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Bulldozers push out wildlife for more corn

by Patrick Durkin 22. June 2012 08:50
Patrick Durkin

If you drive through farm country these days, you’ll often see bulldozers pushing old farmsteads, fencerows and windbreaks into monstrous burn piles to expand high-priced cornfields for feeding cattle and brewing ethanol.
All those miles of former brush, oaks, box elder, tall grass, dark granite and crumbling limestone once served as valuable shelterbelts. Besides protecting farm fields from wind and water erosion, they also provided habitat for deer, rabbits, songbirds, pheasants and other wildlife.

Bulldozers pushed several hundred yards of shelterbelts into numerous burn-piles on this southern Wisconsin farm.

Since the Dust Bowl, agricultural agencies and conservationists encouraged and applauded farmers who built and maintained shelterbelts, viewing them as long-term investments in the land. But conservation apparently can’t compete with corn that’s worth nearly $6 per bushel today and consistently more than $4 per bushel the past five years after averaging $2.50 from 1973 through 2005.

This widespread conversion of year-round habitat to seasonal one-crop monocultures is happening from Ohio and Indiana to eastern Washington. And it’s not just shelterbelts and abandoned farmsteads. In the Dakotas, folks are burning off cattail marshes, and tiling the black muck below to expand corn and soybean fields. How many miles of shelterbelts have been lost? Well, no government agency tracks acreage kept as fencerows, windbreaks or vacant farmsteads. But the federal government’s Conservation Reserve Program provides an indicator. Wisconsin alone will lose 45,170 acres of CRP land this year, presumably to beans and corn.

Fencerows and other shelterbelts that provide year-round habitat for ringneck pheasants and other wildlife are being lost as farmers expand fields to grow more profitable corn and soybeans.

But the Badger State is only 15th in lost CRP acres. North Dakota will lose nearly 650,000 acres of CRP lands this year, worst in the nation. Montana is second with 435,000 lost acres, and then it’s Minnesota, 190,000 and South Dakota with 170,000.
In fact, Pheasants Forever estimates the Northern Plains will lose more than 1 million CRP acres in the program’s 2012 re-enrollment process. CRP is perhaps the most powerful conservation tool in U.S. history. Under CRP the past 25-plus years, the government paid farmers and ranchers to plant trees and grasses instead of crops along waterways and highly erodible areas to protect the land and prevent soils and nutrients from washing into rivers and streams.

Diane Peterson photo, Pheasants Forever: A hunter takes aim at a ringneck pheasant flushed from a brushy ditch.

Although payments for CRP lands were competitive with crop prices from the late 1980s through the mid-2000s, they’ve lagged with recent leaps in grain prices. What’s behind high grain prices? Some blame federal subsidies for ethanol production, while others cite rising global demands for cattle feed, including China, India and South America.
Scott Walter, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ upland game ecologist, tracks the state’s CRP acreage for the DNR. He said 51 percent of the country’s 2011 corn crop went to ethanol production, the first time in history that more corn went for fuel than food.

“That demand drives up not only corn prices, but food prices,” Walter said. “That puts more pressure on the land, it destroys more wildlife habitat, and it gives people fewer places to hunt. If your goal is to create more hunting opportunities, the challenge worsens for each acre lost to crop production.”

Dave Nomsen, vice president of governmental affairs for Pheasants Forever, said lost ditches, shelterbelts and old farmsteads have huge impacts on small game, upland birds and other wildlife.
“I’ve lived in Northern Plains states my entire life, and I’ve never seen pressure on the landscape like we have now,” Nomsen said. “It’s one thing to convert old grass into corn, but when you’re pulling out rocks, trees, wetlands and old farmyard foundations, and testing and capping wells on abandoned farmsteads, you’re investing significant time, effort and money into something that might not pay off for very long.”

Roger Hill photo, Pheasants Forever: The more shelterbelts lost to grain production, the fewer places for deer, pheasants, rabbits and other wildlife to live and hide.

Even so, Nomsen said it’s difficult to fault individuals who cash in on today’s high crop prices. “It’s a complex question and decision,” he said. “High land values are part of it, too. It’s tough for a landowner to stand pat with a $75 to $100 break on CRP acres when he can get two to three times that much by renting his fields to someone planting beans and corn.”
Nomsen and Walter also wonder what will happen if grain prices fall to where CRP rates are again competitive.

“Who’s going to put back those long strips of old trees, big rocks and old fencerows?” Walter asked.

For that matter, who’s going to replace the fertile topsoil that blows or drains away the next few years in the absence of shelterbelts?

New Crossbows for 2012

by Daniel James Hendricks 7. May 2012 01:46
Daniel James Hendricks

   Each at the Archery Trade Association Show, the manufacturers from around the world unveil their new products to archery dealers.  Crossbows and crossbow accessories are garnering a larger share of the archery market every year and this year there were some wonderful new kids on the block at the trade show in Indianapolis.  As a matter of fact, there were so many new models that the ones included here are just some of the more prominent additions to the long and growing list of crossbow options for the horizontal bowhunter.

 

 01-Arrow Precision’s Inferno Hellfire II 
  The Inferno Hellfire II crossbow by Arrow Precision has a 185 lb draw weight and launches its arrow at right around 310 feet per second.  It comes equipped with a 4x32 Multi Reticle Illuminated Scope, Quick Detach Quiver, 4- 20” carbon arrows, padded shoulder sling, rope cocking device and anti-dry fire mechanism. It comes in a camo pattern and has an ambidextrous auto safety with anti-dry fire Mechanism.  It has a Lightweight Machined Aluminum Riser, Precision Machined Aluminum Wheels and a large boot style foot stirrup.  It weighs just under 7 ½ pounds, is 36.5” long and 28” wide.  The limbs are made of Compression Fiberglass, the barrel is machined aluminum and the riser is case aluminum.  The best thing about the Hellfire is that the entire package is delivered to you for under $500.  For more information visit their website at: www.arrow-precision.com

02-Carbon Express Covert SLS
  The Covert SLS crossbow by Carbon Express has a 185 lb draw weight and launches its arrow at right around 355 feet per second.  The Covert SLS measures 36” long by 17” wide, but is only 13” wide when loaded.  Precision Aluminum Alloy Cams, the Picatinny Rail system, adjustable forearm and tactical foregrip help to make the Covert SLS a comfortable fit for anyone.  It has a compact CNC machined aluminum riser and Compact Bull-Pup stock with custom adjustments.  It has an Anti-Dry-Firs System and ambidextrous safety.  The Covert SLS kit includes a Rope Cocker, Quick Detach 3 Arrow Quiver, 3 Maxima Hunter® 20" Crossbolts, 4x32 Deluxe Multi-Reticle Lighted Scope, Rail Lubricant and 3 Practice Points all for under $600.  For more information about the Carbon Express Covert SLS, visit their website at www.carbonexpressarrows.com

 

03-Darton FireForce
  The FireForce crossbow by Darton has a 185 lb draw weight and launches its arrow at right around 395 feet per second.  It had larger axels, sealed oversized Quad Ball Bearings, wide/stronger laminated Quad limbs, all combined with a compact front riser and redesigned Tactical Darton Stock first introduced in 2011. With Darton’s DualSync cams you have added performance and accuracy in a crossbow bow that is flat out fast, durable and accurate, shooting a 400 grain arrow a blurring 395-400fps. The FireForce is equipped with an integrated riser/string suppressor system and new Barrel Dampener [Patent Pending] to help reduce noise and vibration.  It has 17 ¼” power stroke, weighs 8.6 pound in weight.  It is 36” long and 24 3/8” wide.  For more information about the FireForce visit the Darton website at www.dartonarchery.com

 

04-Excalibur Eclipse XT
  The Eclipse XT from Excalibur has a 200 lb draw weight and launches its arrow at right around 330 feet per second.  It has a thumbhole stock in a black gun finish and has Excalibur’s fine trigger, the S5 Sound and Vibration Control System as well as a matching cheek-piece.  It has a 15 ½ inch power stroke and weighs only 6.3 lbs.  Its overall length is 37.4” and it shoots a 400 grain, 20” arrow.  The Eclipse XT comes in a complete package including our Shadow-Zone scope and mounting hardware, four Firebolt arrows with target points, the Excalibur quiver mounting bracket and a matching quiver.  For more information on the this and other fine bows from Excalibur, visit their website at www.excaliburcrossbow.com

