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INCREDIBLE HUNT
FOR A MICHIGAN WHOPPER

ALASKA
BROWN
BEARS
Going Eye
to Eye with
Americas
Largest
Predator

HIGHALTITUDE
ELK

BROADHEAD

FACTS

A True
Journey for
Rutting
Bulls

THE REAL
TRUTH BEHIND
LETHAL ARROW
PERFORMANCE

SCOUTING
NOW IS WHAT
LEADS TO NEXT
YEARS BUCK

BIG-GAME
ADVENTURE

Wyoming Moose
Colorado Antelope
Quebec Caribou

JAN/FEB 2015 VOLUME 53, NO.1 $4.99 U.S.


DISPLAY UNTIL: 3/10/15 BOWANDARROWHUNTING.COM

01

09281 03123

Engaged Media By Beckett

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{Contents}
VOL. 53 NO. 1 JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2015

40}Wyoming Shiras

HOW-TOs
46} Next Years Plan
If you want to improve your next hunt
then now is the time to get to work.
By Steve Bartylla

After years of striking out in the bull


moose draws, this bowhunter decided
to turn his focus on a cow tag. His
strategy paid off well.
By Warren Anderson

54} Coastal Mega Bears

74}Western Ready
If youre the type of bowhunter that has
hunted nothing but whitetails from a
tree, but is planning a western elk or
deer hunt, here are some crucial bits of
advice to help you plan right.
By Joe Bell

ADVENTURE
18} Nomads of the Tundra
Two bowhunters take to the open bogs
of Quebec, searching for big-beamed
caribou and lots of adventure.

Join this bowhunter as he travels to the


wilds of Alaska to face Americas
largest predator.
By Ryan Eaves

62} Aspen Royals


Amid the wild mountains of
southwestern Colorado, two
bowhunters embark on a unique
journey for rutting bulls.

SPECIAL
82} Michigan Whopper
This avid whitetailer shares a recent
hunting experience about a big
10-point buck that followed
the script perfectly.
By John Eberhart

88} Warrior Axis Buck


This bowhunter enjoys a great day
bowhunting free-ranging Hawaiian axis
deer, resulting in one incredible
encounter and trophy.
By Bruce Faulkner

TECHNICAL

By Eyad Yehyawi

68} Pronghorn By the Nose

26} Hard-Core Arrow


Performance

On the prairie, anything can happen,


as this adventure truly shows.

This bowhunter explores the facts


behind arrow and broadhead
penetration. The results are
quite noteworthy.

By Bob Barnette

By Grant N. Benson

BowAndArrowHunting.com

34} Midwestern Double Tap


Come along on this exciting doubleadventure, do-it-yourself hunt for big
midwestern bucks.

By Jeremy Johnson

By Tony Ruggeri

18

62

68

26

54

82

Bow & Arrow Hunting (ISSN 0894-7856), Volume 53, Number 1 is published 6 times per year in Jan/Feb, Mar/Apr, May/Jun, Jul/Aug, Sep/Oct, and Nov/Dec by Beckett Media, LLC, 22840 Savi Ranch Parkway,
#200, Yorba Linda, CA 92887. Periodical postage paid at Anaheim, CA, and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: send address changes to Bow & Arrow Hunting c/o Beckett Media, 4635 McEwen Road,
Dallas, TX 75244. Return undeliverable Canadian addresses to: Bow & Arrow Hunting c/o Pitney Bowes, Inc., PO Box 25542, London, ON N6C 6B2 GST#855050365RT001. 2014 by Beckett Media, LLC.
All rights reserved. Reproduction of any material from this issue in whole or in part is strictly prohibited.

BOW ARROW HUNTING JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2015

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WHAT DOES ZERO TORQUE MEAN TO YOU?

MORE BUCKS
IN TRUCKS.
EVERY COMPOUND BOW EVER BUILT HAS SUFFERED FROM ONE INHERENT FLAW: TORQUE.
MORE SPECIFICALLY, TORQUE FORCED INTO THE RISER FROM CABLE TENSION THROUGH
THE CABLE GUARD. EVEN FLEXIBLE CABLE GUARDS ARE GUILTY. BUT THE ALL-NEW, TRULY
REVOLUTIONARY ZT CABLE GUARD SYSTEM (PATENT PENDING) ELIMINATES THE SIDE
LOAD TORQUE THAT THE CABLES APPLY TO THE RISER AS THE BOW IS DRAWN, GIVING YOU
DEAD-ON ALIGNMENT AND EASY TUNING. NOT TO MENTION A MORE ACCURATE, CONSISTENT, SMOOTH AND HARD-HITTING SHOT. IN OTHER WORDS: MORE BUCKS IN YOUR TRUCK.
THE ALL-NEW CARBON SPYDER ZT AND NITRUM SERIES ARE THE ONLY BOWS THAT HAVE
IT, AND BOTH ARE ONLY AVAILABLE AT A HOYT DEALER. GET SERIOUS. GET HOYT.

The only system of its kind. Available


exclusively on the new Carbon Spyder
ZT and Nitrum Series bows in 30, 33
350 fps Turbo and 34 axle-to-axle.

BAH_1501_TOC_4-6.CX.CX 12/11/14 10:11 PM Page 6

JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2015
Volume 53 Number 1

{Contents}
BowAndArrowHunting.com

VOL. 53 NO. 1 JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2015

EDITORIAL
Editor: Joe Bell
Managing Editor: Breanna Armstrong
Senior Creative Director: Eric Knagg
Art Director: Claire Morales
Deer Editor: Chuck Adams

CONTRIBUTING EDITORS
Steve Bartylla, Denny Sturgis, Jr., Judd Cooney,
Myles Keller, Ted Nugent, Lisa Price, Tim Strickland,
Randy Templeton, Joe Blake

ADVERTISING
Gabe Frimmel - Ad Sales Director
(714) 200-1930 - GFrimmel@engagedmediainc.com
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(714) 312-6275
Mark Pack - Senior Account Executive
(714) 200-1939
Gennifer Merriday - Ad Traffic Coordinator

ON THE COVER:

If its adventure you like,


then youre going to love
this issue. From Quebec
caribou to midwestern
whitetails, to Alaskan
brown bears to Wyoming
moose, and much in
between, this edition of
Bow & Arrow Hunting
delivers exciting, nailgripping bowhunting
action youre gonna love.
We hope you enjoy.

DIRECT MARKETING GROUP


John Bartulin - (866) 866-5146 ext. 2746
Paul Caca - (866) 866-5146 ext. 4961
Ryan Lauro - (866) 866-5146 ext. 2756

OPERATIONS
Gus Alonzo: Newsstand Sales Manager
Celia Merriday: Newsstand Analyst
Amit Sharma: Business Analytics Manager
Mohit Patel: Newsstand and Production Analyst
John Cabral: Creative Graphic Designer

14

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& SALES OFFICE
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Ph: (800) 332-3330
Fax: (800) 249-7761
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www.facebook.com/eembybeckett

12

As always, please send


your comments, hunting
photos or stories to:
editorial@bowandarrowh
unting.com. Regular mail:
Bow & Arrow Hunting,
Attn: Reader Success,
22840 Savi Ranch
Parkway, Suite 200,
Yorba Linda, CA 92887.
Wed love to hear from
you!

Bow & Arrow Hunting (ISSN 0894-7856), Volume 53, Number


1 is published 6 times per year in Jan/Feb, Mar/Apr,
May/Jun, Jul/Aug, Sep/Oct, and Nov/Dec by Beckett
Media, LLC, 22840 Savi Ranch Parkway, #200, Yorba Linda,
CA 92887. Periodical postage paid at Anaheim, CA, and
additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: send address
changes to Bow & Arrow Hunting c/o Beckett Media, 4635
McEwen Road, Dallas, TX 75244. Return undeliverable
Canadian addresses to: Bow & Arrow Hunting c/o Pitney
Bowes, Inc., PO Box 25542, London, ON N6C 6B2
GST#855050365RT001.
2014 by Beckett Media, LLC. All rights reserved.
Reproduction of any material from this issue in whole or in
part is strictly prohibited.

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Columns
16 Adams on Deer

10

Doing It Right
By Chuck Adams

92 Stickbows
Silent and Deadly
By Denny Sturgis, Jr.

98 Tech Tips
ENGAGED MEDIA

Pre-Shot Primer
By BAH Staff

BY BECKETT

Nick Singh: Executive Director


Vikas Malhotra: Vice President
Erin Masercola: Group Editorial Director
This magazine is purchased by the buyer with the
understanding that information presented is from various
sources from which there can be no warranty or responsibility by Beckett Media, LLC as to the legality, completeness or technical accuracy.
GST #855050365RT001
Canada Post: Publications Mail Agreement #40612608
Return undeliverable Canadian addresses to:
PITNEY BOWES, INC.
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Departments
8
10
12
14

From The Editor


Sneak Peek
Inside Gear
Questions & Answers

Deer cover photo by


donaldmjones.com

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{EDITOR}
from the

SHARING THOUGHT, INSIGHT, AND HARD-CORE ADVENTURE WITH TODAYS SERIOUS BOWHUNTING ENTHUSIAST

Perservering to the End


Comfort is a desire we all naturally
want in our lives. But when out
bowhunting, comfort is often a rarity. At
least this is what Ive found. Being sleep
deprived, cold, frustrated, and home-sick
can wreck any chance of being at ease
and comfortable. But as a dedicated
bowhunter, you must resist these
temporary setbacks and press on, all in
hopes of being successful. Remember, it
takes only a few seconds for a trophy to
appear and for the shot to break.
All year long we think about hunting
and ready ourselves for the season, so
we must not forget that. I can think of
several hunts where I gave in to
emotional disruption. The result in every
case was tag soup, and every time I
regretted being so weak and fainthearted.
On the other hand, during those hunts
where I kept it together, I felt nothing but
satisfaction as I looked back on the
encounter. They were essentially some
of my best days ever in the field.
Here are two great examples of this.

STILL-HUNTING FOR MULIES


This hunt, which took place nearly 10
years ago in the famed Unit 61 of
Colorado, challenged me in so many
ways, but mentally more than anything
else. I was truck hunting by myself and
knew very little about the area. I hunted
for seven straight days, employing every
tactic in the book, from limited spotand-stalk, to still-hunting, to
tree-standing, to sitting waterholes.
After countless encounters with nice
bucks, I had yet to put a clean shot
together. I had a ton of magazine work to
finish up, recently moved to Arizona, and
had a wife and two kids back at home.
By day eight, my emotions were getting
the best of me. I needed to get home to
take care of priorities.
However, I did all I could to stay strong
for one more day of giving it my all. With
this attitude, I drove to my favorite stillhunting area and began tip-toeing
through the somewhat noisy mixed oakbrush/ponderosa environment.
After half a day of poor results, I came
to a large meadow area and scanned for
movement. A string of bucks caught my
attention, and I went into predator mode
instantly. Crawling a bit closer, I finally
drew and placed a arrow right through
the trailing buck. Despite the mental

difficulty of still-hunting day after day, I


never gave up. When my mind drifted, I
wrote story ideas down on a palm-size
notepad. When it drifted more, I began
quietly singing to myself. It all added up
to lots of discomfort and mind games
during the hunt, but boy was the drive
home pleasant with that hard-won buck
riding in the back of my pickup.

12 DAYS OF ELK
After moving to Arizona, I drew a
decent elk tag a few hours from my
home. My friend Ron was instrumental in
choosing hunting areas and providing his
cabin as lodging during the hunt. The
season lasts two weeks, so the plan was
to hunt the first six days intensely and
hopefully get it all done.
Well, things didnt turn out exactly as I
had planned. After three days of chasing
bulls all over the country side,
unsuccessfully, I finally set up in the
perfect spot on a bull returning to his
bedding area. He was constantly bugling
as he walked a well-used trail I was
sitting five yards from.
Before I knew it, I was at full draw and
he was walking in close. Fortunately, at 17
yards, and two minutes of holding at full
draw, he turned from a straight-on
posture to a quartering-to position. I cut
the shot as tight to the shoulder as I
could. The arrow appeared to penetrate
one-half the shaft length. After three
days of searching, and nothing but a
couple drops of blood to show for it, I

BOW ARROW HUNTING JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2015

failed to recover the bull. Only thing I


could think of is that the arrow, which hit
at a sharp quartering-to angle, slid under
the bulls hide, not penetrating into the
chest. I was heart sickened. On day six, I
returned home. But two days later, I was
back hunting the woods.
On the 14th day of the seasonlast
dayI was exhausted, disappointed and
feeling severely home sick. Yet, I was
there and when that bright sun began
drooping near the horizon, I had a
newfound focus. I vowed to stay alert
and finish strong to the bitter end.
Minutes later, with only one hour of
shooting light left, a big 320-class bull
came traipsing out of the woodwork and
into the waterhole I was overlooking in
my treestand. The shot was long, but I
knew the stars were all lined up once I hit
full draw. To this day, this bull remains
one of my top trophies.
Bowhunting is not a comfort game. Its
more about overcoming adversity and
staying strong to the end so you can
obtain the prize. Remember that the next
time discomfort and challenge comes
your way; ignore it. Stay tough and mean
and things will work out for the better.

JOE BELL
jbell@beckett.com

BAH_1501_9 12/9/14 12:24 AM Page 9

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NEW PRODUCTS

NEW PRODUCTS

NEW PRODUCTS

NEW PRODUCTS

NEW PRODUCTS

NEW PRODUCTS

{SNEAK PEEK}
50 YEARS OF BOWHUNTING AUTHORITY BOWANDARROWHUNTING.COM

Eliminating Cams
Mathews new No-Cam HTR bow features the revolutionary No-Cam ST technology that uses two circular and
concentric string tracks, allowing the string to travel absolutely smoothly and at a constant distance from the center of
the rotation during the shot cycle. There is no adverse camming action from the top and bottom string tracks, creating
a completely balanced system with supreme straight and level nock travel. This promises more accuracy and forgiveness.
The HTR bow comes with short quad limbs, twin Harmonic stabilizers, Focus grip, solid-wall RockMods and is available in
65, 75 or 85-percent letoff. Specifications include 6 5/8-inch brace height, 50 to 70 pound draw weights, draw lengths
from 24 to 30 inches, and a bow weight of 4.14 pounds. IBO rating is 330 fps. $1,099.
Visit Mathewsinc.com

Made for the Backcountry


One system for the worst conditionsCabelas Instinct Backcountry System is built specifically for
high-elevation big-game hunts. It combines the best cold-weather technologies and premium
materials into four layers of hunting wear: waterproof jacket and pants, active jacket and pants,
insulated mid-layer shirt and pants, and merino-wool base layers. Each piece is engineered
for lightweight, low-bulk mobility, whether its being worn or packed. All four layers work
seamlessly with each other. When worn together, zippers and snaps wont stack on each
other and technologically advanced linings and shells quietly slide between other
layers. Exclusive to Cabelas Instinct Backcountry System, Cabelas new Zonz
Backcountry camouflage pattern matches the muted landscape and rugged
terrain prominent in high-elevation big-game hunting areas. Prices range
from $119.99 to $299.99, depending on garment type.
Visit Cabelas.com

Draw Em In Perfectly
Camera Candy is not your normal deer attractant. Its a unique fourpound hard-cooked block attractant specifically designed to attract, hold
and position deer for that perfect
game camera photo. Using
Moultries unique CamStrap
design, Camera Candy can easily
be positioned at the exact level of
your camera, allowing you to
position that trophy bucks head
in the center of your photo and
on the top of your hit list. $19.99.
Visit MoultrieFeeders.com

Precision Aim
Sure-Locs new Lethal Weapon Red
with Retina Lock provides instant
feedback at a glance that will identify even
the slightest torque or change in your anchor
point. This feedback will enforce proper form, build confidence, and most
importantly, dramatically extend your effective range. Additionally, the sight
features 5-axis micro adjustments and micro-adjustable pins that can be
moved either individually or as a group. The Retina Locks micro windage
adjustments and extended elevation adjustments allow for more precise
settings, making this sight even more accurate. Laser-engraved indicator
marks on the adjustments provide instant visual references, so you never
doubt your sight settings. The pins are fully enclosed in stainless-steel tubes
and built with stack tight technology for use with newer, faster bows. $419.99
5-pin, $439.99, 7-pin.
Visit SureLoc.com

10

BOW ARROW HUNTING JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2015

BAH_1501-SNEAK_10-11 12/8/14 4:16 AM Page 11

TS

NEW PRODUCTS

NEW PRODUCTS

NEW PRODUCTS

NEW PRODUCTS

NEW PRODUCTS

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{SNEAK PEEK}
50 YEARS OF BOWHUNTING AUTHORITY BOWANDARROWHUNTING.COM

Improve Your Shot


When Steady Form came on the scene, many archers were skeptical. However,
this bow accessory is proven to up your accuracy. The concept is very simple and
essentially guides your arm and hand into the proper position. This
eliminates bow-arm string slap and it creates a bow-arm
anchor point, to ensure added consistency, so that you
grip and hold the bow in the same exact position. Its
guaranteed to increase accuracy and confidence or your
money back. $99 to $119.
Visit SteadyForm.com

Balanced
Speed

Hunting Skins announces that more than 100 of its exclusive Mossy Oak
designs are now available on cases for the new iPhone 6. Hunting Skins
utilizes a proprietary color infusion process, which produces incredible highdefinition detail on the case that will not scratch or peel off. Patterns offered
are Break-Up Infinity, Break-Up, Duck Blind, Pink Bottomland, Obsession and
Shadow Grass Blades. There are cases to fit 11 phone/tablet models including
iPhone 6, iPhone 5/5s, iPhone 4/4s, Samsung Galaxy S3, S4,S5, and Note
3,iPad 2/3 and iPad Mini. iPhone 6 Plus is coming soon. Cases range from
$36.99 to $42.99.

Primes new Ion is a fast,


compact and lightweight hunting
bow that uses the new PCXL
parallel cam, which can be adjusted
for a full 85-percent letoff. The
bows Flexis-AR roller guard reduces
torque on the cables and improves
tuning capability for added shot
assurance. Moreover, the redesigned
7000 series aluminum riser with
integrated Ghost Grip is lighter than
ever, yet is still extremeley strong.
Specification includes 31-inch axle
to axle length, 7.25-inch brace
height, 3.9-pound weight, draw
lengths from 26 to 30 inches, draw
weights from 30 to 70 and IBO
speed of 330 fps. $999 for camo
and $1,049 for all black.

Visit HuntingSkins.com

Visit G5Outdoors.com

Real Phone Flair

Superior Wax
Black Lightning is an effective, long-lasting all-purpose graphite/silicone wax
lubricant that provides maximum lubrication, not only for bow strings and servings but
for hard to fit nocks, arrow tips, moving parts like cams, eccentric wheels, axles and
much more.
Jeremy Todd of Pro Release, Inc noted, Black Lightning is a soft, easy to use wax
lubricant that will work in many applications for sporting goods to home, shop, garage
and so much more. It is easy to work with and apply in that Black Lightning penetrates
and coats to reduce friction and wear so its use increases product life and overall
performance. Black Lightning will work on a variety of materials including wood, plastic, metal, rubber and, of course, bow string material.
Black Lightning is also odorless, non-toxic and waterproof, perfect for all your lubrication requirements.
Visit ProRelease.com

JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2015 BOW ARROW HUNTING

11

BAH_1501_INSIDE_12-13 12/8/14 4:19 AM Page 12

2015

INSIDE GEAR

Alleviates Side Torque


s a devout fan of a custom hip-quiver
system, which Ive used for more than a
decade, Im pretty serious about
eliminating irritating side-weight on my bow.
However, Im back to experimenting with bow
quivers a little out of convenience when
crawling on a sage-covered hillside. One quiver
that I plan on hunting with in the months to
come is the ever-popular Tight Spot quiver.
Now this quiver is nothing new. Its been out
for a few years now, and its quickly gaining
fans, year after year. And for good reason, too.
This quiver is light, strong, snaps on quickly,
and uses a unique mounting system that
allows the quiver to slide in tight to your bow
riser. This eliminates that awkward side-load
that ordinary quivers create.
Just so you know, anytime you place
unequal weight at the side of a bow, it has a
tendency to vibrate and twist at the shot. This
causes less forgiveness and poor accuracy on
those longer-than-normal shots and especially
when using fixed-blade broadheads. It also
causes a less natural feel as you draw and aim
the bow, feeling it tilt a bit to the side, which
you will have to muscle over to level the sight
and keep the bow plumb.
For the most part, a good two-piece quiver
will mount pretty tight to the bow and wont
cause too much side-load or accuracy issues,
especially if youre using more-forgiving and
streamlined mechanical heads. But if you can
balance your bow out better, even when
shooting mechanicals, youll always shoot a

12

A bow quiver can be a pain if it pulls the bow to the


side, causing aiming and accuracy issues. The
Tight Spot quiver was made to mount closer to the
centerline of the bow, making the bow more
streamlined and better balanced. This quiver is
also made of vibration-absorbing materials, and
comes with a highly adjustable arrow gripper,
allowing it to shoot quietly as well.

smidgen better overall. At least I think so. If


not, youll make the bow surely a bit more
forgiving in those tricky field shots.
This is the premise behind the Tight Spot
quiver. It mounts tight, and its made to vibrate
less than most quivers. This makes it a
pleasure for hunting use.
Other great features about the quiver is that
it accepts mechanical or fixed-blade
broadheads interchangeably and easily
mounts to the two threaded holes on any sight
bracket, just like any other quick-detach onepiece quiver. It also mounts farther back (or
forward as some call it) on the bow. This is
advantageous with todays reflex-style bows
that balance a whole lot better with the
weight more near the bowstring than towards
the grip. You can also buy extra mounting

BOW ARROW HUNTING JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2015

brackets for different bow setups, switching


the quiver from one bow to the next.
The quivers 5-arrow gripper is also
adjustable for all arrow diameters, from the
skinniest Victory VAP or Easton Injexion,, to
ordinary carbon or aluminum. This ensures a
snug, solid fit and less arrow vibration, and
even eliminates the concern for losing arrows
that can slide out when going through brush.
The hood-to-gripper spacing is a full 18 inches
as well. All this adds up to a quiet-shooting
system, suitable for any hunting situation,
from whitetails in a tree to mulies on the
mountain.
Overall, Im highly impressed with the Tight
Spot. Check it out. Its one of those five-star
products that come along every now and then.
$160. Joe Bell, Editor

BAH_1501_INSIDE_12-13.CX 12/11/14 11:12 PM Page 13

Superior
Comfort &
Warmth

When it comes to comfort, breathability and


no-odor performance, especially for backcountry
hunting use, its hard to beat the versatility of a
garment made of merino wool. Cabelas new
Icebreaker Thermal Zone Merino Base Layer 3/4Zip Top is one of the layers a hunter can get,
thanks to the use of the highest quality wool and
a unique triple-fabric-thickness system that
better regulates body temperature and breathability.

breathability can be better managed and


obtained. For example, the heaviest weight is
used in the core spots (chest and back area,
along with shoulders and outer arms) and
maximum-exposed areas to provide optimal
heat retention for the most critical zones. The
midweight fabric is employed in less critical
areas that still receive substantial exposure. The
lightest weight is located in high-heat output
areas that are prone to excessive perspiration
(under arms and at flex points in the body).
Since wearing this garment, Ive noticed
staying warmer when its cold out, yet not too

Bullet proof
and rock
solid, AAEs
DOA is the
fastest and
most accurate
drop-away
rest in the
world!

n the last four or five seasons, Ive


backpacked the wilderness quite
extensively searching for tall-racked mule
deer. My travels have taken me from one
extreme climate to anotherheat, rain, sleet,
snow and heavy wind. On these trips, every
ounce counts, so only a few select pieces of
clothing can go with you. One of the garments
youll see me wearing more than anything else
is a thin, zip-neck shirt made out of Merino
wool. This type of shirt is extremely
comfortablesoft and stretchablewarm,
breathable and doesnt produce an outer
sheen that most high-tech synthetic camo
clothing comes with nowadays. I dont like a
sheen because it can stand out in natural
vegetation like a glow stick, giving animals
something to detect.
Over these seasons Ive used a lot of
different brands of these shirts. However,
recently Ive been testing out a new model
offered by Cabelas and is called the Thermal
Zone 1/2-zip top. Personally, I think its one of
the best wool zip-tops Ive used. One of the
keys behind the effectiveness of this shirt is
that it uses super-high-quality merino wool
fabricsomething you can truly feel against
your skin. Second, this shirt is not made with
just one thickness of fabric but three. Why?
Well, the concept is a bit ingenious. Heres how
it works.
The weights are strategically placed in bodymapped areas so that thermal heat and

warm as the day heats up. It also doesnt


retain much odor, if any, and washing is more
out of ridding outside germs than inside fabric
odor. Its simply one of those types of shirts
that you simply cant wear enough, either
outside, inside or underneath a bulky jacket. I
like it so much that I plan on ordering a backup between washings. The shirt is also
available in a camo version within their Instinct
Series. Cost is $149/$159 camo, but any
merino wool garment is made to last. Its
simply worth it. Trust me.
Joe Bell, Editor
Visit Cabelas.com.

