1 vote, average: 3.00 out of 51 vote, average: 3.00 out of 51 vote, average: 3.00 out of 51 vote, average: 3.00 out of 51 vote, average: 3.00 out of 5 (1 votes, average: 3.00 out of 5)
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Published by bigbearsarchery on 04 May 2008

Learning Turkey Lessons the Hard Way

Turkey season is fast approaching here in Pennsylvania.  As I sit here and go over in my head all the things I need to do to get ready for it I can’t help but recall the experiences of my first turkey hunt.

            It wasn’t that long ago, just a couple of years in fact.  My friends, Mark and Justin Nagy, called me one day and asked if I was interested in going to Oklahoma on a hunt for Rio Grande turkeys.  I’d hunted all of my life since I turned the legal age but only for whitetail and black bears, never turkey.  I had some money saved up and the idea of going on a hunt with my friends was exciting so I quickly accepted their invitation.

            Now when the situation calls for it I will hunt with a gun but I am first and foremost a bowhunter.  So naturally that was the method I chose to use on my turkey hunt.  I didn’t even take a gun.  My effective range with a bow is 50 yards and I felt confident that if I could get a turkey within that range I would have no problem making the shot.

            Finally the day of the hunt arrived and as our plane landed in Oklahoma City we were greeted by 50 mph winds with gusts that approached 60 mph.  It was mid-afternoon by the time we met our outfitter and bought our licenses.  The wind had picked up even more force by this time, so much that when we put one of our rental cars in neutral it began to slowly blow it down the outfitters driveway.  We decided to wait it out at our guide’s house in the hope that the wind would stop and we could still salvage some of the afternoon.  Around five o’clock the weather calmed down enough to go hunting and we figured if nothing else we could roost some birds for the morning hunt.

            The next morning dawned about as perfect morning as you could ask for.  Moderate temperatures, clear skies, and no winds greeted us as the sun crept over the horizon.  From the ground blind we had constructed the night before, Justin and I could see the dark outlines of the turkeys still on their perch.  As the sun climbed higher a few of the birds began to gobble from the roost.  Not long after the sound of wings drifted across the field as the birds left their trees and headed our direction, just as we had planned.

            Justin began to call softly and the morning calm was rocked by thunderous gobbles from every direction.  Justin and I looked at each other, the same thought on both our minds.  There were a lot more turkeys here than the ones we had roosted the previous evening.  I could see the tips of their fans, glowing gold in the western sun, moving closer just above the tall grass.  As I clipped my release on the string I was sure the birds could here my heart thumping in my chest.  Justin whispered, “Get ready” and I came to full draw, waiting for one of the long beards to come strutting into our decoys.

            For what seemed like hours I remained motionless, sweat running down and stinging my eyes.  My arm was beginning to quiver when I heard Justin whisper, “Let down.”

            As I did I looked and saw the birds walking into the brush a few hundred yards to our left.  Within a few moments the turkeys were out of view and Justin and I were left alone in the field.

            “What happened?” I asked, turning to look at Justin.

            “I don’t know,” he answered.  “They just walked off.  They didn’t spook.  They just left.”

            We caught the occasional glimpse of them, several hundred yards away now, as they paralleled the river on the other side of the brush line.  We tried calling the birds back to us but they would have no part of it. 

After a while Justin suggested we move further south along the river.  For the next two hours we walked and called, quickly setting up whenever we got a response.  The only reward we got for our efforts was a nice leisurely stroll through some beautiful Oklahoma country.  We decided to return to our early morning spot and construct a ground blind along the southeastern edge of the field in the hopes of catching the birds as they returned that evening to roost.

Once we finished our blind we decided to return to the truck for some lunch.  As we began crossing the field we saw the turkeys from that morning still milling about beside the river.  As quickly as we could without spooking the birds we moved to within a hundred and fifty yards and began calling.  We got an immediate response and the birds moved back into the field.  But just as had happened that morning they refused to come within range.  I had reached my breaking point and decided to put a stalk on the birds.  I’m sure I don’t need to tell anyone how amazingly ineffective and stupid this was.

Justin stayed where he was and continued to calling I moved back into the woods and crept along the brush on the opposite side of the turkeys, I closed to within sixty yards but had reached an opening in the brush.  I waited until I thought all the birds had moved out of sight and then crossed the opening.  It might have been a successful maneuver had it not been for the ten birds I hadn’t seen right on the other side of the brush.  A series of alarm putts and those ten birds along with the twenty or so I had been following shot across the field as fast as they could go.

I stood up as my query moved further and further away.  It was at this moment turkeys burst out from every direction I could see.  There were literally hundreds of birds running or flying in every direction.  One turkey paused long enough for me to get a shot off but I was so worked up at this point that I’m not sure I even aimed.  I watched helpless as my arrow landed, stuck in the dirt five yards short of its target.  That was it the birds were gone.  I know what all of you are thinking, I’m an idiot.  Well, you’re right, I am.  Over the next day and a half I saw some hens but no gobblers. 

Finally, on the evening of the last day of our hunt I borrowed a Mossberg .12 gauge in a last ditch effort.  Thirty minutes before dark fate smiled on me and I took a nice gobbler at twelve yards.  The bird weighed out at 21lbs with an 8” beard and 1 ¼” spurs.

Taking my tom was obviously the highlight of my hunt, but it was my newfound respect for turkeys as a game animal and the hard lessons I learned that will stick with me always.