05-Horton Fury
  The Fury crossbow by Horton has a 160 lb draw weight and launches its arrow at right around 360 feet per second.  With its CNC-machined riser and lightweight aluminum barrel it produces incredible balance and accuracy. Precision CNC-machined cams and advanced laminated limbs optimize speed, integrated stumper arms maximize stealth while our custom Viper X strings deliver ultimate speed and durability.  It is 35 1/4” long and 17 ½” wide with a 15 3/8” power stroke.  When it is loaded it is a mere 13” wide.  It weighs 8.1 lbs and shoots a 20” arrow.  For more information on the Horton Fury, visit their website at www.hortonarchery.com

 

 06-Maximus Crossbow’s Ergo
  The Ergo crossbow by Maximus Crossbows  has a 175 lb draw weight and launches its arrows at right around 330 feet per second.  It is 31¼ inches long and 18¾ wide, axel to axel and weighs 8 lbs with optics installed. Unique features include an under-mount stirrup, a handshake pistol grip, elevated comb height and a winged and vented barrel for forehand safety.  It has a vented forearm, extended scope rail (for eye-glass wearers), an ambidextrous safety with anti-dry fire device and a 100% metal trigger with only a 2.5 lb trigger pull.  The efficiency of its design is also complimented by a 50% rear-of-center balance point for fatigue free shooting.  The package comes with an innovative 20 to 100 yard, 3-power scope with regular or illuminated reticle.  Cushioned scope rings, flip-up scope caps, 3-arrow side-mount quiver, 3-Maximus 100% carbon Slayer Arrows with field points and the new 102 grain Hammer inserts and a Universal rope cocking aid featuring their new safety hooks and T-handles.  For more information about the Maximus Ergo visit their website at  www.maximuscrossbows.com

 

07-Parker Tomahawk
  The Tomahawk crossbow by Parker has a 160 lb draw weight and launches a 20”, 400 grain arrow at right around 320 feet per second.  The Tomahawk is 34.25” long, 20.375” wide and weighs in at 6.5 lbs.  It has Advanced Split Limb Technology, a G2 Bull-Pup Trigger, an auto-engage, ambidextrous safety and an auto-engage anti-dry fire mechanism.  The Tomahawk has a machined aluminum riser with a ballistic Polymer stock.  It has a vented forearm with safety finger flange comes with an option of regular or illuminated 3X Multi-Reticle scope.  All packaged include 4-Arrow Quick Detach Quiver and four arrows with field tips.  For more information about the Tomahawk visit the Parker website at www. parkerbows.com

 08-SA Sports Vendetta
  The Vendetta crossbow by SA Sports has a 200 lb draw weight and launches a 20” arrow at right around 375 feet per second. It has a 14” power stroke and is only 19” wide when loaded.  Some of the top shelf features included as standard equipment are a finely crafted machined riser, a lightweight extruded and machined barrel, an ANTI Dry-fire trigger mechanism, 3.5lb trigger pull, high performance machined aluminum cams, illuminated red/green/black reticle 4x32 multi range crossbow scope, quiver with 4 carbon arrows, padded shoulder sling, ambidextrous auto safety, lightweight skeletal stock, and crank cocking device compatibility. It comes standard with a rope cocking device, an Integrated Step Through Foot Stirrup and is clad in Next G1 Camo.  It also includes assembly tools and hex keys for quick assembly and maintenance.  For more information about the Vendetta visit their website at www.sa-sports.com

09-Scorpyd Ventilator
  The Ventilator crossbow by Scorpyd has a 150 lb draw weight and launches its arrow at right around 400 feet per second with 140 lbs of kinetic energy.  The new Ventilator is only 19.5 inches wide, axle to axle, and only 12.75 inches wide when cocked which makes this crossbow easy to maneuver in a treestand or the tight quarters often found in a pop-up ground blind. The Ventilator is a mere 35.75 inches long and comes with a folding stock which makes cocking the crossbow easier in the seated position.  It weighs in at 7.9 lbs thanks to the vented barrel and a lightweight forged riser. The solid limb Ventilator is built with top notch components including Barnsdale limbs which are considered some of the toughest, longest-lasting limbs in the archery industry.  The Ventilator is available in draw weights 100, 125 and 150 lbs.  The 150 draw weight produces 140 lbs of kinetic energy and will throw an arrow up to an incredible 400 FPS. Like all Scorpyd crossbows, the Ventilator comes with reverse draw limbs and has a generous power stroke of 18.75 inches thus producing more kinetic energy with less draw weight than other crossbows. As a result, the Ventilator is extremely quiet when shot because large amounts of weight aren’t needed to produce extreme speeds. The Ventilator also comes with a light three pound trigger.  Find out more about the complete line of Scorpyd Crossbows by visiting www.scorpyd.com

10-Stryker  StrykeZone 380
  The StrykeZone 380 crossbow by Stryker has a 160 lb draw weight and launches its arrow at right around 380 feet per second.  The StrykeZone 380 measures 34.375” long by 19.2” wide axel to axel and weighs just 7 lbs.  It has a 15.5” power stroke and 123 foot pound of kinetic energy.  It has a double jaw string capture and the Killswitch Trigger of less than 3lbs.  It has the Auto-Flip™ magnetic safety that clicks into the safe position every time the bow is cocked and is engineered to click back into safe mode if the crossbow is dropped or the bolt is removed.  The Cease-Fire™ safety plug is a double barred insert that slides into place, locking the jaws and immobilizing the trigger until you remove it and are ready to shoot. The StrykeZone 380 is available in Mossy Oak® Treestand™ or Optifade® Forest. For more information about this bow, visit www.strykerxbow.com.

11-TenPoint’s Carbon Elite XLT™
  The Carbon Elilte XLT crossbow by TenPoint has a 185 lb draw weight and launches its arrow at right around 360 feet per second.  Like all XLT models, the Carbon Elite XLT’s bow assembly measures 13.5-inches from axle-to-axle when cocked and weighs just under 7 lbs.  The riser comes with a detachable, lightweight, coated aluminum foot stirrup and its 11-inch IsoTaper Limbs™ are double laminated for improved strength and durability and are equipped with NEW MRX™ cams and D-75 string and cables.  The Carbon Elite XLT also features TenPoint’s patented DFI™ (dry-fire inhibitor), highly regarded 3.5-pound patented PowerTouch™ trigger and patented GripSafety™. Equipped with the ACUdraw™ or ACUdraw 50™, TenPoint’s patented cocking units, and the RangeMaster Pro™ variable speed and power scope, the Carbon Elite XLT is double-dip fluid imaged in Mossy Oak’s® popular Break-Up Infinity® camo pattern.  The model is sold only as a complete package that includes a soft case, carbon arrows, silencer kit, and quiver.   For more information, contact Randy Wood, Vice President of Sales (800) 548-6837 or www.tenpointcrossbows.com.

 

12-Wicked Ridge Raider CLS
  The Raider crossbow by Wicked Ridge has a 180 lb draw weight and launches its arrow at right around 330 feet per second with 101.6 fp of kinetic energy.  The Raider features an economically executed variation of TenPoint’s powerful Compact Limb System™ (CLS) bow assembly. Unlike TenPoint’s one-piece CLS riser and foot stirrup, the Raider comes with a detachable, lightweight, coated aluminum foot stirrup. Its 12-inch IsoTaper Limbs™ are fitted with MR™ cams and D-75 string and cables. Together, these features create a smooth-handling, high-performance crossbow that shoots 330 fps with 101.6 foot-pounds of kinetic energy.  With its NEW CLS bow assembly and an injection-molded composite semi-skeletal Verton® stock and ACRAANGLE™ barrel assembly, the Raider weighs in at 7-pounds. In addition, the stock is fitted with a safety-engineered winged fore-grip designed to help prevent finger and thumb injuries.  The Raider CLS comes equipped with a TenPoint™ 3x Multi-Line™ Scope and, like all Wicked Ridge models, it features TenPoint’s patented DFI™ (dry-fire-inhibitor) and patented 3.5-pound PowerTouch™ trigger. Equipped with the patented ACU-52™, the Raider CLS is double-dip fluid imaged in Mossy Oak’s® popular Break-Up Infinity® camo pattern. For more information, contact Randy Wood, Vice President of Sales (800) 548-6837 or www.tenpointcrossbows.com.

