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Wisconsin Misses Chance to Expand Crossbow Hunting

by Patrick Durkin 19. April 2012 09:03
Patrick Durkin

You might assume the Wisconsin Bowhunters Association slept better in March after the Legislature adjourned without loosening crossbow restrictions for the state’s four-month archery deer season.

Pfft! Not a chance. Just as Ahab hunted his white whale till death, so must WBH chieftains stalk the crossbow to their graves. You’ll never persuade them it’s a divisive waste of time, effort and talent.

What’s more troubling is the Department of Natural Resources dodging efforts to expand crossbow use. DNR spokesmen typically say crossbows are a “social” question hunters must decide themselves, even as the agency struggles to control deer across much of Wisconsin’s southern two-thirds.

Lowering the crossbow age limit to 55 from 65 in Wisconsin would increase participation and stabilize license-buying declines.

If that’s not enough contradiction, many legislators and DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp claim they’re forever exploring ways to recruit and retain hunters, and expand hunting opportunities. That’s great, but most agency-directed efforts require patient, perennial educational programs designed to get youngsters off their PlayStations and into the woods.

As much as we need steady, far-sighted programs, we also need simple regulation changes to create opportunities for current or lapsed hunters. That’s why it’s frustrating to see the DNR and lawmakers forgo proposals to lower the crossbow age from 65 to 55 for archery deer season. Crossbows are only legal during archery season for bowhunters 65 and older, or those with doctor-certified handicaps.

Late archery seasons are a great time to go crossbow hunting.

Talk about missing a chance to please rank-and-file hunter-voters. As Rob Bohmann, chairman of the Wisconsin Conservation Congress, told lawmakers in February, they’d hit a home run by lowering the crossbow age to 55.

After all, when the Congress floated the idea as an advisory question in April 2010, voters passed it statewide, 2,014 to 1,767, a 53-47 margin. It also passed in county voting, 42-25 (a 63-37 margin), with five counties tied.

When the DNR took that vote and made it a formal proposal at the April 2011 hearings, the WBH rallied its members, hoping to squash it. Instead, the question passed by a wider margin statewide than in 2010, 2,806-2,198, a 56-44 margin. It also passed by a larger margin in county voting, 55-16 (77-23), with one tie.

Even so, the proposal was MIA in autumn 2011 as the Legislature passed other DNR-backed hunting proposals OK’d at April’s hearings.

The Wisconsin Bowhunters Association spent about $8,000 on lobbyists in 2011, with about half of it fighting against crossbows.

What about the age-55 crossbow plan? Well, the most effective lobbying and deal-making might be the kind that prevents legislation from getting drafted. Maybe we should respect the WBH and its lobbyist, Ronald Kuehn of DeWitt Ross & Stevens SC, for persuading lawmakers to ignore the public’s crossbow wishes.

In 2011, the WBH paid nearly $8,000 for 40 hours of lobbying. Government Accountability Board records show about half that effort targeted crossbows and crossbow-related issues. Again, that’s the WBH’s prerogative and destiny. It’s incapable of any other action, given its petrified attitude toward crossbows.

But if the DNR is serious about boosting hunter numbers and license revenues, it should have opposed the WBH and worked with lawmakers to lower the crossbow age to 55 or 50. Granted, no one knows how much that would boost bowhunting participation, but license sales to bowhunters 65 and older rose steadily once Wisconsin first allowed crossbows in 2003.

The Wisconsin DNR and lawmakers ignored public sentiments that favored lowering the crossbow age from 65 to 55 for archery deer season.

Based on that trend, a DNR analysis projected annual archery-license sales would increase by about 1,700 annually if the age were lowered to 55. That’s no sea change, but it would maintain bowhunter numbers, and give more people access to our longest, most opportunity-rich deer season.

Instead, lawmakers passed a bill in March that merely allows crossbows during gun seasons for deer, bear, elk, turkeys and small game. Earlier, on a 60-35 party-line vote, Assembly Republicans rejected anamendment by Rep. Nick Milroy, D-South Range, to lower the crossbow age to 55 for archery deer season.