Accurate
Quiet
Dependable

Chris Keer, Star of the


hit TV show Dropped.

ArizonaArchery.com 928-772-9887

JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2015 BOW ARROW HUNTING

13

BAH_1501_QA_14-15 12/8/14 4:22 AM Page 14

QUESTIONS
&ANSWERS}
INSIGHTS

INSIGHTS

INSIGHTS

INSIGHTS

INSIGHTS

INSIGHTS

BROUGHT TO YOU BY

eders.com
Visit www.eders.com for
great deals on all of todays
top bowhunting gear.

INSIGHTS

INSIGHTS

Improving Draw
Length
Hi Joe. I know this is an
elementary question, but as a
five-year bowhunting veteran, I still
think my draw length is too long.
My release hand doesnt seem to
have a solid spot on my jaw line,
which you talk about a lot. My first
knuckle is more near my ear lobe
and close to the back of my neck.
Is this considered a floating
anchor? Any tips you have for me
would be great. It seems that a lot
of guys at my local pro shop have
an anchor similar to mine.

J.R., via email


A proper shooting anchor is
critical for consistency. The more
fool-proof you make it, the better. For
this reason, a solid bone to bone
contact between your shooting hand
and jaw line is the best way to go. To
achieve this, youll have to shorten your
draw length a bit so the web of your
thumb and forefinger cling to the jaw
line, just in front of the ear lobe. This
will almost always place the apex of
the string at the very tip of your nose.
This will give you three points of solid
contact: hand to jaw line, string to tip of
nose and peep centering sight pin or
sight guard.
In my opinion, most archers are
shooting draw lengths close to an inch
too long. This, like you pointed out,
gives their release hand a narrow point
of contact between one finger knuckle
and the side of the neck region.
Remember, when shooting from a
tree stand, draw at a level plane if you
can, to maintain correct upper-body
posture (T-Form), and this draw length

14

In hunting situations, where uncomfortable shooting positions are the rule, a bow that offers more forgiveness, rather than speed, is a true blessing.

setting will deliver precision results for


you. Experiment and watch your
accuracy go up. Joe Bell

Hitting Far Back


Hey Joe. I know youve been
hunting for a long time, and I
was wondering, how do you handle
a far-back liver or gut hit? How
long do you wait before following
up? I hear a lot of different things
from fellow hunters. One guy will
say its best to wait eight to 12
hours, while the next guy will say
four hours is good enough before
trailing the deer. Thoughts?
Thanks.

BOW ARROW HUNTING JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2015

Mark S., via email

Hi Mark. Generally speaking, I say


this because there are lots of
variables in weather and where the
buck is hit, but if I feel like I surely hit a
buck in the liver region, Ill wait four to
six hours. If I feel like the shot hit the
deer solidly in the paunchmuch
farther backthen Ill wait 8 to 12 hours
if possible. My feelings are the more
patient you are with questionable hits
the better off youll be.
If youre uncertain of where the arrow
struck the deer, even though there is
solid blood on the arrow, always
perform the smell test. A strong, foul,
acidic smell almost always means the
arrow hit the intestines/paunch region,
although much of the greenish matter
or liquid couldve been smeared off by
fat tissue. Joe Bell

BAH_1501_QA_14-15 12/8/14 4:22 AM Page 15

Favorite Finger Bows


Hi, I am looking for advice
regarding a good Mathews
compound to shoot with fingers,
and I saw at one time Joe Bell
mentioned the Mathews Conquest
4 with the Super Soft cam. I would
like to contact him to learn a little
more about that, if I may. Thank
you.

Jeff H., via email


Hey Jeff. My favorite Mathews
bows for fingers are the Apex 8
and older Rival Pro or Conquest with
Mini-Max cam. A good friend of mine
uses the Conquest with Super Soft
cammushy back wall. It just depends
on what feel you prefer. I like
somewhat of a firm wall. All are solid
finger bows. Let me know if you need
more info. Joe Bell

If you suspect a far-back hit on a deer, be sure to examine the arrow closely for important details. If it
has greenish matter on it or smells foul, then a paunch hit is very likely and you should wait a full 8 to
12 hours before following up.

Deep-Six Arrows &


Broadheads
Hey Joe. I just bought a dozen
Injexion arrows, which use
the Deep-Six Insert technology.
However, the broadheads I often
use arent available in the smaller
6-40 thread. I prefer a fixed-blade
head with a narrow profile. Can
you recommend any great
models?
Also, what are your thoughts on
vanes? Right now Im using Blazer
vanes on the shafts. Should I try an
even smaller vane for faster arrow
speed and less wind drift? So far
Im really liking these arrows. They
seem to fly more accurately on my
home archery range here in
Montana. It can get windy out here.
Thanks in advance for your help.

sharp out of the package.


As far as vanes go, it sounds like the
Blazer vanes are working well for you.
However, were in the middle of the
off-season, so if you want to
experiement a little, Id suggest trying
out the AAE Pro Max vanes or Max 2.3inch vane. Ive been shooting the Pro
Max vane four-fletch, and the Max 2.3
three-fletch. Both combinations seem
to work well with the Trocar head. Im
still testing to see which one offers the
best overall combination of accuracy,
wind performance and quiet flight. Ill
keep you posted. Joe Bell

Reader Response: Hi Joe. Thanks for


getting back to me, really appreciate it.
What is your favorite finger bow
regardless of manufacturer? Both
currently being manufactured and
historically. Again, thanks for your
input. Regards, Jeff.
Joes Response: My favorite fingers
bow with a firm wall would have to be
the Mathews APEX 8. My favorite for
use with a clicker or that offers a softer
wall would be the Hoyt Tribute or
Montega AccuWheel models.

Larry P., via email


Hi Larry. Congratulations on a
fine set of arrows. I plan on using
these shafts in the hunts to come as
well. The three broadheads Ive been
using on my Injexions are the Muzzy
Trocar (fixed head), Ulmer Edge
Stainless Steel, and Rage Hypodermic.
The Trocars are an excellent fixed head
to consider that flies superbly, based
on my tests shooting out west. I think
youll be happy with them. The head is
very durable and the blades are lethal

Eastons new Injexion arrows make great hunting shafts since they provide a smaller-diameter shaft,
which lessens surface area for improved flight characteristics in the wind and for increasing penetration on game. Broadhead choices are somewhat limited, however, there are some solid models currently offered. The Muzzy Trocar is one great example.

JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2015 BOW ARROW HUNTING

15

BAH_1501_ADAMS_16-17 12/8/14 4:24 AM Page 16

ADAMS

DEER

BY CHUCK ADAMS

Doing It Right
A lethal bow shot is never a guarantee and patience is often required to recover
game in certain situations.
The fall of 2014 was difficult for mule
deer. I bowhunted my favorite area in
Montana for three solid weeks without
seeing one buck that would crack the 145
net score required for entry in Pope and
Young. This was the same area where I
have bagged several deer scoring over 180
in the past, and one non-typical with a
gross score over 216.
Spring rains had been heavy and
September temperatures were hot. Deer
were widely scattered due to lush and
abundant food, and any large bucks were
tucked deep in cover during muggy
daylight hours.
Finally, I gave up on my former hotspot
and moved to a high-mountain area
where a friend had told me he had seen a
couple of dandies. With less than one
week left of archery season, I was
desperate to try something new.
I covered lots of ground in the alpine
area over two strenuous days. I saw a few
small bucks, but nothing big.
Dawn had barely broken on the third
day when something moved 400 yards
uphill. I rolled the focus dial on my 10X
binocular, and nice antlers popped into
crystal-clear focus. Not one set, but
several! As I panned the high-country
basin, I counted ten mulie bucks. Three
were decent, and one stood out. Not a
monster, but a solid P&Y.
SNEAKING IN

Like every other, this day promised to


be warm. I began a footrace against time,
trotting uphill and circling to get the wind
exactly right. Twenty minutes later, I was
in the timber above the bucks.
What followed was amazing. There is
simply no substitute for good luck.
One by one, I watched the bucks filter
away through the trees. They were all
more than 100 yards away, across a
grass-choked and impossibly noisy draw.
Suddenly, large antlers appeared
beyond a rise 20 yards below me. It was

16

Chucks 2014 Montana mule deer was the


best that he saw, and was especially
rewarding because the stalk and
follow-up were difficult.

BOW ARROW HUNTING JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2015

BAH_1501_ADAMS_16-17 12/8/14 4:24 AM Page 17

the biggest buck in the bunch! I dropped


to my knees, nocked an arrow, and
tracked the rack with my laser rangefinder.
The deer strolled past me, angling farther
and farther away. He was all by himself.
Then, like magic, the buck topped the
ridge and stopped: 30 yards exactly!
I could see the deers eye as it glittered
in the sun. I was staring almost directly
east into the brilliant early-morning light,
and I knew the deer would certainly see
me bathed in light if I moved. I waited in a
low crouch. Then the buck looked straight
away. I drew in a flash, noting that the
leveling bubble and Retina Lock Dot on
my IQ bowsight were both perfectly
aligned. The brilliant 30-yard fiber-optic
pin settled behind the bucks shoulder,
and I released.
The shot felt good, and the Rage
broadhead hit with a pleasing thump. I
could not clearly see the arrow impact or
the deers reaction with the sun in my
eyes, but I figured the buck would drop in
short order.
Wrong! As I watched, he trotted uphill a
full 150 yards as if nothing was wrong. He
wasnt bounding away like a frightened
and healthy deer might do, but try as I
might, I could not see blood on his side or
a stumble in his gait. Had I missed and hit
a pile of dirt with a deceiving thud? I could
not believe it. I blinked my eyes, watched
the buck walk over a ridge, and rose to go
find my arrow.
LOOKING FOR SIGN

The Easton shaft was buried in dirt, all


right, but it was covered with slick, dark
blood. A solid hit for sure. The close-range
deer must have lunged ahead at the dull
sound of my bow. With a solid doublelung hit, he would never have made it out
of sight.
I started looking for blood. There were
occasional match-head-sized flecks for
the first 100 yards, and then three platesized puddles on the ground. From there, I
could not find a thing, even when I
dropped to hands and knees. The wound
had sealed up.
Time to wait awhile, I muttered as I
approached the ridge where the buck had
disappeared. A liver hit can take up to
three or four hours to kill. I was not about
to go over that ridge and push the deer.

I hiked back to my pickup, ate a bit of


brunch, and closed my eyes for a couple
of hours. Time was on my side, with a
whole afternoon to look. There is no up
side to pushing a liver-hit or gut-shot
buck. If the animal is still alive, it might
run for hundreds of yards when spooked. I
knew this was not a gut shot, because
there was only blood covering the arrow.
But there was no telling how solidly I had
hit the liver. Waiting was the only solution.
It was just past noon when I peered
into a little draw where the buck had
disappeared. I could not find one drop of
blood. I circled cautiously, and began to
grid-search the area. Half an hour later, I
had inspected every square foot of the
ravine. No blood, and no deer.
Another much larger draw cut the
mountainside beyond the little ravine.
The hit site was about 250 yards behind
me. Deer can be tough, and I have seen
liver-hit bucks travel up to -mile. I
climbed to the top of the larger ravine,
circled to get the wind right, and eased
back toward where I had taken the shot.
The canyon was dotted with juniper, sage,
and tall grass. This could take some time.
PATIENCE PAYS OFF

Forty minutes later, I peeked around a


bush. There, 25 yards in front of me, was a
nice antler thrusting above the grass. The
big buck was dead, facing back the way
he had come. The carcass was still limber
and warm. Using my rangefinder, I figured
the deer had traveled over 400 yards
before settling down to die. Had I
followed at once, he might have jumped
and run a mile.
I did a little dance on the hillside. The
bucks 5x6 antlers rough-scored 170
record-book pointsnot a monster, but
by far the best I had seen. A combination
of fast stalking, good luck, and careful
follow-up had gotten me my deer.
More often than not, bagging a buck is
a direct result of doing things right. You
hunt smart, shoot straight, and develop a
plan if your animal does not drop at once.
In 2014, my mule deer bowhunt unfolded
in a series of carefully calculated moves. I
was rewarded with a very nice animal and
the great feeling that comes from doing
things the way they are supposed to be
done!

BLOOD
TRAILING 101
In my experience, bowhunters
sometimes follow arrow-hit deer
with little or no game plan. This is
usually due to inexperience or
over-excitement. Here is how to
proceed.
First, watch your deer until it
disappears. Clearly mark the
place you shot from, wait at least
30 minutes, and then take up the
trail. Wait longer if you know the
hit is badat least three hours for
a liver hit, and at least six hours
for a gut shot.
Look for the arrow first, unless
it stayed in the animal. Blood on
the shaft can be a clue to the type
of hit. Bright red or pink blood is
often quickly lethal, especially if it
includes foam or bubbles from
the lungs. Dark red blood usually
means a liver hit or fringe hit. Offcolor fluid or slime with an
unpleasant odor signals a gut
shot.
Start at the hit site and slowly
search for blood. Stay to one side
of the trail so you do not disturb
sign. Repeatedly mark the last
blood you find with toilet paper,
surveyors tape, your hat, or
something else and search ahead
for more. This will speed up the
process.
Avoid the tendency to race
ahead and overlook blood. Arrowhit deer often go in unexpected
directionsuphill, off trails, etc.
You cannot always second-guess
an animals direction without sign
to follow.
Searching without blood
should be your last resort. Like
Chucks 2014 mulie, lethally hit
deer sometimes leave little or no
blood on the ground. But if you
can, finding blood is the surest,
easiest way to locate your deer.
Chuck Adams

JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2015 BOW ARROW HUNTING

17

BAH_1501_CARIBOU_18-25;96-97 12/8/14 4:35 AM Page 18

NOMADS
OF THE
TUNDRA
TWO BOWHUNTERS TAKE TO THE OPEN BOGS OF QUEBEC,
SEARCHING FOR BIG-BEAMED CARIBOU AND LOTS OF ADVENTURE.
BY GRANT N. BENSON
he aluminum boat took a
beating as we headed across the
white-capped lake directly into
the chilly north wind. A
consistent spray of icy water flew over
the bow and pelted my raingear. With
hooded-head down, I knew I was taking
the brunt of the abuse whereas Rick
Duggan, a fellow bowhunter from
Colorado, and our camp-man, Jimmy,
gladly used me as a shield of sorts. We
needed to reach to the relative security
offered by a rocky cove 3/4-mile ahead,
and from there our strategy would be to
access the tallest ridge in search of the
bands of caribou that were migrating
across the tundra towards their
traditional wintering grounds.
The discomfort of the soaking and
internal organ-jarring ride
notwithstanding, it felt wonderful to
once again be bowhunting in northern
Quebec after a six-year hiatus. This
hunter only hoped that this hunt would
offer a repeat of the first two of my
previous three adventures to the

DONALDMJONES.COM

18

BOW ARROW HUNTING JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2015

northland. On those trips I had been


fortunate to harvest a pair of nice bulls
each time. I was keenly aware, however,
that chasing caribou in September can
also result in unfilled tags, as had been
the case on my last expedition.
My outfitter for this years trip was
Richard Hume who, along with his wife
Amanda, team up to run Jack Hume
Adventures. Jack is Richards father and
the family has been in the caribou
hunting business for over 30 years. A
true icon in the Quebec outfitting
community, Richard has built a stellar
operation by continually expanding
though the acquisition of other outfits.
He has leveraged this to his advantage
by adding dozens of strategically
positioned outpost camps, which
provide precious flexibility for his
patrons. With over 35 camps spread
across thousands of square miles of
tundra, bogs, and spruce thickets, there
are not many places where the nomadic
caribou can wander that Humes
hunters cant follow.

BAH_1501_CARIBOU_18-25;96-97 12/8/14 4:35 AM Page 19

JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2015 BOW ARROW HUNTING

19

BAH_1501_CARIBOU_18-25;96-97 12/8/14 4:35 AM Page 20

The author and his first Quebec bull


from the trip. The shot came fast,
but from 26 yards, his Hoyt setup
delivered an effective killing shot.

The great thing about this


approach is that Richard only
deploys five or six of those venues in
any given week, so his clients enjoy
the benefits of a larger operation
while at the same time they will
appreciate the personalized touch of
smaller camps. Many of these camps,
including the one I would be based
at this week, are located between 100
and 200 miles by float plane from the
Humes base of operations in Lac Pau
(Caniapiscau), Quebec.
Trudging Tundra

Eventually, we reached the


sanctuary of the cove simultaneous
with the arrival of the rains, and
Jimmy let Rick and me out on the
west side of the long inlet. The
towering ridge we needed to scale
was to the east, but there was no way
to safely get there via boat in these
heavy winds. This presented a
significant challenge to the days hunt
as it would tack on over two hours to
our hike up, and eventually back
down, in the evening. We were now
forced to trudge around the
elongated cove to get to the western
20

ridgeline and this entailed traversing


a nearly impenetrable combination
of willow tangles, hazardous blowdowns, fast-running feeder streams,
and rock fields at the waters edge.
Eventually we arrived at the other
side and began the ascent to the top
of the mountain at the same time
the rain changed to wind-driven
sleet!
Topping out on the barren
humpback, sweaty and breathless
from the strenuous hike, the skies
began to clear, and we paused to rest
against a large boulder to eat some
apples and glass the vast expanse of
country that lay before us. Mostly it
was open tundra, comprised of
exposed granite, lichen-covered
rocks, wild blueberry bushes,
innumerable pockets of spruce,
expansive willow growth, and the
occasional bog. The autumn colors
included a wide spectrum from
bright red groundcover to orange
willow leaves. The bog grass was
turning from green to yellow as were
the spindly tamaracks, but the
stunted black spruce remained true
to their name. Crisscrossing game

BOW ARROW HUNTING JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2015

trails left by caribou traveling


through marked the wetter areas, and
in some places the mud was torn up
as if it had been used as a dirt bike
track!
Before long we began to notice
groups of bou heading north. These
bands, numbering anywhere from a
few animals to over 60, were very
diverse in composition, including
mostly females, calves, and younger
bulls. Interspersed in the virtual
parade would be the occasional
larger bull or a small group of older
males travelling together.
Finding the Right Ambush

It did not take us long to identify


what we were looking for, a place
where the terrain, cover, and game
movement would complement each
other in a manner that allowed for the
short-range limitations of the bow
and arrow to be mitigated. This was
eventually confirmed when we noted
the predominant pinch point to the
south where the majority of the
caribou troupes, regardless of where
they may have first appeared,
seemed to funnel down through.

BAH_1501_21 12/9/14 10:34 PM Page 21

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BAH_1501_CARIBOU_18-25;96-97 12/8/14 4:36 AM Page 22

That first day we observed well over 700 head. Sporting


coats that ranged in coloration from dappled gray to tan-brown
to creamy white, the caribou flowed through in waves.
Rick and I scurried down off the
ridge to the funnel and set up on the
downwind side of the main rocky
pathway that the animals were using.
To the east of that thoroughfare,
which was about 70 yards wide, were
a number of tall bushes to hide in or
around. The ground cover was mostly
stubby willow and knee-high grass,
allowing for silent movement as a
bowhunter could dodge from bush to
bush to try to intercept any caribou
that would opt to stray from the main
trail and cross through the sparse
vegetative cover. Rick named this
location Ambush Ridge in his GPS.
That first day we observed well
over 700 head. Sporting coats that
ranged in coloration from dappled
gray to tan-brown to creamy white,
the caribou flowed through in waves.
About 10 percent of the passersbys
were older bulls, with sweeping
antlers still covered in thick, but
soon to be peeling, velvet. The most
mature specimens proudly sported
22

snow-white manes that blew in the


wind. But by the time we headed
back to the lake at the end of the
day, we had encountered none that
met that perfect combination of
being the right bull in the right
place at the right time for an ethical
archery shot.
While the second day of the hunt
found us stationed in a different area
where we spied over 200 caribou, in
our 12 hours afield we were never
able to narrow down a predictable
shooting location. So it was with
much anticipation that we ventured
out across the calm lake at dawn on
the frosty third morning knowing we
were going to revisit Ambush Ridge.
Equally good news was that with the
wind having died down to a gentle
breeze, Jimmy could now drop us off
at the base of the mountain. This
afforded us the advantage of
avoiding the arduous, and time
consuming, hike that was previously
necessary.

BOW ARROW HUNTING JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2015

Looking for a Shot

At 10:30 that morning, a group of


over two dozen bou appeared on the
skyline 400 yards distant and among
the animals was a very nice bull.
Over the next 15 minutes the caribou
worked their way north towards our
lair and, with the crosswind blowing
perfectly, they soon began to pass in
front of the tamarack cluster I was
nestled into. First the does, calves,
and young bulls trickled by at
between 8 and 55 yards, but it was
the dominant bull that I awaited. He
was cautiously bringing up the rear,
the tell-tale clicking of ankle
tendons on bone that is unique to
caribou audibly giving away his
approach.
When my target quarry was finally
strolling broadside, I cautiously took
a rangefinder reading at 26 yards
and by the time I drew the 71-pound
compound and anchored for the shot
he was another seven or eight yards
further out quartering slightly away.

BAH_1501_CARIBOU_18-25;96-97 12/8/14 4:36 AM Page 23

With but the lightest of pressure on


the knurled trigger of my release,
the feather fletched arrow was sent
on its way.
In a slightly arching flash the
carbon shaft sliced completely
through the bull, clattering audibly
across the barren rocks beyond him.
Upon impact the monarch stumbled
awkwardly, lurched forward, then
stood stationary while the other
animals continued to meander away
unaware that the bull had met with
trouble. Having struck the caribou a
bit further back than intended, he
was undoubtedly hit hard and soon
walked off slowly. With his head
down and panting, he settled into the
bush where he stood on wobbly legs
for a minute or two before tumbling
over. It was fitting that the old bull
took his final breath of crisp
Canadian air with his head held off
the tundra by the wide spread of his
heavy rack. As quickly as that, the
first of my two tags was punched and
within an hour Rick and I had

quartered the carcass and neatly


placed the meat in game bags to be
packed down to the lake at the end of
the day.
It should be noted that Rick holds
the distinction of being the first
bowhunter to take the North
American Super Slam of all 29
species with a recurve bow. As
humble a man as you would ever
hope to spend a day outdoors with,
the stories he shared when asked
were both amazing and inspirational.
Throughout the sun-drenched
afternoon we continued to see
caribou with a predictable cadence, a
couple groups per hour streaming
through the vicinity. Some were
worthy of making a play on, most
were simply suitable for enjoyable
observation.
Making Fast Decisions

By early afternoon the shifting


winds had put a crimp in our tactics
as the breeze was now providing the
game-advance notice of unseen

danger lurking in the brush. With the


setting sun nearing the western
horizon, a final gang of 11 caribou
appeared to the south and within
mere minutes they were in range of
Ricks recurve. Without notice,
however, the lead bull went on
extreme alert and froze, peering
inquisitively into the tamarack jungle.
Without hesitation the others
followed his lead and began to swing
well to the west of the primary trail.
In a move born of experience
gained over decades, Rick bolted out
the back side of his cover and
sprinted to cut off the animals down
over the hill. He returned to me
shortly thereafter, thumbs up and
smiling, recounting the events that
had transpired. His race to the
secondary trail put him 39 yards
away from the string of bulls that
were passing through the spruce
thicket in a single file procession. As
luck would have it the third to last
bou stopped briefly in an opening
where Rick laced him with a classic

OPPOSITE: Caribou were very prevalent on this adventure, with band after band of nice bulls.
BELOW: Motor boats make effective transportation in the far-North.

JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2015 BOW ARROW HUNTING

23

BAH_1501_CARIBOU_18-25;96-97 12/8/14 4:36 AM Page 24

Caribou often use


the gentle contours
of the topography
to travel along. The
author and his
hunting buddy Rick
Duggan found a
spot where the bou
were coming
through in bunches.
They aptly named
this effective funnel
Ambush Ridge.

double-lung shot that sent the bull on


an abbreviated, but noisy, death run
that ended less than 40 yards away in
a crashing tumble.
We made short work fieldprocessing the animal and added
him to our now two bull load to
pack down to the lake. As we reached
the boat with Jimmy waiting for us,
the moon began to appear over the
ridge and cast an eerie oval
reflection on the calm lake.
Reminiscing a Great Day Afield

At camp that night over a dinner of


lightly seasoned pan-fried caribou
tenderloins, buttered mashed
potatoes, and sauted mushrooms,
the other four hunters in camp
huddled with us around the woodburning stove in the cook shack and
recounted the days events. With two
days left in the quest, all the others
had tagged out, leaving only Rick
and me each with a tag to fill. This
worked out well as we now had total
discretion on where to hunt tomorrow
and it made no sense for us to go
24

anywhere but back to Ambush Ridge.