 

 

13-Winchester Stallion 
  The Stallion crossbow by Winchester Archery  has a 165 lb draw weight and launches its arrow at right around 350 feet per second with 110 fp of kinetic energy.  It has a 12.5” power stroke and measures 17” wide axel to axel.  The Stallion crossbow highlights the patent pending 12/277,860 Accu-Speed Technology (AST-X) cams to the patent pending Ultra Match stainless steel trigger.  It has a padded pistol grip, forearm and cheekpiece and weighs 7 lbs.  The Stallion has a retracted cocking platform, a bull-pup stock configuration, along with a fully machined barrel and riser.  It has limb and string dampeners, and our sophisticated dual 3K carbon rod string stop system making it one of the quietest crossbows available.  For more information about the Stallion visit the Winchester website at www.winchesterarchery.com.

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HOW MANY POINTS!?

by Steve Flores 5. May 2012 07:25
Steve Flores

These photos were recently sent to us from a gentleman in Colorado Springs. Apparently, this big guy (on the left) has been seen walking the streets on a regular basis. WOW!!! 

Deer seem to do funny things when they are in velvet; displaying behavior not often seen while in “hard-horn”. This is a perfect example.

Three questions come to mind when I look at this photo.
1. How many points is this buck actually carrying?
2. Would the folks of Colorado Springs frown on someone (me) for hunting within city limits?
3. Could a Lone Wolf Assassin fit in one of those trees?
I guess I will never know the answer to those questions. But, I have a feeling someone has already laid out a strategy to put this buck within bow range come fall. Bowhunting.com will keep you posted on any developing details regarding this buck. 

What do you think? Sound off in the Forum Section and share your thoughts on this mega-buck.

Categories: Blog | Current News | Pro Staff

Real Work Lies Ahead for Wisconsin Deer Hunting Makeover

by Patrick Durkin 19. April 2012 09:42
Patrick Durkin

Deer hunters who chronically crab about the Department of Natural Resources were cheering and toasting Dr. James Kroll – the “deer czar” – in early April for his harsh preliminary report on the DNR’s deer-management program.

Meanwhile, the agency’s defenders glared. They attacked the report and Kroll personally. They said this proves he just wants the $150,000 fee, and that he repeated every bad thing Gov. Scott Walker and his toadies dictated about the DNR’s deer program. Not only that, but Kroll’s an egotistical second-guesser who wants to build 8-foot fences around every 5-, 40- and 160-acre hunting property in Wisconsin.

Sigh. Welcome to Year 75 (or thereabouts) of Wisconsin’s mind-numbing deer scrum.

Much work remains before the three-man review team releases its recommendations for revamping Wisconsin's deer program in late June.

Seriously, folks: Stop strutting and pouting. In three months, no one will remember this report. By then we’ll have the final report to cheer or condemn. The sides could switch roles if June’s report turns all those grins and frowns upside down.

Or maybe DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp will email outraged press releases to support her wildlife staff, and condemn the Ph.D.s – Kroll and teammates Gary Alt and Dave Guynn – for being rude. After all, she ripped Democrats and Sen. Dale Schultz in March for allegedly disrespecting the DNR while dooming the proposed Gogebic taconite mine near Mellen.

Of course, few realized Stepp was merely defending her environmental-regs staff against doubts they could protect natural resources near the mine. She said so in a statement to skeptical DNR staff hours later.

In fact, to show Kroll’s team she has her biologists’ backs, Stepp could reuse part of her mining statement, and replace “Democrat state senators” with the trio’s names. Try this: “In the end, don't we trust regulating agencies to do their job? On my travels throughout the state, I have found that most … citizens … trust the DNR to do its job. Why don't Kroll, Alt and Guynn?”

Many Wisconsin hunters have long distrusted the Department of Natural Resources' deer-herd estimates.

OK. Never mind.

Trouble is, many hunters have never trusted state biologists to manage deer, and Stepp won’t challenge those doing so now. She even sat silently as the Legislature stripped the DNR of its most powerful deer-management tools this past year.

But maybe Stepp senses futility in fighting. After all, our hunting forefathers of the 1930s and ’40s even scorned Aldo Leopold, the University of Wisconsin’s first professor of wildlife management. A hunters’ rights newspaper, “Save Wisconsin Deer,” slammed the iconic professor for backing “the infamous and bloody 1943 deer slaughter.” The paper also claimed Leopold admitted his deer estimates “were PURE GUESSWORK.”

Imagine: Poor Aldo was ruining “our deer” before biologists even invented the DNR’s demonized Sex-Age-Kill formula for estimating herd sizes.

Hunters will be called on to help with more boots-on-the-ground research.

But make no mistake: Kroll’s team is correct in saying this entire issue centers on endless arguing over numerical goals and estimates impossible to explain to laymen. If hunters don’t see deer, they blame predators and deer estimates. And before wolves returned the past 15 years, some blamed the Chippewa.

That doesn’t mean the SAK is useless. It just means DNR biologists should leave SAK estimates atop their desks for historical, professional reference. Arguing its art, data and formulas outside the office is a fool’s errand. And yet they’d persist if given the chance.

Kroll’s team correctly emphasizes these needs: more in-depth habitat analysis, better forest management for deer, and hunter-researchers to document browse damage and other deer-related field work.

Dr. James C. Kroll, Stephen F. Austin University

In launching those efforts, perhaps we could intelligently express deer-management goals with criteria such as harvest levels, success rates, deer condition, crop-damage claims, deer-vehicle collisions, and forest health and diversity. People can see, touch and understand such things.

What Kroll’s team can’t ignore, however, is deer baiting. Their report lists the top 15 concerns hunters posted on Kroll’s Web site. Three (20 percent) involve baiting. Of the top five concerns, “Come to a decision on baiting” was No. 4. Yet the report ignores baiting while addressing the other top concerns: “too many predators,” “DNR doesn’t listen,” “inaccurate population estimates” and “eliminate earn-a-buck.”

Was this preliminary report unfair to the DNR? Maybe, but by bluntly listing the problems, Kroll has been able to hold his town meetings (April 16-21) and focus on solutions, not endless grievances.

Those meetings and the recommendations that follow will truly determine if Kroll’s team earns the money Wisconsin’s hunters are paying them.

 

 

 

 

Wisconsin Right to Add Wolf Hunting Season

by Patrick Durkin 19. April 2012 09:21
Patrick Durkin

Wisconsin lawmakers did the right thing in March by adding the gray wolf to Wisconsin’s list of wildlife that can be hunted and trapped.

With wolf numbers beyond 800 and still climbing – and with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ proven record of scientifically regulating furbearer seasons for foxes, coyotes and bobcats – it’s sensible and consistent to allow wolf hunting and trapping.

The new law also lets the DNR’s bureau of endangered resources off the financial hook when wolves kill pets, cattle, calves, horses, hunting dogs, domestic deer and other livestock. Future wolf-depredation payments will come solely from fees paid by hunters and trappers wishing to hunt wolves.

Predator hunting tends to require serious specialists. Generalists tend to quit when a hunt proves difficult.

Those fees will consist of $10 applications to enter drawings for wolf permits, and $50 (residents) and $250 (nonresidents) licenses for those drawing permits. Those fees will fund depredation payments as long as gray wolves stay off state and federal endangered species lists.

In other words, wolves remain with deer, bears, wild turkeys and Canada geese as Wisconsin’s only animals inspiring government-run entitlement programs. What if a raccoon drowns your Dalmatian or a coyote kills your cat? Sorry. Not the state’s problems.