Milroy said in an interview March 13 that he hopes to work with the WBH and Conservation Congress next year on a compromise, such as a crossbow-specific season requiring a separate license.

Unfortunately, there’s even less chance of the WBH compromising on crossbows than there is of generating new revenues and hunting opportunities from the gun-season bill awaiting Gov. Walker’s signature., 

 

 

 

 

Bowhunting Wisconsin Whitetails and Wyoming Elk

by Todd Graf 14. September 2011 14:32
Todd Graf

‘Tis the season, folks!  As I write this blog, I am washing my clothes, fine tuning my Mathews Monster, cleaning out my truck and doing anything bowhunting related to pass the time before the Wisconsin archery opener this Saturday!  Ah, bow season is finally here!  After a terribly long offseason, I can’t wait to get up a tree Saturday morning and enjoy the beautiful scenery that Central Wisconsin has to offer.

After a slow start to the offseason with my Camtrakkers, I was finally able to get some Wisconsin shooter bucks showing up on my cameras, just in time for the season!   Honestly, while getting pictures of big bucks on trail camera during the summer is fun, it does little to help me kill them come fall, because I know their patterns will change drastically.  However, knowing where mature bucks are spending their time on my property during late August and early September can really help me get a bead on those bucks heading into the hunting season.  

I am hoping that any of these nice Wisconsin whitetails will make the mistake of walking under my stand this fall!

With the bucks seemingly coming out of the wood works in the last couple weeks, I have decided to try and implement a new strategy this fall to better my chances of harvesting a mature buck: hunting out of a ground blind.  I recently set out a hay bale blind that will enable me to hunt (successfully, hopefully) off the ground this fall.  This is a new tactic for me and one I am excited about trying.  Normally, my hunting strategy consists of me hunting out of a Lone Wolf Hang-On and set of sticks and staying mobile to keep the deer from patterning me.  In fact, my 2010 Illinois buck was a result of moving my set to get closer to the action.  However, sometimes there simply isn’t a tree suitable for a treestand of any sort where the deer are congregating, and hunting out of a ground blind is the next best option.  One thing is for sure, I can’t wait to get up close and personal with the deer this fall!

Hopefully this hay bale blind will allow me to get up closer and personal with some monster bucks this season.  

It’s hard to believe, but in just a couple of days, I will be up a tree hunting whitetails.  Even harder to believe is that following my first couple hunts in Wisconsin, I will be making a trip out to Table Mountain Outfitters in Wyoming to hunt with longtime friends Scott and Angie Denny.  I am particularly excited for this trip, and am hoping to duplicate the success I had last year antelope hunting.  If you remember, Justin Zarr and I both shot good antelope bucks hunting with Scott and Angie.  I am hoping that Table Mountain Outfitters can turn into my little Western honey hole!  

My little man, Craig, standing next to some native grasses.  If I were a deer, I would definitely want to hide in there, then come out for an afternoon snack on some clover, wouldn't you?

Craig and his friend, Sammy, are looking forward to hunting together out of this comfortable condo.  In fact, when those brutally cold Midwest temperatures arrive late season, I may even sneak up there for a hunt or two.  

I genuinely wish each and every one of you the best of luck this fall, but more importantly, wish you safe travels and time afield.  I’ll be spending a lot of time in the woods between Illinois and Wisconsin, so if you see me out there keeping the roads hot, stop by and say hello!  I always have a little free time to talk hunting!  If you guys are hunting out of a tree, please be sure to wear your safety harness, and remember you have a family waiting for you at home.   No buck, regardless how big, is worth risking your life over!  Also, if you are fortunate enough to enjoy some success, we here at bowhunting.com want to share in your success!  Please send us your trophy photos to this link here!  Good luck this fall everyone, stay safe and happy hunting!

Table Mountain Outfitters - Top Notch Hunting Guides

by Dustin DeCroo 31. July 2011 16:11
Dustin DeCroo


The late summer of 2010 brought with it all the common anticipation of any upcoming hunting season, but with a few new opportunities.  One of these opportunities was to hunt with and film my friends Justin Zarr and Todd Graf of the Hunting Network.  It was a pronghorn hunt with Table Mountain Outfitters of Cheyenne, Wyoming.  It was during this hunt that I was fortunate enough to meet the owners of Table Mountain Outfitters, Scott and Angie Denny. 


