp aways when I saw him a eatin’.  Trouble was, all I could see of him was his head. I figured I better shoot, so I put my pin on him when he was lookin’ at somethin’ else and let loose.  He dropped right there and never made another move.  Game warden accused me a’ shootin’ with a gun when he saw there weren’t no holes in the meat, till I showed him the poor critter’s noggin and he tried yankin’ the arrow out to look at it. Wouldn’t budge!  I ain’t much fer puttin’ deer heads up on the wall and such, but I think this’n just might end up on the barn door!”

I don’t think you could find any hunters happier with or prouder of their animals than these men were, regardless of antler size or Pope and Young score.

Setting up our camp that afternoon, I think it finally dawned on Steve and I that the old boys knew what they were doing, and that he and I were complete idiots.  Thinking back now, I wonder what kind of jokes they must have made about us, watching us stampeding over the ridges, killing ourselves day in and day out, and doing nothing but herding animals into their honey-holes. 

The next day, after some hard thinking, I decided that maybe I would hunt a little more thoroughly than usual, near camp, –kind of near where our elder neighbors hunted, just by coincidence, of course.  In my head I kept trying to picture how the boys would move through the woods and tried to see if could duplicate it.  Funny as that must sound, it worked, at least to an extent.  I remember that dark, cool day well.  The fine mist of a rain that can’t decide if it really wants to fall or not was beading up on my face, finally dripping, and carrying with it the wild- amazing scent of wet sagebrush.  I remember how quiet the dampness made the soft earth of the worn deer trails under the pines, and marveling at how quiet I could be walking in it if I just tried.  I looked up the hill next to me and saw him- a nice fork horn – looking down at me unalarmed.  The first arrow hit the dirt between his hooves, and surprisingly, he didn’t budge.  The second arrow cracked into a quakie right in front of his face, and he trotted off.  I felt both ecstatic and disappointed at the same time.

After digging my arrows out of the dirt and wood, I had enough sense not to try to shoot the now dull blades at an animal again.  I quivered them and took out a nice arrow with a good, heavy broadhead on it, heavier than what I had been shooting.  I slowly stillhunted deeper into the pine filled draw. Just when I felt a real “deery” kind of spider-sense tingling come over me, I was startled by a whisper right next to me in the pines.

“Seen much?”

It was Chris, the brother who had taken the doe at the fence opening morning.  He wasn’t even wearing camo, and I hadn’t seen him.  He was just out for a walk, trying to see “a few good ones.”  I told him about my near misses, and he started grinning for me.  Then we heard a crash.

Not 30 yards away, stood a dozen deer.  They had walked right in on us.  My eyes immediately gravitated to the huge 5X5 standing in the middle.  I think it probably must have been harder to miss a deer than to hit one, with that many standing so closely together, but my mismatched heavy broadhead sure did do the trick for me.  It plowed into the pine needles underneath the big buck.  I’m sure that if anyone else had seen me blow that shot, they would have laughed or cussed or made fun of me for the next week.  Chris simply asked, “Where did it hit?”

We checked the arrow for blood, just in case, and Chris noticed my assorted broadheads.

“You might do better if these were all the same, ya’ know.”

I upgraded my equipment that next summer to arrows that all matched, and I practiced until I could hit things with them.   I guess after my harsh lesson, I had finally gotten around to thinking about how maybe Ollie’s pegging that spike in the back of the head was something more than chance. 

The following Labor Day is one of those memories that stay like a clear, beautiful, perfect photograph in the mind forever.  Steve and I had hunted together that morning, and then split up around noon.  I had sneaked around for a couple of hours by myself when on a sun-blasted hillside, there were deer just standing up from their beds.  I don’t know if they had seen or smelled me or were just getting up to stretch, but they stood there simply looking at me. The sun was shining hot on us, and black-and-red grasshoppers made their clack-click-clackity-click noise and flew away from my feet. The breeze blew some of my long hair over my face and I released the arrow.  The does ran off, the two-point fell over, and I stood there with my mouth hanging open.

When I came past their camp with my buck, I think all four of the boys were in danger of infarction.  They were honestly happier about my success than I was, and that is indeed saying something because I was beyond ecstatic.  There was a deer hanging in their camp, but I never did hear the story about it- they kept asking me about mine, and I couldn’t leave until I had gone over every detail several times.  Steve told me later that when he was coming back to camp himself a few hours afterwards, he had stopped in to see the boys, and they were still excitedly talking about my kill like it was the most remarkable thing they’d seen in ages.  I’m not sure if that was a compliment or not, but I took it as such.

That was well over 20 years ago.  The mule deer herds of southern Idaho aren’t what they used to be, and neither are Steve and I.  Between then and now, Steve suffered a spinal injury that has left him partially debilitated.  We still meet together to hunt somewhere every year, but now we hunt understandably close to camp or roads. We talk about “the boys,” and wonder what they would think of us now—now that we resemble them more closely than we do our old selves at times.  Like them, we now cover less ground and do so at a slower pace, but we end the season with more meat than those ambitious kids we once were ever did.

 I scouted the old area two summers ago and found the once deer track-pounded trails to be overgrown with cheat grass and sun burrs.   The campgrounds were all empty.   I did stop by the camp spot where their wall tent had once stood, and thought about “the boys.”  I looked at the meat pole still nailed to the trees where the spike with the terminal headache — and no telling how many other fine animals — had once hung.    I looked at the fire ring still black from countless fragrant cook-fires.   I soaked up the whole feeling of that place again, rich in memories of dawns and sunsets and laughter in between, and I prayed that when I’m 80, I could still be carrying a bow and finding animals like the beautiful deer that used to inhabit those South Hills.  I prayed that like the men that had hunted out of that camp once upon a time, I too might be able to somehow pass something on to someone who desperately needed it someday.

            I smiled.  I thought I saw a young buck trot behind the camp.  A ghost maybe?  I don’t know, and I don’t suppose it matters.  It did make me wonder though, what I might see were I to come back and spend some time again there some Labor Day…

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Published by xtremelyalberta on 12 May 2008

Basics of the Spot and Stalk

Living and growing up in the South Eastern parts of Alberta is great, the hunting is good, the fishing is solid and the summers are hot. As you all know, Southern Alberta is know for its mule deer hunting, big bucks and lots of them, but it isn’t easy hunting. Unless you hunt from your vehicle and do the mad dash as the deer cross the roads you almost have to spot your game, and then proceed to stalk.

As a young boy I would always be in the coulees looking for animals to get close to, and as I got older I would sneak my fathers camo and rattling antlers to try and get in that comfort zone of the urbanized deer that roam the prairie of Medicine Hat, Alberta. Now, you must think that wouldn’t be a problem because they are so used to traffic and people etc. but dang it man, it was and still is tough.

The older I got the more and more I wanted to get closer to game, whether it was deer or bear, I wanted to get close and that’s all there was to it. Now, as a mature hunter, I am always so careful when it comes to the stalk because one wrong move and the hunt and possibly an entire day of hunting can and will be lost.

Here are a few basics that do work if used correctly.

P_PCypressHunt003.jpg picture by PeaknPrairieOutdoors

The first thing is, you have to be able to spot your game from a comfortable distance; by that I mean comfortable for the game that you are not a threat to your presence. Hunting the south country, is mainly wide open terrain and most think it can be near impossible to get within the 40 yard mark, but that is where you are wrong. When you are dealing with the last forty yards, every step, breathe, and movement is of the utmost importance. But lets start from the beginning.