 

6 votes, average: 3.67 out of 56 votes, average: 3.67 out of 56 votes, average: 3.67 out of 56 votes, average: 3.67 out of 56 votes, average: 3.67 out of 5 (6 votes, average: 3.67 out of 5)
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Published by DuckBuckGoose on 04 May 2008

Strategic Treestand Placement – How to Find the Perfect Ambush Location

Everyone knows that hunting from a treestand can increase your odds of harvesting a deer. But if you want to set yourself up to take a mature buck, there’s much more to it that finding a straight, sturdy tree. Here are some strategies, tips and considerations to help you improve your odds of success.buck in trees

Deer Trails & Travel Corridors:
Just because you can easily see a deer trail, doesn’t mean it is a good spot to hunt. In fact, most mature bucks avoid the “super-highway”, primary deer trails, and prefer the paths less traveled. (If they didn’t, they’d probably never have become mature bucks.) Many hunters on the other hand hunt the most obvious trails. Let them have those spots. Their loss will be your gain.

When you find secondary trails, scout them to see if they have any fresh scrapes or rubs, and dense cover nearby. If they do, they’re probably a good place to start your stand location search. Next, try to find “pinch-points” or bottlenecks somewhere along that trail. Pinch points areas that tend to funnel deer into a more defined and predictable area, and can be created by both natural and man-made structure. For example, wooded fence lines can create pinch points. Thin strips of cover that connect two larger areas of cover can create good pinch points. Natural barriers like ponds and steep ravines can create pinch points. Look for all of the above and more along secondary deer trails and you’re well on your way to finding a good spot to hang a stand.

Food Sources:
Fields filled with a food source like corn, alfalfa, turnips, clover or today’s fancy food plot mixtures can be highly effective at attracting whitetails. When hunting food source fields look for the quietest, most distant corner and set up just inside the woods near that corner. Since the biggest bucks often wait until dark to enter a field, you can sometimes ambush them before dark in their staging areas inside the wood line on a field’s perimeter.

Water Sources:
Small ponds, water holes and woodland streams can be good places to ambush deer at mid-day. If you’re hunting over water sources, check the edges for tracks in the soft earth. Doing so can help you hone in on the most used sections, and will help you pick the best tree in which to set your stand.

Prevailing Winds:
No matter your thoughts about scent blocking clothing, cover scents, special breath control chewing gums, or any of the other products available to aid with scent control, do not think you can forget about wind direction. You can’t. A mature bucks nose will beat you almost every time. That said, when choosing your stand locations, make sure you know the direction of the prevailing winds in that area and choose your tree accordingly. Always place your stand on the downwind side of the expected travel path of the deer.

When hunting mountains or hill country, you also need to keep thermal winds in mind. Thermal winds change throughout the day as the air heats and cools – typically moving air uphill in the morning as the temperatures rise and back downhill in the evening as it cools.

Stand height:
Hunters have differing opinions about this, but some basic rules of thumb are; try to get to a height where you have tree limbs, leaves or other cover behind you to break up your outline. Also, the higher the amount of hunting pressure, the higher you should set your stand. A fairly standard height for stands is 15 feet at the footrest. Personally I like to be a good 20 feet in the tree where I hunt, but the conditions in your area might be different and require less or more height. Keep your weapon and expected shot range in mind also. You don’t want to put yourself so high that your expected shot with a bow is at too steep an angle and limits your ability to get a double lung or heart shot.

Give Yourself Options – Set Multiple Stands:
Even your favorite “honey hole” isn’t always going to be the best spot to hunt. Wind direction, foliage, food supply and breeding conditions are constantly changing throughout the deer season. That’s why the most successful hunters will set multiple stands and give themselves several places to hunt – so they can choose the best ambush location on any give day, based on the conditions they face.

Be Prepared To Be Mobile:
Last season I had what I thought was a great stand location set. As it turned out, it was a great stand for seeing traveling bucks – the only problem was the path they were traveling by that point in the season was 100 yards out of bow range. But there was good news…from where I was, I could tell that several bucks were following this same network of secondary paths that I hadn’t seen during my summer scouting trips. So, that following November morning I took my Summit Viper climbing stand into the woods well before daylight and set up where that network trails converged. It worked like a charm and I arrowed a nice buck at 25 yards –right where I expected him to be. The lesson here is be prepared to be flexible, and consider adding a climbing or quick setting mobile stand to your arsenal for just this type of occasion.

If you have other tips and ideas to share about treestand placement, please do so in the comments section below. Doing so helps us all get smarter and more strategic about how we hunt the whitetail woods.

DuckBuckGoose – May 3, 2008 – Cincinnati, OH

2 votes, average: 3.00 out of 52 votes, average: 3.00 out of 52 votes, average: 3.00 out of 52 votes, average: 3.00 out of 52 votes, average: 3.00 out of 5 (2 votes, average: 3.00 out of 5)
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Published by KurtD on 02 May 2008

Contest Extension & Rating System

Writing Blog & Article Contest Extended

We are extending the writing contest till May 19th. So if you haven’t entered yet you have more time.

Winners will be selected by a combination of the new star rating system (appears above the post title) and judging by our staff. Even if you don’t enter, you should check out the articles and rate them.

4 votes, average: 3.75 out of 54 votes, average: 3.75 out of 54 votes, average: 3.75 out of 54 votes, average: 3.75 out of 54 votes, average: 3.75 out of 5 (4 votes, average: 3.75 out of 5)
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Published by Gear Junky on 01 May 2008

Hardcore Hunter Must-Haves, volume II

Simple. Cheap. Effective. How many products with those attributes actually improve your quality of life?

Toilet seat covers come to mind. Not much else.