Justin and I with his first antelope, taken at Table Mountain Outfitters in 2010.  Click here to watch the video of this hunt!

Fast forward to this Spring 2011.  Knowing I had a fair amount of experience not only hunting out West but also running a camera, Scott and Angie asked if I’d like to film some of their bear hunters at camp in Idaho. The only experience that either one of us had with the other was based on a few conversations at antelope camp eight months prior.  They were taking a chance with a camera man they didn’t know very well and I was committing almost a month of my life to film with people that I barely knew, in a place I had never been.  With that said, it turned out to be an incredible time and allowed me (an outsider) a behind the scenes look at what it takes to run a successful outfitting operation. 

When the general hunting population thinks of “bear hunting,” we typically render immediate images of sitting over an afternoon bait waiting for a bear to make its way to a bucket filled with goodies.  At Table Mountain Outfitters, you have the opportunity to sit at bait sites in the afternoons, but the morning hunts are filled with what can be fast paced, adrenaline filled hunts with hound dogs.  As a long time bird hunter, I have an extreme respect for any type of working dog, but I was still slightly hesitant about hunting bears with dogs. 

On the first morning, my uncertainty had evaporated.  There is no possible way I can explain to any reader how incredible and unique this hunt can be.  It really is something you have to experience for yourself to understand and appreciate.  From the hours of care and preparation that the guides put into 22 dogs before and after the hunt, to the sometimes super steep and long hikes in to a tree where the dogs say, “we’ve won,” to the determination of the dogs and the people involved.  All that work and that’s just for one aspect of one part of the hunt.  That doesn’t include the time spent preparing meals for a whole camp full of hungry hunters, setting bear baits, and maintaining an entire camp in the meantime. 


Here's a few of the bear dogs that Scott & Angie use to track down bears in the remote Idaho wilderness.

It was neat to be a “neutral” party with Table Mountain Outfitters, I wasn’t the hunter or the guide and was able to see both the client side and the business side of this industry.    I was able to form my own opinion about everything I encountered.  Somewhere around 15 hunters were in camp while was in Idaho, I interviewed several of these hunters during hunts and after hunts and to my knowledge there wasn’t a single hunter that didn’t leave with a feeling of success in regards to both; their hunt and their overall experience.


Hunter Mike White killed this beautiful black bear with his Mathews Z7. This was Mike's 7th hunt with Table Mountain Outfitters


Teri and her husband Steve traveled from Tampa, Florida to hunt bears with Scott and Angie.

After seeing all the pieces that must fit perfectly together for an operation like this to be successful, I am amazed at and have an incredible amount of respect for Scott and Angie and the team they’ve put together to make Table Mountain Outfitters atop the list for hunting outfitters.  If you’re in the market for a guided hunt of almost any species in the Western United States, give Table Mountain a shot at your business, I would bet you are not disappointed.   You can visit them online at www.tablemountainoutfitters.com


Scott & Angie Denny - owners of Table Mountain Outfitters.  These two work incredibly hard to make sure their hunters have the best chance of success on each and every hunt.  Their hard work is what has made them one of the most popular outfitters in the US today.

   

 

Will there EVER be a Cure for Buck Fever?