First things first, your preparation at home can play a big role in your stalk. Most hunters think that when they wash their gear in scent free detergents, and UV Kill their garments that they are good for scent control but they tend to forget that you still have to eat your breakfast, make your lunch and have a cup of java for the drive to the hunting spot.

P_PCypressHunt004.jpg picture by PeaknPrairieOutdoors

I have done it before, you get dressed up and ready to make that stalk and you get within the 80 yards and need to close that next 40 and wham! your busted. The nose lifts; the animal sniffs you out and will walk away without even looking at you. Leaving you stunned, wondering what went wrong… you did everything I mentioned before, but forgot about that smoke you had on the way out and the cherry air freshner hanging off of your rear view mirror.

To minimize these problems, when you are done washing your gear, toss it into a scent free duffle bag or even a garbage bag. Invest in a good scent elimination spray and proceed to spray yourself down after you get out of the truck prior to getting dressed. It does take more time, but it will increase your odds by huge numbers. You may also want to scent eliminate your truck with sprays prior to the hunt as well.

When stalking in the open country and through the the timber or brush, camouflage patterns are critical. In open country get a good pattern like Realtrees Advantage Max-1 or Max-4, Mossy Oaks Brush or Montana’s Prairie Ghost. Utilizing patterns like these will increase your chance of getting close..matching tones and shades are the best thing to do. Remember, deer see UV coloring in clothing so with out killing the clothing with a UV killer you will glow a blue or yellow to them while you think you are invisible!

P_PCypressHunt001.jpg picture by PeaknPrairieOutdoors

Now you are at your area of  choice and spot a couple of good bucks making their way to go bed down, sit tight and wait for them to lie before the stalk. Most times they will be bedded for at least an hour or two which should give you enough time to get close and wait for the shot. Get dressed, scent eliminate yourself, and grab your bow and binoculars and remember to wind check, then begin to move in. Always, move towards the animal down wind. The minute you slip, and get up wind of the game you can almost count the hunt as being over. If you are a fair distance off, it may not bother them but getting in close the wind is everything even if you wear scent elimination gear the wind can bust you. Also, the wind will help muffle any noises you do make on the way in.

I will use a stalk that my brother and I made last season in the Cypress Hills, Alberta area as an example. We spotted 5 bucks moving up and over a coulee, about half a mile away from the road. We watched these bucks for a good 20 minutes and decided to wait until they were up and over the hill before we went in. We had to walk across a huge flat before reaching the base which took us a good half hour to get to. From there we glassed the hillsides, and draws, that we were on the edge of to see if we could spot the group of bucks before we went any further. We noticed three bucks bedded down another mile away to the south of us. We check them out for a good five minutes before moving any further. We walked around the side of the hill being sure, not to expose our silhouette till we came to the peak, so we could again take another look.  All we saw were three does moving through the brush. Dang it, where did they go, we were baffled. They put the slip on us. We sat there for a good 45 minutes scanning every piece of brush looking for some antler, ears, a nose anything, but nothing. We looked at the bucks on the hillside that were easily a mile away from where we sat and planned a second attack on these bucks. We decided to move from the bottom to the top of the adjacent coulee and slowly start to sneak in from the backside. Even though, we were a good three quarters of a mile away we were still so so careful with every step made. It is always a good habit to develop as, it will just carry through when yo are getting close enough for that bow shot.

Once, we peaked over the edge of the grassy hill, we took a look, to make sure the bucks didn’t move or didn’t hear or see us so we could then plan the rest of the stalk from where we sat. We now had no choice but to go through the wide open space that separated us from them. We studied the terrain and contemplated which way to go. Looking at the bucks, the wind was directly at our chin, so the only obvious way to go was straight at them in the open. But we didn’t want to do this, simply because we had a long ways to go, at least 900 more yards at this point. We could go to the right of the bucks and work our way along the side of the hill and come up beside them giving us an up close and personal shot but the wind was shifting and we didn’t want to alert our prey.

We finally decided to go straight on, and sure enough about 45 minutes later we were anchored in at 60 yards of the three pope and young bucks to see them sleeping with their noises to the wind.  So there is myself and my brother and the 3 bucks.. who is shooting at what and when we thought. We decided that Tyler would shoot first and I would try to get a second shot or at least hope to at the other buck. Two of the deer were solid, one good 140 inch typical four, a 155 inch 4 and a smaller 30 inch buck… all great deer. We moved about 6 inches every few minutes watching, waiting, trying to get close enough for a good ethical shot. Sixty yards turned to 55, then to 50 and that was as close as we got. Out of nowhere the three bucks got up.. looked around and decided they didn’t want to be there any longer and walked off. *sigh* I know… all that work and we have to walk back to the truck picking our brains apart trying to figure out what it was that set these bucks off and out. It can be many things, we took to long.. maybe they smelt us or caught a glimpse of the glare from the binoculars. We will never know but at that, we taught ourselves another lesson on stalking game. Always always take your time, and think.. prepare for the worst and hope for the best.  The become a master of the stalk you have to make them and unfortunately you don’t get good at it on the first try, but don’t give up and learn from every mistake. I hope this helps you out the next time you see a deer that may be to far out of reach and in the open stuff, maybe it will give you a little boost to try and go after him.

Here are a few spot and stalk victims that were taken in the last few years by family and friends.
BrandonAntelopeBuck1sitepic.jpg Dads Goat 73 inches picture by PeaknPrairieOutdoors

DadsBuck004.jpg picture by PeaknPrairieOutdoors

DadMuley2.jpg picture by PeaknPrairieOutdoors

 
Thank you and God Bless,

Brandon Heather
Xtremely Alberta Outdoors
www.huntfishalberta.net

 

 

 

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Published by Fuzzy Hoyt Shooter on 12 May 2008

A Father and Son’s day in the Great Outdoors

         I once had the opportunity to lead a young boy to the greatness of the outdoors. To this day, he is still an outdoor enthusiast. He wasn’t able to hunt because his Grandfather’s life was taken in a hunting accident, his Father was unfortunately present to witness this and from then on could not take his son, the young boy I introduced to the outdoors hunting because of this.

        I have always told myself that I would love for my Son and I to have such memories as you have read of this young man I have written of previously. My Son, Nicholas “Nick” has been interested in the outdoors since he has been able to walk. Unfortunately, he doesn’t live with me full time. He lives with his Mother and can only come to my house on alternating weekends. He has been shooting archery with me since he was 3 years old and shooting BB guns since he was 5. Last spring Nick asked me if he could attend a Hunter’s Education Class and take the test. I was kind of hesitant before I answered him because he was only 8 at the time. I knew that he was very safe and familiar in the outdoors. He was never in the woods without me. So I told him that he could take the class. Actually, my whole family took the class and passed with a 90% or better on the test. Nick scored a 95%. I was very proud of them all. I even retested and achieved another 100%.

       As the year passed we continued to spend quite a lot of time in the woods scouting. Nick had asked several times if he would be able to hunt with me last fall.

He really wanted to bow hunt but, Indiana has a law that you need to be able to pull at least 35# minimum on a bow to hunt. He couldn’t quite get to that point this past fall. I’m sure he’ll be ready for this coming bow season.