For more than 20 years, farmers losing crops to browsing deer have been eligible for depredation payments bankrolled by hunting-license fees. Likewise, since 1985, farmers and other folks could receive state-paid death benefits when wolves ate their pet, livestock or other “property.”

License fees paid by hunters will be used to compensate people who lose pets to wolves.

Houndsmen can still seek compensation if wolves kill their dogs while they hunt bears, bobcats or raccoons. But if they’re hunting wolves with hounds when their dog dies in action, the state won’t compensate.

Most noteworthy is that the DNR’s endangered-resources program will no longer pay for misbehaving wolves. That’s also consistent and sensible. The bureau has never had much money, and yet it kept making wolf-depredation payments even after Wisconsin delisted wolves in 2004 and the feds first delisted them in 2007.

Why did the endangered-resources bureau pay nearly $887,500 for wolf-killed pets and livestock the past seven years when wolves were no longer endangered or threatened? Because state law required it.

You might recall that former state Sen. Kevin Shibilski, D-Stevens Point, is a bear-hunting houndsman. Shibilski – there’s no “I” in team but there’s three in Shibilski – wrote the provision that states: “For the purpose of payment of damage claims, the gray wolf shall be considered an endangered or threatened species regardless of whether the wolf is listed as such.”

Wolf licenses will cost $50 for residents and $250 for nonresidents.

The new law repeals that sneaky raid of the endangered-resources program, which has compensated increasingly more wolf damage recently. Although annual payouts averaged $127,000 the past seven years, they nearly tripled from $106,000 in 2009 to $300,000 in 2011, and are expected to hit $320,000 this year.

Meanwhile, the endangered-resources program suffered steady declines the past decade in its two primary funding sources: tax check-offs and specialty license plates. Perhaps it’s coincidence, but taxpayers now have nine additional check-off options for charitable donations, and motorists now have nearly 30 novelty license-plate options.

Going forward, lawmakers are gambling there will be enough interest in wolf hunting and trapping to fund and reduce depredation costs. Who knows how many Wisconsin hunters will want wolf permits? Trapping and predator hunting tend to attract serious specialists. Even if initial interest in wolves is high, dabblers and generalists will likely fade away when permit allocations are minuscule and wolf hunting proves difficult.

Still, here’s one estimate: A DNR study of the wolf bill’s fiscal impacts notes that Idaho issued 26,428 licenses for its first wolf hunt in 2009. Idaho closed the season when reaching its quota. But if interest in wolves parallels bears among Wisconsin hunters, about 100,000 might apply for a permit.

With scenarios ranging from 25,000 to 100,000 applicants, wolf hunting would generate $250,000 to $1 million in application fees. But if the DNR is conservative and issues, say 200 licenses, that’s only $10,000 more.

Those numbers suggest we’ll see tremendous shortfalls in wolf-depredation payments. If so, the new law makes no provision for the unfunded balance. Compensation payments will be made on a prorated, i.e., discounted, basis.

While this new law might prove good for wolves and Wisconsin, don’t expect widespread joy and satisfaction from those losing pets and livestock to wolves..

 

 

 

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., 

 

 

 

 

Coyotes Prey Heavily on Southeast’s Deer Fawns

by Patrick Durkin 19. April 2012 08:46
Patrick Durkin

SANDESTIN, Fla. – If you’re a Great Lakes States bowhunter who blames every apparent deer shortage on predators, be thankful you don’t hunt parts of the Southeastern United States. Coyotes in some Southeastern regions prey so heavily on newborn whitetails that less than one in five fawns lives four months.

And if you’re a Great Lakes wildlife biologist discussing predators with your colleagues, ask yourself the last time one of them told you to “Get with it!” or “Get your head out of (long pause) the sand” in public.

Well, many wildlife managers talked that way a few weeks ago at the 35th annual Southeast Deer Study Group meeting, which attracted about 325 deer biologists and researchers from universities, wildlife agencies, and timber companies across the South and northward. I’ve been attending this annual gathering since 1991 because it’s a great source for the latest research on white-tailed deer.

In some parts of the whitetail's Southeastern range, many fawns don’t live to see their third month.

At a forum I attended one night, a speaker asked the audience if coyotes were having significant impacts in their areas. About half the wildlife pros raised their hands. Minutes later, John Kilgo, a wildlife researcher with the USDA Forest Service in South Carolina said:

“My guess is that the skeptics haven’t yet seen places that once had deer but don’t anymore. The data we collected at the Savannah River Site (South Carolina) showed it took a 75 percent harvest reduction by hunters to level the population decline. Also, preliminary research doesn’t show much promise for mitigating coyote impacts on deer by improving and expanding fawning cover, or increasing buffer foods.”

Ten years ago, most Southeastern biologists never thought they’d be worrying about coyotes, which aren’t native to the region. But as coyotes moved in the past 30 years, they adapted, reproduced, and learned newborn fawns were easy prey.

Coyotes can kill deer in winter, but do most of their predation when fawns are less than a week old.

“Coyotes are increasing at rates that remind me of what our deer herds did in the 1980s and ’90s,” said Dr. Charles Ruth, deer project supervisor for South Carolina’s Department of Natural Resources. “When I talked to folks 10 years ago, I often said if I could get my foot on our deer herd, I would pull out my knife. Well, I’m kind of having to chill out on that approach.”

Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of predator-deer impacts is their wide variability within regions and states. When Kilgo reviewed pre-2005 predation studies across the United States, he found coyote-inflicted mortality on deer averaged 16 percent in Northern states and 44 percent in Southern states.

Black bears killed more fawns than coyotes did in a Wisconsin study.

“The North’s highest mortality rate was 38 percent,” he said. “That doesn’t even reach the South’s average,” he said.

But it’s not consistent across the South, either. A 2008-2011 study on northern Virginia’s Quantico Marine Corps base found 60 percent of fawns lived past three months, and more died of natural causes, 53 percent, than predation, 18 percent.

But in 2011, in the first year of a study at the Fort Bragg Military Institution in North Carolina, researchers reported only five of 27 fawns (18.5 percent) survived their first four months, with 15 of the 22 dead fawns (68 percent) killed by coyotes or bobcats.

How do those studies compare to similar research by the Wisconsin DNR? To refresh, one study site is a 3,500-square mile Northern-forest setting in Sawyer, Price and Rusk counties. The other is a 2,300-square mile east-central farmland setting in Shawano, Waupaca and Outagamie counties.

A Michigan study is finding coyotes to be the whitetail's No. 1 predation risk.

During the first year (2011) of Wisconsin’s Northern study, 27 percent of ID-tagged fawns (eight of 30) survived seven months, with 17 of 30 (57 percent) killed by predators. Five others died of starvation or other causes. The top predator was black bears, with five fawn kills. Unknown predators killed four; hunters, three; bobcats, two; unknown canid, two; and coyote, one.

For perspective, a 1973-1983 study in Minnesota’s northeastern forests found annual fawn survival was 31 percent, not significantly better.

But in the first year of Wisconsin’s east-central farmland study, 62.5 percent of ID-tagged fawns (30 of 48) survived seven months, with eight of the 18 deaths (44 percent) caused by predators. The others died of starvation, six (33 percent); vehicle collisions, three (16.5 percent); and unknown causes, one. The top predator was coyotes, with four fawn kills. Hunters killed two; black bears, one; and unknown, one.

Meanwhile, researchers in Michigan’s south-central Upper Peninsula estimated fawn survival at 37 percent in January 2011after two years of study in Menominee County. With three years of data now in, researchers report 47 of their ID-tagged fawns were killed by four-legged predators.

 Coyotes killed 22 fawns (47 percent of kills), followed by bobcats, 12 (25.5 percent), unknown predators, five (11 percent), black bears, four (8.5 percent) and wolves, four (8.5 percent).

 What to make of all this? Few hunters or biologists will find much comfort or scientific certainty in such varying, ever-changing numbers.

Politics of Bowhunting, Deer Hunting Easy Compared to Crane Hunting

by Patrick Durkin 19. April 2012 03:34
Patrick Durkin

Deer hunting sparks some of the ugliest political fights you’ll ever see, whether it concerns antlerless hunts, deer baiting or opening our archery season to crossbows.