by Marshall Kaiser 30. July 2011 15:22
Marshall Kaiser

We’ve all been there, watching a nice buck, doe, gobbler, elk, or Muley come in and our heart feels like it’s going to spook the animal because it is pounding so loud.  Appendages may start to shake uncontrollably.  You may even find it difficult to draw your bow because your muscles have locked due to the epinephrine hormone that has been released in your body by the adrenal glands that are located on top of the kidneys. Epinephrine and Adrenaline is the same thing.  The key is to be able to control this rush and focus on the job at hand.  Yeah right…  A lot easier said than done.  The advice of don’t focus on the antlers, pick a small spot on the animal, look away for a brief moment, close your eyes to reset yourself, lower your draw weight so you can easily handle it when the situation is needed are all good bits of advice.  I personally don’t think there is a cure all for controlling the epinephrine when it comes to crunch time other than experience.  But even that is not a guarantee.  I am sure several pro’s face the same issues.  Every encounter is going to cause the adrenal glands to secrete different amounts of this potent hormone.  Quick encounters may let your conscious take over relying on your experience to quickly close the deal.  Watching a big bull elk makes its way through the timber for 30 minutes to find that mysterious cow that’s enticing him will cause an overflow of epinephrine giving you too much time to think about your next move. 

So what can be done to help matters in this situation?  The more practice shooting will definitely help, however putting your mental state of mind in that “fight or Flight” feeling is impossible.  The more a person thinks about this mysterious process the more we as hunters may not want to be able to control the situation.  I know everyone wants to be calm when that 200 inch whitetail shows up so we can make the perfect shot.  This is the very reason why bowhunting is so intriguing because we can’t control our emotions, heart rate, lack of blood flow to our skin, shortness of breath, and of course the ever popular lockage of the muscles to prevent drawing our bows.   Then there is the complete opposite, the overconfidence of imagining what the deer is going to look like above the fireplace, or how the steaks will taste, or which one of my buddies should I call first to start gloating over the animal that I am about to harvest.

 

I think if I ever lost that feeling of excitement, or the inability to control my patience I would wonder what I was doing in a treestand to begin with.  This to me is what bowhunting is all about.  For the past 30 years of hunting I have felt that rush of the adrenal glands pumping out epinephrine by the gallons from my first miss at a nice little 6 pointer when I was 12 to now when I see deer going about their business of wandering by my treestand.   I hope Scientist come up with a cure for cancer, HIV, and other fatal disease, but leave Buck Fever alone.  It needs no cure.  My favorite outdoorsman, Fred Eichler says “when confronted with a harvest possibility tell yourself it’s not going to happen.” Using negative reinforcement to trick your mind into thinking you are going to control the situation instead of the situation controlling you is the method Fred had learned from another great hunter by the name of Chuck Adams. 

Overall I think we all agree that getting a case of the “shakes” when the opportunity arises is one of the best feelings a bowhunter can have.  Without it we should second guess our reasons to enjoy what God has created for us.  After all that when God created Adam he put the Adrenal Glands there for this specific purpose.  Without them we wouldn’t have any excuses for all of our misses.

 

 

 

ELK MILESTONES

by Brenda Potts 30. May 2011 07:50
Brenda Potts

Elk have always been there for me. They took part in my first bowkill. They sang to me on my honeymoon. Elk taught me the sorrow of losing an animal.  They got me through a midlife crisis and helped me fight my way back from cancer. Several milestones in my life have been defined by encounters with elk.  The first one took place more than twenty years ago in the mountains above Los Alamos, New Mexico on my first big hunting adventure away from home.  The most recent one took place just a couple years ago while filming for SHE's Beyond the Lodge on Outdoor Channel.


MILESTONE ONE - First Bowkill
My cousin called in a huge five-by-five to less than ten yards. I reacted with precision, drawing my bow and releasing the arrow in one fluid motion. Okay, that is not actually what happened. I stood there, frozen, staring at the bull as he came closer. My cousin was crouched on the ground before me trying to become invisible. I stood there, unable to move, unable to lift my bow, unable to think. I stood there as the bull came to within ten yards, got a whiff of us and whirled, quickly disappearing over the top of the mountain. My cousin threatened to take my bow away from me. Not much can fully prepare a young Midwestern whitetail hunter for that first up-close encounter with elk in the wild.


When the next opportunity to draw my bow finally came, I reacted differently. Instead of freezing, I sort of went nuts.


It was a foggy morning when we encountered the elk herd. A member of our hunting party shot a cow. His arrow passed completely through the elk and she only ran about 150 yards. The elk crashed down the side of the mountain, coming to rest upside down at the base of a tree. Unfortunately because of the fog he had not noticed the yearling. The arrow had passed through the adult elk and hit the yearling in the hip. It disappeared into the fog. We decided to take care of the cow and then launch a full out search for the yearling.