In the previous installation, I recommended a great backpack, backpacking stove, and lightweight bivy. In this blog, I’m going to highlight a few items that are less expensive and get less attention, but are worth their weight in gold. These items will make your next hunting trip more enjoyable, believe me. Simple, cheap, effective…you can’t go wrong.

Must-Have Blister Buster: Body Glide Anti-Friction Stick

Lightweight/Compact:10

Durability: 9

Cost-Effectiveness: 10 ($7 online)

Usefulness: 10

Innovation: 8

On the list of things I hate, blistering and chafing rank just ahead of rectal exams and just behind Kirstie Alley’s voice. I can’t do anything about the other two, but blisters and chafing are now a repressed memory with Body Glide. I found this magic stick when I was training for my first marathon. I thought a few days of wearing hunting boots over rough terrain was bad, but let me tell you, you haven’t experienced a hot spot until you’ve had a blister bleed through your sock and shoe on mile twelve. Of twenty six.

Runners, instead of doing the sensible thing (give up running), invented anti-friction sticks out of necessity. Body Glide is as good as any product out there, and is widely available for around seven bucks. You can apply it to feet, from the soles to the toes and the heel and everywhere in between, before putting on your socks. And it works anywhere else you feel hot spots, which can be a real life saver when each step burns your inner thigh. Ouch. And it works on existing blisters, so if you forget to use it, it isn’t too late – a thin layer eliminates friction, and since friction is the cause of irritation and pain, you won’t notice the blister the rest of the day.

All of those clever remedies – duct tape, band aids, Vaseline – are obsolete. Just keep this stick around or cut off a tiny slice and throw it in a plastic baggy for the backpack. It has the same consistency as clear (non-gel) deodorant, and just one stick will last years.

Must-Have Spotting Scope Accessory: Universal Digiscoping Adapter

Lightweight/Compact: 5

Durability: 9

Cost-Effectiveness: 8 ($45)

Usefulness: 8

Innovation: 9

What the heck is digiscoping? A long time ago, people asked what the heck were wheels, or compound bows, or iPods. And digiscoping is much cooler than wheels or iPods. Maybe I’ll write a separate blog on this later, but for now, here’s the quick story. At some point, most every one of us who own a digital camera and a spotting scope have tried to take a picture through the scope, usually with disappointing results. But like Dylan told us, the times they are a changin’.

As you can see, the adapter serves as a tool for positioning and stabilizing a compact camera on a spotting scope, either angled or straight. For $45, you can capture any images you see in your scope by taking a picture or video clip, and with impressive results. It takes some practice to get it just right, but once you figure out the proper settings on the adapter and the camera you’ll have some fun. Here are some of the photos I took through my scope (27x fixed eyepiece and 3x optical zoom = 81x magnification), which would have otherwise been impossible. This pronghorn probably scores near 90 B&C:

Here’s a link to a youtube video of the same goat, also through my spotting scope at 300 yards:

Now, had I come back and told my buddies that I had found a B&C monster without evidence, what would their reaction have been? Sure, Roger Clemens, an 88 inch pronghorn. But with digiscoping, scouting trips become photojournal excursions. Sure, your results will depend on the quality of your spotting scope and your photography skills. But even a rough image is better than no image, right? At twelve ounces, I bring my adapter along any time I’m not living out of a backpack.

Must-Have Bottom-Saver: Allen Gun Cases Self Inflating Seat Cushion

Lightweight/Compact: 9

Durability: 8

Cost-Effectiveness: 9 ($15 shipped)

Usefulness: 9

Innovation: 7

Nobody likes wet rumps in the field. I don’t like a wet rump anywhere. Nor do I like pine cones or jagged rocks jabbing my nether regions when I’m trying to rest my footsies. This self inflating seat cushion does the trick, keeping you dry and padded when you sit to glass those upper basins or relax and watch a Mariners game from the cold metal bleachers in the outfield. It straps around your waist (like a belt) and stays on all day, and after a few minutes you won’t notice it’s there. It doesn’t flap against you as you walk, and it sits below your backpack so it doesn’t get in the way. When you want to sit, just sit – it will be there. This one is not to be missed – it’s the most satisfying fifteen dollars I’ve spent since Safeco Field opened their cheap seats.

6 votes, average: 3.83 out of 56 votes, average: 3.83 out of 56 votes, average: 3.83 out of 56 votes, average: 3.83 out of 56 votes, average: 3.83 out of 5 (6 votes, average: 3.83 out of 5)
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Published by harleyrider on 30 Apr 2008

Treestand Fall Restraint Systems — Use & Tips

How to Arrive Back Home Alive

By Len Hinrichs

Evan was looking forward to this hunt like none he had ever before.  The rut was in high gear and he had an entire week of hard-earned vacation ahead of him to do nothing but bowhunt for a huge buck that he had been scouting since last year.  His close friend Jerry was due to join him the next day at their lease so that they could hunt the week together, but Evan thought he would get a head start by setting one last treestand in a hardwood funnel he just knew that big buck would be crossing sometime during the week’s hunt.  As the morning dew began to burn off, Evan began assembling several climbing sticks and fastening them to the trunk of a suitable oak; alternately climbing and fastening the sections until he arrived at 20 feet.  That completed, he climbed back down and retrieved a brand new loc-on stand purchased especially for this occasion.  After a brief rest, he muscled back up the tree with the stand in tow to set it in place.  After struggling with it’s positioning for several minutes, Evan finally managed to get the stand fastened to the trunk of the tree.  He stood on the top climbing stick rung for a few moments to survey the area from his vantage point.  It was a beautiful day and he could almost taste the backstraps as he stepped up onto the treestand’s platform.  That’s where things went very wrong……..