       After passing Hunter’s Education, I purchased a single shot .20 gage for him.  Nick shot this gun many times and is a very good shot with it. I tease him and tell him that he is ALMOST as good a shot as I am.

       Nick went with me on several hunts during the bow season last year. He was really excited one day when we had 4 does come within 40 yards of us while we were setting on the ground. They eventually seen us and ran away. He still talks of that day.

       Opening day of the Indiana Firearms season is drawing near and Nick asks if he can hunt the season with me. I told him that I didn’t see a problem as long as he is safe when we are in the woods. We had already placed a buddy stand in the woods so we could be together and had the entire area scouted pretty good we thought.

       Finally, opening day arrives; Nick wakes me at 1:00am, then 2:30am, then again at 4:00am. He was really excited about his first “actual hunt”. So, we have breakfast and head out to the woods. We arrive there and start to walk across the cornfield when Nick stops me. He says, “Dad, you haven’t prayed yet.” Every time I head to the great outdoors I thank God for the creation he has gave us. So, nick and I said a prayer together. Then walked across the field together towards the woods. We get to the stand and Nick climbs up first, I hook his gun to the draw line and have him to hoist it up. Then I hook mine on and climb the stand.

      We sat there in the stand all morning until around 11:00am and I could tell that Nick was getting sort of depressed because we could hear shots being fired out across the country and we had not seen a single deer. So I asked him if he wanted to climb down from the stand and we would walk around the woods to see if we might see something. He agreed.

       We walked around the woods for about an hour and strolled to the cornfield to the south of the woods where we had walked in. A friend of mine “Bob” was leaving his stand and came over to talk for a minute. As we were standing there, we looked up and seen a deer making it’s way across a bean field that connects with the cornfield we were standing in with his nose to the ground. At this point, the deer was about 500 yards away. There is a line of high grass and weeds that separates these two fields. I told Nick that if he would slowly and quietly started walking towards that grass line that he just might get there about the same time as the deer was about to cross it around 30 yards from him.

      So, he started quietly walking across the field, the deer kept walking, and not paying attention to anything around him. As Nick and the deer were drawing closer, Bob and I were watching the deer in binoculars. Noticing that this deer was a HUGE 10 point (at least) typical. I commented to Bob, “Watch, he’ll probably go out there and put that big boy down”. We just chuckled. Well Nick is drawing closer to the grass line, the deer is drawing closer as well and just as I predicted, he crossed in front of Nick at about 30 yards. We watched him pull his gun to his shoulder and carefully take aim. Then he shot. We watched the deer jump and run and seen the dirt scatter beneath him. Nick had missed. He reloaded his single shot 20 gage and started walking across the grass line to where he shot at the deer.

     He came walking back across the cornfield towards us with his head down. When he got close, he said “Dad, I missed him, but, DID YOU SEE HOW BIG HE WAS!”

He said the reason he missed is because he was shaking so hard that he couldn’t hold the barrel of the gun still. Aaahhh Buck Fever, isn’t it wonderful I told him.

He said, “That’s ok, he’ll be back”. So several times this year we sat waiting for the big boy. He was nowhere in sight after that. I told Nick that he was just there to test him, to see if he truly has his heart in the outdoors. Now all hunting seasons have come to an end here in Indiana. Although, Nick is already putting together a game plan for the “Big Boy” for next fall. This episode with that deer has definitely put a sweet spot in this young boy’s heart for the outdoors and deer hunting.

     Overall, I’m pleased that Nick missed that buck. If he had harvested that buck that day, I wonder if it might not have left an impression on him that deer hunting was easy, that a lot of planning and scouting was a waste of time. Since we had sat in the deer stand for hours and seen nothing, then we walk to the field and he is able to get within 30 yards of that massive buck. I truly believe that he missed for a reason.

Now if I can just find out the reason that I miss. Ha Ha.

     This was the first fond memory that Nick and I have together of his first hunt. I’m sure that we will have many more and he will have many more with his children and grandchildren.

      Keep the outdoors in your heart. Lead our younger generation to the outdoors and show them how wonderful this great creation God has given us is. 

     Take a Child to the woods and ensure our Sportsmanship in the Great outdoors for generations to come!!!

 

God Bless,

Fuzzy

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Published by Fuzzy Hoyt Shooter on 12 May 2008

Youth and Bowhunting

This story takes place over a few months time period, from the early spring of 1987 through November 1st 1987.

 

I was fresh out of the U.S. Army, I just got home from Germany. I had accepted a job with a local carpet cleaning company. One morning I went into work and noticed that my boss’s 10 year old son was looking at a couple of hunting magazines. I looked down at him and said “Tyler, do you go hunting with your Dad?” He just looked at me and shook his head no. His Dad asked me to come into his office. I did just that, He said, “Frank, I don’t know what to do, for some reason, Tyler has this crazy urge to go hunting. I know he has heard a couple of his friends in the area talk about going hunting with their Fathers.” I said “So, why don’t you take him hunting? Just once?” The Father then looked at me and told me that he could never hunt again. His Father had been killed in a hunting accident when he was only 9 years old himself. However, he did remember the joy of going hunting with his Father. Unfortunately, he was there the day when his father was accidentally shot by another Archer, that they had no idea he was anywhere near. I could understand now where he was coming from. I asked my Boss then if he would mind if sometime I took Tyler to the woods with me, maybe just to look around, find some tracks, a few signs and things of that sort. He looked at me in a really serious manner and said, “ You would do that?” I told him I would gladly take him to the woods with me.

On Saturday of that same week, I had decided to go to the woods to look around. I called and talked to my Boss “Roy”. I asked him if I could take Tyler to the woods with me that morning. He said that would be great. Then he wanted me to ask Tyler myself. So I heard him call in the other room and say, “Tyler, the phone is for you.” Tyler came to the phone saying “hello” I said, “Tyler, this is Frank, I was wondering if you would like to go to the woods with me this morning to do some scouting?” He replied “Frank, I’m not in Scouts anymore.” I said, “No, not Scouts, you know, scouting for deer and just looking at nature.” He said, “ OH MY GOSH, are you kidding me?” Tyler was then hesitant for a minute and I heard him ask his Father if it was alright. His Father said yes and told him to ask me what time I would be there to pick him up and when would we return. I said I would pick him up at 10:00am and return by 3:00pm. They agreed with this.

I picked Tyler up at about 10:00 and we were off to the woods. For about the first 15 minutes, it was dead silent in the truck. Finally I asked him what had interested him in hunting. He told me that his best friend Robbie went hunting with his Dad a lot and told him about their hunts after he would get home. Then he said that he could not ask his Dad to take him hunting. He knew the reason why his Father wouldn’t go hunting. His Father did not know he was aware of why. I asked him how he knew about this. He told me that he was reading a book about hunting at his Grandmothers house one day, and his Grandma asked him if he knew what happened to his “Gramps”? He had said no, so she told him what had happened. So out of respect for his father, he never asked to go hunting.

We arrive at the woods about 10:45am. I start to get out of the truck to open the gate, so we can pull off the road. Tyler said, “Frank, I’ll get the gate, that’s what Buddy’s are for aren’t they?” I smiled with a huge grin and replied, ”Yes!”