While the guys went to take care of field dressing and quartering the cow elk, I made my way back to the truck. It was my intention to gather drinks, cameras and snacks and head back to help. The fog was still thick enough that I missed the truck, circling well below it before I realized my mistake and finally found it. After depositing my bow in the back, I grabbed cameras, water and for some reason, stuffed my pockets full of vanilla wafers. It must have been our only food.

 
I was careful to follow a straight line back to where they guys were working on the elk. The fog was still thick with visibility to about 30 or 40 yards. About half way there I noticed movement. As I closed the distance I realized the moving blob was that yearling elk. It was not mortally wounded, but had separated from the herd. Panic gripped me. I decided to try to shoot the elk but my bow was back at the truck. I raced back to the truck, threw the cameras into the back and jerked all the vanilla wafers out of my pockets. I have no idea why. It looked like a vanilla wafer box had exploded, spewing little round cookies all over the bed of the truck. I grabbed my bow and went into stealth mode.


That yearling probably weighed two hundred pounds. It was as big as the bucks back home. As I closed the distance I realized I was about to get my first bow shot at a big game animal. We had no range finders in those days. It was foggy. My heart was out of control and so was my shooting.


I had four arrows in my quiver. The first arrow flew a foot over the elk. The second arrow nicked its ear.  After getting my composure I took the third shot. The now seriously wounded elk slowly started to walk down the mountain, away from my hunting party and into the thickening fog. I followed, keeping the elk in sight as it continued down the mountain. Just as I was about to get really stressed out over how far away this elk was taking me, it finally laid down. I sat, watching and waiting, not sure what to do. Finally I heard my uncle's voice in the distance calling my name. They were looking for me. I snuck away from the elk and in the direction of their voices. When we reunited they were surprised at my reason for straying into the fog. The story ends well, with my first bowkill and my first elk milestone.

MILESTONE TWO - Lost Elk
Milestone number two taught me a sad lesson. Stan and I were elk hunting on private property near Chama, New Mexico. We had only been married a few weeks so this was sort of a honeymoon. One morning high on the mountain the bulls were especially vocal. We set up to intercept one bull as he made his way toward a bedding area. The bull worked his way in my direction, coming to the cow calls being made by our guide.


When the bull got to within twenty yards I shot. The angle of the shot was steep with the bull well below me. He was so close all my pins were in the kill zone as he turned broadside. The arrow passed through the elk.  He ran about forty yards and stopped, hanging his head as blood streamed from his nose. The guide decided we should give the bull some time so we slipped out of there. Later I found out he thought it best that I not hear the bull die! I guess he thought he was practicing some form of chivalry. It is nice to be treated like a lady, but let’s just say that what I have to say about his reason for leaving that bull isn’t very ladylike.


We returned to the bull’s location an hour later only to find him standing. He started walking at a fairly fast pace down the mountain. All I can figure is the shot was a little too high and only caught the top of one lung.   They say a bull can live with a hit like that. We never did find the elk. For a month I jumped every time the phone rang, hoping they were calling to tell me they had found the elk or seen him alive. That fall I sat in my tree stand with a heavy heart. It was the first animal I had ever lost. Deer would walk by within range and I didn’t even raise my bow. It took quite awhile to regain my confidence.


MILESTONE THREE - On Our Own
Milestone number three came about as a result of a midlife crisis. Well, it really wasn’t a crisis, maybe just a reckoning. After several years of elk hunting I began to wonder if I could do it myself. After all those times following a guide or someone else around the mountains, I wondered if I could do it on my own. My good friend and fellow outdoor writer, Lisa Price was just crazy enough to go with me on this adventure and we soon named the excursion “The Thelma and Louise Elk Bowhunt.” Could we get ourselves into the mountains, get on elk and not drive off a cliff?
For months prior to the hunt I studied maps, planned our hunt and practiced navigating familiar terrain with my new GPS unit. We headed to Platoro, Colorado with high hopes. We checked into our cabin at 10,000 feet and got our gear sorted out. I showed Lisa a pinch point at the back of a meadow on the topo map that I thought might be a good place to start.