But to see true culture clashes, nothing compares to efforts to open hunting seasons on mourning doves or sandhill cranes. OK, wolves too. But that’s another blog.

Sandhill cranes and Canada geese feed in a central Wisconsin field.

There’s no reasoning with many folks from the birding community when you calmly note their opposition lacks logic. Take Wisconsin, for example. You’d expect that with nine humdrum mourning dove seasons behind us that Wisconsinites could politely discuss a hunt for sandhill cranes.

But no. Mention a sandhill hunt, and folks still cock their fists and get sideways, even though no one’s life crumbled from dove hunting. No one seems to remember that spite vanished like spiced dove breasts on hor devours trays after dove season opened in 2003.

Likewise, if we established a sandhill crane season tomorrow, we’d be yawning by Labor Day. But in proposing a crane hunt this past winter, Rep. Joel Kleefisch, R-Oconomowoc, did Wisconsin hunters no favors by citing crop damage as a hunting justification.

If foraging cranes trouble Kleefisch and his fellow legislators, why did they abolish earn-a-buck rules for deer hunting? No critter rivals deer for damaging crops and plants, and no program whacked whitetails like earn-a-buck.

Sandhill cranes are distinguished by their red-capped head.

In killing EAB, lawmakers parroted my fellow hunters who claimed there aren’t enough deer, and that hunters aren’t pest-control officers. But when the Associated Press asked Marshfield’s Marlin Laidlaw, chairman of the Wisconsin Conservation Congress’s agricultural damage committee, about Kleefisch’s proposal, Laidlaw said sandhill cranes are out of control:

“The problem with the people who don’t understand wildlife and wildlife management, they join an organization and fall in love with a particular species. As far as they’re concerned, you can’t have too many. They just don’t get it. You’ve got to control populations.”

Hmm. Was Laidlaw talking about sandhill cranes or white-tailed deer? For years he loudly opposed EAB and the Department of Natural Resources’ efforts to reduce deer numbers.

We can agree, however, that most people don’t hunt to provide the public free pest-control services. We hunt because it’s exciting and challenging, and provides lean free-range meat no store can match. Granted, when the DNR regulates hunting to prevent critters from becoming a danger or nuisance, that’s a bonus; even a necessity. But it doesn’t motivate most hunters.

 Sandhill cranes can be viewed as both a majestic bird and great table fare.

Meanwhile, protectionists neither help cranes nor their cause by blindly opposing a hunt. Karen Etter Hale, a vice president of Wisconsin’s Audubon Council, told the AP: “If hunters want to further damage their reputation by pushing for yet another species to hunt, then that’s what they should do.”

Yep, that’s right. Stay on your side of the tracks, people. Folks like Etter Hale said the same thing about dove hunting in Wisconsin a decade ago. But a hunting season for a plentiful, large-bodied, good-eating bird isn’t about reputations. It’s about reminding our timid DNR of its historical mission to promote public hunting and fishing when self-sustaining species can provide meat, fur and recreation.

Meanwhile, Madison’s Audubon Society posted a “Sandhill Crane Hunt Alert” on its Web site, encouraging members to contact legislators.

Sigh. Why do people with similar goals hate working together? Hunters and bird-huggers both donate to habitat-conservation causes. Both smile and perk their ears at goose music and crane bugles. And both quote Aldo Leopold more than the Bible.

Well, here’s a Leopold quote bird-folks ignore: “Game management is the art of making land produce sustained annual crops of wild game for recreational use.”

That’s the opening sentence of Leopold’s seminal book “Game Management,” which guided North America’s efforts to replenish the birds and mammals we nearly wiped out 100 years ago through unregulated development, market hunting and subsistence hunting.

In Leopold’s spirit, Etter Hale, Laidlaw and other conservation leaders should seize crane hunting as a chance to work together. First, they should join forces to establish the season, and require hunt applicants to pay $15 and those receiving a permit to pay $25 more. If opponents don’t like hunting, they can apply for permits and burn what they receive.

Next, the state could earmark fees for the International Crane Foundation, and equal amounts for the DNR’s endangered resources bureau, which needs help. Its 2011 budget was $5.9 million, most of it from donations.

That’s only 12 percent of the Wisconsin DNR’s combined budgets for its fisheries bureau, $26.5 million; and wildlife bureau, $21 million. Most of those budgets are funded by anglers, trappers and hunters.

Birders should be emulating that generosity rather than demanding government impose their values on everyone. Besides, as Leopold proved, people can be both hunters and bird-lovers. They can see sandhill cranes both as majestic birds and flying rib-eyes. They acknowledge -- and embrace – life’s apparent contradictions.

The great ones, like Leopold, make it look easy.

 

For some reason, hunters often struggle to find satisfaction

by Patrick Durkin 15. March 2012 00:48
Patrick Durkin

For all the fun, challenge and satisfaction we find in scouting, hunting sheds and bowhunting deer, elk and other critters, I’m often struck how often guys tell me they’re unhappy with the neighbors, deer numbers or rut activity.

Research shows that "nonconsumptive" recreationists – such as hikers, bikers, campers and rowers – report more satisfaction from their activities than do hunters, anglers and mushroom hunters.

It seems I’m not alone. In fact, here’s something to think about: If hunters, anglers and mushroom pickers want to return home feeling happier and more satisfied after every outing, we might want to take up hiking, camping, canoeing or birdwatching.

Like it or not, research consistently shows “consumptive” recreationists – hunter-gatherers – report significantly lower satisfaction ratings than our “nonconsumptive” counterparts.

When Professor Jerry Vaske at Colorado State University reported this finding in 1982, he also predicted it wouldn’t change much over time. Why? Probably because hunter-gatherers typically have specific goals like shooting a deer or catching a perch. Further, even if we choose great spots with higher odds of reaching our goals, we can’t control deer activity or perch feeding habits.

Nonconsumptive recreationists don’t have such exact goals and expectations. Plus, they usually have more control in determining their outing’s satisfaction, whether it’s a campsite’s location, a trail’s scenery, a hike’s length, or a rapids’ degree of difficulty. They can choose outings that best match their skills and interests, which increases satisfaction.

Sure, hunters and anglers also enjoy violet sunrises, fog-shrouded valleys and smoky-gold tamaracks, but these are desserts, not necessarily main courses.

Friends enjoy a campfire after a full day of bowhunting elk in Idaho.

And although we photograph snow-draped cedars for their beauty, we judge the snow’s usefulness by whether it helps us see deer, find tracks, or hear hoofsteps. Likewise, we might appreciate a cool breeze on hot afternoons, but then we’ll curse it for ruining our casts, blowing our scent to deer, or pushing our boat off biting fish.

Too many standards. Too little control. Too many distractions and failed expectations.

And ultimately, too much room for frustration.

So when Professor Vaske recently updated and expanded his 1982 research, no wonder he found hunters and anglers still aren’t as satisfied as bikers, climbers, kayakers, runners and other nonconsumptive recreationists. This time, Vaske and his research assistant, Jennifer Roemer, analyzed 102 studies – 57 consumptive and 45 nonconsumptive – that examined satisfaction levels of participants in a wide range of outdoor activities from 1975 through 2005.

Even mushroom hunters tend to report less overall satisfaction in the outdoors than do campers.

Despite the large sample, the results differed little from his 1982 research. This shouldn’t surprise anyone, but I’m guessing some bowhunters and fishermen will take it personally.

Yes, not everyone feels dissatisfied. Many of us enjoy every outing, and don’t need to arrow a big buck to feel content. It says so on our bumper stickers “The worst day bowhunting beats the best day working.”

Unfortunately, we aren’t the majority. When researchers compile data and cross-check answers, they often find things that separate fibs from fact, and wishes from reality.

Even though birders report greater satisfaction than do hunters, how many of us would trade bowhunting for birdwatching?

Vaske notes that while hunters and anglers have other goals that influence satisfaction -- such as camaraderie, solitude and being alone in nature – the research found these things were “partial substitutes” and of “secondary importance.” In fact, “seeing, shooting and bagging game” remain the most important factors for evaluating hunting and fishing experiences, and “the strongest predictors of overall satisfaction.”