We are walking across the field towards the woods and Tyler is commenting about how big the woods looks, as we are getting closer. About that time he looks down and real quietly says “Frank, is that a deer track” surprisingly I replied yes. Tyler thought that was really amazing, he had been looking at deer tracks in his magazines for a long time but had never seen one in real life. As we walk along the field and near the edge of the woods, the deer tracks and signs are growing greater. Tyler is looking and repeating, “There’s some, and more over there, and there… Wow, Frank there is a gazillion deer tracks out here!!” He was really excited. So we walked around in the woods for a while. I took him to a tree stand on the edge of the woods and told him about tree stands. He said that Gramps was hunting on the ground when his accident happened. He related to Gramps accident quite a lot. He said that if he would hunt from one of those tree stands, he would have to use some kind of safety belt like he had seen in hunting magazines. I told him he was right. Always put safety first in hunting!

Now it’s near about 1:00 in the afternoon. I asked Tyler if he was getting tired and hungry. He said, “No, I really like walking around in the woods and you have really shown me a lot of neat things in the woods and about deer hunting.” So, we decided to go set on the edge of the woods near a creek for awhile, a place where I had seen deer all times of the day previously. We get to this spot, just set down and we see something moving half way across the field. Tyler asked me if I thought it was a deer. I told him to be very quiet and we would set and wait to see. He said, “What if it takes longer than how much time we have left?” I still said lets just wait awhile them maybe we will sneak to the other side of the creek and look from there. So we waited about 15 minutes longer and from the left of us, right along the creek bank, about 20 yards away, were. 3 does. I seen Tyler’s head perk up and look, he tapped me on the leg and whispered “3 DEER!” I said, “Yeah, be extremely still and they might come closer.” They came across the creek and within about 10 yards of us. Tyler was just beside himself in excitement. The deer then slowly walked along the creek to the back side of the woods. I looked down at my watch and seen that it was already 2:00. I told Tyler we had to head back to the truck. He talked all the way back to the truck and all the way back to his house about seeing those 3 deer. I told him that I was kind of amazed that they came so close because, we were not camouflaged with the woods. I told him that the wind was coming from them to us and not from us to them. He said he understood, he had read about how well a deer can smell in his magazines.

We arrive back at his house at 3:00pm sharp. Tyler runs in the house to his Dad and says, “Dad, you are not going to believe this!” We seen like a gazillion deer tracks, Frank showed me some tree stands, and we even had 3 does really close to us!!” 3 of them can you believe it?” He was so happy and excited. Roy looked at me and I nodded yes. I asked Tyler if he would like to go scouting with me again. He asked if we could go the next day. I told him I wouldn’t be going to the woods again until the next Saturday, and if it’s ok with his Dad, He is more than welcome to be my Scouting Buddy. Roy said that it is ok, he can go with me anytime I go, as long as we are safe.

After a month or so more of scouting, Tyler asked me one day if I thought he could ever actually hunt with me. I told him this is something that we would have to discuss with his Father. He understood. So, we went back to his house after scouting that day and Roy was in his office, Tyler and I went in and set down. He asked if we had a good time in the woods today. We both of course replied, “Yes”. Tyler then looked at his Dad and said, “Dad, I know about what happened to Gramps” His Dad replied, “Oh you do?” and glared at me evilly. Tyler said “Dad, Frank didn’t tell me about it, Gramma told me a long time ago.” Roy looked shocked. Tyler said that he would never bring it up or ask him to go hunting because he didn’t want to hurt his feelings.

Tyler then said to his Father “ Dad, I know how you feel about hunting. I know that it hurt you very bad about Gramps. It would hurt me really bad if anything ever happened to you.” We all were starting to get some tears flowing now. Then Tyler said “Dad, I know that Gramps loved to hunt, I know that you loved to hunt when you were my age, I was wondering if I could maybe go hunting with Frank this fall? He didn’t ask me to go, I asked him if he thought I might be able to go and he said that we would have to discuss this with your Dad.” Roy looked at me and asked me what I think about it. I told him that Tyler has read a lot more about hunting than he realizes. He knows all of the safety issues, he really seems to be very aware of safety and wants to always put safety first. I was shocked when Roy said, “just a minute and I’ll be right back” When he returned, he was carrying a large black trash bag with an envelope attached. He handed it to Tyler. Tyler said, “Dad, can’t I wait till Franks gone to take out the trash?” Roy said “ Tyler, open the bag” Tyler opened the bag and inside was a brand new compound bow that was made by Martin Archery. Tyler was speechless. I was speechless. Roy then looked at me and told me to teach Tyler the ins and outs of shooting that bow and all of the safety matters of shooting that bow and hunting. Over the next month, we scouted and practiced shooting every Saturday. Roy told me that every day Tyler would shoot that bow for a couple hours. At this point he was as good of a shot with it from 20 yards as I was! Roy was very proud to see his son doing so well with the bow and being so interested in archery. We even got Roy out in the yard a couple times to give it a shot! We kept scouting and shooting over the summer. September came and Tyler’s Birthday was the on the 15th. I believe it was on a Thursday, I stopped by their house after I got off work that day to tell him Happy Birthday and give him the present I had got him. (A dozen arrows and broadheads). When I got there, Tyler was in the yard shooting his bow. He was surprised to see me there during the week. I looked at him & handed him the box and said Happy Birthday. He opened the box and was VERY surprised to see that dozen arrows and broadheads. His Dad walked outside on the patio and said “Well Son, looks like you’re almost ready to go hunting next month” His Mother was already out there watching him shoot. His Father then told him that “Gramps” had sent him a birthday present also. Everyone seemed so quiet then. So Roy handed Tyler this wrapped box. Tyler opened it and found a complete set of camouflage, and almost any hunting accessory you could imagine. Roy looked at Tyler then and said “ Tyler, Gramps is keeping a watch over you. He will see that you are safe while hunting, I believe the he has put the spirit of hunting back into our family within you.” I’ll tell you at this point, I was crying my eyes out. I told Tyler that I would be picking him up that Saturday morning about 4:00am so we could get in the woods before the sunup. He said GREAT! I’ll see you then. So I went home for the evening, I could not get over what Roy had just said to Tyler about the spirit of hunting being put back into their family. We continued scouting 3 evenings and 2 mornings until a week before Archery Season opened. Back then it opened on the 15th of October.

2 days before opening day, I called Tyler to ask him if he was ready. We had made arrangements with his parents for him to come to my house the night before Opening Day to spend the night. When I called, Tyler’s Mother told me that he was very sick and they were taking him to the Doctor in a couple hours. He was sleeping then and couldn’t come to the phone. I told her not to disturb him, I would stop by that evening to see him. Later that evening, Tyler’s Father called me right before I left my house to go see him. Roy told me that they had to admit Tyler in the hospital. He had Pneumonia, Bronchitis and was dehydrated really bad. I asked Roy if I could go see him. He said to wait a day or so. So I called daily to see how he was. Two days passed and it was Opening Day. I did not go to the woods, I went to the hospital to see Tyler. I walked in his room and he looked at me surprised and said, “ Frank, what are you doing here? It’s Opening Morning!!!!” I told him I couldn’t go hunting without my Hunting Buddy! I told him he needed to get well so he could go with me. He told me that he really felt bad about getting sick and not being able to go. I told him not to worry that there would be a lot more Opening Days in his life. Tyler smiled and said “Thanks Buddy!”