The caribou were there, we had
figured out how to play the various
trails depending on multiple wind
directions, and access to the territory
from the main lake was fairly direct.
Seasoned bowhunters realize that the
flow of caribou can evaporate as
quickly as it starts, meaning that a
location that teems with game one
day may be void of the beasts the
next. If that was to happen it would
be outside of our control, but we had
no reason not to return tomorrow and
find out for ourselves if things were
going to remain consistent or not. It
was with that nagging thought in
mind that we drifted off to sleep as
soon at the droning hum of the gas
generator stopped and darkness fell
over the remote wilderness outpost.
Looking for More Action

Any time spent worrying about the


caribou having moved out of our area
under cover of darkness was quickly
put to rest within the first hour the
next morning. With a heavy frost and

BOW ARROW HUNTING JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2015

a westerly wind present, we began to


see small bands of caribou behaving
just as they had in the previous days.
The difference this morning was that
the clusters were generally a bit
smaller, but there were more, and
better, bulls represented. This is a
common phenomenon whereby more
mature males are present in greater
numbers at the later stages of a
migratory wave.
With multiple groups passing
through and skirting our hiding spot,
we were unable to close the deal on
any shooters until noon. It was then
that I selected a large-bodied bull
that donned extremely wide antlers,
but lacked top points, as a candidate
for my remaining tag. As he
approached the near edge of the
gravel rise with a half dozen or so
other travel companions, I had to
make an assumption on which trail he
would take. If I moved down too far to
the south, I would position myself out
of bow range, not far enough and the
northern wind would betray me
before they were committed to a

BAH_1501_CARIBOU_18-25;96-97 12/8/14 4:36 AM Page 25

In a move
born of experience
gained over
decades, Rick
bolted out the back
side of his cover
and sprinted to
cut off the animals
down over
the hill.

tasks. In the end this was the only


animal we took that day, meaning that
Rick had one last day to try to fill his,
and the camps, final tag of the week.
As we broke out of the lakeside
timber and into the barrens
approaching Ambush Ridge just past
dawn the final morning, we
immediately saw caribou roving
across the landscape and detected

them doing something that had


become commonplace the prior
afternoon. The animals had begun to
navigate a route that carried them
well wide of the ambush area. Using
this new trail it was impossible to
intercept them within bow range.
Relegated to watching these
travelers leave us frustrated, Rick
Continued on page 96

given path in the labyrinth of options.


In this instance my instincts proved
sound, and I was already at full draw
and crouched kneeling on the soggy
tundra when the wide-antlered
specimen stepped into a shooting
lane that I had pre-ranged at 32
yards.
Settling my fluorescent-red middle
sight pin solidly on his side, well
behind the point of his body where
his bleached mane faded into a mass
of grayish woolen hide, I gently
squeezed the release and watched
the arrow pass through the caribou
slightly behind the lungs. He whirled
around at once and retreated another
15 yards back into the open and
away from the brush line. Just as I was
preparing to take a follow-up shot,
the caribou turned directly away
from me and, not following the now
spooked herd, strolled sluggishly out
into the barrens where he promptly
bedded down. Through my
rangefinder I observed the blood
exiting his heaving side, clearly a
fatal liver hit. I knew the best thing to
do was to allow the bou to remain
unpressured so he would die in that
bed without additional chase or risk.
According to the script, within two
hours he expired and Rick and I
approached him to complete the
necessary field work and meat care
JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2015 BOW ARROW HUNTING

25

BAH_1501_BROAD_26-32 12/8/14 4:40 AM Page 26

26

BOW ARROW HUNTING JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2015

BAH_1501_BROAD_26-32 12/8/14 4:40 AM Page 27

HARD-CORE

ARROW
PERFORMANCE

This bowhunter explores the facts behind


arrow and broadhead penetration.
The results are quite noteworthy.
BY JEREMY JOHNSON

hese days much credence is given to


arrow flight and accuracy, as it should.
But how about an arrows effectiveness
after it hits the target? I mean, how well
does that ultra-accurate arrow perform once it
hits the animal and has to travel through hide,
muscle, bone, and organs?
Have you ever made what you felt was a pretty
darn good shot on an animal and ended up with
a long drawn-out recovery? Or maybe lost the
animal altogether? I have. Its a bummer when
that happens, but the good news is, it rarely has
to. By taking the time to learn what makes an
arrow perform well on live animal tissue (not
targets, plywood, etc.), you can head out on your
next hunt with confidence, knowing full well your
arrow/broadhead combo will perform when
called upon.

Using a Plan B Setup

I cant count the number of times Ive heard


someone in an archery shop arrogantly state, If
you just place your shot right, it doesnt matter
what type of arrow you shoot. When I hear
statements like these, it throws up a red flag in
my mind that this person is either
inexperienced, or unwilling to face the facts.
Perfect shot placement every time is a great
goal, but I would not bet the farm on it
happening on each occasion in the field.

In the real world people are still people and


we all make mistakes. Even if your shooting was
perfect 100-percent of the time, animals will on
occasion jump the string or take an unexpected
step forward. Ive had it happen too many times
to turn a blind eye toward this fact.
This is why you need a good backup plan in
this regard. I call it Plan B. Plan B is to shoot an
arrow and broadhead combo that if/when shot
placement doesnt turn out the way youd hoped,
you can instead count on deep penetration, bone
breakage and two holes that bleed profusely.
When a bad hit is made for whatever reason, the
chances of recovery are far more likely with this
type of setup than with an arrow that banks
everything on shot placement.
Finding Toughness

A few years back I got a phone call from


Garrett Schlief, the owner of Grizzly Stik
Corporation and Alaska Bowhunting Supply. With
Dr. Ed Ashby no longer able to do product
testing he asked if I would be interested in the
job. Besides shooting live animals, another one of
my tasks was to drive to the local butcher shop
and fill up the back of my truck with fresh bones.
I then would shoot these bones with Grizzly Stik
products, along with other companies, and
report on the results. In the process, I destroyed
thousands of dollars worth of brand-new arrows

Steep cutting
angles will require
more arrow force to
adequately
penetrate through
an animal.

JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2015 BOW ARROW HUNTING

27

BAH_1501_BROAD_26-32 12/8/14 4:40 AM Page 28

Animals move and


perfect shots arent
always made. I hit
this bull a little high
and square in the
shoulder blade.
Thankfully Plan B
went into effect and
the arrow crashed
through the shoulder
blade, broke the
bottom of the spine
and into the opposite
shoulder. There was
no tracking required.

and broadheads. The reason for this


type of testing was to establish what it
takes to consistently break big bones
and find the weak points in arrows and
broadheads so Grizzly Stik could
improve upon their designs.
I test this way because in Dr. Ed
Ashbys studies, he ranks the strength
or structural integrity as the most
important aspect of a hunting arrow. In
laymens terms, this means how much
abuse an arrow or broadhead can take
before it bends or breaks. Reason
being, if an arrow or broadhead
breaks when it hits the animal, its
game over. Penetration will stop as
well as any further tissue damage. As
powerful as todays bows are,
structural integrity is more important
than ever.
Being from elk country myself, I
cant tell you how many stories Ive
heard of guys whove had their arrow
or broadhead come apart on the ribs
or shoulder bones of a mature bull,
only to have them dug out by a rifle
hunter a month later. Even the most
deadly broadhead isnt all that deadly
if penetration stops.
If a blade or ferrule bends, then
28

penetration may not stopbut it will


suffer. When a broadhead bends it
redirects the arrow through the tissue.
Changing an arrows direction of
travel causes tremendous drag that
wastes its energy and results in
decreased penetration. Often times
this rapid redirection of the arrow is
more than the shaft can take, so the
arrow snaps just behind the insert.
In regards to broadhead strength,
there are some key design features to
look for. Without strength, like I said,
the broadhead will lose its integrity
and its ability to cut becomes ruined.
Here are the most important features
that make a broadhead tough.
Blade thickness: The thicker the
blade, the less likely it is to bend or
break and rob valuable penetration.
Quality of steel: Ask any knife
maker and they will tell you how
quality steel allows a knife to hold an
edge better than one with cheap steel.
The same goes for broadheads. A
sharp broadhead doesnt do you
much good if it dulls out by the time it
reaches the vitals. A broadhead may
feel like a surgeons scalpel when it
comes out of the package, but how

BOW ARROW HUNTING JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2015

sharp will it be after it cuts through


hair, hide, muscle, and then ribs? This
is when sharpness counts the most,
which is why I like to check a
broadhead sharpness after Ive shot
an animal with it.
The type of steel used and how a
broadhead is heat treated determines
the Rockwell hardness rating of the
metal. Optimum hardness for
broadheads is 52 to 59 Rockwell
(depending on the type of steel). With
ratings less than this, the metal can
bend and dull, robbing penetration.
Go higher in the Rockwell scale and
broadheads will shatter like glass
when bone impact occurs. Find out
what kind of steel is used and the
Rockwell hardness rating of any
potential broadhead design youre
considering.
Ferrule design: Just like blades,
ferrules can be made from different
quality materials. Their design will
also determine how much impact they
can handle. Too much machine work,
too many pieces, or low-quality metal
all can create weak spots.
There are some excellent quality
heads out there. No matter what the

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Being from elk country


myself, I cant tell you how
many stories Ive heard of
guys whove had their arrow
or broadhead come apart on
the ribs or shoulder bones of
a mature bull, only to have
them dug out by a rifle
hunter a month later.

brand you choose, good broadheads


wont be cheap, theres no way around
that. High-quality steel, proper heat
treating, and tight machining
tolerances cost moneybut they are
without a doubt worth it.
Also, dont forget about your inserts.
Aluminum inserts are the next weakest
link if heavy bone impact occurs.
Consider using a brass or stainlesssteel insert. Most arrow manufacturers
now offer them. I prefer to install them
with a quality slow-cure 24-hour
epoxy, which is less brittle and likely
to shatter lose.
Increasing Forward-Weight
Balance

When someone refers to an arrows


forward of center or FOC, what
theyre talking about is the arrows
balance point. For an arrow to fly
correctly, the balance point needs to
be forward of center.
As FOC levels increase, the

percentage of weight in the back half


of the arrow is decreased. This
changes the physics of how an arrow
travels through the animal. For a
hunter, high FOC creates a number of
benefits. Ive listed each one below.
Better Penetration: With low FOC
more of the arrow weight is at the back
and middle of the shaft. So this weight
pushes the broadhead through the
tissue. This causes the arrow to flex
and drag on the sides of the wound
channel.
When the majority of the arrows
weight is toward the front, it pulls the
rest of the arrow through the tissue.
This reduces shaft flex on impact and
causes less drag as the arrow
penetrates.
Dr. Ed Ashbys studies showed that
increasing an arrows FOC had more of
an impact on how well an arrow
penetrates than any other factor. Ed
found definite measurable penetration
gains start showing up around 19-

High broadhead
mechanical
advantage ratings
are needed for
those using
low-draw-weight
bows.

percent FOC and compound from


there. Theres no downside to having
as much FOC as you can get, so long
as you maintain good arrow flight.
Less Deflection: High FOC arrows
are less susceptible to deflection both
in flight and after impact.
Less Arrow Shaft Damage: A
high FOC arrow that pulls the shaft
through the animal will have less flex
on impact and therefore break less
often.
Better Broadhead Flight: By
moving the center of mass closer to
the front of the arrow, broadhead
oscillation distance is decreased as
the arrow leaves the bow, making
them less likely to steer the arrow off
course.
Better in Crosswinds: Long range
field archers have used this trick for
years to buck the wind in outdoor
tournaments. Even when crosswinds
pull the rear of the arrow slightly
sideways the front of the arrow stays

FORMULA FOR MECHANICAL ADVANTAGE


The formula looks like this: blade length / width factor (blade
height or the cutting diameter X number of blades) =
Mechanical Advantage.

EXAMPLE #2: 125 Grain Three-Blade Head


1.5 (blade length) / .63 (blade height or the cutting
diameter) x 3 (# of blades) = 1.89 (Width Factor) = .79 M.A.

EXAMPLE #1: 100 Grain Mechanical


1.48 (Blade length) / 1.0 (Blade height) x 2 blades = 2.0 (width
factor) = .74 M.A.

EXAMPLE #3: 200-Grain Samurai by Alaska Bow Supply


3.28Blade Length / .57 (blade height or width) x 2 (# of
blades) = 2.877 M.A.

30

BOW ARROW HUNTING JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2015

BAH_1501_BROAD_26-32 12/8/14 4:41 AM Page 31

LEFT: By using mechanical advantage to her

advantage, Rhonda Nielson was able to get a


pass-through shot on this big Nilgia, shooting
only a 42-pound bow!
BELOW: Placing your shot accordingly isnt always
good enough. What is also needed is a broadhead
and arrow package that drives deep, cuts wickedly
through tissue, bone and vitals, and drives out the
far side of the critter. Two holes are simply better
than one.

on course. This is especially helpful


when using broadheads.
Use Smaller Vanes: With the
center of mass farther forward it gives
the vanes more leverage to steer with.
The result is you wont need as large
of vanes to steer the arrow. Smaller
vanes equal less drag, flatter shooting,
quieter flight, less surface area to be
affected by crosswinds and more
energy for penetration.
Keep in mind, you can use one of
the several Forward of Center
calculators available online to check
your arrows FOC.
Mechanical Advantage

Regardless of what bow you shoot, it


can only produce a set amount of
useful force. Making the most of that
force is what Mechanical Advantage
(MA) is all about. Next to an arrows
forward of center, broadhead
mechanical advantage has more of an
effect on an arrows penetration

potential than any other


factor. Bowhunters using low
draw weight bows need to pay close
attention to MA, since the force their
bow provides is limited. The good
news is that with some forethought,
massive penetration and pass-through
shots are possible even with low draw
weight bows!
MA is not a term specific to
bowhuntingits a basic engineering
principle, or applied physics as some
would call it. MA is a formula
engineers use to measure efficiency,
or, in other words, how much work
something can accomplish with
whatever force it has. With
broadheads, we are measuring how
much penetration potential (work) a
broadhead can provide with the force
our bow applies to it. If mechanical
advantage goes up 30 percent on an
arrow, penetration will go up 30
percent.
Steep angles, wide-cutting

diameters and more blades, all


lower a broadheads mechanical
advantage, because they require more
force to make the arrow penetrate
whatever it hits. This isnt much of an
issue when only soft tissue is
encountered, but when you hit a
shoulder bone, center punch a rib, or
have to penetrate a lot of soft tissue to
reach the vitals (such as in a
quartering-away shot) youre going to
need all the penetration you can get!
Many people equate more blades
with more tissue damage and better
blood trails. If MA were not an issue,
they might be right. The problem with
this idea is that by adding extra blades
and not increasing the force driving
those blades, penetration will not be as
deep. Having less blades and
penetrating deeper, or better yet
passing all the way through the animal,
will make quick kills and game
recovery easier. Two holes in the hide
increases blood trails and lethality as a

To fly well, an arrow should have adequate center-forward weight, or what is commonly referred to as front-of-center weight (FOC).
More FOC also equates to increased penetration, according to renowned broadhead and penetration expert Dr. Ed Ashby.

JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2015 BOW ARROW HUNTING

31

BAH_1501_BROAD_26-32 12/8/14 4:41 AM Page 32

Dr. Ed Ashbys studies showed that


increasing an arrows FOC had more
of an impact on how well an arrow
penetrates than any other factor.
whole, more so than wide cuts on one
side, especially when the entry wound
is high on the animal, such as shots
made from a tree stand.
How to Measure Mechanical
Advantage

Knowing your broadheads MA is a


critical part of arrow selection and
figuring it out is easy once you learn
how. To do this you will need two
measurements. The first is the length
of one blade. Measure blade length
with a set of calipers or if its easier
trace the blade on to a piece of paper
and then measure your line. The
second measurement is blade height,
or the distance from the centerline of
the arrow to the highest point on the
blade. A set of calipers works great for
these measurements, but you can also
get pretty close with a tape measure or
ruler.
Another way to get the blade height
measurement is to look at the package
your broadhead came in. Most
broadheads list a cutting diameter.
Take the cutting diameter and divide it
in half, since we only want the height
of one blade for this formula.
Now take the height of a blade

Bowhunters have a
countless number of
broadheads to
choose from. Some
are simply more
effective when it
comes to
penetrating well.

32

and multiply it by the number


of blades the broadhead has. This
will give you your width factor.
Next divide the first measurement
(length of one blade) by the width
factor we just figured out, and you
will end up with the MA of that
broadhead.
The formula looks like this: blade
length/width factor (blade height or
the cutting diameter X number of
blades) = Mechanical Advantage. See
sidebar for more information.
Arrow Mass

An arrows lethality is increased


every time you add weight to it. This is
because added arrow weight
increases the arrows momentum,
which in turn increases its penetration.
Its simple and unarguable physics.
Despite this fact, arrow weight is still
the most widely known and under
used penetration enhancing factor out
there. Why?
Many people fear if they add too
much arrow weight, their trajectory
wont be flat enough and they might
miss. A valid concern for sure, but if
you have to leave out Plan B to get a
flat trajectory, Ill tell you from
experience its not
worth it!
Years ago after
purchasing my first
laser range finder I
cashed in my arrow
speed for an extra
dose of arrow
weight. I found that
extra weight did
far more for my
overall success
than a lot of arrow
speed did. Those
steep quartering
shots or accidental
shoulder hits now had

BOW ARROW HUNTING JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2015

Not having to worry about deer shoulders has


increased my shot options. This was the third
blacktail in a row I killed with a close range, frontal
shot. All shots were a complete pass-throughs
and fast kills. Not a shot I would recommend with
anything less than a strong, heavy, high FOC arrow
and a broadhead that can break bone.

happy endings and trophy photos,


instead of knots in my stomach and an
empty freezer.
My new system was shoot a heavy
enough arrow to penetrate steep
angles and shoulder shots. I made a
rule that if I attempt any shot beyond
30 yards it would require a click of the
rangefinder first. Inside 30 yards the
small trajectory difference proved to
be a non-issue in hunting situations.
Years later, I look back and see a
dramatic jump in my success and
confidence as a result of the change.
More arrow weight = more arrow
momentum = better penetration
Multiply Your Arrows
Performance

By paying attention to broadhead


selection, FOC and arrow weight you
will be surprised at what an arrow
really can do. More than once Ive
broken elk down at the shoulder, had
steep-quartering shots pass
lengthways through a bucks body, and
had tree stand-angle shots provide low
exit wounds and short recoveries.
These werent flukes or lucky shots.
They were simply the result of using
the laws of physics to my advantage.
Take these principles to heart and
apply them to your next dozen hunting
arrows and success will follow.

BAH_1501_33 12/8/14 10:57 PM Page 33

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34

BOW ARROW HUNTING JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2015

BAH_1501_MIDWEST.qxp 12/8/14 4:47 AM Page 35

Midwestern
Double
Tap
F
irst light was gathering
quickly now, and the glow on
the cloudless eastern skyline
promised that another balmy,
blue bird day would soon be
added to the string of four that had
just preceded it. That thought left me
briefly annoyed, as a stalled highpressure system does nothing to
improve daytime whitetail activity,
which frankly had been in the toilet
since my hunt began four days
earlier. But as quickly as they came,
those feelings faded as I settled into
my stand for the day and the sounds
and smells of early November in the
deer woods pulled me headlong into
the hunt.
My stand was located on the side of
a small hardwood ridge bordering an
overgrown CRP field to the west and a
pasture interspersed with juniper and
hardwood saplings of oak, ash and
some hedge apple. Less than 15
minutes later, full-blown shooting
light had just arrived when I heard a
rustling in the leaves over my left
shoulder and slightly above me
toward the spine of the ridge. I knew
what it was before I turned to look.
Three rapid but evenly spaced blows
to the leaf-covered forest floora
short pausethen three more left no
doubt that a buck was making or
tending a scrape just up the ridge
from me.
At first I saw nothing. Then the
licking branch shuddered as he
began to work it over. The bones
protruding through the foliage as he
busied himself with the task at hand
told me all I needed to know.
Id finally made it to Iowa. With my
three preference points, I had
managed to draw a coveted archery
whitetail tag in the southeast corner

COME ALONG ON THIS EXCITING


DOUBLE-ADVENTURE, DO-ITYOURSELF HUNT FOR BIG
MIDWESTERN BUCKS.

By Tony

Ruggert

of that state. Hunting units there


comprise a region that many believe
offers bowhunters the best
opportunity by far to hunt and kill a
true mega-whitetail buck. And I was
smack in the middle of it well into the
first week of November.
Back in July when my Iowa tag
arrived, I was really pumped! I knew
what that tag meant to my chances at
taking a great buck. But that emotion
was tempered by the realization that I
would likely have to bypass my
annual Illinois bowhunt. Over the past
several years I had always done well
there, taking several solid Pope &
Young bucks, and I hated to miss out
on even one trip to a state that had
treated me so well in the past.
PLANNING THE HUNT

Time was not a problem. Being


semi-retired and owning my own
small business my schedule is
extremely flexible. But moneywell
thats always an issue, isnt it? Trophy
whitetail bowhunts in the most
popular big buck states, with top
producing outfitters in the industry,
are not cheap, and two in the same
year for me was out of the question.
Still, with my favorite Illinois hunting

JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2015 BOW ARROW HUNTING

35

BAH_1501_MIDWEST 12/11/14 10:18 PM Page 36

ABOVE: Author and his


Iowa buck, which he shot
after luring the deer in
range using a Woods
Wise Buc n Doe call.
RIGHT: Author and his
Illinois buck that
completed his double
hunting adventure

...full-blown shooting light had just arrived when I heard


a rustling in the leaves over my left shoulder...
area and my intended Iowa
destination within easy driving
distance of each other, I wasnt willing
to concede anything just yet. So I
started digging.
Since Iowa was my primary
destination for the coming fall, I
turned to my network of Midwest
hunting contacts. As a hunting
consultant, I deal with outfitters in
several states from Indiana to Kansas.
And while Iowas preference point
system can make it a challenge to
find clients looking to bowhunt that
state, I did know of one particular
outfitter with great private leases in
Unit 5 where I had drawn a tag.
Iowa does not license or certify their
outfitters, nor do they have a
landowner-participation program
geared to opening private lands to the
36

hunting public as some states do. So


having a contact like Mike Nichols of
The Whitetail Connection is everything.
Hes young, enthusiastic and, above all
lives, eats and breathes big whitetails.
Born and raised in the area, he knows
the landowners, and many are friends
of the family. This enables him to
acquire some of the best private
whitetail habitat found anywhere in the
state. Fortunately, he had dates
available in early November and he
specializes in providing private lease
access and semi-guided bowhunts,
exactly the type of affordable hunt I
was looking for.
With my Iowa hunt secured, I
turned my attention to Illinois. This
was the easy part. I had multiple
contacts in that state that offer
outfitted, DIY hunts on private leases

BOW ARROW HUNTING JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2015

complete with food and lodging, all


pre-scouting, pre-set treestands,
aerial photos with lease boundaries
highlighted, and a detailed
orientation providing stand locations
and known deer movement patterns
on the day before the hunt. Once the
orientation is completed, hunters are
then left to their own devices. I
booked my Illinois hunt to follow my
Iowa bowhunt, allowing one day
between the two for travel,
orientation and settling in. These
types of hunts are priced about 50 to
60 percent of what a fully guided hunt
goes for. In the end, I was able to hunt
trophy whitetails in two of the best
whitetail destinations in the world for
just a bit more than the price of one
guided hunt and the cost of an
additional tag. That, I could handle.

BAH_1501_37 12/11/14 10:20 PM Page 37

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ABOVE: Heading into the woods scent-free is a critical part of the equation that truly pays off. I also
had an Ozonics 200 in my stand (not pictured) to neutralize any remaining human odor within my
scent zone. RIGHT: I always have a lightweight hang-on stand with climbing sticks just in case I find a
smoking hot area that has to be hunted now!