In contrast, the goals of campers, backpackers and other nonconsumptive types are more general, Vaske writes. They, too, might feel motivated to test skills, seek solitude, experience nature and spend time with friends. These goals, however, aren’t as specific as catching a meal of bluegills or shooting a doe for the family’s larder. Therefore, nonconsumptive goals are “more easily substituted if one goal is not satisfied.”

Even when some of us go snowshoeing, our main interest is scouting for deer sign.

In other words, it’s probably asking too much of hunting – on land or in the water – to satisfy all hunters all the time. For example, when Wisconsin deer hunters rated their experiences the past 10 years of record-setting seasons, you would have thought some were being water-boarded.

After setting the Wisconsin-record deer kill (528,494) in 2000, the majority opinion – 40.8 percent of hunters – judged the season’s quality “about average.” After Wisconsin’s No. 2 gun-deer season (413,794 kills) in 2004, the majority – 52 percent – ranked its quality “low.” And after tallying Wisconsin’s No. 3 gun season (402,563 kills) in 2007, the majority – 53.6 percent – also ranked it “low.”

Worse, some think it’s the government’s responsibility to satisfy and make them happy by supplying more deer, even as they protest taxes, threaten license boycotts, and demand government get off their backs.

Unfortunately, if anyone thinks lawmakers can deliver long-term hunting and fishing satisfaction, their frustrations and disappointments are just beginning.

Mathews Heli M Bow Review

by Steve Flores 26. February 2012 11:01
Steve Flores

For someone living and chasing big-game in the rugged, mountainous backdrop of southern West Virginia, I can honestly say that “excess baggage” is a major liability when it comes to being a successful bowhunter. In order to enjoy any type of consistent success, I am constantly refining not only my hunting techniques, but my physical condition as well. You see, the mountains don’t care if I show up out of shape. They will show me little mercy. Therefore, it is imperative that I strive to stay as lean and agile as possible----if I want to enjoy myself in the timber and fill more tags in the process. These same principles also apply to my equipment. 

In my opinion, it seems counterproductive to focus my efforts on weight training and sheading excess body fat in the off-season, only to turn around and load myself down with heavy hunting gear once opening day arrives. This includes clothing that isn’t hefty and/or bulky, and a treestand system that doesn’t break my back. It also consists of the very weapon I hold in my hand when the moment of truth arrives. Recently, I had the pleasure of realizing that the latest offering from Mathews Inc. is the perfect weapon for that moment.

 

The new Mathews Helim is the culmination of 20 years of Mathews innovation including new technologies and features poised to make you a better bowhunter.

The New 2012 Mathews Helim is the ideal bow for those who choose not to be weighed down by their equipment….literally. It is the answer for bowhunters who push themselves to the limit and expect their bow to be a positive factor in the journey “getting there”; rather than a burden that diminishes their chances of success by slowing them down. As the name implies, this year’s flagship model out of Sparta WI, has to be held to be believed. But hold on! Before you start thinking that an overall reduction in weight is the only highlight of this bow, think again. The new Helim is packed with 20 years’ worth of Mathews innovation; just waiting to make you a better bowhunter and archer.

Light Done Right
Anyone who has followed my writing, either on this site or in magazine print, knows that I am an advocate for a heavy bow. To me, a heavy bow rig is harder to torque and stays on target much easier than a light-weight setup. Therefore, I’ve always made the necessary sacrifices in order to reap the benefits of a heavy bow. However, the new HeliM doesn’t force me to make sacrifices.

 

The accuracy of the Helim is superb, despite the fact that it is so lightweight. Traditionally, a heavier bow is harder to torque, thus making it more accurate. This bow goes against that logic proving it is as accurate as it is light.

Surprisingly, while it goes against my every thought regarding light-weight bows, the Helim still performs much like a heavier setup. In my opinion, that is true innovation; regardless of the name on the bow. Most noteworthy, is how stable this bow feels while at full draw. This inherent stability is indeed a major contributor to the tight arrow groups I consistently experienced while shooting the bow.

Reduction Measures
The moment I pulled the Helim out of the box I was in shock at how light this bow really is. This reduction in weight is due to several factors. However, while each factor may lend a hand in reducing the overall heft of the bow, they do not do it at the cost of functionality. In fact, the same Mathews excellence that has defined their bows for more than two decades can be found in this latest offering.

The new GeoGrid Riser
In 2010, the Z7 introduced us all to the Grid-Lock riser. That same concept takes a leap forward with the arrival of the new Helim. Although this new bow carries a similar Grid-Lock pattern throughout the riser, a closer look will reveal a more rhythmical flow; aptly called GeoGrid. The grids on the Helim riser actually turn in the same direction as the handle of the bow and also the curvature of the riser. This new change not only affects the overall appearance of the bow, it also makes it lighter, while still maintaining structural integrity.  Also, the traditional mounting hardware that allows attachment of the Mathews Spider Web quiver to the bow has been replaced with a lighter composite material; which reduces weight even further.

 

While the rhythmic flow of the new Geo-Grid riser decreases overall bow weight, it also allows the riser, and essentially the bow, to almost disappear when placed in a wilderness backdrop.

Lighter Vibration Innovation
Ever since the Harmonic Dampers were invented, Mathews’ shooters have reaped the benefits of placing a weight inside an elastomer wheel in order reduce recoil vibration within the riser. The result is a bow that is smoother and more pleasurable to shoot. This same technology eventually spawned the Harmonic Stabilizer. Working on the same concept, the weight inside the elastomer wheel is purposely tuned to be out of phase with the vibrations emitted from longer riser, parallel limb bows, such as the 2011 Z-Series line of bows, and can dampen more than 75% of residual vibration. The new Harmonic Stabilizer Lite, found on the 2012 Helim, offers the same performance as the original, yet is nearly 70% lighter!

 

Despite a major reduction in weight, this proven sound and vibration eliminating technology performs just like its heavier predecessor.

Dead and Smooth
Most of us already understand the advantages of incorporating a string stop to squelch noise and vibration when the bowstring jumps forward. For 2012, Mathews took it’s highly effective Dead End String Stop and changed the shape in order to shave the weight. This latest version is noticeably less “blocky” than the original, which results in weight reduction, while still doing the job it was designed to do. Another noticeable difference is the location of the Dead End String Stop Lite. Unlike previous versions, this string stop sits closer to the single cam, rather that slightly below the bow grip. This change allows the bottom String Suppressor to essentially be eliminated; thus, further reducing overall mass.

When it comes to how smoothly a bow draws, one of the main contributing factors has always been cam design. However, Mathews added another factor to smoothness when they introduced the Roller Guard. The roller guard, another Mathews first, dramatically reduces system friction by guiding bow cables with low friction wheels. This technology was drastically improved with the unveiling of the Reverse Assist Roller Guard found on the Z series of Mathews bows. The roller guard on the Helim sports the same benefits as its predecessors (super smooth draw); only it does it on a slimmed down, highly refined support arm. And while this support arm may not carry the same curvature and appearance as previous offerings, the simplified aesthetics perfectly match the simplicity found throughout the string stop as well as the rest of the bow. 

 

 

 Although the Reverse Assist Roller Guard and Dead End String Stop may look different, they still do what there were meant to do….only better.

High Grade Handle
One of the most distinguishing trademarks of a Mathews bow, other than the single cam and the Harmonic Dampers, is the wood grip. And over the years, shooters have watched this handle go through its fair share of refinements. Most notable is a change in the overall shape of the grip in order to provide the most stable, torque-free, shooting experience.

In addition to the signature wood handle, Mathews also offers the Focus Grip which is a synthetic rubber grip made to keep pressure concentrated to the center of the grip, thus reducing hand torque.

For 2012, the Helim grip is the thinner throughout the throat and narrower in the palm-swell area, but it comes in a highly attractive, Gunstock Grade wood. In my opinion, it is the most attractive grip of any Mathews bow to date; and it is a pleasure to shoot. Also available is the “Focus” grip which helps minimize hand torque in the event of poor hand placement by keeping pressure concentrated in the center of the grip, unlike typical flat top grips that move pressure to the outside edge which increases hand torque.