After a week Tyler was released from the hospital and was almost begging to go to the woods to hunt that weekend. His parents told him that he should give it a week or so to make sure he is ok since it was starting to get chilly outside. He agreed with them but wasn’t real happy about the situation.

I stopped by the evening he got home to see how he was doing. He told me he was fine but his Mom and Dad wouldn’t let him go hunting that weekend.

So I told him I had to go out of town until October 30th, and that maybe we could go hunting that weekend on November 1st. Tyler was starting to smile again. Roy came in the room and I asked him if he thought November 1st would be ok? He said it would be great. So I said goodbye to Tyler and told him I would see him on the 31st for an overnighter (with approval from his Dad) and that we would hit the woods early on the 1st!!

October 31st 1987, I picked Tyler up after school. We went out for supper, then to a local sporting goods store and purchased a couple hunting videos.

We went back to my house, watched the videos and ate some popcorn. I looked over at the couch around 10:00pm and Tyler was sound asleep. I went into my room and went to bed. About 3:00am on the following morning, I heard Tyler yell in my room. “FRANK IT’S OUR OPENING DAY!!” I was about scared half to death! So I got up, made some coffee, had some breakfast, Tyler had some breakfast. Then we got everything together and headed out to the woods. We got to the woods about 5:00 am.

We got out of the truck, and started to walk to the woods. Tyler looked at me and asked where my safety belt was. I told him that it was worn out and I was going to hunt from the ground. He looked at me and said “No your not, here” and handed me a brown bag. He had bought me a new safety harness with his own money. Want to talk about something bringing tears to your eyes? I gave that Little Buddy of mine a huge hug and said,” Let’s go find some deer!” So we began the track across the field. We get to two stands I had set up in this woods about 60 yards apart, right in the area where we had seen those 3 deer the first time we went to the woods. I led Tyler over to his stand. He got up into it, I handed him his bow and said “Good Luck!” He whispered, “Good Luck to you too Buddy!” I went to my stand. We heard a lot of twigs snapping and a lot of leaf scuffing before daylight.  These two stands were close enough that I could see Tyler in his stand but far enough away not to be in each other’s shooting lanes. I looked at Tyler and he was watching over his left shoulder. I looked at my watch for some reason. It was 9:30am. I heard a SNAP! Right then and looked to my left. There was a HUGE doe standing there broad side at about 10 yards. I thought to myself, should I take the shot and show Tyler or wait? I noticed another deer out of the corner of my right eye but thought nothing about it. So I decided to take the shot since it was close and I just knew that that doe would be some good meat on the table. So I drew back and let the arrow fly. The doe jumped and took off. I thought to myself. Man, I missed a 10-yard shot! About the same time I heard THWACK! Tyler had just took a shot, I seen a HUGE buck run right in front of me about 40 yards out. I seen it head into the edge of a thicket about 50 yards away. So I waited about 15 minutes and got down from my stand. Walked over to where my arrow was to pick it up and noticed that it was covered with blood and in a pool of blood on the ground. I picked it up, put it in my quiver and headed over to Tyler to see how he’s doing. I looked up at him, with a very long face and I said, “What’s wrong Buddy?” He said “I missed that great big buck” I told him that I had hit that doe over by my stand and again, not to worry, there was still a lot of days left in this hunting season and a lot more hunting seasons to come. He was getting excited then so he came down to help me find her. I asked him where he thought his arrow might be and he pointed and said right over there. We walked up to the arrow and Tyler looked at it and almost started crying!! He yelled, “ I HIT HIM, I HIT HIM” noticing the blood on his arrow. ”Frank can you tell if it was a good shot?” I looked at his arrow and saw that the blood was filled with air bubbles and told Tyler that he had taken a lung shot. Oh man was he ever excited now. I told him that now the big part was about to happen. We have 2 blood trails within 30 yards of each other. I asked him which way his deer went and he pointed. So we started following the very noticeable blood trail that his deer had left. We walked about 60 yards from his stand and came across a doe lying down. I asked Tyler if he was sure it was a buck, He said yes. So we walked up to the doe, she was definitely gone. I told Tyler that it looked like there was still a blood trail going away from her. I knew she had run in this area after I shot at her. So we walked the blood trail for about another 20 yards to the edge of a thicket. I looked right inside the edge and saw a white tail. I pointed, Tyler ran into the thicket and starting yelling “FRANK IT’S A BUCK, I TOLD YOU! WAIT TILL DAD SEES THIS!”

Then Tyler came out of the thicket, looked up to the sky and said “Thanks Gramps” Next he came over to me and gave me a huge hug and said “Thanks Buddy, this is the best day of my life!” I told him that it really made me happy to be able to hunt with him and teach him hunting. Then I said, lets get that monster out of those stickers. So we pulled him out and I was amazed. Tyler had taken his first shot at a real deer and hit. Hit in fact a 12-point Non-Typical Whitetail that weighed when dressed out at 200 POUNDS! This young man was the happiest young man I think I had ever seen at this point. When we arrived back at his house after a long wait at the check in station. Tyler walked in the house with a long face. His Dad looked at me and asked if we had seen anything. I looked at him and winked. Tyler said Yes, Frank got a doe. Come out side and see it Dad, Tyler said. So we went outside to the truck and I opened the tailgate, Tyler looked at his Dad and said “ Dad, I wish you could have been there but I understand why you can’t. Gramps was there though Dad, See” and he uncovered this Big Buck.

Roy grabbed his son and hugged him for at least 15 minutes. Then he hugged me for about as long. They both thanked me and thanked me.  Tyler’s Dad went with us to take the deer to the Locker plant. After we left. His Dad asked if we could go to the woods to see where Tyler had shot his deer. Tyler asked him if he was sure. He said, “Yes, My Father is there to watch over me.”

 

   I had kept in contact with Tyler until about 5 years ago. I talked to his Dad, Roy about a year ago. He said that Tyler has a son named “Jack Walter” after his “Gramps”. I recently, after writing this article, I talked to Tyler my self, we shared a lot of memories together. He told me that still to this day, he has bowhunted every season since that first year and can’t wait to take his son and tell him the story about that first season.

Tyler also is a Bowhunters Education Instructor for the state he lives in now. He is very involved in a youth camp up there also.

I hope you enjoy reading this story as much as I enjoyed “Living It” Helping Youth with Archery and Hunting is what makes a person feel proud to say he has done such a thing and proud to be an Outdoorsman / Bowhunter / Sportsman !

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Published by csinclair on 12 May 2008

Archer and Hiker does not equal Bow Hunter

(a.k.a. 10, (more), practice tips for new Bow Hunters

Last weekend I had the first chance ever to take my bow out into the bush for a long hike on 160 acres of farmland interspersed with forests and tree stands on some private property owned by my family, where I have permission to hunt.

I didn’t actually hunt on the property this time, (not being licensed to hunt in Ontario yet, (anymore)), I was however there to get some practice and experience in getting up early in the morning, (5 AM – 1/2 hr before sunrise), gearing up with all my camo and archery gear and going for a long stalk through the fields, as well as spending some time shooting from a tree stand, (pre-existing), in full gear just to see what it was like. Lucky for me one of the neighbours came by with a big old Tom Turkey (20+ lb’s), that he shot on the first morning with a 10 Guage shotgun, (nice looking bird) we shared an after the hunt drink on my father in law’s back porch while he told me the story. He called out this old Tom with a box call, and put two rounds into him, (which may explain why I’d heard lots of them clucking on the first morning and none on the second).