MAKING A DECISION

Easily the buck tormenting that


licking branch was a good
onebeam length, brow and fighting
tine length and mass all goodjust
not great. He was a solid P&Y buck
sporting a typical 4X4 frame in the
mid to high 130s, not what I had come
to Iowa for but a good trophy
nonetheless. Also, he was the only
shooter I had in bow range my entire
hunt with nearly 50 hours on stand to
date.
I had seen a half dozen of those
giant bucks we all dream of along the
edges of the standing corn and in the
beams of my headlights as I traveled
to and from our hunting area. Two of
them Im certain would have grossed
better than 170 inches, one of those
on the high side of 180 inches. A wet
fall made getting the combines into
the fields impossible for long
stretches, so more than half the crop
was still standing. My guess was the

breeders were rounding up the does


at night and moving them into the
corn during the day. The stationary
high pressure system and warm
temperatures werent helping matters
at all, and there was no end to it in
sight. It was with all this in mind that I
decided this late in the hunt, if given
the opportunity, I would take this
buck.
He continued to work the licking
branch relentlessly for the better part
of five minutes. He was no more than
30 yards up the side of the ridge, yet
all I could see were a few patches of
hair, his rack and an occasional flash
of white throat patch through the
heavy canopy directly over his
scrape. Then that rack was suddenly
motionless, maybe he was surveying
his work or leaving a calling card of
urine passed over blackened, musksoaked hocks. My guess was
probably both.
Finally, he slowly turned his head

and looked toward the ridge top and


started moving directly away from my
stand. I use a specific call for closerange situations like this that
produces either buck or doe
vocalizations. I hit it twice, producing
two of the most seductive, almost
inaudible, doe bleats I could muster.
Instantly he froze in his tracks and
stared briefly in my direction. With
ears cocked forward and head low he
slowly turned and came at a
deliberate, almost hurried
pacesearching.
I was at full draw before he cleared
the canopy well up the hillside, and
followed him with my 20-yard pin fast
to his front shoulder, one-third of the
way up his side. He came by just
under 15 yards, and as he quartered
slightly away I dropped the string. As
he passed, his gait had slowed so I
didnt try to stop him. Entry was a
hand width behind the shoulder and
exit was just forward of the opposite

I was able hunt trophy whitetails in two of the best whitetail


destinations in the world for just a bit more than the price of one
guided hunt and the cost of an additional tag.
38

BOW ARROW HUNTING JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2015

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RIGHT: Mike Nichols retrieves a good buck for one of


his clients on a fully guided hunt. If you are on an
outfitted DIY hunt, you will need a 4-wheeler to get
your deer back to the truck.
BELOW: Hunting during the rut is great...lots of deer,
lots of action. Bucks were definitely tending scrapes
and trailing does on both of the author's hunts.

leg. My 100-grain HellRazor took out


both lungs, and I watched him fall.
The elation that comes with wrapping
your hands around a great set of
bones usually is accompanied by
some regret that the hunt is over. But
this time, with a valid Illinois tag still
in my pocket, there was none of that.
TRAVELING TO ILLINOIS

The drive to my Illinois camp was a


breeze, and by nightfall not only had I
been oriented to the lease I would be
hunting, but I had a chance to check
out and select my stand for the
morning hunt. The first day was
uneventful, most likely because I was
dealing with the same weather here
that dogged me throughout my entire
Iowa hunt.
Day two was more of the same, but
day three arrived and with it the
promise of a frontal system and
falling temperatures that night. As I
left the lodge and drove into the
darkness, I felt that familiar
excitementbutterflies in the chest
and the prickle of hair on the back of
my neck standing on end. This was
going to be a good day!
My stand was in the timber
overlooking a pinch point between a
lakeshore and a cut corn field.

Identifying these buck funnels and


locating your stand precisely where it
needs to be is often the most critical
factor in putting a big whitetail buck
on the ground. From first light deer
were moving both in the timber and
out in the cut corn, and I caught
glimpses of good bucks moving just
at the limit of my vision.
Around 9:15 a.m., I began my
casting series of callsdoe bleats,
followed by tending grunts and
finally estrous bleatsspaced five
minutes apart. A half hour later, I
started to repeat the same sequence.
Half way through the first series of
doe bleats, there he was, coming
straight for my tree. He was almost
the twin of my Iowa buck, big body
and all. He stopped broadside at 17
yards, and my HellRazor performed
lethally once again, tipping him over
after a very short death sprint and
completing my Midwest double hunt.
Opportunities such as those
described in this piece are more
available than you might think. The
Midwest is within driving distance of
just about anywhere in the lower 48.
These DIY hunts are not only
affordable, but I think more gratifying
and simply more fun. You do your own
thinghunt the way you like to hunt

in the type of cover you prefer. Bring


a hang-on or two. See some country,
read sign, adjust on the fly. True, the
pre-hunt scouting is done for you. But
you decide how to apply the
information provided, putting the
outcome of your huntgood or
badalmost solely in your hands.

AUTHORS NOTES: There are many


variations available similar to the hunt
you just read about. Kansas and
Wisconsin are other options. Indiana,
Nebraska and Missouri also have very
good deer and over-the-counter licensing.
These could be used as fill in type hunts
if you score early on your primary hunt,
and have done the research. If you need
any more information, you can call me at:
Trophyseekers Worldwide Inc., (717) 3527119, or visit Trophyseekers.com.
During the hunt, I used the following
gear: Mathews Drenalin bow, Spot-Hogg
5-Pin Sight, NAP Quik Tune SmartRest,
Limbsaver products, Carter Chocolate
Addiction, Bushnell 1000 rangefinder and
Elite 8x43 binoculars, Beman 340 shafts,
NAP QuikFletch QuikSpin vanes, NAP
HellRazor 100-grain broadheads, Woods
Wise game calls, and Dead Downwind
scent-prevention
products.

JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2015 BOW ARROW HUNTING

39

Authors photos

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BOW ARROW HUNTING JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2015

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Wyoming
Shiras

After years of striking out in the bull moose


draws, this bowhunter decided to turn his focus
on a cow tag. His strategy paid off well.
BY WARREN ANDERSON
fter years of applying for a
bull moose tag in my home
state (and still waiting to
draw one) I decided to burn
the few points I had acquired in
Wyoming for a chance to hunt a cow
moose with my bow. A trip to British
Columbia, Canada, two years ago
produced no opportunities due to
bad weather the whole week we
were in camp. A chance to hunt
them do-it-yourself style a little
closer to home held a strong appeal
to me. Studying units and draw
odds, I settled on Unit One in the
Bighorn Mountains. This decision
also had an ulterior motive. My
close friend Wayne was gaining on
enough points to draw a bull tag in
this unit and agreed to go along on
my cow hunt. The reasons were two
fold. One, he could see the caliber

of bulls in the states number-one


unit for trophy Shiras bulls and, two,
he would be a great hand in packing
out my cow, hopefully.
The good news came in early
summer, and I made a trip seven
hours north to get a boots-on-theground feel for what I was up against.
Since most of us rarely get a chance to
hunt moose, the learning curve would
be steep. Phone calls and in-person
interviews with state biologists
helped me get a better feel of where
Id find them and what habitats they
preferred (at least in the summer).
Past hunters in the area chimed in on
what to expect and where they found
moose once the season opened. Most
all had the same thing to say, Where
you find them in the summer is not
where they will be come fall. No
truer words have been spoken.

NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2014 BOW ARROW HUNTING

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The summer trip was a huge success. Thirty-plus animals


were spotted in just a day and a half of scouting the likely
looking areas on the map. Feeling confident that there were
plenty of animals to hunt, all I could do was return home and
wait until the season opened.
Preparing for the Hunt

My good friend Wayne packed up his wall tent and other


camping essentials, and we headed north in early
September. Having found a few good options for camping
spots (and a few dynamite trout streams), we set up camp in
a driving rain storm and finished camp chores of cutting
and stacking fire wood. Relaxing in the gargantuan wall tent
complete with woodstove, being out of the rain, was a
pleasure that I rarely get to experience on most of my hunts.
Normally I am crammed into a one-man backpacking tent
on some remote mountain top, gear stuffed under the
vestibule, trying to keep it somewhat dry when the heavens
open the flood gates. This would be a very comfortable
camp from which to hunt.
This hunt would also prove to be much different than most
hunts I am used to and, quite frankly, prefer. Instead of
glassing from some remote high point, the main plan would
be to cruise some of the many roads that run through great
moose habitat. Unfortunately, that also seemed to be the
42

BOW ARROW HUNTING NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2014

Finding a lone cow proved very difficult,


as most of them were accompanied by
calves. State regulations prohibit
shooting a cow that is with a calf.

plan of every other hunter that had a moose tag. After a day
of this, I grew extremely bored and it proved fruitless.
Except for two bulls killed on opening morning, the animals
were not in their summer haunts (just as the past hunters
had said).
Formulating a Strategy

After a few run-ins with elk hunters, it became obvious


that still-hunting the timber would be the way to get this
done. The elk hunters we talked to had all seen moose while
chasing elk. A few of them gave us some solid tips on where
they were finding them, and we checked out each lead like
a seasoned detective. Five days into the hunt we had seen

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One afternoon, while glassing from an old forest


service road, a group of cowboys on horseback rode out
of the timber below us and worked their way up to our
position. This would be a golden opportunity to see if
they had seen any moose while gathering up the cows.
Turns out...they had! A vague list of instructions pointed
us in the right direction. To my way of thinking, these
moose would be in the bottoms finishing off the last few
willow shoots that hadnt yet been completely killed by
the frost. So, we hiked up a wide valley to a likely
looking ambush spot and settled in. Plenty of deer, but
no moose showed themselves that evening.
TOP: Thanks to this large wall tent, moose camp was a pleasant
resort compared to pitching a small backpacking tent on some
remote ridge. BOTTOM: Warren Anderson and his trophy Shiras
cow moose. During the hunt, information provided by fellow elk
hunters and cowboys proved invaluable in locating moose.

elk, deer, bear and a few bull moose, but the cows were
proving to be slippery. How on earth can you spend this
much time snooping around the timber in good-looking
spots where others had seen moose and still not be able to
find an animal the size of a Volkswagen? I was getting
frustrated but tried to remain positive. It only takes one
animal to turn the tides, and each day it felt like we were
getting closer to cracking the code.

Glassing the Timber

The next morning we were back at the cutback glassing


when I happened to catch a glimpse of the bull and cow the
cowboys had told us about the day before. They were near
the top of the mountain near the alpine and working their
way into a basin with plenty of thick timber to bed in. We
hustled up a gnarly two-track and began the steep hike to
where I had last seen them. Once over the top, we tip toed
along, zigzagging in and out of fingers of timber. The wind
had picked up and was swirling, so I decided to back out
and return in the afternoon. We made note of a great place
to glass from that would offer a commanding view of the
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The author hunted the


Bighorn Mountains region,
an area known for its beauty
and expansive country.

Taking a few extra seconds to control my breathing


and pounding heart, I settled my 40-yard pin on her
flank and began the pull.
basin and returned later in the day to see if we could turn
up the pair of unsuspecting moose.
It was a strenuous hike, but shortly after getting situated,
the clouds began to build and a storm was brewing. It
appeared to be blowing away from us at first, so I wasnt too
concerned. Then, it switched 180 degrees and began to
blow back in our direction, and with a vengeance!
Soon, the trees were bent over at almost 90 degrees. Rain,
sleet, snow, and lightning soon followed. The former I can
deal with, but the ladder I was not interested in. We bailed
off the top to get into the trees and were planning to wait it
out when Wayne brought up a good point. The two-track
was a pretty sorry road to begin with and it crossed two
creeks. Since this storm had no signs of moving quick, the
pounding rain would make travel on that road treacherous.
To top it off, the last several hundred yards of it ran down
the center of a valley that was already saturated from the
previous days storms. We decided to turn tail and head for
camp. We made it out but barely. Of course, two miles down
the main road, the rain stopped and the sun came out.
On day six, finally feeling like we nailed down a specific
drainage, we parked one truck at the bottom and took the
other to the top. The plan was to still-hunt down the
drainage, some 4 1/2 miles, in hopes of finding a cow. Not
44

BOW ARROW HUNTING NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2014

only were we trying to find a cow, it had to be a cow without


a calf as per game regulations.
At the top, we were into the moose, but all the cows had a
calf and a few of them had boyfriends. This being the first
actual encounter, I decided to experiment and see how
close I could get and determine how weary these animals
really were. They tolerated more than I expected, and it was
obvious that once we found a single cow, the stalk would be
anti-climactic.
Gaining Distance

Two miles down the drainage, I let out a bull grunt and
was answered immediately by a cow. As I moved into
position, I could see legs moving my way through the trees.
At 30 yards, she stopped broadside in a small opening
offering a prime shot opportunity. I looked back at Wayne,
he had the camera up and was snapping pictures. He
looked at me and pointed while mouthing the words, Shes
right there. I thought I had seen a second set of legs, and
sure enough, junior stepped into view behind mom. We
snapped a few more pictures and continued on down the
drainage.
Another half mile and we again ran into a cow and calf.
We were in the right area, plenty of moose, we just needed

BAH_1501_MOOSE_40-45.qxp 12/8/14 5:23 AM Page 45

to find a legal cow. After stopping to filter some water and


take a break, I saw Waynes eyes light up and he said, No
way. Turning to see what he was looking at, he said, There
is a cow. About that time, I saw a second set of legs behind
her and I said, And theres the calf. Right? He hissed back,
Theres the bull! A cow and a bull! Give me your pack; you
got this.
Quickly, I shed my pack and began to close the distance.
The bull was young with a small set of antlers, but his body
was large. Large enough that if he decided I was a threat, he
could have dished out some serious injury. I kept very
aware of his location as I eased into a comfortable shooting
distance. Now it was a matter of her turning broadside and
him not getting too temperamental, just a scant 13 yards
away. Finally, she turned as the bowstring found its place
along my cheek. Taking a few extra seconds to control my
breathing and pounding heart, I settled my 40-yard pin on
her flank and began the pull. The arrow disappeared
exactly where I was looking, and she started for the edge of
the meadow. Wayne grunted and she stopped.
With blood pouring out of both sides of her mouth, I
knew she was hit well. She stood for what felt like forever,
even though it was probably only 20 seconds and then tried
to walk. Her rubbery legs gave out, and she crashed to the
ground. Her last few labored breaths shot a mist of blood 15
feet into the air from the arrows entrance hole. I will be
honest, it was a little sad to watch her die. An arrow is a
devastating weapon when placed correctly. Fortunately, the
whole ordeal lasted less than a minute, and
she never felt a thing.
Soon Wayne and I were standing over my
prize and, after snapping a few pictures (and
running off her boyfriendtwice), we
commenced to the task of breaking her down
and packing her out. Waynes GPS revealed an
old logging road not far from where she fell
and, after we brought the first load of meat out,
he headed for the truck at the bottom of the
drainage while I went back for the last three
quarters. When he came bouncing up the
road, I was coming out of the timber with the
last load of meat.
Wyoming Game and Fish had asked me to
collect some blood, kidney and tooth samples
for their study on the moose herd. In the
spring of this year, after the Wyoming Game
and Fish published their tooth analysis report,
it showed the cow I shot was 7 years old.
Overall, it was a memorable experience Ill
never forget.

TOP: The author is seen here still-hunting along a


two-track road. During his walks he spotted several
small bulls, including this one pictured in the photo.
BOTTOM: A woodstove provided much-needed
warmth during segments of cold weather.

NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2014 BOW ARROW HUNTING

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46

BOW ARROW HUNTING JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2015

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Before spring green-up is


the best time to locate
and learn new hunting
grounds.

Next Years Plan

If you want to improve your next hunt then now is


the time to get to work.
By Steve Bartylla

ith most seasons winding down by the time this issue hits the stands,
theres no better time to start planning for next seasons success
than now. What follows are the things I strive to do during the offseason so I can improve my time on stand. When it comes to hunting, Ive
never been an overly lucky hunter. To achieve consistent results, I have to
make my own luck. These are the tasks that have had the greatest impact on
how lucky I feel.

Where to Hunt

It all starts with having places to hunt. A few years ago, my friend had just
lost all three of the areas hed hunted the year before. Though the reasons
varied from property to property, the words he shared with me ring true in
nearly all cases. If you dont own your hunting land youll eventually lose it,
he said. Its just a matter of when.
Outside of the 40 acres I previously owned for about five years, Ive never
owned the land I hunt on. My experiences line up perfectly with my friends
statement. The list of reasons of why I lose land to hunt on is endless, to be
honest.
Doing a lot of public-ground hunting, one would incorrectly assume that
those secret public spots Ive found over the years were safe. Between
government contracts ending, public grounds being sold, logging, mining,
other hunters finding those hidden gems, and a long list of other reasons, Ive
never had any secret spot on public ground last more than a handful of years.

JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2015 BOW ARROW HUNTING

47

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Habitat improvement is
much like remodeling a house.
Anytime we remodel a
whitetails home, we should do
so in a manner that helps create
or enhance a stand setup.

Even when you own your own


ground, having extra land to hunt
can be extremely beneficial. Not
only does it allow you extra
opportunities at new bucks, but it
allows you to take pressure off of
the land. You can hunt the very best
whitetail ground in the county but
having the ability to hunt other
locations is an important part of
keeping that ground fresh and
productive.
How you go about finding new
land is not important. Whether its
ground open to the public, a lease
or merely gaining permission to
hunt, it doesnt matter.
What does matter is that this is
the single best time of year to add
new hunting spots to your arsenal,
and you can never have too much
48

of it. With deer hunting being many


months away, owners are more
open to talk now then they will be
after theyve had their door
knocked on by the tenth hunter this
week. It also offers you enough
time to trade labor services for
hunting rights. On public grounds,
you pretty much have the woods to
yourself this time of year, so you
can dig in and narrow down
specific stand sites.
Regardless if land is open to the
public or not, uncovering useful
hunting sites now provides the
chance to learn them before the
spring green-up. Not only is most
of the buck sign still visible, but I
believe far too many hunters ruin
their hunting areas the first year by
scouting the ground right before

BOW ARROW HUNTING JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2015

and during the season. That


pressure most often pushes deer to
the neighbors land, when we want
the neighbor and his friends
pushing deer to our land.
Get out there now, find that new
honeyhole and learn how deer use
it. I can promise you that you wont
be upset if you end up with more
land than you can hunt. If thats the
case, simply hunt the best spots
and leave the bottom-end ground
alone for an entire year. Leaving
these spots alone can do wonders
for the following season.
Public-Land Bucks

Ill be honest and admit that I


find a great deal of satisfaction and
pride in taking public-land bucks.
For me, taking a 3 1/2-year-old or

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The early off-season is


perfect for exploring new
areas that you dont want
to disturb later in the year.

older survivor of the public-land


wars is my ultimate hunting thrill.
As alluded to earlier, hunting
public-land bucks also keeps my
private hunting grounds a little
fresher. Yes, Im unbelievably
spoiled by being contracted to
manage one or two really good
pieces of ground each year. On
those large chunks, you can get
away with a lot more than you
would on the normal small
properties I also manage. On the
smaller grounds, a huge key to
success is tightly controlling the
hunting pressure. Convince the
deer that they arent being hunted
and good things happen.
In short, as the neighbors
pummel their grounds, the deer
keep piling into the woods you
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A big advantage to early


off-season scouting is
that most of all the
previous seasons rut
sign is still clearly visible.

50

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Having hunted public grounds in six states and


several provinces, I can tell you that there are more
3 1/2-year-old and older bucks running public
grounds than you would believe.
manage, because they feel safe
there. For many small private-land
hunters, keeping the deer ignorant
to being hunted is the biggest key
to improving the quality of the
hunting. When possible, a big part
of tricking deer into believing
theyre safe is improving the
habitat in ways that produce lowimpact, high-reward stands. Doing
so allows the woods to be hunted,
while providing the illusion that its
not. The result is that deer
encounters go up with each
passing day, instead of the
downward trend most properties
provide. For me, hunting public
ground creates an escape to
alleviate the pressure off my
private grounds.
One key to successfully hunting
public-land bucks is this: you have
to find the dang things before you
can kill them. Having hunted
public grounds in six states and
several provinces, I can tell you
that there are more 3 1/2-year-old

and older bucks running around


public woods than youd believe.
However, they surely arent behind
every tree and, to get to that age,
they tend to be masters of
escaping.
Theres no better time to find
those masters than the day after
season closes, on through spring
green-up. Begin by scouting areas
that are either too thick/too much
work for other hunters to access or
the pockets of cover around roads,
building or parking areas that are
ignored. Tear the woods apart,
looking for big rubs, overly large
tracks, large beds and sheds.
Public-land bucks generally
grow to maturity by finding those
areas we dont hunt and sticking
tight to them during daylight. Find
enough of those spots, and youll
find some nice bucks worth
hunting. The catch is that youll
have to pound boots to do it.
Theres no better time to do so
than now, as your intrusion will be

long forgotten by the time season


rolls around.
Up the Odds

For those able to manipulate the


private land they hunt, now is also
when you start manufacturing those
low-impact, high-odds stand sites.
Habitat improvement is much like
remodeling a house. Anytime we
remodel a whitetails home, we
should do so in a manner that helps
create or enhance a stand setup.
Before doing anything, identify
your goals for the property and lay
out the improvements that you
believe will be the most helpful for
achieving them. The best plan
never happens by winging it.
Instead, it will involve tying each
improvement together with careful
planning so it encourages deer to
bed, feed, water and travel in the
ways that best aid in hunting.
With a plan in hand, get out there
with a chainsaw and create
bedding areas and blockades to

HINGE CUTTING
Since I mentioned chainsaw work, we should briefly
cover the act of hinge cutting. After all, no other treecutting method can create as much extra deer cover as
swiftly as hinge cutting trees.
The premise behind hinge cutting is straight forward.
Make one cut far enough through the tree to allow it to
fall, but allow the top to remain connected to the root
system. As the tree falls, the connecting tissue serves as
a hinge. With many tree species, the connecting tissue
bends, but doesnt break, allowing the continued flow of
nutrients.
Before taking a chainsaw into the woods, learn
chainsaw safety backwards and forwards. Also, always
wear loggers chaps, helmet with a face shield, gloves
and boots.

Theres not enough room in this article to cover


chainsaw-safety procedures. However, a couple things
specific to hinge cutting must be covered. On trees of
any real size, always cut on the opposite side from how
the tree is leaning. Make one continuous cut until the
tree just starts to fall and step back.
On small trees, only cut around 60 percent of the way
through and pull them down into the desired position.
Minimizing the cut allows a better connection between
roots and the branches, enhancing survival rates.
With chest-high cuts, deer can bed and travel under
the trees. Using waist- to knee-high cuts, they can often
create effective deer blockades. In either case, dropping
the tree to the forest floor creates instant cover and deer
browse. S.B.

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Before planting food plots, one should craft a thorough plan


for how to improve the habitat to create low-impact,
high-odds stand locations.

CHECK
YOUR
GEAR

help funnel deer activities. Doing


so over the winter months gives the
improvements plenty of time to
work before next season begins
and provides all those extra tops
for feeding during this otherwise
low point in the food supply.
Creating Safe Zones

The off-season is a great


time to go through your gear,
looking for potential
problems. In many cases,
identifying problems early on
provides you with ample time
to remedy issues. In the case
of tree stands, some fixes
could save your life. For this
reason, pay special attention
to all the parts on your stands.
Make the time now to give all
tree-stand associated
equipment an extra close
inspection. In fact, before
heading to the woods later to
hang stands, give them a
second safety check. You
simply cant be too cautious in
this regard. S.B.