Jerry arrived at their hunting cabin the next morning and was curiously surprised that Evan wasn’t there.  Evan was always a reliable, punctual person so it wasn’t like him to not be where they had agreed to meet.  After stowing his gear, Jerry remembered that Evan might have gone out to place that funnel stand that they had discussed, so he set out in his car to give him a hand.  Knowing the general area where they wanted to place this stand, Jerry went there and was puzzled to find Evan’s truck but not his friend.  Sensing something was not quite right, Jerry began calling and walking a grid pattern through the funnel area until, late in the morning, he came upon the sight that will never leave his memory: the broken body of his friend and hunting partner, dead at the base of that oak.

Although the story just related and the characters described are fictitious, similar scenarios happen with startling regularity throughout hunting seasons across this country.

Background

Hunting from an elevated position, or treestand, can be a highly effective method for hunters pursuing wild game such as whitetail deer, bear, hogs, elk, turkeys, etc.  The increased elevation offers several advantages over a ground-based stand: 1) it provides a higher vantage point for improved game spotting; 2) it allows the hunter to remain hidden above the game’s normal line of sight; and 3) it provides a greater level of scent control by allowing the hunter’s odor to disperse a greater distance from their stand location.  All of these advantages make treestand hunting very popular, with millions of hunters taking to the trees each year.

However, this popularity has made treestand accidents one of the most prevalent causes of serious injuries or death suffered by hunters.  Statistics show that approximately 1 out of every 3 treestand hunters will suffer a significant fall in their lifetime.  Those aren’t good odds!

The disturbing news is that most serious treestand fall accidents are experienced by hunters who either:  don’t use any form of fall protection equipment at all; use uncertified or outdated fall protection equipment; or use or install their fall protection equipment improperly.  Typical reasons that hunters give for not using fall protection are that they find it “uncomfortable” or “inconvenient” or that it doesn’t fit in with the “macho” image of hunting.  Some contend that “I never needed one before, so I don’t need it now”.  Well, it’s pretty inconvenient to be paralyzed or dead (and none too macho)! 

The good news is that the vast majority of these injuries are preventable by using proper safety precautions and equipment while installing, ascending, descending, and hunting from elevated stands. The following general guidelines will assist you in making decisions that will make treestand hunting a lifelong, rewarding, and safe experience.

Fall Restraint Systems

Always wear a fall restraint system (a.k.a. fall arrest system or safety harness ) any time you are off the ground while hunting – it is your single most important piece of hunting equipment.  A fall restraint system is any device(s) that hunters use to attach themselves to a tree or elevated position to keep them from falling to the ground in an uncontrolled manner and subsequently allows them to safely descend to the ground after falling.  A fall restraint system should be worn at all times while off the ground rather than just at final elevation, since the majority of treestand falls occur while ascending or descending the tree, and stepping across or onto the treestand platform.  The bottom line is that a safety harness can only protect you from a fall if you are actually wearing it when you fall.

Full-body harnesses with straps that encircle the torso, legs, and shoulders allowing a fallen hunter to hang in an upright position are now the only type of fall restraint system recommended by the Treestand Manufacturer’s Association (TMA) as well as other leading hunter safety organizations.  The old-style belts or chest-type harnesses that were often used by hunters in the past are no longer recommended and should not be used.  Full-body harnesses come in several designs including the standard strap and buckle harness; vests with the harness incorporated into the shell; and hybrids that are somewhere in between. With the number of styles available, it should be relatively easy for almost any hunter to find a harness that is safe, comfortable, and easy for them to use. Interestingly enough, many if not all TMA-certified treestands now include a basic full-body harness at no extra charge.  Regardless of the type of full-body harness you choose, make sure that it is properly sized to fit you and that you are within the specified weight limits for that particular harness.  A properly fitted harness will comfortably allow enough adjustment to accommodate heavier clothing worn during cold weather.

Use the following Safety Guidelines from the TMA website to guide you in the proper use and maintenance of your harness.