First thing that I did on the first morning was set up a distance string that I’d prepared with trail tape marker measurements on it the night before. I marked the 20, 40 and 60 meter intervals on it so that I could tune my sights for some longer distances than the usual 20 to 30 meter shots I practice at home. I set my pins for 20, 30, 40 and 60 meters, I won’t take a shot any longer that at this point, maybe later with practice.

I’m very glad that I did take the time to go out get the practice like this because as I’ve been reading the articles on this site and a few others like it, I’ve come to the conclusion that no amount of archery practice and hiking can get one ready to be a bow hunter and after this weekend I think I’m beginning to understand why.

I actually had a big old Tom walk right out of the bush towards where I was practicing from in the tree stand on the first morning out, he came out of the woods about 120 meters away from the stand and came closer until I think I moved and spooked him at when he got to around 80 meters away from me, he was gone in a flash not to be seen or heard from again by me.

Top things I learned on this weekends excursion into the world of bow hunting training & preparation:

1.) Be prepared, although it was early May, the mornings were cold, I forgot to pack gloves and my hands were quite unexpectedly cold on the second morning. Make sure to get all your gear together the night before, check it and double check it, triple check it, (the first morning out I forgot my field glasses even though I’d packed them with my gear, I left them in the truck, doh!).

2.) Humans are very noisy, Walking through the forest in boots it’s very difficult to be stealthy, hunt from a stand or blind and learn to call your prey, the chance of you sneaking up on an animal on it’s own turf are slim in most cases.

3.) Be patient, what better way to spend the morning than sitting out in nature, being silent, scanning for animals with field glasses, (which I did remember to bring on the 2nd morning).

4.) Practice shooting from your treestand in all directions and distances, I could shoot quite easily some in some areas but really had to shift my position and harness to shoot in other directions and distances, practice and be prepared for all scenarios.

5.) Shooting unmarked distances in the wild is very difficult, (it’s critical and quite difficult to judge distances properly this is probably why so many hunters use range finders), shooting from a tree stand is also very difficult, (due to the angles involved), until you get used to it, (I was much more accurate by the end of the 2nd day).

6.) Experience is the best teacher, reading about and watching videos on a topic is not the same as doing something, if you thing you want to be a bow hunter, get out into the woods and actually spend a few damp chilly mornings in the bush doing stuff for real.

7.) Always carry a compass or GPS device, even though I was on familiar land, it would have been easy to get lost at certain points, forests can be deceptive at times and it’s easy to walk the wrong way and become lost, (it happens).

8.) Hunters who get up early, (before sunrise), dress up in Camoflaged clothing, (I was wearing Real Tree HD head to toe), and spend hours in the woods being as quiet as possible see all kinds of wildlife, (during my 2 mornings out I saw: 2 raccoons, 2 groundhogs, lots of Canada Geese, (2 Canada Geese in particular at waters edge of a pond with a nest of 5 eggs), 3 or 4 Mallards, a Great Egret, a wild Turkey, a pair of yellow bellied sap suckers, lots of crows, red winged blackbirds, sparrows and yellow warblers, (although I spotted some droppings and tracks I didn’t see any deer this time out).

9.) Talk about Bow Hunting and your desire to be a hunter with others, (I was slightly surprised by the reception that my interest received from my family and friends), I’ve been invited out hunting with a few different groups now, to hunt for various game and I’ve got permission to hunt about 1000 acres of privately owned land if you totalled up the various offers from kind folks who I’ve talked to about my interest in the sport.

10.) Being out in the bush with the Bow is like nothing else, what a great feeling, memories in the field are irreplaceable. I can only imagine the high that comes with bagging big game with a bow after my brief taste of the sport and the tiniest bit of experience that practice in full gear could provide me with, I’m more eager than ever now.

I figure that I’ll spend a few more weekends this summer up at the same spot practicing and getting used to full camo hiking, stalking and tree stand shooting before next years season, at which time I’ll be licensed for small game and hopefully pull a ticket for turkey and who knows what else. In the meantime, practice, practice, practice.

Happy Hunting!

6 votes, average: 2.50 out of 56 votes, average: 2.50 out of 56 votes, average: 2.50 out of 56 votes, average: 2.50 out of 56 votes, average: 2.50 out of 5 (6 votes, average: 2.50 out of 5)
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Published by bode on 12 May 2008

THE WOODLOT, My Hunting Ground

The woodlot consists of 250 plus acres of apple orchards, ponds, brooks, hay fields, crop fields and cutovers. There are many open hardwood spots and abutting dense fir thickets. Brooks run throughout the property and there are numerous irrigation ponds, home to Canada geese, ducks, frogs and muskrat. Some of the ponds are stocked with rainbow and speckled trout.
The wildlife is plentiful, snowshoe hare, ruffed grouse, spruce partridge and the odd ringneck pheasant has been seen of late. The big game consists of resident populations of whitetail deer, black bear, coyotes and the the odd moose has made some pass throughs. The only specie that we can hunt year round is the coyote and we do have fun trying to outwit the ghost of the woodlot.
Come spring it is time for splittin’ the firewood that was cut during the winter months and stowin’ the firewood in the camp shed for drying. New life is springing all around the woodlot at this time of year. It is also the time we prepare our bait stations and stand setups for the annual spring black bear hunt.
Since taking up bowhunting, I normally hunt from three strategically placed stands. One for bear and two others for deer. I also love to still hunt and familiarize myself each year with any new specie or natural wonder that may occur on the woodlot and surrounding fields.
Stand hunting is what I prefer as it allows me a greater appreciation of nature and all its aspects and also gives me some great video and still photo oppertunities. When heading into the wooded areas of the woodlot at dawn it is eerily quiet, but once settled the harmonious sounds of nature come alive. The red squirrel is scolding me, the invader, but settles down rather quickly. The brook, to me the life of the woodlot has a voice all its own as it rumbles over and around rocky outcrops, twisting and turning throughout the woodlot. Black capped chicadees flit about speedily and oft times alite on my nocked arrow. Dead leaves on the forest floor from last falls hardwoods come the natural fertilizer as new growth springs forth, and the trees are abud once again.
There in the wooded areas of the woodlot is a world of constant shifting of verticals, where having a good eye and an alert mind you can pick out the horizontal line of a back or belly. Then as quiet as it is and without warning there is the sound of a blow or snort and thin legs and raiseded tails the vertical world of the woodlot explodes, with whitetail deer running and leaping in all directions. I then must ask myself was it me?, or was it a bear.
As evening approaches the crickets start and the bullfrogs from the ponds are singing. It is now the time of the predators to prowl. Deep in the woodlot one can hear the yips and howls of the coyotes, and the shriek of the red fox, blood curdling to say the least. The shadows deepen as night draws near, then noiselessly a black bear emerges from the thicket and is at the bait station. First he eyes towards the treestand, now is the time when I become the hunted. I sit still, and quiet, frozen in time until the bear is satisfied it is safe to taste the smorgasbord in front of him. I saw the sign, claw raked trees, bark ripped and gouged some eight feet high.
Ah the woodlot, unlike city parks is noiseless and uncrowded except for the hunters and the hunted. The summer and fall months are yet another change of wonderment in the woodlot, my hunting ground.