52

Sanctuaries are becoming more


and more popular, and for good
reason. As mentioned above, allow
deer to feel safe on your ground
and youll suck them in over the
season like a vacuum. Setting aside
a good percent of the deer cover as
generally off limits to hunting does
wonders to help achieve that. Thats
particularly true when the
sanctuary area offers high-impact
hunting, anyway.
I set aside more deer cover as a
sanctuary than most. When laying
out plans, its common for me to
designate 70 to 90 percent of deer
cover as a sanctuary. I strive to
build habitat plans around not
needing to hunt deep in deer
cover, while producing low-impact,
high-odds stands that hunt like

BOW ARROW HUNTING JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2015

deep-woods setups. Doing so gives


me and my clients a tremendous
advantage.
The over simplified goal is for
the sanctuaries to provide the best
security and thermal cover the area
has to offer. Its also not bad if it
offers some good browse and mast
crops. However, as a hunter, you
really want the majority of feeding
to occur outside its boundary. That
way deer have what they truly
need inside, but also have a strong
temptation to leave for top-quality
food.
That said, I believe many make
the mistake of never entering their
sanctuaries. I need to know whats
going on inside their boundaries.
How deer are using, accessing and
exiting these sanctuaries is critical
to taking advantage of them.
At the same time, for sanctuaries
to best do their job, they need to
offer superior cover. Often, it takes
a chainsaw or tree planting work to
achieve that. If I dont venture
inside them to inspect the quality
of deer cover, I have no clue if it
needs further improvement.
After the season closes is the
time to really inspect those
sanctuaries. Doing so provides
invaluable hunting intel and allows
ample time to make any
improvements to cover that may be
helpful. Plunging in is the only way
to make those determinations, and
this is the time of year to do that.
Access and Funnels

Whether its private or public


grounds, keeping impact low
allows you to go undetected.
Unfortunately, low impact often
doesnt occur naturally.
For the private land owner, it may
make sense to make new roads
along the property lines. With that,
the hunter can use the line for
access and departure that blows
their odors into the neighboring
ground, keeping the ground they
hunt undisturbed.
One can also use less drastic
measures to make lower impact
access. In many situations, a ditch

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This is just one of many bucks the author


has taken as a result of his early off-season
prep work.

or creek may provide low-impact


access, but fallen trees and brush
make them unusable. Another
common problem is that many
stand access and departure routes
cant be used without brushing
against things, making noise and
leaving odors.
Now is the perfect time to cut
trails and clear passages. Sure,
growth will again occur before the
season. Still, whatever work is done
now is that much less disturbance
near and during season.
At the same time, deer dont
always travel as wed like them to,
but that can often be changed.
While improving access, why not
improve the funnels and trails your
stands cover, while discouraging
deer from using those we dont
want them to use? All one must do
to dissuade deer from using fence
crossings, trails, any sharp bank
crossing and all sorts of other
travel ways is to clog them with
some brush.

One should then make those


same features that our stands
overlook more enticing to deer by
fixing them up. Something as simple
as doing some minor clearing to a
deer trail in spring can get deer to
use it even more than they
otherwise would. Do a little digging
on a sharp-bank crossing to make it
easier to climb and it will almost
always receives more deer traffic. If
that neck of trees that connects two
woodlots is too wide to shoot across,
make a brush-pile fence to force
them over to within bow range.
Outside of building new access
roads, all of this can be done on
both private and public grounds. All
it takes is a little creativity and some
elbow grease. Youll never go
undetected by every deer or get
them all to use your improved route.
However, if you go undetected by
the one buck you want to kill and he
decides to use your enhanced
pathway the day you are on stand, it
can be well worth it.

Find us on

Discover the ultimate


magazine for todays
hunting archer.

www.facebook.com/bowandarrowmagazine

JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2015 BOW ARROW HUNTING

53

www.donaldmjones.com

BAH_1501_BEAR_54-61 12/8/14 5:51 AM Page 54

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Coastal
Mega Bears
Join this bowhunter as he travels to the wilds of
Alaska to face Americas largest predator.
By Ryan Eaves
anking the Super Cub hard to the left, my guide and
outfitter Jonah began the circle that would
hopefully confirm what both our eyes had spotted.
With my face pressed to the glass I peered as hard
as I could trying to spy what my mind kept telling me I had
witnessed. Sure enough, standing in the middle of the river
was the coastal brown bear I had made the long trek from
Oklahoma to find. From the relative comfort of the Super
Cub, the bear looked huge, although in reality Im not sure
if he was big or not. The good news was that the bear was on
the river fishing less than a mile and a half from camp.
Peering out the window with renewed resolve we continued
on to camp, which happened to be just around the bend in
the river.

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The sight of a
massive brown
bear track prompts
excitement and
fear.

56

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With renewed energy I grabbed


my gear and in a half-walk, half-jog,
we headed to the bear.

Landing on the sandbar and


exiting the plane, we soon set to
the task of unloading and
checking gear. With Alaska law
being what it is, it would be the
next day before any hunting
began, so we took our time and
enjoyed the experience. Truth be
told, I was wore out. By no stretch
of the imagination is it easy to
make it from Oklahoma to Alaska.
The full day of travel had me
frazzled, and I soon found myself
nodding off during conversation.
Retiring to the tent, surrounded by
an electric fence I might add,
sleep came easy. But before I
knew it, I was being rousted out of
the comfort of the sleeping bed. It
seems many hours had passed in
a couple of minutes and this hunt
was officially ready to begin. After
a quick breakfast, we slipped into
waders and loaded the raft.
The giant coastal bears are an
amazing animal. For several years
I had wanted to hunt them, but
there was always other hunts
scheduled or life in general just
seemed to keep this hunt off the
books. That all changed in January
2013 when I began talking with
my friend Casey and we got off on
the subject of bears. In fact, I had
listened to Caseys story of his
hunt the previous July, so the great
things he had said about the hunt
and outfitter he went with just
seemed to stick. I just knew it was
the hunt I was looking for.
The next day, I contacted the
outfitter, Jonah Stewart, to learn
more about his services and what
to expect. He reiterated most of
what Casey had talked so fondly
about. Before I knew it, I was
booked for a July hunt.

Preparations began immediately,


because to say I was pumped
would be a drastic understatement!
BATTLING THE RIVER

The first days plan was to head


up river to what traditionally had
been the prime fishing spot for
the bears. At this time of year the
best hunting would be at night,
when the bears would come out of
hiding and spend all night
feeding up and down the river.
The plan was to simply find a
good spot to view as much of the
river as possible and be ready to
move when a bear showed
himself. I have to admit that the
size of the river concerned me. It
was much wider than I expected,
which posed several potential
problems.
First, it was too wide to shoot
across, which would effectively
make the hunt more difficult. Not
being able to cover the entire
width of the river would mean a
bear could easily pass by and be
out of range. Also, being wider
also meant deeper. Jonah was
somewhat concerned also
because our trek up the river each
day became more difficult. In
years past, he explained that the
river was rarely more than thigh
deep. Trust me, Im 6-foot, 6inches tall, and we found areas
that were at the top of my head. All
that aside, though, there was
nothing we could do to combat
that. We simply had to deal with it
and make it work.
The labor involved in pulling a
16-foot inflatable raft up river
turned out to be more difficult
than I expected. As previously
stated, the depth of the river made

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The super cub is the primary


means of transportation in
the far-North.

BOOKING A HUNT
Jonah Stewart is one of the best guides Ive ever had the privilege to hunt with. This hunt proved to be just what I was
looking for: simple, no-frills camping in the heart of the Alaskan backcountry. Despite conditions not being ideal, Jonah
was able to put us on a nice bruin all due to his knowledge of the area and the game being pursued. Making the call to pick
up camp and to move to new county is a gutsy move that some outfitters wouldnt be inclined to do. Jonah made the call
with no hesitation, and his decisiveness proved wise. I can speak no higher words for an outfitter than to say that I will
hunt with Jonah again in the near future. In the meantime, if you would like to plan your own Alaskan adventure, I suggest
you give him a call or check him out on the web at jonahsalaskanoutfitters.com. You wont be disappointed. R.E.

58

BOW ARROW HUNTING JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2015

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Deciding it was go time, I slipped the


rangefinder to my eye to confirm the distance
one last time and, in one fluid motion, I rose up
and drew at the same time.
things difficult as did the current.
As everybody knows, more water
trying to make its way to the ocean
means more current to fight when
one is going in the opposite
direction. It was laborious, but the
weather was about as perfect as
one could hope. It was a beautiful
day that made it difficult not to
enjoy the journey, regardless of
how difficult things were. In due
time, we found ourselves several
hundred yards downwind from
where the bear had been the
previous evening. Stashing the raft,
we hunkered down in cover and
took turns watching the river
upwind. We did this for hours, and
hours, and hours.

sure Jonah could hear the


excitement in my voice as I
pleaded for any options, but I
knew as well as Jonah that this
encounter was about over.
Whispering back and forth to
one another we watched as the
bear hit our scent. It was an
incredible sight to watch as the
bear raised his nose and, with no
more noise than a mouse,
disappeared back into the
surrounding jungle. The entirety of
the first night played out
uneventfully and, as the eastern
sky began its greeting of a new
day, we shoved off in the raft and
drifted back to camp.
COVERING MORE GROUND

FAST ACTION

For the most part that first night


was slow. The lack of salmon was
somewhat disconcerting but the
one encounter that night more than
made up for it. I had gotten up and
changed positions to keep tabs on
the area downstream from us,
when, like a ghost, the monstrous
form of a bear popped out of the
alders 150 yards downstream.
As soon as the bear appeared,
he was gone, making me question
what I knew I had seen. Quickly
crawling back to Jonah, I informed
him I had spotted a bear, and we
both turned our attention back that
direction. Long minutes passed
when suddenly the hulking form of
the bear ghosted out of the alders
80 yards away. The bear was
moving upstream on the east side
of the river and, unfortunately, we
had no options. We were pinned
down with no cover, and the bear
would be downwind shortly. Im

The next several days played out


much like the first. We hit different
areas up and down the river and,
with the exception of one ornery
sow and her three rambunctious
cubs, we had nothing to show for
our efforts. We found tracks in the
sand and other sign, but the lack of
salmon was definitely hampering
our opportunities. On day four
Jonah made the decision that we
needed to pack up and head out
onto the tidal flats. His theory was
that the bears were still out there
because of the lack of fish, so we
broke camp and made a change in
scenery.
It proved to be a wise move. The
day after moving out there I put a
stalk on the first coastal brown
bear of my life. We spotted two
juvenile bears less than a quartermile from camp and spent a
couple of hours sneaking in on
them. At about 60 yards, we
stopped and watched as the two

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GEAR FOR
THE HUNT
Going after one of the most
incredible predators in the world will
make you pause and really study
your equipment. With the big bears,
equipment failure can indeed prove
costly, more so than on any other
North American critter. Because of
their size and stature I pumped
everything up a notch in regards to
my bow setup. The combination of
my 72-pound Hoyt Spyder 34, 530grain Easton FMJ arrow, and G5
Striker on the business end proved to
be a deadly combination passing
completely through my bear. My
Sitka system performed as one
would expect, as did my Swarovski
optics and Simms waders that I
spent most of my time in. I packed a
Ruger .454 Casull for back-up, luckily
never having to use it to prove its
worth.
A pair of camp shoes are almost a
necessity as is a book or magazine to

young bears continued their


journey. It was an awesome
experience, one that will remain
with me for a long time. Sneaking
in on an animal that is at the top of
the food chain, all the while
remaining undetected and while it
goes about its natural activities is
about as good as it gets. After the
two young bears had disappeared,
Jonah and I headed back to our
vantage point to spend more time
behind the glasses.
As the evening wore on we
continued our vigil from atop our
vantage point. The seemingly
endless sea of tidal grass seemed
to hide the bears exceedingly well,
but after hours of work the words
that Jonah uttered from atop his
vantage point still echo in my
mind. I got a bear, he said. Jonah
had a bear, on the far side of
yonder I might add. Anxious to get
a look, I turned my attention to the
tiny brown spot seemingly miles
from us. With hope in my voice I

pass the slow times. Bug spray is a


must have because Im convinced
Alaska has the biggest mosquitoes,
black flies, and no-see-ums God put
anywhere on this earth.
One last thing that was a huge
departure for me equipment-wise on
this hunt, compared to every other
hunt Ive ever done, had to do with
my release. As a guy who has dealt
with target panic numerous times
over the years, I made the decision
long before this hunt to use a backtension release. My reasoning was
quite simple actually a bad shot
on a coastal bear had the potential
to get very serious very fast. To
eliminate the chance of me rushing a
shot, punching a trigger, or any other
such nonsense, I simply chose to
hunt with the Scott Longhorn Hunter
that most of my offseason practice
is spent shooting. This seemingly
small decision, Im convinced, was a
huge plus for me. Everything worked
out the way it should, and, even
though I dont intend to tell everyone
that the back-tension is the only way
to go, it has proven over the years to
work for me, and at the end of the
day that is all that matters. R.E.

60

BOW ARROW HUNTING JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2015

asked Jonah what he thought, and


his reply sent a surge of
adrenaline coursing through my
body. We need to get closer; I
think this is the bear we are
looking for.
STALKING IN

With renewed energy I grabbed


my gear and in a half-walk, halfjog, we headed to the bear. The
first 1/2-mile was rudimentary, but
it allowed us to close the gap and
determine without a doubt that
this bear was indeed worthy of a
stalk. He was all alone, rummaging
and feeding out in the tall grass,
content to dine on whatever it is
bears find in such a place.
Occasionally he would lay down,
but even when he was up foraging
he didnt seem to have anywhere
in particular he was headed, so we
simply headed directly at him. I
was originally concerned that the
seemingly flat terrain would
complicate the stalk; however, it

BAH_1501_BEAR_54-61 12/8/14 5:52 AM Page 61

quickly became apparent that


slight undulations in the ground
were going to help.
At 128 yards I stopped to remove
my waders and mentally prepared
for the turtle mode of the stalk.
The bear was laying down at this
point and after conversing over the
plan we began the slow crawl
towards him. With the consistent
After a long stalk and a perfect
40-yard shot the author had what
he wanted. His bear was big and
impressive. The hunt couldnt have
gone sweeter.

breeze coming off the ocean


hitting us directly in the face, we
slithered as quickly and as quietly
as possible. The wet grass was
amazingly quiet and provided
surprisingly good cover. We
quickly found ourselves within 60
yards and things seemed to be
falling into place when, suddenly,
the bear rose up and began
feeding away. With a touch of panic
we followed on our bellies trying
to not lose ground but,
nonetheless, falling farther away
when he suddenly plopped down
again. Breathing a
sigh of relief, I began
the slow crawl again
only to have the bear
get up a second time!
DRAWING CLOSE

The authors well-tuned,


72-pound Hoyt Spyder 34
was primed and ready for
action, as was his
Swarovski optics. The
guide used a high-power
Remington rifle as
legitimate bear back-up.

Feeding away
again, Jonah and I
scrambled to not lose
any more ground and
just like the first time
the bear went 30 to 40
yards and laid down
again. Refocusing the
speed gears again, I
continued to slip ever
closer, and as I inched
inside 40 yards, I knew
soon I would get my chance.
Sprawled out in the wet grass, my
face mere inches from the ground,
I was beginning another slither
forward when I saw the bears
head come up and his font end
begin to rise out of the grass.
Deciding it was go time, I slipped
the rangefinder to my eye to
confirm the distance one last time
and, in one fluid motion, I rose up
and drew at the same time.
Focusing on the spot I thought I
needed to be focused on, I began
to pull through the shot and was
shocked when the bow went off! In
the split second it took for the
arrow to get there, time seemed to
stand still and the hollow plump of
broadhead slicing through hide
echoed back.
At the impact, I slammed back
down into the relative security of

the grass and watched as the bear


roared and spun, trying to find
what had jumped up and bit him.
Rising out of the grass on just his
back two feet, the bear stared in
our direction and then dropped
and began a 60-yard sprint the
other way. Elated, but unsure, we
watched as the bear stopped from
where the arrow had sliced
through him, spun a few times and
sunk to the grass. At that point the
enormity of what had transpired
settled over me, and I sunk to the
ground, overwhelmed and
suddenly at a loss for words.
INCREDIBLE FULFILLMENT

As in any hunt, there are


aspects and experiences that
cant be conveyed in either
written words or in the stories of
the adventure afterwards. All
hunts have some of the most
important details that only those
involved can relate to. This hunt in
particular reinforces that
belief...the moments leading up
to the shot, the moments
immediately after the shot, and
even some details we choose to
hold onto because they are
important to us. For example, Ill
never forget the slow times during
the hunt when Jonah and I tried
fishing, sliding down the banks of
a no name river in an inflatable
raft like two teenagers, or the look
on Jonahs face when I told him I
would pack out my bear myself.
Those are the kinds details that
will remain the most important to
me, even though they may seem
inconsequential to others, not to
mention painful to me (in the case
of the pack-out.)
A couple of days after our
success, we found ourselves back
in civilization in Wasilla. I was glad
to be headed back home because
I missed my family badly, but, I
expect some time in the near
future Ill have to give Jonah a call
and make plans to do it again. The
giant bears will simply do that to
you.

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Aspen Royals
Amid the wild mountains of southwestern
Colorado, two bowhunters embark on a
unique journey for rutting bulls.
By Eyad Yehyawi
had been waiting patiently for weeks, checking my mail and credit
card statements with the consistency of the sunrise. After steadily
accumulating points in Arizona for years, I had decided to roll the dice
and apply for a limited-entry elk tag. The results would be available
any day now, and I was excited to say the least. Having never hunted
elk before, I devoured as many videos and articles on the subject as I could
and began to increase my time at the gym and archery range. Despite my
optimism and efforts, though, Arizona was not meant to be. Following a call to
game and fish in early April, perhaps hoping that somehow there had been a
mistake, the reality that I had not drawn a tag finally sank in. Regardless of this
minor setback, though, I was still committed to hunting elk that fall and began
looking at states with over-the-counter tag options.
The biggest obstacle I was facing was a limited amount of time, and with
having no experience hunting elk, I knew that finding the right outfitter was of
paramount importance. Research and recommendations eventually led me to
Tom Collander of Colorado Trophies, located in southwest Colorado amidst
the majestic San Juan Mountains. With elevations over 10,000 feet, I was a bit
concerned how my lungs would feel about those numbers. After a long
conversation with Tom, however, I knew that this was the place I needed to be
and made plans to hunt with him that September. Since Tom runs most of his
hunts with two bowhunters per one guide, I asked good friend Dr. Chris
Durando if he would care to join me on the hunt. Chris thought it was a great
idea, and we made arrangements to meet in Colorado that fall.

PRACTICE AND PREPARATION

In preparation for the hunt, I spent the majority of the summer increasing my
workouts on The Matrix, a punishing, escalator-like machine that shows no
mercy. By refusing to touch the sidebars, and steadily increasing the intensity
and duration of my workouts, I hoped to prepare my body for what was to
come. Chris preferred to run on a treadmill, steadily increasing his workouts
and shooting sessions as the summer progressed. We both spent considerable
time shooting our bows, ensuring that we were carrying the most accurate and
forgiving set-ups that we were capable of. Time passed quickly, and before
long it was time to leave for Colorado.
On September 5th, I drove west through Nebraska before staying overnight
in a small town outside Denver. Departing early the next day, I eventually
made my way across Colorado and to the small town of Norwood in the
southwest corner of the state. After making my way to the lodge, I met up with

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BAH_1501_ELK_62-67; 81 12/8/14 5:56 AM Page 64

The author is all smiles


after traveling to the
rugged hills of Colorado
for his first elk.

Chris, who had flown in earlier


that day, along with Tom and the
rest of the staff at Colorado
Trophies. Before dinner that
evening, Tom held a short
seminar on calling, shot
placement, and the hunting
tactics we would be using. The
plan was to leave early each day
and make our way to various
ranches, hoping to find a bull elk interested in our calls.
Tom felt that the rut was just starting to heat up, with both
satellite and herd bulls becoming more vocal each day.
Tom was extremely aggressive when it came to elk
hunting, using a combination of cow calls and bugles to lure
bulls in. Ideally, Tom liked to move in on a bull and
challenge him, positioning his hunters 50 yards ahead of his
calling position, while always using the wind to their
advantage. Mature bulls did not like competition, and while
some would be intimidated and move away from Toms
bugles, many would come in looking for a fight. Tom also
explained that hunters shouldnt be afraid to move forward
into a better position, or break a few limbs to clear shooting
lanes. As long as the wind was in their favor, doing so would
only improve their chance of success. After discussing all
these points and taking mental notes, we sat down and
enjoyed the first of many incredible meals at the lodge.
Chris and I learned that Matt, a young man working on the
ranch for the summer, would also be joining us on the hunt
to gain experience as a guide. We were more than alright
with this scenario, and got to know each other as the night

As soon as his head dipped down to


feed, I stood and raced for the edge of
the timber, longing to reach the cover
that the trees would afford me.

64

BOW ARROW HUNTING JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2015

progressed. The camaraderie in camp was great, and we


were all looking forward to the week ahead.
BUGLES AND BOOT LEATHER

We covered many miles over the next three days. Chris,


Matt, Tom and I would awaken well before first light, head to
the high country, and then work our way towards any bull
that wanted to have a conversation. On more than one
occasion we would get a response, only to have the bull
hang up, go silent or simply disappear. Although we had
seen some good bulls by the end of day three, and actually
passed on two younger ones, we had yet to put an elk on the
ground.
On September 10th, the fourth day of our hunt, we
headed back to the same hillside where we had started the
first morning. The past few days had been filled with heavy
rains and windy conditions, making calling difficult at best.
This day, however, would dawn much differently than the
previous two, with crisp, almost cold temperatures, and a
stillness to the air that screamed perfection. Setting up at
first light near a large meadow, we once again were into elk
almost immediately, as a herd bull with a large harem was

BAH_1501_ELK_62-67; 81 12/8/14 5:56 AM Page 65

bugling from a grove of aspens. Chris and Tom began


crawling towards the isolated cluster of trees, hoping that
the chest high grass would conceal their approach. Once
inside the shaded tree line, they separated, with Tom
setting up behind Chris in the hopes of luring the bull
within bow range.
Seated on the other side of the meadow, Matt and I
couldnt help but notice that another bull had started
bugling to the west of our location. In no time at all this bull
had cut the distance in half, and with Tom continuing to call
from the aspens, there was no question as to where he was
headed. Scanning the distant, dew-covered meadow for the
first hint of antlers or hide, I finally saw the big bull appear
from the dark timber, displaying a regal 6x7 rack with
white-tipped antlers. Lowering his head to the ground, the
enraged bull began to destroy a small bush with his antlers,
flinging water and mist through the air with each head
twist. After yet another piercing bugle, the bull continued to
walk across the open meadow, heading straight for the
aspens that Tom and Chris were stationed in.
Realizing that another bull was fast approaching their
setup, Chris and Tom switched positions, just as the bull
came into view. With steam emanating from his nostrils, the
bull continued on his course, searching the shadows for the
rival he was determined to face. As the bull passed behind
a small aspen, Chris drew his bow, only to have the giant
stop with his vitals obscured. Holding at full draw for what
seemed like an eternity, Chris could only hope that his
nerves and practice sessions would see him through. Just as

TOP LEFT: The author's friend, Chris, sat on this elk wallow the
second night but failed to see any bulls.
TOP RIGHT: The weather can turn on a dime in the high country, so
you better come equipped with good raingear. Eyad is shown here
taking a break during a lightening storm in Colorado.
BOTTOM RIGHT: Chris Durando made a great shot to end a classic
elk hunt

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The sun had just begun


to set as the author and
Tom started climbing
after his bull.

Chris was about to let down, the bull finally stepped


forward, and Chris made a perfect 20-yard shot. The bull
spun on a dime and headed back towards the timber on a
dead run. From our vantage point, it appeared that Tom and
Chris had spooked the bull, but that was until we watched
him fall in the sunlit meadow. Chris had done it, and most
certainly paid his dues along the way. Throughout the week
he had sat on wallows and alfalfa fields, endured torrential
downpours, and walked over 12 miles a day. Hearing Chris
describe his emotions as the hunt unfolded was priceless,
and the smile on his face said it all. It was the perfect
ending to a classic elk hunt.
INTO THE ASPENS

After processing the bull and celebrating back at camp,


we headed out again for an evening hunt. Earlier in the
week, we had seen quite a few elk near a mountain-side
meadow, with numerous bugles picking up towards last
light. Our plan was to set up late that afternoon and blind
call, hoping to entice a lovesick bull into bow range. By late
afternoon we had made it to our setup, and after a few
minutes of clearing shooting lanes, Tom threw a loud bugle
into the wind. Almost immediately a bull answered, only a
few hundred yards away and directly up the mountain from
66

BOW ARROW HUNTING JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2015

our setup. The bull seemed responsive at first, but then


quickly lost interest and began walking away from our
position. With only one day left to hunt, we knew that we
were running out of time, and elected to push the
envelope. Matt and Chris would stay behind with our
backpacks as Tom and I headed further up the mountain
after the bull. Gaining elevation with each step, now at
almost 9,000 feet, I realized that my training had failed to
adequately prepare me for the thin air. Stopping to catch
my breath, I waited for Tom to bugle from behind me, and
then continued at a feverish pace once the bull responded
and gave me direction. As the bull continued to work
further away from us with each bugle, almost as if he was
mocking our efforts, we noticed that another bull had
begun bugling down the mountain to our right.
Knowing that I was now between two different bulls, but
not gaining ground on either in the diminishing light, I was
beginning to think this was a wasted venture. Tom quickly
worked his way beside me, where we discussed our
options between labored breaths. After asking Tom
whether we should raise the white flag or keep pushing, he
responded with a statement that Ill never forget.
Well, Eyad, its getting late, but these bulls are the only
game in town right now, which means we gotta play.