On our first venture we followed a gravel road to a high plateau, parked the rental vehicle and bailed off into the mountain. We walked along the edge of the meadow, working our way deeper into the mountain. After about a mile we found the pinch point I had marked on the map. The place just felt like elk. Rubbed pine trees hinted at bulls that had been there before us. The altitude meter read 11,000 feet.


I offered up my best elk bugling rendition and waited. Much to our surprise a cow elk burst out of the timber about a hundred yards away and came straight at us. Behind her was a legal bull with four points on one side. Lisa quickly got ready and I tried to convince the bull to leave his cow and come to me. My cow calls had him thinking, but he wasn’t going to leave a sure thing. She kept him out of bow range and then finally took him away from us.


Lisa and I were so excited. We had done it. We had found our way into the mountain and had a close encounter with a bull all on our own. No guides, just us. It was pretty cool.
A freak early season storm dumped eight inches of snow on our area overnight. Hunting came to a halt for a couple days. No one in the other cabins made it out to hunt either. When the snow stopped we went to another location further down the mountain that was only about 9,000 feet. I marked the truck on the GPS and we headed in, following a hiking trail. Before long we cut across an elk track in the snow and decided to follow it. The elk took us higher and higher. We found a beaver pond nestled below a cliff where a herd of elk were bedded. We could see a big bull and a couple satellite bulls among a big herd of cows.

There was no way to get above the bull or approach down wind. We would have to wait him out. We spent the afternoon watching the herd and making plans to intercept them as they came to the beaver pond before dark. Unfortunately right at prime time a couple of hikers ruined our plans and busted the herd. So much for hunting public ground near hiking trails. We never got an elk on that trip. But neither did most of the hunters in the other cabins. In fact, with the exception of one guy, Lisa and I were the only ones to get on bulls, and we did it all by ourselves. We had stepped outside our comfort zone. And we did confront and conquer the uncertainty that comes with facing the unknown. Another milestone.


MILESTONE FOUR - Another Reason To Fight
The most recent elk milestone helped me fight through the toughest battle of my life. In the fall of 2007 I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  I had to cancel my elk hunt. Surgery, chemotherapy and radiation took their toll. There were a few times when I wondered if I would elk hunt again. Most of the time I was determined to elk hunt again.


Two years later I still hadn’t quite recovered fully from the treatments. Every blood test showed I was still anemic.  The side effects of some of the medication I was taking made me light headed with bouts of weakness. None of these problems helped with my pre hunt conditioning. I had two elk hunts planned for filming for SHE’s Beyond the Lodge on Outdoor Channel. Would I make it?


As my much anticipated elk hunts drew near I ignored the problems and focused on returning to the mountains. The first elk hunt was at Three Forks Ranch in Colorado. Fortunately the altitude was not bad and the guide was able to take us part of the way into the higher places using ATVs. Kandi Kisky and I both got elk with our TC rifles. 


The next hunt in west central New Mexico with Trophy Ridge Outfitters was the one I worried about most. It was in unfamiliar territory and I wasn’t sure how much hiking would be needed to get to within muzzleloader range.

My guide Audrey McQueen, nine-time national elk calling champion and fellow SHE Team member had several options for us to try. On the first hunt we hiked quite a bit, enough that I began to doubt my ability. Audrey switched tactics and set up to hunt from a ground blind near a water hole. It really lifted my spirits because we came close to tagging a monster bull. As the hunt progressed I quickly started regaining strength. Each hike got easier and my confidence returned. On the last day Audrey spotted a bull, a really big bull. He didn’t get that big by being stupid. The bull was bedded near the top of a mountain and we were at the bottom of it.


I made up my mind right then and there that I would get to the top of that mountain. It took us over an hour. Everybody helped carry my gear. Audrey pulled me up some of the steeper parts. It was painstakingly slow progress, but I kept putting one foot in front of the other. I focused on one step at a time and on not quitting.