Manageable Horsepower
Historically speaking, speed has always come with a price. Yet, bowhunters seem reluctant to accept this hard truth…myself included. However, thanks to the many technologies listed here, Mathews continues to chip away at the tradeoffs between blazing-fast arrow speeds and an accurate, vibration-free, smooth-drawing bow. 

The power plant for the 2012 Helim comes from the all new Helim Cam. Culminating 20 years of Mathews innovation, this new cam is surprisingly smooth to draw, despite the fact that is propels arrows at an IBO speed of 332 feet per second! I say surprisingly, but in reality this type of performance has become synonymous with Mathews. When it comes to producing bows that are fast, yet easy to shoot, they are at the forefront. The Helim is a testament to that belief.

While the new Helim Cam may be a derivative of the Z series cams, it draws much differently than its ancestors. To begin with, this cam doesn’t hold its peak draw weight all the way through the cycle. Instead, Mathews designed the cam with a subtle slope in the draw. The result is a bow that pulls smoothly from the start and doesn’t feel as though it is “staking” throughout the draw-cycle. 

Manageable horsepower has always been a trademark of Mathews bows and the new Helim cam stays true to that claim. With ultra-smooth characteristics, and a seamless transition throughout the draw cycle, the Helim is speed “done right”.

Even more pleasing, is the seamless transition through the valley and into the backwall; which doesn’t have the sudden “drop-off” or “hump” that most speed bows poses. Having shot those types of cams, I can say that the “hump” in the draw is very distracting (at least to me) and usually requires more effort to pull back. This cam displays none of those shortcomings.

In addition to a super smooth draw cycle, the Helim Cam comes with a draw stop located on the outer edge of the cam. When the cam rotates, this rubber coated draw stop quietly contacts the lower limb which provides a solid backwall. While the Helim does have a short valley, this, along with the draw stop, will actually make you a better shooter because it conditions you to pull “through” the shot; rather than relaxing and letting the string creep forward just before release. This can happen when shooting bows that have a larger valley and allow you to creep forward and then pull back before releasing the arrow.

Final Thoughts
To be honest, I was skeptical with regards to just how accurately this bow was going to shoot. Like I said, I prefer a “heavier” bow and my initial thoughts were that while the Helim might be light as a feather, the downside would be increased noise and vibration along with a reduction in shooting accuracy; especially at longer distances. That simply just wasn’t the case. Arrow groups remained tight, even out to 50 yards and the Helim is as quiet and vibration-free as it is astonishingly light…..Simply amazing. 

 

Like every Mathews I've ever owned, the fit, finish, and overall craftmanship on the 2012 Mathews Helim is superb!

Featured Specs

IBO Rating: Up to 332 fps 
Axle-to-Axle: 30" 
Brace Height: 7" 
Draw Weight: 40-70 & 65 lbs 
Bow Weight: 3.5 lbs 
Let-off: 80% 
Draw Lengths: 26" - 30" Half Sizes: 26.5" - 29.5" 
String/Cable: String: 88"/Cable: 32 3/4" 
Riser Length: 26 1/8" 
Cams: Helim Cam™ & QCA
* All specifications are approximate.

Mathews Technology

Monkey Tails
Limb Turret
Parallel Limb Design
SE5 Composite Limb System
SphereLock Pivoting Limb Cup System
String Grub
String Supressor
Mathews Genuine Bowstring
Ball Bearing Idler Wheel

The New Whitetail Slam - Just what you're looking for?

by Steve Flores 21. February 2012 09:20
Steve Flores

Those familiar with general record keeping organizations have likely heard the term “Slam” used in reference to animals taken within a specific species.  Many examples of this exist for all of the major big-game animals as well as turkey. Now, passionate “deer hunters” can join in the record keeping process by registering their deer, big or small, with the “Whitetail Slam” organization.

Meet the latest record-keeping organization for hunters interested in completing the Whitetail Slam!

This new organization allows users to keep track of the deer they have harvested (online via the website) from the 8 “pre-selected” regions. Participants can earn “Whitetail Slam” status or “Ultimate Whitetail Slam” status; while at the same time qualifying for various prizes and hunting packages. And, it doesn’t matter when the deer was harvested. Simply fill out the registration form and your first buck is “free”. After that, an additional fee must be paid for each deer registered. 

 Different people find value in different things. Bowhunting is no different. Do you find your "trophy" or "record" in a number....or in the overall experience surrounding the hunt?

Here is how it works.
· Harvest a buck or enter bucks from years past, from any or all 8 Whitetail SLAM Buck sub-groups (Any legal buck qualifies)
· Register any 4 bucks and earn a Whitetail SLAM.
· Register all 8 bucks for the Ultimate Whitetail SLAM.
· Hunters Achieving the Whitetail SLAM or Ultimate Whitetail SLAM will be honored with a framed certificate of achievement and entered into the Whitetail SLAM archive and annual publication in the year they register their SLAM, and will receive an official "SLAMMER" achievement package commemorating their successful completion of the Whitetail SLAM or Ultimate Whitetail SLAM.


* These successful hunters may also be recognized on Whitetail SLAM TV, magazine, website or other Whitetail SLAM features for their accomplishments and dedication to mastering the skills of the hunt.
* Enter details and a photo of your buck(s) online & pay a one-time administrative processing fee for each buck entered.
* Set up your personal SLAM Page featuring one or more bucks from any 8 SLAM categories to personalize and feature your hunts with photos, stories, strategies, gear and tactics used!
* Enter ONLINE our monthly free grand prize giveaway = dream hunts filmed by Tom Miranda Outdoors for feature on WhitetailSLAM TV on NBC SPORTS and Sportsman channel, will be given away each month.

Is the value of a hunt measured by the size or score of the rack or is it found in the overall experience?

According to the webpage, “Whitetail SLAM” was created as a means to organize and recognize the uniqueness of regional whitetail groups and the intrinsic value and worthy pursuit of each.

Take a look at “Whitetail Slam” and let me know what you think about this latest record keeping method. Is it good for hunting? Is it good for you? What is it really all about? Only you can answer those questions. I have my own opinions but I would love to hear what the readers of bowhunting.com think about the subject. Go ahead……sound off!

Categories: Blog | Current News | Pro Staff

Are Burmese Pythons Killing YOUR Deer?

by Cody Altizer 13. February 2012 14:56
Cody Altizer

Deer hunters and managers all across the country know that predator control should be taken very seriously if you want to maximize the deer hunting on your property.  This means properly managing coyotes, wolves, bears, bobcats and snakes.  Wait, what?  Snakes?  Yes, more specifically giant snakes.  Burmese pythons, in fact, have set up show in the Florida Everglades and dramatically reducing the fragile ecosystem’s local deer herd.   

South Florida Water Management District employees found this 16 ft. Burmese python on a tree island while clearing off non-native plants.  The animal was immediately killed.

Burmese pythons are a non-native snake species that are threatening not only whitetail deer, but other various types of wildlife in the Florida Everglades.  Likely released into the wild as pets some 30 years ago, these sneaky serpents have become a major problem in the Everglades as recently as the year 2000.  Since then, rabbit, fox, bobcat, possums, raccoons and whitetail deer numbers have dropped dramatically.  

The snake measured 44 inches across it's stomach thanks to just recently having consumed a 76 pound whitetail doe, roughly the same size as a small child.

In October 2011 South Florida Water Management District employees discovered a 16 foot python while removing non-native plants from a tree island.  The snake was killed, cut open and found to have just consumed a 76 pound whitetail doe, the largest intact prey ever found in a Burmese python in Florida.  The snake reportedly had 44 inches of girth in its stomach thanks to the doe.

The unlucky whitetail doe that was consumed by a Burmese Python in the Florida Everglades.  Burmese pythons, like coyotes and wolves, are a predator to all forms of wildlife, not just deer.

The Hunting Network Staff would like to know what YOU would do should you ever encounter one of these non-native trouble makers in the wild.  Would you be the predator or the prey?  Let us know on our Facebook page.