26 votes, average: 3.62 out of 526 votes, average: 3.62 out of 526 votes, average: 3.62 out of 526 votes, average: 3.62 out of 526 votes, average: 3.62 out of 5 (26 votes, average: 3.62 out of 5)
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Published by txcookie on 12 May 2008

Succes in Failure

Success in failure

 

I have never been much for the world of trophy hunting. I grew up in an area were big deer were more than just rare, they were endangered, and almost every one I’d ever seen harvested was taken by rifle. I was in love with the arrow so a doe, or spike, or anything, actually, was truly my trophy.  

I took up Bow hunting at the age of 13 and by 15 I had my first deer. In the next 3 yrs I would take two more before joining the Air Force and missing several seasons. Funny, how a war can take you away from everyone and everything you love. After a 4 yr gap I was finally able to get some free time (thanks to hurricane Rita and a two month evacuation) to make a hunt and was able to take a small doe. The predator within me was awakened with that kill, and had the appetite of a bear after a very long winter. 

 In 2006 I was up for orders, and when I saw Iowa on the list I suddenly had a rush of thoughts and pictures with me posing with my Pope and Young’s! I was ecstatic, and when I got the assignment I was already being told from friends of how many monsters I would most likely kill. Success would be mine. 

  Iowa did not let me down for my first season. I could see more deer in just one week then I would see in an entire year back home. Bucks were everywhere, and most were way bigger than what I was used to seeing. I got a map of the land I had to hunt and started researching everything that I could about it. I learned the best ways to ambush without the help of feeders and tried to get used to playing the scent game. I felt I knew how to hunt, however this was the first time in my life I would be 100% solo with my Father and hunting buds living a thousand miles away. Hunting huge fields with little woods is a bit different than hunting the forest of North East Texas.  Everything would be different. 

It all paid off one evening when I passed on a 120 class deer only to be rewarded with a 150 class. He came down a trail which crossed into my best shooting lane, offering a 15yrd chip shot.  As soon as he hit the spot I drew back and all I could think was HORNS. I saw the pins, then the deer, and I just jerked. Needless to say the only thing that got hurt was a small leaf from a half-dead plant.  

The sound of an arrow missing is the toughest sound to hear, and I was crushed. I didn’t eat for 2 days and had to miss work. I swore up and down that I would get this buck or one similar before the season ended. I hunted in –15-degree weather and passed many very respectable bucks that would have probably made the paper in my hometown. I annoyed my wife, sacrificed precious gym time and eventually fell behind at work. In the end I had to settle for several tasty does, and considered my season a complete failure. 

  With post-season came the gym time and catching up with my family and work. Also I had to get my shoulder fixed, which had been really messed up with rotator cuff damage. I was beyond worried about my final season in Iowa, with my last chance to get that mossy-backed monster of the cornfield depending on a bum shoulder!  

After 2 months of Physical torture I was finally able to draw and shoot a new 49# Bow.  Getting the stands up was no easy task either–suddenly I had a new appreciation for just how important shoulders can be for a bow hunter. The first hunt was hot but productive, and in the end there was a heart-shot doe in the back off my truck! Another one would follow later that week and I had convinced myself that this would indeed be the yr.  

That’s about when things went back down hill.  The rut started at a time when I simply could not miss work, even if the Boss had no idea, and I only caught the back end of it! I decided to lower my standards to any P&Y and at the rate I was seeing them, I knew it should only be a matter of time.  My time finally came one cold windy November morning.  A good 8-point came in at 25 yards. Tailing a doe, he stopped for just a moment.  

I remember getting the bow back and telling myself to pick a spot and follow through.  I did, and watched in horror as my arrow sliced the bottom of his chest, leaving him a lot smarter but alive. Having white feathers I can tell you if I have a hit from my stand and in this case they were clean and dry, with just a dab of fat on my shaft and one white hair.   

Back into my depression I went. I was miserable. Finally I decided I had to talk to someone about it, so I called my Father. He was able to get my senses back in order. He reminded me that I had always found my own trophies in any bow kill that I had. This got me to thinking; for 2 yrs I had been bitter, worried, and anxious about deer season, obsessing over big horns! I had let it take to much time away from my family and my career.  I had even let it take the enjoyment out of the hunt. 

The more I thought about it the dumber I felt and more embarrassed I became. It finally hit me that I was in a bowhunter’s heaven and that I was hunting, not competing in a sport with a scoreboard. I needed to just have fun out there like I always had. I had always assumed that my success would be a big P&Y buck, but in the end my success was my failure. My success was finding my passion for simply being a Hunter and taking whatever I deemed a trophy, instead of competing with Magazines and TV shows for trophies.  

The final hunt in 2007 produced a small buck that most would have passed on. I remember sitting in the stand, freezing in the cold.  As I looked down to check my legal shooting time I saw something move thru one of my lanes out of the corner of my eye. With blood pumping and adrenaline surging I rose up and drew back, releasing my big fat XX75 flying at 200 fps straight into the deer’s vitals. With a thunderous crash he broke out of there, stopping just30 yards away before taking his final bed. He has been my greatest trophy to date!

 

8 votes, average: 2.63 out of 58 votes, average: 2.63 out of 58 votes, average: 2.63 out of 58 votes, average: 2.63 out of 58 votes, average: 2.63 out of 5 (8 votes, average: 2.63 out of 5)
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Published by bode on 12 May 2008

Hunting Black Bears

Bears, the ultimate bowhunting experience and not for the faint of heart. When hunting over bait one will see the bear nine times out of ten before hearing it. For its size the Bear is a very quiet and exceptionally fast animal. The bear also has the advantage of knowing more about his home than you the hunter does, afterall this is his arena. Some may feel hunting over bait is a sure thing to tagging a bear and nothing could be further from the truth. The bears in my area do not leave the woods too often, and if the bear does not want to be seen then it will not be seen.

Stand hunting is the chosen method over bait allowing the hunter a chance to determine the size of the bear and whether or not it is a sow with cubs in tow. The bear will inspect the bait station that has been set up and also undoubtably become familiar with the treestand location. I would say that in almost ninety percent of the time a bear walks into the bait station they will at first gaze in the direction of the treestand. This is when the hunter must be patient, quiet and very still, sometimes this being very hard to do dealing with springtime blackflies, mosquitos and numerous other pests and inclimate weather.

First time bear hunters tend to get overanxious and misjudge size quite often. Sighting thier first bear in most causes thier hearts to race, beads of sweat will form on thier foreheads and hands. The weather here can be as unpredictable as the bear being hunted, and in some instances the hunter can become the hunted. Sitting on stand also allows the hunter to enjoy a closeness to nature something that is lost in still hunting and spot and stalk.

We sometimes set up ground blinds and the hunt can be very exhilerating in this situation, as you are ground level, predator against predator. You are 20 to 30 yards from the bait barrel and in walks a 300lb boar, you have no room for error, you must be able to shoot on demand and under pressure. A misplaced arrow can and does bring on a rather bad situation. A wounded bear is not a friendly bear to say the least. In the treestand the hunter is normally about 14 to 20 feet up and 12 to 20 yards from the bait and some bears have been known to climb the tree the hunter is in, another rather exciting encounter to say the least.