We got to within one hundred yards of the bull. He was magnificent. A huge monster bull, estimated to score over 350. I was going to have to shoot across a steep canyon. We set up, got ready and felt the wind swirl and hit our back. Busted! The bull bolted over the top of the mountain and disappeared.


Everyone was so disappointed. We had worked so hard for over an hour to get within range and in a split second it was over.  We sat on top of the mountain dejected.
Part of me was sad over not getting the bull, but most of me was elated over having climbed to the top of a mountain. I was chasing elk again, challenging my limits, facing uncertainty, stepping outside my comfort zone and regaining confidence.  I had battled back from cancer and climbed back into the mountains. It was yet another milestone in my life defined by encounters with elk.

 

 

 

 

 

Planning Your Out of State Bowhunt for 2011

by Dustin DeCroo 15. February 2011 14:08
Dustin DeCroo


The Fall 2010 season comes to a close and it’s time for many hunters to start planning their Non-Resident Fall adventures for 2011.

While many bowhunters are having treestand withdrawals in February and March, I enjoy the excitement of doing research and planning my out-of-state hunts for the upcoming Fall.  The reality of nonresident hunting is that, generally it is significantly more difficult to be successful (in terms of harvesting an animal) than in the region that you call home.  Let us be honest, it’s expensive, time consuming and can be a lot of work but at the same time it can be one of the most gratifying and memorable experiences you’ll ever have.  As Americans we’re blessed with a plethora of big game animals to hunt and it is up to us to take advantage of it.

I was fortunate enough to film Bowhunting.com's Justin Zarr as he traveled from Illinois to hunt Wyoming Pronghorn.


 

My good friend Steve Abbott also traveled to Wyoming to hunt pronghorn

I have been fortunate enough to travel the country to hunt for the last five seasons and the planning can almost be overwhelming.  What do I hunt?  Which state do I visit?  Which unit do I hunt?  When do I apply?  How much will everything cost?  These questions and a million others have to be answered before the ball gets rolling.

There is no doubt that I love chasing whitetails but bugling bulls and spot and stalk type bowhunts are my true passion when it comes to bowhunting.  I would love for everyone to be able to experience those hunts, so let me give a little bit of (hopefully) helpful information.

The real work begins after you decide what you want to hunt and the more research you do, the better chance you’ll be rewarded in the end.  Every state has a DNR or Game & Fish website that will tell you the process for hunting in that particular state.  With that said, I have never found a more frustrating group of websites to visi.  For all of the Western states, I have not found a more useful source than the  MRS or Members Research Supplement section found in Eastman’s Hunting and Bowhunting Journal.  The MRS is found only in subscription issues of the magazine but is incredibly informative.  It provides you with application deadlines and prices, drawing odds, trophy qualit y, percentage of public lands, season dates and non-resident success rates, to name a few.  The MRS includes this information for nearly every big game animal that resides in the Western united states.

 

My friends Trey Kolar, Tony Stickland and drew Wyoming Elk tags in 2007.

 

In my experience Iowa, Illinois and Kansas are the three main whitetail states that require you to apply for a non-resident tag.

Starting the planning process now assures that you don’t miss any deadlines, can save some hard earned cash and get your body in the proper physical condition for whichever hunt you choose.

 

My dad drew non-resident elk and moose tags in 2009 killed this great Wyoming bull.

A Lesson in Tracking: Finding a Wounded Elk

by Jessica Edd 15. October 2010 03:02
Jessica Edd

Although my elk hunting season started with archery equipment, it ended with a rifle. I realize that this is a sight dedicated to bowhunting enthusiasts, but I learned a very important lesson in hunting, no matter what weapon you choose to use. After spending 14 days in the field over the course of 6 weeks without seeing a single bull elk, just hearing their teasing bugles, I began wondering if my Area 99 tag would have to wait until the next draw to be filled. On the last day of our three day hunt we walked about two miles passed the wilderness boundary to an open park mixed with grasses, sagebrush, willows and aspens with small running creeks throughout the bottom.

 

Perfect setting for a nice bull elk.