BAH_1501_ELK_62-67; 81 12/8/14 5:56 AM Page 67

Lighting a fire in my
weary legs and burning
lungs to keep going, we kept
pushing onward through
the dark timber.
Toms response was symbolic of his attitude on this entire
hunt, and was one of the many reasons why I had enjoyed it
so much. Lighting a fire in my weary legs and burning
lungs to keep going, we kept pushing onward through the
dark timber. As we dove deeper into the forest, the
moisture of the past two days had spawned a white mist
through the aspens, adding a bit of nostalgia in the fading
light. Hitting the edge of an isolated meadow, with the
setting sun having no empathy towards our efforts, I
realized this hunt was quickly drawing to an end. Taking a
step into the meadow, I immediately stopped in my tracks
as a bugle rang out from the timber before me. The second
bull we had been chasing was now much closer, and looked
to be moving towards our position. I could tell that Tom
realized the same thing, knowing that we were still in the
game, and motioned for me to crawl across the meadow to
the edge of the timber.
As I hit my stomach and began to crawl forward, inching
my bow and body towards the ridge that the bull was surely
on, I suddenly caught movement to my right. A young bull
appeared 50 yards within the forest, staring in my direction
and trying to make out my flattened form lying in the
meadow. I was handcuffed, but had no time to be overly
cautious. As soon as his head dipped down to feed, I stood
and raced for the edge of the timber, longing to reach the
cover that the trees would afford me. Reaching a cluster of
saplings just as the young bulls head came back up, I could
tell that he once again caught movement, but was unsure of
what it was. I dont think either of us cared, though, as in the
next instant a bugle erupted from the aspens behind the
young raghorn, and in its wake, a giant 6x6 emerged from
the darkness.
THE STAND OFF

With the giant bull staring right through me, I stayed


perfectly still, hoping that the cluster of young trees was
enough to break up my outline. The wind was still in our
favor, but was starting to swirl with the setting sun and
changing thermals. I was drenched in sweat, trying to
breathe through my nose and hoping that I could keep it
together. Then suddenly, as if a gift from the heavens, a
deep-throated bugle erupted to my left, as the first bull of
the evening began to materialize from the shadows. In the
commotion of Toms vocal battle with the 6x6, the first bull
must have had a change of heart and decided to introduce

The work never stops and what you put down you must carry out.
However, the author is still beaming with joy despite packing out hide
and horns down the mountain at midnight.

himself. With their heads down and walking stiff legged


towards each other, the two monarchs locked antlers and
began to spar, giving me a chance to make my move. I
remembered Tom saying not to be afraid of being too
aggressive, and in this case, I was anything but.
Sprinting forward and cutting the distance in half, I
reached a small opening in the forest just as Tom hit his
bugle for the last time. Both bulls immediately separated
and looked up, with the bigger of the two making me out
right away. Tipping his head back as he tried to catch my
wind, the old monarchs curiosity finally conceded to his
senses, and he disappeared into the aspens. The other bull,
however, carrying a dark 5x5 rack with dagger-like points,
held his ground, staring directly at my motionless form.
Slowly pulling the rangefinder from my pocket, I placed the
lens to my eye and began trying to find the bull through the
small ocular and dim light. My efforts proved to be pointless,
though, with too many trees and twigs in the way to get an
accurate reading. Looking up through the forest, I noticed a
giant aspen standing halfway between the bull and myself,
revealing a possible avenue to mask my approach. Having
nothing to lose, and on the tail end of a hunt that was already
more than I bargained for, I decided to go for it.
Using the aspen as a shield, I began walking straight at
the bull, coming to full draw just as I approached the base of
the cream-colored tree. Expecting to step out and be
greeted by an empty forest, I instead saw the bull standing
Continued on page 81

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BAH_1501_Prong_68-73.CX 12/11/14 10:46 PM Page 68

Pronghorn By

The morning after the storm,


the father and son team didnt
make it far before bogging
down in the mud.

68

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BAH_1501_Prong_68-73.CX 12/11/14 10:46 PM Page 69

the Nose

On the prairie, anything


can happen, as this
adventure truly shows.
By Bob Barnette
Hey, Clint. How are things?
It was noon on August 16 and
time for a radio-check with my son
as we had agreed to do every two
hours. We were on our first
bowhunt for pronghorn, a do-ityourself affair, watching water
tanks from popup blinds on
southeast Colorados Comanche
National Grasslands.
Nothing so far, came the
whispered reply. Same here just
some prairie dogs andwhoa
buck! Gotta go!
Scanning as I talked, I spotted
just the head of a nice pronghorn
buck glaring at me over a small
rise about 100 yards away. Clint
describes this as a mean mug
looka stare of seeming contempt
and superiority from a critter that
looks like he would love to come
fight you. If you have ever caught
the glare of a mature pronghorn
you know what I mean. I turned off
the radio and slowly reached for
my bow.
Approaching the water, the buck
was suspicious of the newly-placed
brown lump that I placed on his
prairie. He circled behind the 12foot diameter concrete tank, well
out of range, and finally began
moving my way. The rangefinder
said 77 yards as I began preparing
for a shot, watching his approach.
With arrow nocked, it was time to
clip my release to the D-loop. I
tried to quietly ease the calipers

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The authors son Clint with his 69 6/8-inch buck. The hit proved bizarre, as the archer drew for the shot and watched the buck turn and step back
a few spaces. As he shot, the buck jumped the string and the arrow arched into his snout.

closed, and blew itclinka faint and unwelcome


metallic noise. Amazingly, at a distance exceeding 60
yards the buck heard it! Argh! He backed off and
drifted away forever. But, wow, what a great encounter
for the first day in the blind.
Getting Started

We had driven up from Dallas and met a friend in La


Junta the day before the season opened for some
assisted scouting. Tom had been my guide on a
successful elk hunt in 2009 and was from the area. He
was not only familiar with the grasslands but also was
knowledgeable about pronghorns. He was happy to
spend a day scouting with us to narrow down options.
Archery tags for this area are over the counter, and
there is easy access to thousands of acres of federal
land. Our basic plan was to find an area to hunt, set up
a campsite, and hunt for five days just before Clint
70

BOW ARROW HUNTING JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2015

would have to return to Texas A&M for his junior year.


We scouted several different areas and saw a fair
number of antelope. One area had a network of water
tanks fed by pipelines (this land was used for cattle
grazing too). We saw several pronghorns in the area,
and found lots of sign around two tanks that were
about a mile apart so we set up blinds at each one.
The next day (August 15) was the season opener, and
we chose to let the blinds settle in that first day and
hunt on foot elsewhere. Opening day was uneventful.
Shot Taken

Turning to day two, things were quiet until our next


radio-check at 2:00. Dad, I just missed a monster!
whispered Clint. Oh no, what happened? Clint
explained he had shot over the bucks back, but it had
run off a couple hundred yards and bedded by a
scrubby cedar bush. That seemed strangeI would

BAH_1501_Prong_68-73.CX 12/11/14 10:47 PM Page 71

Our basic plan was to find an area to hunt, set up


a campsite, and hunt for five days just before Clint
would have to return to Texas A&M...
have expected him to be in the next county after a
near miss. Keep an eye on him, and if hes not too
spooked, maybe he will come back in, I advised.
By 4:00 the temperature was well into the 90s, and my
un-shaded popup was sweltering. Check-in time again.
Dad, I dont know what to make of this.hes still there,
with his neck stretched out and head on the ground. Ive
been staring at him through my binoculars, and I think I
can barely make out some red stuff on his nose. Surely I
didnt hit him. What do you think?
Something had to be up. I couldnt imagine a
healthy animal laying his head on the ground that way.
Clint, I think you must have hit him somehow. He
hasnt moved in a long time, right? Right. I advised
a careful investigation, using any available cover to
screen his approach and to be prepared for another
shot. More than two hours had passed since the
original arrow flew.
A few tense moments later and the radio exploded
with chatter: Hes deadI got himWowHes
HUGE! What the heck? I asked for details. I hit him
in the nose! What? Thats the only wound I see! No
way! OK, I told him, Sit tight and Ill pack my stuff
and head your way.
This was nutssurely he did not shoot a pronghorn
in the nose and kill him. I hurriedly gathered my bow
and daypack and zipped my blind closed. I couldnt
wait to see Clint and celebrate. When we met I gave
him a high-five and tackled him!
As the typical late-summer-afternoon
thunderstorms began to form in the distance, we
examined his trophy. His uniquely marked body was
un-blemished. Indeed, the only wound was a pair of
very deep gashes across the upper left part of the
bucks snout. Clint was using a Slick Trick broadhead,
and two of its four blades made contact. Amazingly,
the massive pronghorn buck had bled to death from
this odd wound.
Reviewing the Details

This made no sensehow does a shot at a buck


standing broadside become a forward-angled slash
across its snout? As we took photos and began fielddressing, Clint shared all the details.
The buck had appeared around 1 p.m., in no hurry
to approach the water tank. After almost an hour and
lots of mean-mugging directed at Clints blind, he
finally came in, a bit nervous but in need of a drink.

Clint ranged him at 35 yards and readied his 65pound Darton compound bow for a shot.
As he drew, the arrow made just enough noise on
the rest for the buck to hear it. He backed off a few
yards and spun around, but was still in a broadside
pose. With no way to let down and get a new
rangefinder reading without spooking him, Clint
estimated the new distance as about 45 yards, aimed
accordingly and released the string.
We later determined the buck was actually at 38
yards. At the time Clint was certain he had shot over
its back, and the distance-judging error was certainly
a contributing factor. So how did the arrow hit its
nose? Our only explanation is that the buck reacted to
the sound of the bow firing and turned to its right to
run. Video footage has proven pronghorns can react
quickly to such noises. But in a very un-lucky

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JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2015 BOW ARROW HUNTING

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BAH_1501_Prong_68-73.CX 12/11/14 10:47 PM Page 72

This shows the hunters blind setup where the buck was shot.

More Adventure

The author is shown here fired up and


ready for the hot afternoon sit in the blind.

development for Mr. Mean Mug,


he apparently turned his head into
the path of the arrow that had
missed his chest and was mortally
slashed across the snout instead.
Not what Clint intended, but whats
the saying about better to be
lucky than good?
72

Little did we know


more adventure awaited
us that evening. We
loaded the buck in my
truck and drove back to
camp so we could skin
and quarter. To the
north, skies darkened
as the thunderstorms
continued to grow.
They were moving our
way. Throughout a
lifetime of hunting I
have experienced lots of tricky
weather and often almost enjoy the
awesome power of thunderstorms
in the wilderness, as it is a more
up-close and personal experience
than one has in the city. So from a
distance the storms were cool.
However, as they moved our way
they strengthened. Not cool.
We had no trees around to hang
the pronghorn, so we used my
tailgate as a work table. Ominous

BOW ARROW HUNTING JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2015

lightning bolts flashed to our


north, and the thunder rolled. The
sweet cool rush of the storm gust
came through, and knowing rain
was imminent, we donned rain
gear and hurried about our task.
Then the bottom fell outheavy
rain poured, with high winds
gusting. Time to take shelter in the
truck. Before long it became clear
this storm would be with us for
awhile, and we became concerned
about our camp. We were in the
wide-open, and my 9x12 tent was
taking a beating in the high winds.
We decided to collapse the tent
poles to hopefully minimize wind
damage. It seemed like a good
idea at the time, and it did work in
that regard, but our cots, sleeping
bags, and everything else in the
tent got soaked. We returned to the
truck to wait out the storm. But it
kept raining, lightning, thundering,
and blowing.
By 9:00pm it had been raining

BAH_1501_Prong_68-73.CX 12/11/14 10:47 PM Page 73

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for almost two hours, but had let


up a bit. We knew we needed to
complete the skinning, so we
resumed our work in the rain and
finished a short time later.
Realizing our supply of ice was
very low and afraid of meat
spoilage, we attempted to drive to
La Junta to re-stock. Camp was
about a mile from the highway, and
about 20 miles from La Junta.
Despite my F-150s 4WD, we only
made it about 50 feet from camp
on the sloppy two-track before
bogging down! We werent going
anywhere anytime soon. With our
camp wrecked by the storm, all we
could do was sleep in the truck
and hope we could get out in the
morning, and cross fingers about
the meat.
The morning dawned bright
and clear, and the mud was
already firming a bit. I checked
my sparsely- iced cooler with a
smell test and expected the
worst. Amazingly it seemed OK.
Another miracle! It occurred to me
that we could take our wet
sleeping bags and clothing to
town and dry them at a
laundromat. That is, if we could
get out of camp. We ate breakfast,
straightened up camp, and by
mid-morning we were able to
get to the highway and on to town.
We were back at camp by early
afternoon with iced meat and
dry gear.
The remainder of the hunt was
not nearly as eventful. We had more
weather extremes but no real
problems, and although we saw
more antelope, I never had a shot
opportunity. But Clint and I had a
great time and returned home with
some of the most delicious wildgame meat we have ever had.
Clints buck really was exceptional,
making the Pope and Young record
book with a score of 69 6/8.

ZZZEODFNZLGRZERZVFRP

JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2015 BOW ARROW HUNTING

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BAH_1501_TECH_74-80 12/8/14 10:23 PM Page 75

Western
Ready
If youre the type of bowhunter that has hunted
nothing but whitetails from a tree, but is planning a
western elk or deer hunt, here are some crucuial bits
of advice to help you plan right.
By Joe Bell
he air was crisp and cold and elk were screaming like crazy as the two
hunters climbed high into the jagged, forested landscapes. They were
excited as they discussed their ambush options, recognizing that there
were several bulls talking in different directions. They knew it was best to split
up and increase their odds of a shot, each pursuing their own rutting trophy.
As they neared the deep-throated roars, one of the gentleman, a native of the
state, eased into the bull he was after with tremendous stealth, despite
navigating lots of brush, blow-downs and steep drainages. He walked with
confidence and wore sneaker-like hiking shoes, soft, streamline clothing, and a
small fanny pack.
Meanwhile, his partner, who had flown in to hunt the region from Missouri,
wasnt faring as well. He was feeling out of place and approaching his target
with great caution. His clunky, just-bought five-pound boots, heavy pants, and
screechy nylon vest made him sound like a steer on the move. He was also
tooting on his bugle tube, just like he had seen others do on outdoor television.
One minute the bulls voice was echoing down the canyon. The next, the woods
fell quiet. For some reason, he thought the bull was coming in, since he wasnt
talking anymore, so he set up for an ambush.
About 45 minutes later, after a hustled approach and then some persistent
tiptoeing, while donning soft fleece over-booties over his footwear, the native
hunter snuck in close enough to deliver a killing 40-yard shot on a big, 330class bull.
The eastern guy, on the other hand, ended up losing out, as his bull sounded
off about a 1/2 mile up the hillside, then went completely silent. As the rest of
the week went on, the cycle repeated itself over and over until it was time to
return home. He never got to draw his bow while hunting for seven full days.
This scenario is quite common when eastern guys travel out West for big
game. The motivation and planning for a good hunt is certainly there, but the
right knowledge and preparation is usually lacking.
Fortunately, this can be fixed by following some proven advicebasically a
set of rules that jive more with western habitats and animals. Heres what every
eastern bowhunter should consider to ready themselves for a western
adventure.

As a western hunter, you need to know how


to use your rangefinder fast, as animals can
approach from virtually any angle and offer
various shots at different distances. If you
cant grab the unit and get a reading and
begin your draw within 5 seconds or so, you
need more practice.

JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2015 BOW ARROW HUNTING

75

BAH_1501_TECH_74-80 12/8/14 10:23 PM Page 76

Most western terrain is steep, sometimes


super steep. Dont just practice shooting in
day clothes and on level ground. Be sure to
mix it up by shooting at extreme angles as
well.

Shedding the Weight

Dressing the part is critical for western success. This means


leaving the heavy, bulky clothing at home and opting for thin
layers that you can strip easily to accommodate fast-changing
weather conditions. Lighter gear also works better for on-themove hunting, which is what you can expect in the western
woods or prairielands.
Remember, western hunting often means chilly mornings
and 80 to 90-degree midday temps. Plus, the daily routine is to
hike during the pre-dawn, then sit and glass frequently, or go
from one ridge to the next looking for critters. Feeling loaded
down with gear and plagued by hot, sweaty feet wrapped in
heavy boots does nothing but dampen your spirits for going
that extra mile.
Any of todays lightweight cotton or polyester garments work
well for western hunting. Just be sure to take two or three sets of
pants and undershirts so you can change out clothing that has
become sweat-soaked and covered with odor. Wash these in a
bucket or stream and then hang dry for the following days use.
Also, utilize Scent-Killer Field Wipes and Spray, along with
scent-free shampoos and soaps as frequently as possible.
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BOW ARROW HUNTING JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2015

For backcountry outings, where limited gear (and clothing) is


required, go with better quality garments that are made from
moisture-wicking, antibacterial fabrics to reduce scent and
increase comfort and thermal efficiency. Todays high-tech
synthetics and top-quality merino wool are great choices to
consider. Im particularly fond of Sitka Gear Core products and
Cabelas new Instinct Backcountry Series.
Avoiding Big Packs

One of the worst things a western hunter can do is add a


bunch of daypack weight to his body. Doing so, again, will make
you move through the woods less efficiently and quietly. Both
will deter smooth, stealth-like travel in the woods.
The western mountains are remote, I understand that, but
there are roads and you can hunt without worry of getting lost
and dying in the backcountry. You just have to plan out your
travel, carry a compact GPS, and make sure you have just what
you need to replenish thirst, hunger and have basic essentials
to care for your trophy, if you happen to tag out.
In this case, a very small hydration or lumbar-pack will
suffice. Dont be tempted to use a 2,000 cubic-inch pack unless

JOE BELL PHOTO

BAH_1501_TECH_74-80 12/8/14 10:23 PM Page 77

Every back-east hunter should re-formulate his hunting strategy and archery practice for western big-game adventures. The
terrain and animals are different, therefore, they require a new set of rules and training. Prepare accordingly and youll be more
successful.

youre carrying lots of optics or doing a long trek in remote


country. Otherwise, go with a pack 1/4 the size, really
something that will move with your body as you traverse
terrain, crawl through sage and willow, and duck under trees
and limbs.
Some western hunters like to carry a meat frame or large
pack for on-the-spot meat retrieval, which is great. But the first
order of the day should be to harvest your trophy, then you can
formulate a meat plan. Going light and using a small pack will
make you more efficient and deadly. I say kill first then go to
plan meat run.
My pack essentials include a very small knife, GPS,
sharpener, lightweight game bags, a few energy bars,
parachute cord, water-purifying tablets, hunting license and
tag, and 50 ounces or so of water.
Remember, when stalking and crawling for mule deer or
antelope, youll likely need quiet rubber knee pads (Lowes
carries some good ones for about $15, as does Rancho
Safari.com), leather or heavy-duty mechanics gloves, and a set
of fleece boot covers or extra thick wool socks to put over your
feet when removing your boots to cover the last final yards.

Using More Vigor

What this ultimately means is adopting a fresh, somewhataggressive hunting mindset, really the opposite approach you
normally take when hunting whitetails in a deep-woods setting.
As with the example at the beginning of this story, avoid
being timid until the final segment of a stalk. When charging off
to stalk a buck or bull, do all you can to cover as much ground
as quickly as possible and to get in position. If you dawdle too
much or become overly patient, youll end up losing out most of
time, as western game has a way of walking into thick cover,
over a rise, and disappearing unless you dont do what you can
to move in for the shot.
Of course, this doesnt mean being reckless when stalking or
still-hunting. It means being methodical in choosing good, quiet
walking routes, and it means constantly checking the wind. But
if you think you can fast walk, trot or even run for a 1/4 mile
across an expansive area, all without spooking your target, then
you should do it. The faster you can get into position, the better
the chances are for a shot.
Remember, when hunting whitetails everything is in closequarters. In the west, everything is expansive and at
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One of the worst things a western hunter can do is


add a bunch of daypack weight to his body.
far-quarters. This is why being
aggressive is more the rule than the
exception.
Getting In Shape

Being in solid physical shape for


western hunting is not mandatory, by no
means, but it does help significantly in
rough terrain or when you intend to bivy
or backpack hunt. Better fitness wont
only give you an edge to climb
mountains, but it will increase motivation
so you pursue game more passionately
and intensely. This will eventually help
you score when the odds are stacked
against you.
Many hunters like to hit the gym three
months or so before the big hunt.
However, this tactic tends to work so-so
for most. A better plan is a lifestyle
change, where regular fitness and
healthy eating becomes a part of your
weekly, year-long schedule.
This sort of system is more effective
as it will speed up your metabolism
(reducing your weight) and allows your
body and mind to become more
acquainted with the rigors of physical
training, instead of rushing into it prior
to a hunt. Besides, theres usually so
much planning and shot training to do in
the months prior to a hunt that adding in
a heavy gym schedule only
complicates it all.
For best results, learn to cross-train all
year long. This doesnt mean running
marathons and racing mountain bikes,
unless you want to go that route. What it
means is doing something physically
light whenever and wherever you can.
Get creative by walking the dog more,
riding a bike around town with family or
friends, doing push-ups, crunches,
squats or lunges, or lifting dumbbells
while you watch TV, and whatever else
you can to make fitness a normal part of
your life.
Also, perhaps most importantly, do
your best to avoid greasy fast foods,
high-calorie desserts and carbonated
78

drinks. Try to consume more


whole grains, lean meat or fish,
fruits and vegetables, and
drink lots and lots of water. A
simple lifestyle adjustment is
the true answer to becoming
a better western hunter.
Fine-Tuning Your
Setup

We all know that western


shots are usually longer
than what you can expect
in the whitetail woods, so
extending your effective
range is of primary
importance. But shrinking
your groups should not
stop there.
You must practice with
real hunting conditions in
mind. Try drawing your bow
while laying on the ground
(simulating what youll likely
do when stalking in for a
shot) and from other irregular
positions common to western
bowhunting, such as sitting on
your butt, crouched on your
knees, and standing and
drawing then walking up a few
yards to acquire your target.
Also, try to force yourself to
shoot one broadhed-tipped
arrow only from a tough
shooting position, then go
retrieve your shot. This will
enforce a discipline that says you only
get one good shot, so make it count.
To further refine accuracy, be sure to
fine-tune your bow, ensuring arrow flight
is perfect. Then experiment with group
sizes by sampling different
broadheadsand even weightsto see
if you can tighten your accuracy more
downrange.
Remember, when choosing a
broadhead, go with a model that can
handle the toughest shot conditions.
Since western shots are further, theres a

BOW ARROW HUNTING JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2015

TOP: Sometimes switching up footwear is


necessary on some western hunts. The author backpacked into the Nevada wilderness
last fall for mule deer. He wore maximumsupport backpacking-style (Crispi Nevada)
boots for the hike in, but packed along a set
of Oboz trail shoes for daily still-hunting
trips. His quiet, lightweight cross-trainers
were instrumental in sneaking in close
enough for a shot. BELOW: Big bulls like this
dont come to sloppy hunting practice. The
authors friend Ron Way did lots of pre-season scouting, and long-range practice shooting, before his hunt and came away with this
true bull of a lifetime.

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JOE BELL PHOTO

Out-west means expansive country with a


lower density of game. In many cases, you
dont hunt for days in one spot. Instead,
you must glass, hike and then move on to
the next block of country. This can be
physically draining, so be prepared for it.

greater chance for things to go wrong,


per se, and having a broadhead that you
know will penetrate deeply will help
boost your confidence.
For this reason, go with a good
compact fixed head or a mechanical
proven to penetrate well, despite an
angled hit and collision with bone. My
advice is to steer clear of the extra-wide
cutting angles, which will increase the
chance of deflection on such impacts.
Beyond your broadheads, sometimes
using a smaller peep can help improve
accuracy, as will using higher-grade
arrows and a bow sight with tighter
tolerances and smaller aiming beads
(for 40 to 60-yard shooting).
The golden rule for western hunting is
to be highly proficient at 40 to 50 yards,
so plan accordingly. To make myself feel
comfortable, under pressure, with shots
on game at these distances, I like to
double the length of my practice
distances. This means shooting out to 70
or 80 yards, and sometimes beyond. Try
it. It has helped me feel much more
confident in western shooting scenarios.