TMA Treestand Safety Guidelines

  • ALWAYS wear a Fall-Arrest System (FAS)/Full Body Harness meeting TMA Standards even during ascent and descent.  Be aware that single strap belts and chest harnesses are no longer the preferred Fall-Arrest devices and should not be used.  Failure to use a FAS could result in serious injury or death.
  • ALWAYS read and understand the manufacturer’s WARNINGS & INSTRUCTIONS before using the treestand each season.  Practice with the treestand at ground level prior to using at elevated positions.  Maintain the WARNINGS & INSTRUCTIONS for later review as needed, for instructions on usage to anyone borrowing your stand, or to pass on when selling the treestand.  Use all safety devices provided with your treestand.  Never exceed the weight limit specified by the manufacturer.  If you have any questions after reviewing the WARNINGS & INSTRUCTIONS, please contact the manufacturer.
  • ALWAYS inspect the treestand and the Fall-Arrest System for signs of wear or damage before each use.  Contact the manufacturer for replacement parts.  Destroy all products that cannot be repaired by the manufacturer and/or exceed recommended expiration date, or if the manufacturer no longer exists.  The FAS should be discarded and replaced after a fall has occurred.
  • ALWAYS practice in your Full Body Harness in the presence of a responsible adult, learning what it feels like to hang suspended in it at ground level.
  • ALWAYS attach your Full Body Harness in the manner and method described by the manufacturer.  Failure to do so may result in suspension without the ability to recover into your treestand.  Be aware of the hazards associated with Full Body Harnesses and the fact that prolonged suspension in a harness may be fatal.  Have in place a plan for rescue, including the use of cell phones or signal devices that may be easily reached and used while suspended.  If rescue personnel cannot be notified, you must have a plan for recover/escape.  If you have to hang suspended for a period of time before help arrives, exercise your legs by pushing against the tree or doing any other form of continuous motion.  Failure to recover in a timely manner could result in serious injury or death.  If you do not have the ability to recover/escape, hunt from the ground.
  • ALWAYS hunt with a plan and if possible a buddy. Before you leave home, let others know your exact hunting location, when you plan to return and who is with you.
  • ALWAYS carry emergency signal devices such as a cell phone, walkie-talkie, whistle, signal flare, PLD (personal locator device) and flashlight on your person at all times and within reach even while you are suspended in your FAS.  Watch for changing weather conditions.  In the event of an accident, remain calm and seek help immediately.
  • ALWAYS select the proper tree for use with your treestand.  Select a live straight tree that fits within the size limits recommended in your treestand’s instructions.  Do not climb or place a treestand against a leaning tree.  Never leave a treestand installed for more than two weeks since damage could result from changing weather conditions and/or from other factors not obvious with a visual inspection.
  • ALWAYS use a haul line to pull up your gear and unloaded firearm or bow to your treestand once you have reached your desired hunting height.  Never climb with anything in your hands or on your back.  Prior to descending, lower your equipment on the opposite side of the tree.
  • ALWAYS know your physical limitations.  Don’t take chances.  If you start thinking about how high you are, don’t go any higher.
  • NEVER use homemade or permanently elevated stands or make modifications to a purchased treestand without the manufacturer’s written permission.  Only purchase and use treestands and Fall-Arrest Systems meeting or exceeding TMA standards.  For a detailed list of certified products, contact the TMA office or refer to the TMA web site at http://www.tmastands.com.
  • NEVER hurry!!  While climbing with a treestand, make slow, even movements of no more than ten to twelve inches at a time.  Make sure you have proper contact with the tree and/or treestand every time you move.  On ladder-type treestands, maintain three points of contact with each step.

In addition, you should keep your safety harness clean and dry and store it out of direct sunlight, away from chemicals and possible ozone sources.

Additional Tips for Use of a Fall Restraint System

There are several methods for safely attaching your fall restraint system while ascending and/or descending your selected tree.  Each has it’s specific uses depending on the task being performed.

  • Lineman style ropes which fasten around the tree and directly to D-loops on the harness belt are used to ascend and descend the tree while still allowing the climber to keep his/her hands free.  This is particularly useful for hanging loc-on stands, placing tree steps, or trimming branches.
  • Top-fastened tree ropes are attached to the tree at stand height and hang down to near ground level.  The safety harness tether is attached to the the tree rope via a small sling tied into a special Prussic knot.  The Prussic knot it designed to be slid up or down the tree rope with minimal effort, but locks to the tree rope in the event of a fall.  This setup is useful for ascending/descending ladder stands and loc-on stands that are semi-permanent or already in position.
  • Mechanical retractors are attached to the tree at stand height and consist of a mechanical reel-type retractor similar to an automatic seat belt retractor.  The safety harness tether is attached to the free end of retractor when standing on the ground and as the tree is climbed, the retractor automatically takes up the slack belt.  In the event of a fall, the retractor immediately and automatically locks thereby arresting the fall.
  • Standard tree straps and ropes are attached by looping them around the tree to be climbed then fastening them directly to the safety harness tether.  The tree strap/rope is pushed up/down the tree and snugged up with each step.  These are predominantly used while ascending trees using climbing style treestands.

No matter which type of safety harness attachment system is used, the safety tether should always be kept as short as possible and should be fastened above head height while standing in the treestand.  This will minimize the distance that you can drop if you you lose your balance and fall from the stand platform.  It will also allow a better opportunity for you to crawl back into your stand should you experience a fall.

Make sure when setting stands that you extend your tree steps or ladder system at least 3 feet above the platform level of the stand so that you can step down onto the platform when transitioning to the stand.  This makes it much easier to get into your stand in the dark or during inclement weather.

Always use a pull-up rope to hoist weapons or equipment into your stand.  Make sure all weapons are unloaded and securely fastened before hoisting.

If You Do Fall While Wearing a Fall Restraint System

If the worst happens and you do fall from your stand or while ascending/descending a tree while wearing an appropriate fall restraint system, what do you do next?  The first thing is DON’T PANIC!  Assuming you’re conscious and not seriously injured, you need to make an effort to get yourself either back onto your platform or to the ground as quickly as you safely can.  Even though your harness has kept you from falling to the ground, you may now be in danger of another serious condition called “suspension trauma”.  If you are allowed to hang from your harness for even a relatively short time (i.e., less than 15 minutes), blood will begin to  pool in your lower extremities, thereby starving your central core area and brain for needed oxygen, causing you to pass out and eventually die.  It is imperative that you quickly alleviate this situation in one of several ways. 

  • Crawl back onto your stand platform.  This is possible if you attached your safety tether high and short enough that your fall was minimal and you can easily reach the platform.
  • You may have to descend the tree.  To facilitate this it is recommended that you carry an extra screw-in tree step or a length of sturdy rope sufficient to go around the tree you’re climbing in an easily accessible pocket on your person.  In the event of a fall, you can then insert the tree step or loop and fasten the rope around the tree in order to give you a place to step up to take your weight off the harness.  By alternating moving the step/rope and hanging in your harness, hopefully you can safely descend to the ground.
  • If you can’t immediately extricate yourself by climbing back onto your stand platform or safely descending the tree, exercise your legs by pushing against the tree or doing any other form of continuous motion with your body and legs.  This will help to keep blood circulating from your legs to the rest of your body.  Remember, this is only a stopgap method.  You still need to continue to try and either climb back onto the stand platform or descend the tree as soon as possible.
  • Only as a last resort, you may have to cut your tether and hopefully climb/slide down the tree trunk in a controlled fashion, minimizing injury.  For this you should always carry a knife or shielded strap cutter that is readily accessible or fastened to your harness so that you can reach it easily.  Remember that your full weight will come to bear once you cut your safety tether so hang onto the tree tightly or be prepared for a quick descent!