It was a perfect scene after seeing a cow, calf and spike elk and I just knew there had to be a bull running around somewhere. Soon after, my friend, Joe, stopped me and said, "There’s a bull and it’s a nice one." That’s all I needed to hear. What I saw could have been different, however. It was certainly a bull, but he was quartering towards me and was soon on the move. I took my shot and knew it wasn’t a good one. This is when the painful task of tracking a wounded animal began. Anyone who has ever hunted elk knows they are some of the toughest animals to take down and sometimes they simply refuse to hit the ground. This was one of those elk. When we started our pursuit, we saw one single drop of blood and another about 20 yards away. I knew we were going to have a challenge in front of us and anyone who knows me knows how negative and impatient I can be. I immediately thought the worst and had to get a small cry session out of the way before we could continue. Thankfully Joe is single-handedly the most patient person I’ve ever met and while keeping his wits about him, was able to get things under control and we began looking for more sign of the bull together. The elk was bleeding very little, the snow from the day before had melted and the muddy ground was frozen from the low temperatures of the night before, so we had little to work with. After covering close to a half mile, winding through the trees, we totally lost any sign of him once again. It looked in the dirt like the bull had maybe hit the skids and stopped suddenly, or possibly laid down, turning up fresh dirt. We assumed he would move down hill as opposed to climbing over the rock hill to the east but after finding no further sign of him on the slopes below, we started over once again at the sight of the scuffled dirt. This was the fourth or fifth time we had circled back to the last known location of the bull and I was beginning to get desperate. Joe kept me calm all the while hiding his anxiety about the potential of not finding this bull and what it would do to my hunting in the future. We began heading up the rock slope to the east and I was stunned to see the bull running up the steep, slick rock using only three legs. It didn’t take long to realize why the bull was able to move so far, so quickly, without losing a lot of blood. As he ran, I was able to connect with two more shots before he lay down on the highest point he could find. When I saw he wasn’t getting up, I realized I wasn’t either. I had sat down and literally couldn’t get to my feet. Killing a good bull is something I’ve only ever dreamed of and after losing one 4 years ago, I was sick at the thoughts of possibly losing another one. No one likes to lose an animal, but I’ve yet to find someone who takes it as hard as I do. It’s not something I can let go of easily and knowing the will power of an elk was not helping calm my nerves throughout the ordeal. After seeing the downed elk, I could have lost it all over again, but I simply just had to sit down. Joe helped me to my feet and we were able to claim the trophy together as we worked equally as hard to get it.

After retrieving the 5x6 bull, I don't know who was more excited that it was over: me or him.

I suppose my entire purpose of writing this is to advise people to be patient when tracking an animal. You never know what direction they could take and getting frustrated simply will not be beneficial to your cause. Having a good hunting partner that is as stubborn and smart as someone like Joe is also helpful but is not always available. Had I been by myself I honestly feel I would not have found this bull and the ending to my story would be much different. We were able to end our hunting trip with pictures of success and a story I have learned a multitude of lessons from. Hopefully, anyone out there reading this, learns something too and is able to keep composure while tracking a kill and they too can bring their trophy home with them.

 

Though packing wasn't easy, it was a task I was grateful and thankful for.

 

Mountain Lion Stumbles onto Elk Hunter!

by Bow Staff 14. October 2010 11:21
Bow Staff

Colorado elk hunter, Sven Ghoulie, got the surprise of a lifetime on a recent trip to New Mexico. While his buddy was snapping a few mementos of a most triumphant hunt, a full grown mountain lion wandered into view! Rumor has it Sven and his buddies escaped the dangerous encounter without injury, but were a little shaken.  It is unclear what happened to the mountain lion or the elk.

Okay… the above story is completely inaccurate and completely false. But this photo is currently circling the usual internet channels and likely soon to an email near you. Don’t be fooled by the short story that follows it though, it’s surprisingly worse than the one we wrote above. Hard to believe I know.

The Bowhunting.Com staff is interested in your opinion though. Do you believe this photo is real or fake, fact or fiction? We’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Please leave your comments below! Thank you!

 

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