Sitting on stand over bait is called hunting in our parts not shooting. Many weeks and months have gone into setting up the site, including the stand location, the bait station and bait being brought in on almost a daily occurance. Hunting over bait is only setting up the condition, there are no guarantees on the kill as that is up the hunter.

On bait, we add to the drum which is normally a 45 gallon plastic barrel, winterkill if available. We get breads and pastries from local shops that are outdated, bones and scraps from local butchers is another source of supply. A stink bait of dried fish is normally hung by a rope in a tree wrapped in burlap close to the barrel. We also will drag a stink bait over various trails throughout the woodlot to entice wandering bears to visit the smorgasborg we have prepared for them.

When doing baiting we wear rubber boots to cut down on leaving human scent. The black bear has very poor vision yet it is extemely important when the hunter is on stand not to suddenly swat a bug or twist in the seat due to the closeness of the hunt. Back to the bait, used deep fryer grease is great to pour around the barrel on the outside so a visiting bear can then track it throughout the woodlot, alerting other bears as to where the bait station is. I also like to soak 4x2x1 inch sponges in a mixture of anise, vanilla extract and liquid smoke and hang from surrounding trees about 5 feet above the ground, and no the bears will not eat the sponges but they will sniff and lick.

The barrel should be affixed to a tree, and we normally use steel coated clothesline and then crib the barrel. Have the barrel standing erect so the bear either has to pull it forward and down or a hole in the side that it must reach into and expose a vital area for your shot.  The barrel also provides an excellent way to judge the size of the bear you are shooting at.  If the bear decides to stand at the barrel and reach in through the top the bear then gives the oppertunity for a pass through shot.

This then is the quest for one of natures more cunning and formidable foes, hunter against hunter, the ultimate bow hunting experience. Eating the flesh of a young black bear can and is a truly delightful eating experience and the spring bear also provides the oppertunity for a fine rug or shoulder mount. If a hunter is looking for a sizable bear then I would suggest a fall hunt where the bear will add almost half as much weight throughout the spring and summer. Fall hunting is great with no bugs to deal with but then on the downside with the berry crops and apple orchards full of fruit it is more difficult to attract the bears to the bait stations.

Most non resident hunters prefer light carbon arrows and 60 to 70 lb draw weights, and lately the Slick Trick 100’s seem to be the broadhead of choice with most hunters achieving pass through shots and short recovery distances of downed bears. Black Bear hunting is truly a bow hunters most exhilerating hunt, but that is my opinion. Have a good one and be safe out there. _____bode

9 votes, average: 2.78 out of 59 votes, average: 2.78 out of 59 votes, average: 2.78 out of 59 votes, average: 2.78 out of 59 votes, average: 2.78 out of 5 (9 votes, average: 2.78 out of 5)
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Published by rose-n-arrows on 11 May 2008

A Poem

–The Deer Hunt —

Alarm clock ticking…

… ready to sound

Darkness hovers all around

From beneath the sheets I leapt

Truth be told, I hardly slept

Load the Thermos

Hop in the truck

It’s time to get my Blacktail buck

Hit the hill that no one climbs

Like I’ve done so many times

Fog is hanging all around

Welcome to my hunting ground

Foxgloves change from gray to white

As the sun dismisses night

My eyes are searching nature’s food plots

Alder saplings in new growth clear cuts

Thermals carry the sweetest scent

Nature’s morning breath is lent

Shooting hour is finally here

Now where the heck’s my little deer?

The sticks and tree stumps trick my eyes

Rumps and antlers in disguise

My eyeballs search the mountainside

Finally our fates collide!

The sun glints off an ivory tip

Carefully, so I don’t trip,

I make my way-the wind is good

I stumble on a piece of wood

He didn’t hear me-

Here we go!

Time to draw my trusty bow-

I draw it back…

and aim…

and squeeze…

The arrow flies-

The Blacktail flees

He bounds and stumbles

Then he goes down

It is quiet all around

My breath is trapped

I thank the Lord

I thank the deer

And then move forward.

9 votes, average: 2.78 out of 59 votes, average: 2.78 out of 59 votes, average: 2.78 out of 59 votes, average: 2.78 out of 59 votes, average: 2.78 out of 5 (9 votes, average: 2.78 out of 5)
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Published by daver9 on 11 May 2008

watching it pass

I am eager with anticipation and nerves as I ease my way down the mowed lane toward the horizon. It is the kind of dark that you can get lost in, even though I could make this journey with my eyes closed it is so familiar. I can feel my heartbeat with each step, and my boots sound as if they are loud enough to wake the dead as I tiptoe through the frosted ryegrass.

I take my flashlight out of my pocket against my better judgment, and let it shine for only an instant for fear that I will see those eyes gleaming back at me. Nothing stares me down, and breathing a little easier I continue to make my way down the lane toward the forest. My favorite tree standing tall against the purple of the first rays of light coming through.

I reach the end of the lane and negotiate my way through the weeds, shrubs and tall grasses to reach the edge of the tree line. The forest is old, but has been cut allowing for new growth to generate obstacles in my way, and the young trees are all too eager to grab at my pack as I attempt to stealth through their fortress of rustling leaves.

My light comes out again as I can no longer see my gloved hand in front of my face. My heart is now almost pounding out of my chest as I scan the tree line for the opening I am looking for. I find it and shut off my light, taking in the serenity of the calm forest floor. I find my tree, and hook my bow and pack to the line I have hanging down from the stand. I take a deep breath, clip into the safety rope and make my way skyward.

At 10 feet I clear the canopy of young trees and the light again changes from pitch black to purple. The air is still as I make my way past 20 feet. I reach the last rung on the ladder step and swing my leg out over to the platform of my stand, always anticipating the slip of a boot and the sudden jerk of the safety rope as it pulls against my harness, only to be met by the searing pain of the tree and metal ladder slamming into my shoulder. Thankfully the slip does not come, and I am standing 25 feet above the forest floor. I sit on the seat and catch my breath, taking in my surroundings and making a note of the absolute quiet.

After a few moments pass, I gather myself enough to raise my bow and pack from the forest floor below. It seems to be heavier than I remember, but I manage to get it up and into my lap. I untangle the pair and hang them on their respective hooks, after taking an arrow out of the quiver and placing it on the shelf of my bow. I wonder if this will be the maiden voyage for this arrow I have crafted myself, and the first kill for my new bow? I try not to get my hopes up.

I ease back into the mesh seat of the stand, and try to calm my racing heart. For a man with a resting pulse of 54, my current rate of 90+ feels as though I have just run a mile, uphill. I breath deep and rhythmic, trying to slow the heart. It begins to fall back into a more familiar cadence.

I peer into the sky, and take in the majesty of the first brush strokes of orange, pink, and red begin to paint the blackish blue velvet of the night sky. This very moment is my favorite time of the day. Just as the night creatures of the forest make their way to bed, and the morning revelry is sounded by the birds waking from their slumber. I hear raccoons fighting in the distance, and a turkey sounds her morning alarm putt from a tree not 60 yards down the ridge. I have made it to my destination, and managed to somehow not alert every animal in the forest of my presence. I feel complete as I watch the night pass into morning….my soul finally at peace once more.

The familiar shuffle of feet through the fallen leaves brings me back from my Zen like state, and the most primitive of feelings begins to rise in my belly.

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