Summary

Hunting from an elevated treestand can enhance your opportunities as a hunter to see and kill more game.  However, these opportunities are tempered by the many risks associated with the use of treestands that should not be ignored.  Proper use of a certified fall restraint system and thoughtful installation and use of your treestand and accessories can go a long ways towards ensuring that you have a safe and successful hunt.  Remember to arrive back home alive!

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Published by RchurE on 29 Apr 2008

My journey back to field archery.

It’s been about 8 or 9 years since field archery has been a part of my life. Some of my best childhood memories are of the tournaments my dad, his friends, and I attended. I shot the 3-D scene for a few years after field “fizzled out” around these parts in Southwest Virgina. Our field range had been on hiatus due to a gas pipeline that had to be consructed pretty much smack dab through the middle of it. When I rejoined the club last year I was pleasantly surprised that there were a few people that had rekindled the field spirit and reconstructed the range. 

When I was in my prime if I ever had one I usually averaged in the low 540’s and always wanted to hang with the big boys in the 550’s. I shot in the 550’s a few times as a youth and won the Va. state shoots a few times. Once I stepped up to the young adult class and then the adult class I kind of just leveled off and never was able to reach that next level. Then I hit that age that we all hit as young men and started chasing the girls and archery was no longer my primary interest. I still shot quite a bit but not enough to achieve the “shot” that takes more practice than I was willing to commit to.

Here I am many years later and I’ve came full circle back to where it all started for me, field archery. I thought I might start this blog to help track my progress as I make my way back in. I’ll start by saying that I probably won’t be shooting a whole lot of tournaments because I’ve decided that this stint in archery is going to be more of a hobby for me than anything and I don’t want to put pressure on myself so much that I stop enjoying it. That was a large part of why I stopped the last time. I think you can take this stuff too seriously and I don’t recommend letting it get to that point.

The past year has proved to be both expensive and frustrating. I’ve been through 5 bows and I’ve had to learn everything that I have forgotent all over again. I ended up with a Hoyt Ultra Elite for 3-D and a Pro Elite for field. I just got the Pro Elite ready to go a couple of weeks ago and I shot my first half with it today. Up to this point I’ve been shooting some rounds but they’ve all been done with my 3-D bow.

The first time around this year was on March 31st. I got to meet a new friend that day named Roy Sturgill. He’s an older guy from this area originally but moved to Delaware. He was in visiting some family and decided to shoot a round at the club while he was here. We had a great time that day and it couldn’t have been more fitting for me to get to shoot with an “old schooler” that day. I ended up shooting a 265 half on the field faces. I felt pretty happy with that since it was the first time outside and the first time on a field course in that many years.

My second time out was on April 5th. That day was wet and rainy but still a lot of fun nonetheless. I shot alone that day and to be honest it had been some kind of day at work so I was glad to get some peace and quiet at the range flying solo. I did better that day and was tickled with a 271 half, still on the field faces. I shot a 20 on the 30 which I normally struggle with pretty badly and I also 20’d the 80. I hadn’t done that in a long time so I was on cloud nine.

On April 20th we had a 28 animal round at the club and I decided I’d shoot it. It rained pretty much all day long and it was miserable as far as shooting conditions go. The camaraderie was just as I remembered it though. We had a blast as we all got soaking wet and tried to keep the raindrops out of our scopes. When it was all said and done I was whipped. I knew I was out of shape but wow, I forgot what good exercise it is walking 28 targets. Those pesky little 21 rings they put on the animals now are a lot tougher to hit than one would think. I had two brain farts for 18’s and hit five of those 21’s for a total of 561. I was happy with that but I think I can do much better with some practice. 

I realize this has been a long post here but I’m coming to an end very soon. All of this brings us to present time so I’ll get back to the first round with the new bow I spoke of earlier. It was blue cold today compared to the 70 degree weather we’ve been getting and it seems this part of the country is the new Chicago as far as the wind goes. I’m getting pretty used to these terrible shooting conditions and won’t know how to act when I finally get to go shoot on a nice day. I shot really well today even though my score didn’t reflect it. I shot 14 hunter targets and ended up with a 270 half. The 32 fan took my lunch money as I suspected it would. I shot a 17 on that one so almost a third of the points I dropped were on that one alone. I shot 18 on the 70 walk up, 19 on the 64 walk up, 19 on the 40, 19 on the 48, 19 on the 58 walk up, and 19 on the 44.

I’ve set a goal for 550 before the year is out and I don’t think I’m too far off. I’m hoping to get out tomorrow or Thursday for another round. Stay tuned for details.