Understanding the Game

Every western animal calls for


different hunting requirements, so here
are a few suggestions to maximize your
efforts. By no means are these end-all
rules, just guidelines to help reduce the
learning curve.
ELK: If you end up hunting elk in a
deep-forested region with high
densities of animals, such as most
areas of Colorado or Idaho, be sure
you know how to call very well,
particularly with an open-reed cow
call. These areas are nearly impossible
to stalk in, so calling is the key to
success.
Open-reed calls are the best because
they are highly versatile and produce
great volume, but, unfortunately, they
require the most practice to master.
Learn to call as raspy as possible in
order to entice bulls that hang up or
circle around downwind. Many times
packing a Montana Decoy can make the
difference between another blown bull
and one coming in on a string, so pack
one along.
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Many archers
like to carry a
full-size pack
when hunting
out-west.
However, in
most cases, this
is unnecessary
and only weighs
you down. Try to
reduce your
essentials
needed for the
day and use a
lighter weight
pack. You can
always retrieve
the pack-frame
unit for meat
and antler
shuttles.

Pre-rut, early-season elk can be called very well, but


remember, dont expect many replies from approaching
animals. They often come in silent. Call for 30 minutes or so in a
sign-rich area and then watch for movement, being ready at all
times. Then go to your next calling spot.
During the rut, calling tactics can be more aggressive. If you
hear a bugle, use your cow call to get a response in hopes of
drawing one in. If theres no response, then try a spike bugle. If
the bull stays put, then advance on him, calling again from
closer away, attempting to provoke his interest. Dont worry
about making noise or breaking branchesthis is normal
rutting-elk behaviorso move fast and get the bulls attention.
If not, then do your best to get ahead of the talking bull by
jogging or fast-walking ahead, then set up an ambush
somewhere. In this scenario, dont call much, just do your best to
hurry and to cut him off. Of course, always keep a close watch
on the wind or your efforts will be blown.
MULE DEER: Of course, terrain will dictate how you hunt
deer, but if youre above tree line, expect lots of glassing and
either putting a buck to bed or moving fast to intercept bucks
before they venture into dense cover to bed.
Putting a buck to bed requires a more patient approach while
you wait for midday thermals to stabilize before venturing out
on a well-planned stalk.
However, in terrain where deer bed in the thick stuff, youll
have to get much more aggressive or lose out. This means
glassing deer at first light, and then charging out to set up a
shot before they head for heavy cover.
Bottom line is to improvise and hunt accordingly based on
terrain. Also, dont be resistant to still-hunting tree-covered
areas, or sitting remote springs or seeps, when nothing else is
working. Even sitting along a meadow common to deer travel
may be in order to get a shot.
Regardless of how you hunt deer, be sure to continuously
monitor the wind with a wind-checker bottle and always
conceal your human silhouette when venturing along open
areas or ridgelines.
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BOW ARROW HUNTING JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2015

ANTELOPE: There are three good ways to hunt antelope


sit water, spot and stalk, or by decoying.
Water tactics often require long, exhausting all-day sits in hot
weather, but its highly effective. Whereas, stalking is super
aggressive but should only be done in terrain conducive to
this style of hunting, which is the hard part. Also, stalking
requires hours and hours of on-your-knees crawling, often
amid ground-hugging cactus and rattle-snake infested
environments.
Then youve got decoying, which can be highly effective, but
usually during the pre-rut to rut stages. For this method, you
basically spot bucks out yonder, then stalk and crawl in within
200 yards or so, then erect a highly visible decoy such as the
Montana Buck Decoy. The target buck will instantly see the
decoy as an intruder, and when the timing is right, the animal
will charge your way in hopes of defending his territory.
Of course, this tactic doesnt always work correctly and many
times the buck youre after will just stare without coming closer,
growing more and more suspicious until he walks or runs away.
My advice for decoying is to use the tactic when terrain is
too flat for good stalking. Or use it in all terrain types when the
pre-rut or rut is going strong and bucks are responding well to
the decoy.
Productive decoying will require some practice on your part.
Know how to stay hidden behind the decoy while looking
downrange at your target animal. Also, be sure you can obtain a
rangefinder reading quickly, as well as draw your bow low to
the ground, while your buck advances in a rapid manner.
Bowhunting out west could mean that once-in-a-lifetime
experience that went better than you couldve ever imagined.
Or, it can be the worst. The fate of it is simply in your hands. By
adopting a new set of hunting rules and gear, and practicing
religiously to hone your broadhead-accuracy from all shooting
positions, you can greatly boost your chances of having a
smooth, successful western hunt. Try these tips and tactics. My
guess is youll come away with more meat in the freezer and a
nice rack for the wall.

BAH_1501_ELK_62-67; 81 12/8/14 5:56 AM Page 81

ASPEN ROYALS
Continued from page 67

broadside, his vitals now exposed for


the first time. Settling my pin and
touching the release, I watched as my
arrows yellow fletching arced through
the air before disappearing into the
monarch. Despite what I feared to be a
low hit, the impact sounded solid as
the arrow entered the bull, and I
watched as he crashed through the
forest, regained his composure, and
then finally bedded 100 yards away.
The bulls demeanor seemed to
indicate that he was mortally
wounded, but after hearing multiple
stories as to the strength and stamina
that these elk possessed, I was
nervous to say the least.
TENSE MOMENTS

Signaling for Tom to work his way


towards me, we tried to formulate a
plan before darkness enveloped the
forest. Still unsure of my exact arrow
placement, all we could do was go on
the bulls reaction, and even that had
created more questions than answers.
Still bedded with his head erect, which
is never a good sign, I feared that the
wound would not prove fatal without
another arrow. Although I am a firm
believer in patience before taking up
any blood trail, the bulls reaction and
our instincts told us to pursue on this
night, and that is exactly what we did.
With Tom in the lead and only
minutes of shooting light remaining,
we slowly began walking towards the
bedded bull. As we approached to
within 80 yards, the bull slowly rose to
his feet and started working his way
down the mountain, heading for a
spruce thicket to our right. Circling
around and recklessly entering the
thicket ourselves, we came over a
small rise, and immediately spotted
antlers a mere 20 yards away. Moving
forward through the thicket, I came
upon the bull and finished him in the
fading light. Experiencing emotions
that are hard to describe, I knelt down
with tears in my eyes, knowing how
fortunate I was to be in this moment.
In retrospect, my first arrow had
clipped one lung and broken the bulls

This shows the high country the


author and his guide hunted. It
was chock-full of elk.

shoulder, a wound that may have taken


days or weeks to prove fatal. The
decision to pursue that night had been
the right one, and I am grateful that we
made it. Like any endeavor in life, the
reality of bowhunting is not always
perfect, despite our intentions, and all
we can do is strive for excellence.
We made our way down the
mountain just past midnight that
evening, with heavy packs and
exhausted legs. The full moon was at
its peak, illuminating the aspens as we
made our descent. It was a

remarkable ending to an epic


adventure, one that Chris and I will
never forget. While there may be more
bugles and bigger bulls one day, there
will never be another first elk, nor a
hunt more special. Smiling as I carried
the bulls cape and rack secured
firmly upon my shoulders, I couldnt
help but think to myself,
Im really glad I didnt draw
Arizona.
AUTHORS NOTE: To book a hunt with
Tom Collander at Colorado Trophies call
(970) 327-4678.

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The author photographed


several smaller bucks on
trail camera and all were
still wearing velvet.
However, the big buck
had stripped his clean.
This allowed him to
locate the deers fresh
rubs and plan an
effective ambush.

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Michigan
Whopper
This avid whitetailer shares a
recent hunting experience about a
big 10-point buck that followed
the script perfectly.
By John Eberhart
n my 51 years of bowhunting in Michigan, I
cant ever remember a hunting scenario that
developed and worked out as methodically
well as on a buck I took in 2014. In a round
about way, this is how the story went.

Setting the Stage

I had been a negative critic of motion cameras


until my 2012 hunting trip to Kansas during
Michigans gun season. On that hunt, my hunting
partner brought three Covert cameras, and we set
each up at active-primary scrape areas.
Having hunted in Kansas six times prior, I knew
that mature bucks there are not remotely as leery
or react in any way similar to human presence as
the seemingly PHD-educated bucks back home in
Michigan. There is a plethora of reasons why
mature bucks in Kansas and several other

John Eberhart and his big northern Michigan whitetail. At over 150 inches
in size, this is the biggest buck he has taken in this region of the state. He
was able to arrow the buck at 14 yards after waiting for the right
conditions to make his strike.

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...We set up seven motion cameras on


either scrape areas or pinch points in
travel corridors, and again they took the
guesswork out of what location and when
we would hunt.
Midwestern states are much more tolerant of human
intrusions than even two-and-a-half-year-old bucks in
some eastern states, but the main reason is heavy
consequential hunting pressure.
Kansas for instance has about 25,000 licensed
bowhunters, whereas Michigan has about 320,000
bowhunters and around 700,000 gun hunters. Due to the
lack of hunters in many Midwestern states, there are more
bucks that survive to maturity and they are simply more
tolerant of human presence and far easier to kill.
Mature bucks in some Midwestern states do not react,
change to more nocturnal movement habits, or seemingly
dissipate into thin air as most Eastern state mature bucks
do when there is an influx of human activity or oftentimes
any hint of human presence.
Utilizing Cameras

The motion cameras not only showed us what bucks


were using the scrape areas, but also when they were
doing it. The cameras dictated where and when we hunted
those locations. On our Kansas trip in 2013, we set up
seven motion cameras on either scrape areas or pinch
points in travel corridors, and again they took the
guesswork out of what location and when we would hunt.
I knew from past experience that using cameras in
heavily pressured areas in Michigan would require far
different setup requirements. There would be no way I
would set up cameras at destination locations such as at
isolated white oaks, apple trees or at primary scrape areas
and check them daily as we did in Kansas.
After an initial setup and visits to check the camera, any
mature buck that I may be interested in taking would likely
have had a bad past history of visiting locations where
there had been human intrusions.
Bucks fortunate enough to survive to maturity in heavily
pressured areas typically have had consequences in the
form of getting shot at or wounded and alter their habits to
avoid human traffic locations during vulnerable daylight
hours.
Up until 2014, I had never taken a three-and-one-half
year old buck in Michigan that didnt have at least one old
arrow or bullet wound, and many two-and-one-halfs and
some one and one-and-one-half year olds did as well,
whereas of the 17 mature bucks Ive taken out of state,
none have ever had an old wound.
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BOW ARROW HUNTING JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2015

Michigan deer are


extremely elusive,
especially the mature
bucks. For this reason,
its wise to choose your
ambushes with care and
to choose a stand height
well beyond the norm, in
order to avoid eye
contact with deer.

Big Buck in the Vicinity

In the summer of 2014 I caught wind of a buck that was


far larger than the norm for Northern Michigan, and he just
happened to reside in an area I quit hunting about 10 years
prior. I quit hunting the area because I never saw a buck
over two-and-one-half years old, but evidently one not
only survived beyond that age but he had phenomenal
genetics as well.
Having kept up my relations with the property owner, I
acquired permission again. Being familiar with the area, I
knew of a cattail marsh and also knew it was the densest
bedding area in the vicinity.
In mid-August, while totally clad in Scent-Lok clothing,
so as not to leave any human odor, I set up a motion
camera next to an acorn-laden white oak located in a
wooded area about 200 yards from the marsh. The majority
of other trees were red oaks, poplar, beech, and maple, so I
knew the white oak acorns would garner attention.
On August 28th, again in total Scent-Lok, I pulled and
replaced the SD card and was quite shocked when I looked
at the pictures. There were a couple sets of does and twin

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fawns passing through almost every morning and evening.


There was also a four-, five-, two eight-points and a
whopping 10-point. The two eight points were two-and-ahalf year olds with the biggest maybe scoring 80 inches.
You could have set your watch to the consistency of the
does and fawns, and the two-and-a-half-year-old bucks,
but as normal in Michigan, the patterns of the three bigger
bucks were quite sporadic.
The eight-point hung together and visited the white oak
a few times, but I only had the 10-point on camera one
night at 1:27 a.m. and again at 3:46 a.m.
Door of Opportunity

On September 8th, again in Scent-Lok, I went in and


swapped SD cards for the second time and the pictures I
got definitely aided me in taking the 10-point. The only
pictures I had of him were earlier that same morning at
6:38 a.m., just prior to daybreak. He was alone and his
antlers were polished clean, meaning he had been out of
velvet at least a few days.
Around 5:10 a.m. of the same night, the two eight-points

had been there and a couple times earlier so had the four
and five-points and all four of them were still in velvet. Ha
ha! If I could find any fresh rubs it would verify his pattern
since all the other bucks were still in velvet.
It was still early, so I put my Scent-Lok suit back on and
headed out to scour the area for fresh rubs.
The area between where the camera was and the cattail
marsh was a mature hardwoods flat with some understudy
that could possibly act as a secure bedding area, but the
first place I looked was around the perimeter of the marsh.
Man, this was developing way too easily. At one end of
the marsh is a narrow buffer of tall marsh grass with some
red brush mixed in. From the timbers edge of the marsh, I
could see three shredded red-brush bushes and there was
no doubt in my mind that those rubs confirmed the 10point was either entering or exiting the cattail marsh from
this point.
Having no clue how far into the marsh he or any other
deer may be bedded, I immediately left the scene and
waited for a rainy day to go in and set up a location.
There was no way of properly preparing a location and
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After refusing to use trail cameras, the author finally began


using them in the year 2012. During the 2014 hunting season,
they proved instrumental in locating this big 10-point buck.

clearing shooting lanes that close to the bedding area


in dry conditions without making noise and leaving
residual human odor, either of which could alert and or
spook deer bedded nearby. Spooking or alerting any deer
could cause a domino effect that could possibly spook the
buck as well, and there was no doubt he had played the
avoiding-hunters game before and knew what to do.
Time to Strike

Within a week, we had a several-day forecast of hard


rain, and on the first day of it I went in to find and prepare
a hunting location. I wanted to be as close to the cattail
marsh as possible because once the closely clustered
runways exited the marsh, they immediately spread out
into multiple directions.
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BOW ARROW HUNTING JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2015

After nearly 25 minutes of closely scrutinizing the


area outside the marsh, I chose a tree that would allow
me a close shot to all the runways except one. This tree
was also chosen because while walking each runway
and checking the trees while doing so, this tree
required the least amount of clearing for shooting
lanes to each runway.
Once the tree was chosen, I went to work and it
only took about an hour and a half to set up the tree,
cut some shooting lanes, and another 45 minutes to mark
my entry and exit routes with reflective tacks. My tree
setup would be about 24 feet up a red oak with two
runways to my right and one to my left.
It was a warm rainy day, and I wore a light Rivers West
weather-beater rain suit with a light Scent-Lok Savanna
suit over the top. My light rain suit worked perfectly, but
the inner liner was pretty well soaked from my
perspiration.
It rained hard enough to mask my setup noise and
rained the remainder of the day, and on and off for the next
two days, so I was pretty comfortable knowing any
residual odor would have been diluted by the rain.
I dont know why I did it but for some strange reason the
day before season I went to scope out the area. Actually I do
know why and its something I had never done before. My
plan was to walk through the timber and spook any deer

BAH_1501_BUCK_82-87 12/10/14 12:09 AM Page 87

My tree setup would be about 24 feet up a red oak with


two runways to my right and one to my left.

Returning to the Woods

I entered from the backside of the cattail marsh, so as


not to spook deer feeding in the oaks and was settled in
by 5am. Opening mornings are always interesting as theget-ready process isnt fresh in my mind, as it is during
season when getting ready is on auto pilot.
At 6:15 a.m. I heard the telltale sound of a crossbow
being discharged and it came from the direction of the
ladder stand.
It was 45 minutes before dawn and someone had just
shot a deer and, of course, my first thought was they
poached the big guy. What now? I weighed my options. Do
I get down, go over and check what happened, or sit and
wait it out?
If he took the 10-point it was over, and if I got down and
checked, the hunt would definitely be over. He might have
shot something else, so I stayed put.
Patience and smart strategy were
key in taking this big northern Michigan buck. When
entering the woods, scent-control is critical as well,
and Eberhart never goes anywhere without his full
wardrobe of Scent-Lok clothing.

that might have been bedded in it down into the marsh.


In the timber I came across a ladder stand that had been
baited for a while as the ground was bare dirt. All the
bucks were out of velvet by now, and there were a few
fresh rubs around the bait and one of them was on a big
tree and was quite high up the tree confirming it was
made by a taller buck, likely the 10-point. There was also a
fresh scrape nearby.
I had no idea whose stand this was but assumed they
didnt have permission. The property owner was out of
town and at this late date there really was nothing I could
do but leave and hope for the best in the morning.
If the big guy hadnt turned nocturnal from the other
hunters baiting regiment, my hope was that he would take
a different route to the marsh bedding area than through
the timber and past the other hunters baited stand.
Typically, mature bucks in Michigan are hip to baiting
being associated with humans since most bait hunters
leave odor and generally whatever they bait with is not
common to the immediate area. Being a trophy scorer, I
know mature bucks fall prey at bait piles during the rut
phases when they think with other body parts than their
brains and come in with or come in search of hot does, but
generally during the early season they avoid daytime
visits to bait piles.
Time would tell, and I was still nervous because in deer
hunting, nothing concerning movements is carved into stone.

Show Time

It cracked daybreak at around 7 a.m. and by 8 I had yet


to see a deer. At 8:14 a.m., the five-point meandered in and
passed by into the marsh.
A few minutes later, the bigger of the two eight-points
passed by down the same runway. While watching as he
entered the tall weedy buffer of the marsh, I heard the
sound of crunching dry leaves. I turned my head to see the
10-point coming towards me from the direction of the
ladder stand.
Either the big guy went around the bait hunter, or the
hunter had left his stand. I dont know. The runway he was
on came directly towards my tree before turning at a
distance of 14 yards and heading into the marsh.
He casually came in and turned towards the cattails. I
was at full draw and, once he turned, he stopped for a
moment to browse on a few leaves.
I picked my spot and opened my fingers to release the
Carbon Express and Rocket Sidewinder-tipped arrow from
my Mathews Conquest 58-pound bow. The shot was true
and he wheeled and ran about 100 yards in the direction
he had come from before expiring.
He was a perfect 10-point and grossed just over 152
inches. I had taken six larger bucks in Southern Michigan,
but this was the largest buck I had ever laid my eyes on
while hunting in Northern Michigan.
Editors note: John Eberhart is an accomplished Michigan hunter that specializes in heavy consequential hunting pressure (hchp) areas. John has
produced a three-volume instructional DVD series titled Bowhunting
Pressured Whitetails and co-authored the books Bowhunting Pressured
Whitetails, Precision Bowhunting and Bowhunting Whitetails The
Eberhart Way. They are available at Deer-John.net

JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2015 BOW ARROW HUNTING

87

BAH_1501_AXIS_88-91 12/8/14 10:43 PM Page 88

owhunting on the island of


Maui is always special but
when the target species is axis
deer it can be downright magical. Last
year, I was very fortunate to have
permission to hunt on some private
property located on the southwest
slopes of Haleakala where this hunt
took place.
The drive to the hunting area that
Saturday morning was a relatively short
one. Normally, I can be in the field on
this particular property within one
hour after departing from my house
located in the cowboy town of
Makawao. Driving up the winding road
to the hunting area was fairly
uneventful. My high beams were
lighting the way for most of the drive.
There were only two instances where I
had to reduce the high beams for
oncoming cars. Before I knew it, I had
reached my destination and found a
suitable parking area.
Getting my gear ready for the days
hunt has become a regular routine. I
loaded my field pack with my lunch
and several cold drinks, making sure I
had my rangefinder, binoculars,
facemask, release, wind powder and, of
course, what I consider one of my most
valuable items, toilet paper. A quick
change of clothes, slippers to boots,
quiver on, spray down, pack on, and I
was off.
I had only been still-hunting for
about 45 minutes when I came upon a
nice crease in the terrain. I sat down
and began glassing the area below.
Within a few minutes I could tell that
there were no deer in this particular
spot. Standing up, I adjusted my
backpack, then bent down to pick up
my bow, but before I could straighten
up, several rifle shots rang out below
me. My immediate reaction was
bummer, but that mood quickly
vaporized as I heard leaves crunching,
branches snapping, as 30 axis deer
began pouring into the crease I had
just been glassing. What luckthe
shooting drove this group right to me.
Now if you know anything about axis
deer, its that they are very high strung
by nature. These particular animals
were now totally wired from the gun
shots.

Warrior
Axis Buck
This bowhunter enjoys a great day bowhunting free-ranging
Hawaiian axis deer, resulting in one incredible encounter and trophy.

By Bruce Faulkner

In Hawaii, the grass grows tall, which can create problems with seeing an animals chest area
clearly and picking an aiming spot in the lower vital area. Most archers have a tendency of
aiming and shooting high.

88

BOW ARROW HUNTING JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2015

BAH_1501_AXIS_88-91 12/8/14 10:43 PM Page 89

There were several nice bucks in the


group, but those boys remained on
the far side, well over 100 yards away.
The closest deer was still a good 65
yards away and as nervous as a fish out
of water. I eased down the hillside ever
so slowly, trying to keep track of all
those probing eyes (no easy feat).
After several minutes, I was able to
cut the distance down to 50 yards from
where there was a nice buck feeding
with his head down behind a tree.
Although he was standing broadside, I
really didnt want to have to shoot that
far. I had ranged a tree in front of me to
be at 10 yards. I felt that if I could make
it to that spot, I would take the 40-yard
shot. Well, I only made it about 5 yards
further before a doe let out a yelp and
the whole herd cleared out as quickly as
they came in. The temperature wasnt
that warm yet, but I can tell you right
then, steam was coming out of my ears.
After a few minutes, the hair on the back
of my neck began to lie down. I took
some long swigs of water to cool off and
settle down before continuing on.
Before I knew it, the morning prime
time had slipped away. Most of the deer
were now bedded. It wasnt until around
11:30 a.m. before I finally found some
more deer. I spotted a small group of
three does as they headed up from a
small grassy flat. They were working
their way up towards a group of trees,
which I had just entered. I studied their
movement for a few minutes before
deciding on an approach. Moving in as
quickly as I dared, I began cutting the
distance down from 250 yards, to 150
yards, and then at 35 yards I lost them in
the tall grass. I began glassing the area
where I had last seen them but could
not see any of them.

Hunt Notes
On this hunt, I was using a Mathews bow,
Redfield 8x32 binoculars, Nikon Archers
Choice rangefinder, and a Badlands 2200
backpack.
This may have been the heaviest axis
deer I have ever taken to date. If you look at
the photo with me in it, you should realize
that I am 200-plus pounds, and Im
somewhat dwarfed by this buck. I know
people refer to axis deer as those little
deer, but I can tell you when you have to

The author poses with his trophy axis buck, which he arrowed from 40 yards.

I had only been still-hunting for


about 45 minutes when I came upon a
nice crease in the terrain.
After about 15 minutes, I saw an ear
flicker in the tall grass. Not knowing
whether this was the first doe or the
third doe, I watched intensely to see if I
could spot the others. Finally, they
began moving up again, so I crawled
up to the base of a tree, removed my
pack, nocked in arrow, and rose up on
my knees. The lead doe was the largest
of the three.
She moved through the grass walking
broadside at about 20 yards. I held off
drawing my bow until her head went
pack them out they sadly dont seem so
little.
It was unfortunate that this bucks
antlers were not very symmetrical, and in a
transitional stage, which, in my opinion,
made him unsuitable for a head mount.
However, I immediately realized that this
was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to
have taken an animal that actually had the
broken tip from another buck embedded in
his hide. Luckily for me, my neighbor does
some taxidermy work part time. I saved the
hide with the healed-over broken antler tip

behind a tree. I was at full draw when


she emerged, continuing to move up
through the grass. Although I could only
see the top third of her back through the
grass, I was confident of the shot when
my release let the arrow go. The shot
looked good initially, but I heard a
bothersome clunk from my arrow hitting
something other than that doe.
After waiting for about 15 minutes, I
walked over to where I last saw her to
look for sign. I took this opportunity to
range the distance back to where I took
embedded in it and took it to him and
simply asked him if he could do some kind
of novelty mount for me. I had confidence in
his work and was pleased with the finished
mount he did for me.
When hunting in Hawaii on private
property, there are no bag limits and the
season is open year around. Both bag limit
and seasons are up to the discretion of the
land owner. You still need a state hunting
license to hunt, which cost $100 for nonresidents and $10 for residents. B.F.

JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2015 BOW ARROW HUNTING

89

BAH_1501_AXIS_88-91 12/8/14 10:43 PM Page 90

This shows the imbedded antler tip that was


stuck in the back of the bucks neck.

the shot from. It was only 17 yards. I


realized I had blown a slam-dunk shot
and had shot over her back. I spent
close to an hour looking for my arrow
and or any sign of a hit. Never did find
either, but as for finding the arrow it
really was like looking for a needle in a
haystack. I was bummed and should
have known better. After all, I know that
when deer are in the tall grass, and not
totally exposed, there is usually a

tendency to shoot a bit high.