 

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Published by 6xdad on 29 Apr 2008

Browning Broken limb

I havea question, Doesanyone havea setof limbs to fit a Browning Mantis 2001

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Published by treedweller on 29 Apr 2008

Trading it all in to have been in the woods

I grew up in Southwest Detroit Michigan.  My Dad was a Mailman and my Mom a bank worker.  I had a very good childhood with many friends.  We played in the local park, climbing trees, playing baseball and basketball.  As I got older, I began playing Basketball in grade school and eventually High School.  I was very competitive and was eager to excell.  I would have gone to college if not for a senior year illness that sidelined me for 3 months.  One of my highlights was being brough up to Varsity during my sophmore year of High School.  I continues to play after High School in the local Parks and Rec areas of Detroit.  I was not great but I held my own against some pretty fieces competition.  I played against ex-college and one ex NBA player.  I never had the oportunity to fish or hunt.  My Uncles and Cousins were all into hunting and fishing but I lived too far away.  After 34 years in the Detroit area my Wife, Son and myself decided to move out to the country.  Right away I took my hunters safety class and purchased my first archery liscense at the age of 34.  I had no teacher just some magazines.  I has an older PSE bow and shot often.  There is plenty of State land around my home so I started scouting.  What a feeling being in the woods for the first time in my life.  I was very inexperienced and on my first morning hunt, I went into the woods in total darkness, I walked and tried to find the tree that I had scouted but I could not.  So I picked a tree and started climbing with a second hand older climber.  I was exhausted when I reached the height that I thought I needed to be.  As the sun came up a saw 5 deer about 50 yards away, what a feeling.  They never came close enough but the funny part was that I was only about 10 feet off the ground.  I have hunted State land now for 8 years and have learned plenty.  I now hunt about 20 feet off the ground or more.  I have only taken 1 deer with my bow and 2 more with a borrowed muzzleloader, but my heart is in Bowhunting.  I have had good times and bad.  I have seen some nice Bucks, nice does, Turkeys, Coyotes, Racoons, Foxes and many more animals.  What an awesome experience.  I have alway said that my story would make a good show.  I would gladly have traded in all my Baseball and Basketball memories to have been in the woods.  Like the saying says” A bad day in the woods is better than a good day at work”  is a true statement.  My wife will be bowhunting with me this Fall, my 11 year old Son wants to but the finances aren’t there right now.  Like I said before” I would gladly have traded in all my Baseball and Basketball memories to have been in the woods.”

 

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Published by Mead on 28 Apr 2008

Why I Hunt: The Loss of a Dear Friend

     Every fall I get asked the same question: Why do you hunt?

     The answer is simple. I have always found peace in the woods.

     When I was a child I went hunting to accompany my dad. I wanted to see wild animals. On numerous occasions I had small birds land on the brim of my hat. I also had chipmunks and red squirrels scurry up my legs. Every time we went to the woods I came back with a memory.

     At the time I didn’t think these events would hang around in my memory, but as I get older the memories become more and more alive. These memories make me see how how those cold days in the woods every fall helped my dad and I create a bond that nobody can truly understand but us.

     As humans we all have best friends. I have been fortunate enough to have two of them throughout my life. My father is one of these friends. My other friend, who I also have shared many trials and tribulations with, is now gone.

     As I head to the woods this fall it will be a new era for me. I will be forever thankful that my dad will be by my side to comfort, guide and help me get through the tremendous pain and hurt that goes along with losing a person so close to me.

     When I shuffle through the leaves and trudge through the wet snow, I will have a constant reminder of this person: the gold medical alert necklace that dangles from my neck. My friend was thoughtful enough to give it to me just in case I ever need it to save my life.

     I used to sit in the woods and wonder what my friend was thinking. I would ask now and then, but I never felt like I knew for sure. I always wondered what I could do to make our friendship better. We had been friends since childhood. We had counted on each other for comfort and security. Now, more than ever, since I lost this dear friend, I’m thankful that dad and I formed the friendship we did when I was young. He doesn’t replace my friend, but he is there to help me get beyond my loss.

     I can now see how important those trips to the woods were for me. When I was young, dad taught me how to deal with my feelings. I learned that it was okay to be mad, angry, happy or sad. I am thankful for this because I’ve had every type of emotion on this roller coaster ride the last year.

     My dad might not have known what he was giving to me at the time because I sure didn’t know. However, over the last few years I have learned that he gave me the inner strength that I would need on my journey through life. He also gave me the ability to understand that if you sit tight under the trees, even in the pouring rain, you can still find miracles in the harshest of times. I’ve seen deer pick through the leaves in search of food. Although it’s pouring rain, the deer don’t acknowledge the weather. They move forward just to survive. It makes me realize that I too must continue moving ahead.

     One year I regularly observed the same group of deer early in the season. As the season progressed a fawn disappeared, but the family carried on in normal fashion. I always wondered what happened to that fawn. I will never know, but I could see that the family moved along because time doesn’t stand still for anyone or anything. Although I lost the closest friend of my life I know that I must move forward.  There’s no going back in time and there’s no figuring out the ups and downs in life. Sometimes the answers are right in front of us if we only open our eyes to see them. I’m sure nobody will ever take my friend’s place, but I may start new memories with a friend I haven’t met yet or a friend who has stood in the shadows waiting for more of my time.

     When I was a boy, my dad taught me to expect the unexpected. One night my father brought me bowhunting. We sat on a log a few feet behind a stump. As the sun faded and the woods became gray a deer ran stratight at us. The deer jumped over the stump and landed about a foot to our left. The deer never knew we were there. That night I learned that you never know what might happen.

     This lesson came back to me last fall. Although I always enjoyed hunting, I hunted with half a heart in the early part of the fall. By the middle of the fall I just couldn’t go back to the woods. My friend was gone. Gone like a leaf falling from a big oak on a windy fall day. It was just like the deer from when I was young. A few snapping sticks alerted me and my dad that the deer was headed toward us, but we didn’t know what to expect.

     The experience with my friend was similar to that childhood memory. My friend was quiet, reserved and just didn’t welcome much discussion. I tried to talk, but the communication was non-existent. Before I knew it my lifelong friend had disappeared. I sat for months on end in the darkest of nights trying to figure out why, but nobody could help. I felt lost in a huge tract of wild forest. I was as empty as a well without water.

     Every hunter has a favorite spot. My favorite spot is a big oak tree on the side of a mountain. Every year I go to this place because it gives me something I need, something I can’t describe to anyone.

     It’s the same thing my friend gave me. As nobody can replace a fallen tree, nobody can replace this person. A new journey has started for me. Hopefully If I cross enough hills and valleys I can find a new tree to sit under. A tree to support my back, rest my shoulders on and listen to my dreams.

     I go to the woods every year to find myself. I love to sit as the sun peeks out from behind the mountains first thing in the morning. I love to hear the woods come alive with animals. I also like sitting silently and thanking my parents for making me who I am today.

     The next time somebody asks you why you hunt, please take the time to think about it. Take your child with you or your niece or nephew or the neighbor’s kid. You could affect their lives in more positive ways than you could ever imagine. I thank my mom and dad for always being there and showing me the way.

     As for my friend who is gone, I want you to know that you were one of the greatest memories I will ever have. I want to thank you for saving my life on numerous occasions in the middle of the night when I suffered from diabetic insulin reactions. I know it wasn’t easy and I know it wasn’t fun. But, find comfort in the fact that I will be forever thankful that you gave me the ability to continue living and walking across the forest floor every fall in search of inner peace. Thank you and goodbye, my friend. I will never forget you.

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Published by whitetail101 on 28 Apr 2008

A Pennsylvania Longbeard

A Pennsylvania Longbeard

 

He was coming down the rise 50 yds to my right in full strut, fixated on my decoy setup.  A full season of frustration and anxiety was about to become pure elation.  As he made his way to the decoys, I slowly slid the safety off and hunkered down behind the BSA 4×32 scope on top of my customized Remington 870.

 

The Pennsylvania Spring Gobbler season for 2007 began not unlike the 24 seasons before.  I was out until dark the Friday evening before, on a neighboring farm known to hold a good turkey population.  Pulling into the parking area along a tractor road, I watched eight longbeards across the field feeding toward the roost site.  After locating a good spot within 100 yards of the roost site, I went home to prepare for the coming morning.

 

The alarm went off at 4 am opening day, April 27th.  After much anticipation resulting in a long sleepless night, I got up and made breakfast while waiting for my friend Eugene to arrive.  One look out the window at the light rain falling told me today was going to be a difficult day.  Eugene arrived and we drove to the farm and parked by the old barn.  After making my way to the chosen spot on a wooded point where three fields join together, I placed my two decoys at 30 yards, while Eugene decided to sit on the top of the ridge just below the barn. 

 

Just before sunrise, I pulled out my HS Strut 360 slate call and made a couple of soft tree yelps.  The morning stillness was immediately broken by several gobblers answering from all points of the compass.  Softly calling again, they immediately answered. By the sound of the gobbling they were still on their roosts.  After several minutes of this racket the woods became silent again, except for the sound of the rain striking the leaves from last fall.  We sat through another hour of silence before Eugene decided to quit for the day.  I decided to move to nearby State Game Lands for some running and gunning.  As shooting hours came to an end at noon I heard a couple of gobblers, but saw nothing the rest of the morning,

 

For the next two weeks I hunted in the morning before work, but didn’t hear or see any gobblers.

 

Each day for the last week of the season I took a half day vacation from work to hunt. The weather cooperated and the birds responded.  On Monday several gobblers answered my calls and came into the field, but they would not come into my comfort zone of 40 yards.  On Tuesday a gobbler answered from the old spruce tree at the top of our property. He started right at first light and sounded like he was pacing back and forth at the top of the ridge.  I had all but given up on him when his last gobble came from 25 yards to my left behind a screen of green briar. Thinking he would move from the green briar to the decoys, I put the call away and got the gun ready.  He had other ideas however, and appeared in a position where I could not get the gun on him.  The old gobbler must not have liked the decoy set up and returned to the top of the ridge.  Failing to call him back into range, I broke off the hunt and left for work.

 

The rest of the week produced no sightings or gobbling.

 

The last day began at 4 am just as it had on opening day; except for clear skies and comfortable temperatures.  I hit the snooze bar a few times too many and realized that it was already shooting light.  Skipping breakfast, I grabbed my gear and went to my opening day spot.  I placed three decoys — a hen and a jake/hen mating setup — at 30 yards from my position. After waiting what seemed like forever, I began a series of tree yelps and elicited a gobble from the next ridge.  Calling again he filled the valley with boisterous gobbling.  He continued to answer me for about the next half hour, but didn’t seem like he was moving toward me at all. I contemplated moving to his ridge when he gobbled in the valley between us, and this told me he was headed my way.  Calling to him again produced no response.  The silence continued for about 30 minutes before he double gobbled 100 yards to my right.  My heart began to race as the gobbler approached, and I continued calling to him. As he crested the slight rise at 75 yards, his head and neck reminded me of a little red periscope. I slowly raised my gun into position as he continued to move to the decoys in full strut; spitting and drumming as he marched.  At 50 yards I released the safety and prepared to collect my prize. At 35 yards he entered the field of view, filling my sight picture with a wondrous display of color. When the crosshairs settled on the base of his neck, the Remington roared and the old gobbler dropped where he stood.

 

After fifteen frustrating days of hunting during the two month long season, my excitement could no longer be contained.  The jubilant shouting could be heard for miles.  I admired his 11 inch beard and one inch spurs for several minutes, before hoisting the 17 pound behemoth over my shoulder and making the long satisfying walk back to the truck. 

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