As frustrated as I was, I continued to
methodically cover ground. However, I
was mentally beating myself up for the
blunder on a great shot opportunity.
You just dont get that many close shot
opportunities at axis deer.
It was late afternoon before I had
another chance at a group of deer. This

Early Success!
Young Brianne Dewani Lauro of Hawaii arrowed these
great spanish goats during the last three years. The first
goat was taken while she was just 11 years old.
I shot it in the Puuwaawaa Hunting Area, she
writes. My dad and I made the stalk around the bend of
a large hill. Long story short, I arrowed the goat from 25
yards. At the time, my adrenaline was pumping, so I
didnt pay attention to where the goat fell or ran after
the shot. I thought I missed or wounded it until I saw its
golden body on the ground.
The second goat she arrowed in 2013, now 13 years
old. I shot it in the Pohakuloa Training Area, a very
popular place for hunters, she said. The area is
crowded with many hunters, and its very difficult to
get a shot at something. However, I was successful in
taking this great black goat, from 47 yards away. I
made my one shot count, right through the heart. It was a special
experience.
Recently, she arrowed her biggest goat to date (pictured above). My shot was from about
35 yards, she writes. The hunting areas was near Puuanahulu, Hawaii. This goat was
accompanied by another billy, perhaps the same size or bigger. They were fighting with each
other, banging heads and constantly jolting and moving while I tried to set up for a shot.
Finally, they both stood still, looking at each other in the eyes, horn to horn. It was then when I
took my shot. The hit was on target, and I was very blessed that day for the experience.

90

BOW ARROW HUNTING JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2015

group happened to have a couple of


nice bucks. All the deer I that I had
been seeing up to this time seemed
more skittish than usual. I was thinking
about the fact that I had passed up the
50-yard shot earlier in the morning
wanting to get closer, only to have the
herd blow out of the area. So when this
afternoon group started to act nervous,
I decided I better get set up to take the
shot.
The closest deer was a rather large
buck, which was less than 50 yards
away. Now thats a long shot for me, but
I sensed it was now or never. Focusing
my gaze on the buck, I had grabbed an
arrow from my quiver that had a
mechanical broadhead on it. I didnt
notice the broadhead until I reached
full draw. Normally, I carry at least one
arrow armed with a mechanical head. I
usually reserve that arrow for a closerange unobstructed broadside shot. I
simply prefer to shoot fixed
broadheads on shots longer than 25
yards or anything that doesnt offer a
good clear broadside target. Another
consideration is the possibility of
having to shoot through the grass,
which factors in to choosing fixedbladed broadheads over mechanicals.
As the deer started nervously
shuffling about, I decided to take the
shot before they began to move out.
Settling the pin the best as I could, the
release broke with a surprise. When
the arrow hit the buck, he
yelped, jumped in the air, ran for
about 40 yards, then I saw him
pile up. I hauled down to him as
quickly as I could because it all
seemed too good to be true. As I
got up to the buck, he started to
jump up, so I shot again and hit him
high in the spine anchoring him for
good. Yep, he was in the tall grass,
which resulted in me shooting
another high shot.
It didnt matter, however, because
the second shot may not have been
necessary. The buck really wasnt
going anywhere. My first arrow had hit
him dead center behind the right
shoulder angling forward, leaving a
wicked entry hole.
My first impression of this deer was
his overall size. He was a brute. I

BAH_1501_AXIS_88-91 12/8/14 10:43 PM Page 91

estimated that he weighed in at an


honest 250-plus pounds, which is on
the large size for the axis deer species.
The antlers were big but very irregular,
with the right side being quite a bit
longer than the left side. Also, the left
side had an unusual split at the top,
probably due to an injury or fighting.
Later, when I measured the antlers,
they were impressive to say the least.
They measured 32- X 27- inches.
He was over 25 inches wide, and the
tip-to-tip measurement on the brow
tines were over 18 inches. The brow
tines were polished at the tips, but
most of the other antler area was in a
hard-horned shredded-velvet state
(what I call the dreadlock stage).
When I lifted his head off the grass, I
noticed something white colored on
the back of his neck. I thought it was
some dried grass or debris. However,
when I went to brush it off, I realized
that this was a broken off antler tip
stuck in the back of his neck, right

behind his head. The impaled antler


tip was completely healed over and
firmly embedded in the thick neck
hide. Now, I have seen other deer with
injuries from fighting, but I have never
seen a broken antler imbedded in the
animal. Since the antler tip was
completely healed over, it must have
been stuck in his neck for awhile. I
surmised that he was quite a fighter,
which would explain why his horns
were deformed. Interestingly enough, I
have noticed that when these deer are
injured on one side their antler often
develops deformed on the opposite
side.

After taking pictures, I quartered


and boned the buck in preparation to
be packed out. I had a ways to go to
hike back to my vehicle. Problem was,
once I got my Badlands pack loaded
with meat, I couldnt get off the ground!
I rolled around in the grass like a turtle
on his back but there was no way I
could get to my feet. I ended up having
to split up the load, and then did two
trips of 100 yards to 200 yards at a time.
As I was packing him out, feeling all the
stress from the weight, I kept thinking
about the size of this brute and his
famed warrior injury. And so I decided
to call him Brutus.

About the Author


Bruce Faulkner is an avid hunter, who enjoys all forms of hunting whether it is pursuing
big game, small game, or birds, but his passion is bowhunting. He started serious
bowhunting around 1967, when he was just 17 years old. In fact, he received a Ben Pearson
Hunter recurve from his parents for his high-school graduation present. Prior to that, he
was using a 47-pound 62-inch York. He went to college on Maui but moved to the Big
Island (Hawaii) after he graduated from college, so he could take advantage of the great
sheep hunting they had there. After a couple of years, he moved back to Maui where
theres excellent goat, axis deer and pig hunting.

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JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2015 BOW ARROW HUNTING

91

BAH_1501_STICK_92-95_M 12/8/14 10:54 PM Page 92

STICKBOWS

BY DENNY STURGIS, JR.

SWEET & SILENT

If you want to be deadly in the woods, make sure your rig delivers a super-quiet shot.
Bowhunting is a close-range sport,
even more so for the archer using
traditional gear. Sometimes the slightest
noise in dead-calm conditions can alert
game, resulting in a lost opportunity or a
bad hit. In this column, Id like to discuss
certain tweaks that can be done to
effectively quiet your setup.

Sometimes a quiet bow


still isnt enough. This
was the case with this
steenbuck the author
shot in Africa. He actually
had to wait for a gust of
wind to help hide the
sound of the bow and
arrow to prevent the
animal from badly
jumping the string.

Reduce Finger-Grip Squeaks


Most traditional archers use a tab or
glove to protect their string fingers. Some
of these tabs and gloves can squeak while
drawing or during the anchor/aim phase of
the shot. Years ago, my dad and I used to
shoot Howard Hill-styled gloves with nylon
inserts sewed into the finger stalls. They
offered good finger protection and a slick
release without wearing deep string
grooves into the leather. These gloves were
also notorious squeakers. I remember
drawing down on a Michigan buck in the
late-December season. It was a cold, still
morning and the buck paused at 10 yards.
When the glove creaked, the buck nearly
turned inside out exiting the area before I
could finish the shot.
My dad always carried a piece of paraffin
in his pocket and rubbed it into the leather
to stop any squeaking. Im sure certain
leather conditioning products will also
work. If all else fails you can mimic our old
hunting buddy, Gary Smith, who licked his
cordovan finger stalls before drawing on a
close shot.

Stop Arrow Screech


Noise caused by your arrow dragging
across the shelf or rest can also be a deal
breaker. If you use an elevated rest it might
require a piece of moleskin stuck on the arm.
Leather, bear-hair, seal-skin, calf-hair, felt or
the loop side of Velcro all make good shelf
and side-plate materials. Shooting blunt or
Judo-tipped arrows into the ground
especially in damp conditions can leave your
shelf dirty, which creates arrow noise when
drawing. Roughing-up a leather side plate
and shelf will help and wiping off debris

92

from the softer materials should keep them


quiet. Remember to check whatever you use
frequently and replace or clean as needed.

Watch the Wax


Flemish twist strings should be waxed,
but you have to make sure they dont have
too much of the type that sticks to the
limbs. Strings with too much wax will click
as the string is pulled clear of the string
grooves. Rub the ends of the string with a
cloth to remove excess wax and remove any
wax stuck to the bow limb. Most stringmaintenance waxes are less tacky than the
beeswax and rosin wax that some string
makers use.

Alleviate Noisy Take-Downs


Certain take-down bow deigns can make
unwanted creaks or clicks. I shot a Bear
Kodiak take-down when I was a teenager.

BOW ARROW HUNTING JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2015

Keeping the limbs and limb pockets coated


with paraffin eliminated drawing noises
even in sub-zero weather. I keep my Black
Widow Locket-Socket take-down parts
coated with Bohnings Tex-Tite string wax. I
know some archers that place a cork or
rubber washer between the riser and limb
bolts to eliminate creaky sounds.

Tighten Up the Quiver


If you use a bow quiver, make sure it
attaches snuggly to eliminate vibration.
Lock washers or Lock-Tite on bolt threads
can help with constant loosening. Loose
screw-in points can also rattle on the shot.
Coating the threads with a little string wax
will keep them tight. If your Judo points
rattle in your quiver, you can try a tip from
Ken Beck of Black Widow bows. He places a
tiny drop of Gorilla glue on the springs
where they attach and adds a dab of water.

BAH_1501_93 12/9/14 12:51 AM Page 93

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BAH_1501_STICK_92-95_M 12/8/14 10:54 PM Page 94

{STICKBOWS}

There are a wide variety of string silencers available. The silencers shown here can
all be found at 3RiversArchery.com. You can read the reviews and try different
models to determine their effectiveness.

TOP AND RIGHT:


Longtime bowhunter Terry
Green makes the Bow
Hush, which wraps around
the bowstring where it
contacts the limb, along
with Hush Puppies string
silencers. Both are made
from high-crimp New
Zealand wool that greatly
reduce string noise.

Limb-mounted silencers
will help reduce limb
vibrations and noise.
Pictured is the OMP
Remedy (left) and
Sticktamers.

Shoot a Quiet Broadhead


Broadheads can cause noise in flight.
Make sure they are mounted to spin true
and remove any rough burrs that could
catch air and whistle. Some vented models
are difficult to get to shoot quietly.

Use the Right Shaft


Arrows spined too weak or stiff can crack
off the riser along with other problems. The
physical weight of an arrow can influence

94

the noise a bow makes at release. Usually


the heavier the shaft is, the quieter the shot.
You have to use common sense with this,
though, as you want a decent flight
trajectory, which a super-heavy arrow will
destroy. I know very successful bowhunters
using well-tuned arrows that weigh from 6
and all the way up to 15 grains per pound of
draw weight depending on what they are
hunting. This proves there is more than one
way to get the job done correctly.

BOW ARROW HUNTING JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2015

Choose Different Fletching


Fletching noise can alert game animals
once the arrow is released. The size and
shape of a feather definitely influences the
sound of an arrow in flight. Big feathers look
cool and make up for a lot of mistakes, but if
your arrows scream all the way to the target
I would seriously consider a change. I
learned my lesson on an antelope hunt
years ago when a big buck easily beat my
arrow fletched with 5 -inch, high-profile,
shield-cut feathers. Really, the faster your rig
is the more the fletching noise.
I remember a guy telling me he wasnt
ever going to hunt with white feathers again.
He finally got a shot at a deer and said it
was like throwing a snowball at it. It easily
jumped out of the way at the time of the
shot. Never mind the fact that his arrow had
huge feathers that resembled flu-flus.
I think the key is to find a combination
that flies quiet and provides great

BAH_1501_STICK_92-95_M 12/8/14 10:54 PM Page 95

{STICKBOWS}

broadhead stabilization, even if the


fletching becomes damp. My favorite
fletching after much testing is four 4-inch
long right-wing parabolic die-cut feathers
glued at 90-degrees with helical clamps.
Oh, also, dont forget that over-used or
damaged fletching can make a normally
quiet arrow fly super noisy.

Reduce Limb Slap


There are several types of limb-mounted
noise dampeners available. Most attach to a
location on the limb with adhesive self-stick
backing or some even wrap around the limb.
Ive experimented with several of the
Limbsaver products. While I didnt notice a
lot of difference with longbows, I felt they
eliminated noise and vibration on several
different brands of recurves I tried them on.
Three fairly new products available for
recurve shooters are the OMP Remedy,
Fivics Top Saver, and Sticktamers. All these
mount to the limb touching the bowstring. I
know some good hunters that have been
using the Sticktamers for several years with
good results. Added bonuses they claim are
that they also function as brush guards and
dont allow the bow to wedge onto a bowholder peg if in a treestand or blind.
Another option to help dampen limb slap
on a recurve is to stick or glue a strip of
moleskin, felt or suede to the limb over the
string grooves. It works well also.

Utilize Better String Silencers


There is a large variety of string-mounted
silencers available today. Ask 10 different
archers what their favorite is and you could
easily get 10 different answers. I think
different bow designs and shooting styles
can have an effect on which style works
best as well. Ive tried numerous varieties
over the years and most work quite
effectively.
For my longbows, I still like the little
gasket-type spiders that Black Widow
Custom Bows sells. They weigh practically
nothing and are not impacted by moisture. I
use four of them positioned around 10 and
15 inches from each end of the string.
I might add, I do think the positioning of
the silencer on the string can impact the
components ability to quiet the noise. Many
archers like to try different positions on the
string before finalizing the attachment
location. In addition, you must use common
sense when determining the size and weight

of silencers. If you tie half a lamb on each


side of the string, it will be quiet but the bow
will be super slow.
Another silencing product is available
from long-time bowhunter, Terry Green. He
runs a high-end wool carpet manufacturing
operation. He offers two silencing products
made from the same resilient high-crimp
New Zealand wool used in his carpets. His
Bow Hush accessory is installed by
wrapping around the string where it
contacts the limb to dampen string slap.
Also, his Hush Puppies attach to the string
and resemble cattail heads once they settle
in. Both products come with detailed
installation instructions and are available at
BowHush.com.
One more thing, dont forget to recheck
your arrow tuning after installing new
silencers, as they can influence arrow flight
as well, since they increase string weight.

Shoot at the Right Time

1.7 .460-inchperfect for 3D


and mechanical broadheads
Made with AAEs super tough
Max material
Pre-applied primer and activator
Available in eight colors

ArizonaArchery.com 928-772-9887

To my knowledge, there is no such thing


as a completely silent bow. Even the
quietest rig still makes noise. In our closerange sport, even the timing of when to
shoot is important. For instance, a standing
whitetail is more alert to sound than one
with its head down feeding, or, better yet,
crunching up acorns. I have several whitetail
stands located near roads. On calm
mornings, Ive used traffic noise to my
advantage to make a quiet, effective shot.
Of the species Ive hunted, I would give
the top string-jumper award to the little
steenbuck. A mature animal weighs from 30
to 35 pounds and its coiled to spring at all
times.
One calm morning in Namibia, I shot at a
steenbuck ram from a pit blind. When I
released my relatively quiet longbow, the
ram bolted away while my arrow soared
through the dust cloud hed left behind.
Several minutes later, another steenbuck

wandered in. I wasnt even going to shoot


again until a gust of wind came up. With
dry leaves on the surrounding trees and
brush rattling, I took the shot. This time
the rams reaction time was slower and
the arrow found its mark. Without that
gust of wind, I never wouldve killed the
animal.
Bottom line: stickbow shooters need to
get close, therefore, a quiet bow is a
must. Follow these tips for a quieter,
deadlier rig.

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JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2015 BOW ARROW HUNTING

95

BAH_1501_CARIBOU_18-25;96-97 12/8/14 4:36 AM Page 96

This shows the authors hunting camp. The camp is owned and operated by Jack Hume Adventures.

HUNT NOTES:
My primary gear on this
hunt was a Hoyt Carbon
Element G3 bow set at 71
pounds launching Easton Epic
arrows tipped with 100-grain
Magnus Stinger broadheads.
Total arrow weight was 452
grains. My optics, which are a
key part of any spot-and-stalk
hunt, included Swarovski EL
10x42 binoculars and a Leica
CRF 1000 rangefinder. The
outfitter was Richard Hume of
Jack Hume Adventures.
Richard can be reached
through his website at
JackHumeAdventures.com or
by phone at (877) 563-3832. I
strongly recommend Hume as
his experience and tenure in
the industry consistently
leads to exceptional results
on hunts that are
professionally run from a
logistics perspective. G.B.

96

NOMADS OF THE TUNDRA


Continued from page 24

suggested I make an openly visible


move to cut them off to see how they
would react. Interestingly, the first
time I did this the small group of
caribou stopped and ambled back
towards, and eventually through, the
old trap zone.
An hour later the next quartet, with
no shooter bulls included, reacted
much the same way to a similar
diversion. We now were confident
that if the right animals appeared on
the far route we could encourage
them to swing back into range. This is
precisely what happened when,
shortly thereafter, a fine bachelor
group of eight bulls broke onto the
horizon and began to angle back
towards Ricks area after reacting to
my ruse. This time, however, they
were going to slip well beyond the
hidden archer on the downhill side
leaving him with no prospect for a
shot. When I envisioned this
unfolding, I sprinted wildly down to
the pathway I anticipated them using

BOW ARROW HUNTING JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2015

and arrived just as the caravan


materialized. Standing directly on
that trail, in their way at only 70
yards, the lead sentry saw me and
reversed the herds course back
towards the hunter.
Like clockwork the animals moved
past Rick at a steady gait and when
the largest of the group cleared the
bushes that Rick was using for
shelter, the traditional archer
instinctively drew his recurve and
cast an arrow that cleanly penetrated
the bull and brought him to a final
resting place in the scrub brush less
than 30 yards away. Out of breath
from sprinting, I approached my
fellow bowhunter and offered a
hearty backslap and congratulatory
handshake on a magnificent trophy
fairly taken in a unique manner. The
heavy palmation of the antlers was
notable and the thick beams, each
carrying a very representative set of
bez tines and a shovel, indicated this
was a true northern monarch.
In the end any caribou hunt is an
adventure. Its simply impossible in
so many ways to visit to some of the

BAH_1501_CARIBOU_18-25;96-97 12/9/14 12:32 AM Page 97

AD INDEX
3Rivers Archery.............................................93
Adam & Eve/PHE, Inc.................................79
Arizona Archery Enterprises..............13, 95
BCY, Inc...........................................................75
Black Widow Custom Bows, Inc..............75
Deer Ridge Acres ........................................53
Flying Arrow Archery..................................49
Hawke Sport Optics...................................25
Hoyt Archery..................................................5
Mathews Archery......................................2-3
Midwest Textile Mfg. Corp.......................81
Mission Archery.......................................3, 25
Traditional bowhunter Rick Duggan
with his trophy caribou.

Mossy Oak Camouage..............................7


Rimz One...................................................100
Sportsman's Guide....................................53
Tactacam LLC.............................................99

Grant Benson poses with his second bull


he arrowed during his trip to Quebec.

most remote of areas in North


America and not experience a
journey that is as memorable as it is
isolated. The opportunity to see
wolves, foxes, eagles, ptarmigan,
bears, and osprey participating in the
daily ritual of survival only serves to
add more to the occasion.
Considering the migratory nature of
the Quebec-Labrador caribou
subspecies any given week at any
particular camp has the potential to
be a bit of a feast or famine
proposition, but on this excursion our
group was blessed with the very best

that caribou hunting can offer. We


observed a plethora of animals in a
pristine region enveloped in a nearly
perfect week of refreshingly cool
autumn days, each followed by a
starlit night where the northern lights
danced seductively in the sky. Good
campmates and a seasoned camp
manager made for a trip to
remember.
Its safe to say I dont expect
another six-year hiatus before
returning to Nunavik, the land the
Inuit people of northern Quebec call
home.

1. Publication Title: Bow and Arrow Hunting


2. Publication No.: 0894-7856
3. Filing Date: 10-01-14
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Apr, May/Jun, Jul/Aug, Sep/Oct, and Nov/Dec
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&RPSOHWH0DLOLQJ$GGUHVVRI.QRZQ2IFHRI3XEOLFDWLRQ
Beckett Media LLC.,
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8. Complete Mailing Address of Headquarters or General
%XVLQHVV2IFHRI3XEOLVKHUBeckett Media LLC.,
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13. Publication Title: Bow and Arrow Hunting
14. Issue Date for Circulation Data Below: Dec 13-Sep/Oct 14
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15. Extent and Nature of Circulation:
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JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2015 BOW ARROW HUNTING

97

{TECH

BAH_1501_TECHTIP_98 12/10/14 12:18 AM Page 98

{TECHTIP}

tips}

This was the sign we had been looking for; a large tom that had
just recently moved and was headed into an area where further
pursuit was possible. This was the beginning of the end for the
big cat that was arrowed on this trip.

BY BAH STAFF

Pre-Shot Primer
Here are three steps to perform prior to releasing a deadly lung shot.

n the midst of adrenaline


and excitement, we try our
best to echo the phrase,
pick a spot. Surely this is a
good thing to do, but it
shouldnt take over our
complete thought process until
weve stepped our way through
other key elements. One of
those steps is to acquire the
right sight picture and placing
the pin exactly where it needs
to go.
Aligning the peep sight
correctly is important here,
either by centering it in the pin
or aligning it with your sights
guard. The same goes for the
anchor. Be sure to feel a light
pressure of the hand against
your cheek as you anchor,
nothing more. If you dont
consciously think about these
things, you can easily foul up
the shot. Take the extra
second or two it takes to do
this and youll hit more on
target.
Also, when aligning the peep
sight, be sure to take a quick
glance at your sights bubble.
Train yourself to do this in a
split second, so youre holding
the bow perfectly plumb for
top accuracy.
If your sights fiber-optic pins
seem hazy during lowlight
shooting, you may want to
experiment with different peep
sizes to enhance the shooting
experience. This alone could
cause a blown attempt. Larger
peeps, such as one with a 3/16inch orifice, are ideal for
whitetail hunting, as are peeps
with special light-enhancing
coatings.
The same goes for sight pin
size. Dont go too small, such
as .019-inch size, which are
better for 40-yard use and
beyond. Larger beads like .029
or .039-inch are easier to see
since they create more fiber
illumination during that critical
dusk/dawn period.

98

critical for extreme up/downhill


shots, like those encountered
out west. However, these
scenarios are more challenging
due to uneven terrain where
you must position your feet
when shooting. To execute
these shots well, experiment
ahead of time with various
shooting stances and
determine what position works
best for maintaining accuracy.
In many cases, depending on
the severity of the shooting
angle, you may need to bend
your uphill or downhill knee to
maintain proper stability and
comfort for your body.

When to Draw

Taking a few extra seconds to ensure a solid anchor and a clear


sight picture can pay off big-game for scoring a better hit. Try to
simulate high-adrenaline draw downs on your backyard targets
and youll be well on your way to achieving deadly field shots.

Remember Proper Form


Regardless of the situation
you face, your basic shooting
form should stay consistent.
This means bending at the
waist and keeping your torso
perpendicular to your arms,
which is known as using proper
T-Form. Doing so will help
maintain correct posture and
deadly shooting.
To do this when shooting
from a treestand, its best to
first draw your bow level with

BOW ARROW HUNTING JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2015

the treestands platform, then


slowly bend at the waist until
you acquire the target.
However, most bowhunters
rarely do it this way. They
usually swing their bow-arm
and bow downward, then pull
the bow back to shoot when
the sight is close to the target.
But, this places the bow hand
close to the leg and twists the
torso incorrectly, jeopardizing
accuracy.
The same technique is

Is the shot clear? Thats


the first thing every bowhunter
must think about before pulling
the string back.
Well before a buck appears,
assess your best shooting
lanes, but also visualize
possible secondary shooting
spots. These shot windows
may not be as wide open as
others, but often times, deer
will stop just off from the best
shooting areas, leaving you with
the possibility of threading the
needle, which may or may not
be wise to do.
Since its harder to think well
when adrenaline is clouding the
brain, its recommended to
visualize all shooting
possibilities ahead of time, so
you can act more decisively
when the moment of truth
comes.
This is critical because
certain shooting lanes may look
good with a quick glance but,
upon closer inspection, they
may actually contain lots of
tiny obstructions that appear
fuzzy when viewing with a
binocular downrange. If this is
the case, check it off your list as
a zone to shoot through. Look
for better possibilities and wait
for the right shot.

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