Categories: Blog | Current News

Turkey Flies Through Window of Coke Delivery Truck

by Steve Flores 1. February 2012 05:08
Steve Flores

Now, having sworn off most beverages other than water, I still haven't forgotten that there are some of you who enjoy a good "sip" now and again. So, I couldn't resist the urge to share with you a small portion of "Wild Turkey and Coke" that you are unlikely to forget. The cool part is that you won't have to explain your actions to a significant other, and your head won't be pounding in the morning either. Sadly, I can't say the same for the particular turkey at the center of all of this attention.

This is the last place you want find turkey feathers and glass.

All kidding aside, the images that follow are a shocking reminder that, while we may be constructing roads, buildings, and bridges, the wildlife that inhabit the land still remain. It is also a glimps at how quickly things can happen.

 

Luckily nobody was seriously injured in this incident (except for the turkey). Yeah, Spring Gobbler season may be months away, but that doesn't mean the these guys are not out and about. Be careful.....and try to stay away from this type of Wild Turkey and Coke!

Categories: Blog | Current News | Pro Staff

It Just Keeps Getting Better

by Daniel James Hendricks 28. January 2012 04:41
Daniel James Hendricks

It has become an United Foundation For Disabled Archers (UFFDA) tradition for the participants of each hunt to walk around at the end of the year’s event scratching their heads mumbling to themselves about how they didn’t think it could get any better than this year. But sure enough, the next year comes and that hunt miraculously turns out to be by far the best one yet! Well rest assured that after reading and hearing reports from the 2011 Camp Wilderness and Camp Tesomas events that fine tradition has once again been carried on. This year’s events were the best ever for both the Minnesota and Wisconsin crews. And to both  teams I tip my hat and offer a hearty congratulations for all of the hard work, excellent spirit and stellar results.

The Camp Wilderness hunt celebrated its 17th consecutive year by hosting 32 hunters over a beautiful weekend that culminated Saturday with the biggest and most successful banquet we have ever had. The facility was packed to the seams with hunters, UFFDA staff, landowners, kids and a lot of folks that just came to camp for the evening to see what all of the excitement was about. By night’s end, the great food, hearty laughter, the emotional highs and excellent deals garnered on the auctions brought the 2011 hunt to a jubilant close. The next morning as the tired, but very content UFFDA campers headed home, each bore a peaceful and satisfied smile upon their face. This hunt had definitely been the best yet!

Matt Klein with dad, Mark & local guide, Blake Johnson

The deer harvest was pretty much normal, but then again, the whitetail body count has never been what our annual conclave is about. On Thursday, the first night of the hunt, Matt Klein scored a double by taking two does. Terry Schwartz nailed a four point buck to put him out in front for the Delaney’s Sports Big Buck Award and our veteran beautiful Lady Huntress, Terrie Schrank took nice doe. Friday’s hunt produced three more does. Stan (The Killer) Koich took one, Board Member, Tim Sartwell took another and the third was taken by Karl Anderson. 

On Saturday, Leon Holmin shot a spike buck and our newest and rookie beautiful Lady Huntress, Dawn Peterson took a fine doe. Another first year hunter, Tom Voight took a seven point buck, which handily won him the Delaney’s Sports Big Buck Award. Besides the beautiful hunting knife donated by Delaney’s, Tom’s big buck won the number one slot in the 2012 Camp Wilderness hunt so we will be seeing more of him for sure. Tom’s buck brought our total reported harvest to ten for this year’s event.  A warm congratulation goes out to all of the UFFDA hunters and their guides for a job well done, whether you took a deer or not.

Terry Schwartz and local guide, George Darchuk

For the duration of the hunt, the weather was beautiful, there was only one minor injury (a finger smashed in a kitchen) and seemingly everyone had a wonderful time. The food this year, as with every year, was plentiful, delicious and nourishing. Were it not for the talented and dedicated kitchen staff, the hungry participants of the hunt would not be nearly as happy as they always are. Over the delightful UFFDA cuisine, companionship is always heightened to its apex making the hours spent in the homey Camp Wilderness mess hall a very special place where some of the fondest UFFDA memories are created. We sincerely thank all of the food preparers and handlers for their smiling faces and the hearty results of their labors that are seemingly designed to keep the entire crew fat and sassy. 

Tim Sartwell with local guide, Rick Knobloch

To everyone who was at this year’s hunt, it was also a very special occasion in that it allowed us all to share in Greg Waite’s last UFFDA hunt. It was obvious that Greg knew that his time with us all was near it end. He dove into the activity and lapped up every second of the action driving himself to complete exhaustion each day. We will all remember Greg’s presence there and will cherish the last time that he shared himself with his UFFDA Family. Two other long-time UFFDA members who are doing their best to fend off the viciousness and cruelty of cancer were also in attendance. Delmer Bentz and Karl Denly both showed up in spite of failing health and much pain to deal with. Having these three very special men at Camp Wilderness was both inspiring and at the same time, very sad. We all hate to see loved ones suffer so much, but how deeply we are moved by their courage and their overwhelming need to be with the people that they have grown to love as they shared a common joy of doing for others. Bless them all!

The “One-Shot” target shoot for all qualified UFFDA hunters was held again this year as the contestants vied for the Kalk Traveling Trophy. In 2010 possession of the prestigious award was won by Mike Schurch who was a first time attendee at this annual UFFDA gathering. Well guess what? This year the Kalk trophy was won by Ben Rouw of Becker, MN who was also a first time hunt attendee. Go figure! Congratulations, Ben and welcome to the family. Ben also won the number two slot in the 2012 Camp Wilderness Hunt so we will be seeing him again next year.

Tom Voight with local guides, Mike Hinton & Rick Knobloch

The participation in the Camp Wilderness Hunt by the local citizens continues to grow with new faces, new properties and new volunteers showing up at camp each year. We are so grateful for that hometown participation from the folks around the Park Rapids area as it enriches the event tremendously. We at UFFDA know that volunteerism is not at the top of everyone’s priority list of things to do, but when these special volunteers step forward from the surrounding community, you know that you are definitely partaking of the cream. The fine folks that have joined our mission from the Park Rapids area drive home that point with tremendous force every year. Thank you, one and all for blessing our efforts with your presence, sharing your land and just plain rolling up your sleeves and helping us make it all happen.

And to the benevolent donors both large and small that fund our undertaking, thank you for your continued support of the UFFDA Mission. Through your generosity, you give life to one of the most selfless efforts by a group of bowhunters who wish only to share the joys of hunting by recruiting and hosting bowhunting events for physically challenged people. Every year we accommodate new disabled members that enter the woods as bowhunters for the first time, learning the joys of pursuing wild things in a proud tradition that since the dawn of time has given the hunter his purpose. 

 

Terrie Schrank with local guide, Perry Melbo

Through your support, disabled hunters are provided with a cost-free outing that is as good as it gets. They are fed, tutored and catered to by dedicated volunteers who give up much of their personal time and resources, just for the radiance that can only be captured by unselfishly serving others. More specifically in the case of UFFDA, our entire family is so privileged to be able to watch new hunters experience for the very first time the thrill of taking a big game animal with a string and a stick; and then listening as the successful hunter shares the unforgettable excitement of an experience that is so unique that it can never be equaled again.

And that, dear friends, is the bottom line of what we do and why we do it. Once you have seen a hunter proudly roll into the Camp’s mess hall in a wheelchair prepared to share his or her tale of triumph about taking their first deer with a bow, you just know that this is the very heart of UFFDA, the organ that gives it its life. So to every supporter of the passion, whether you are on the front lines guiding the hunters, feeding them, providing the land for them to hunt, supporting the banquets or just donating from afar, you are an intricate part of a very noble endeavor to serve the disabled hunter, while nurturing our hunting heritage and the overall image of the modern hunter. Thank you for doing your part and doing it so well.

 

Stan (The Killer) Koich

As the United Foundation For Disabled Archers begins to prepare of its 18th season of service, we hope that you will continue to man your stations and also continue to support our worthy mission. Whatever your role, you are very important to the completion of the UFFDA Mission and its continued success. Thank you for the past year and now onward to the creation of new adventures that are destined to make us all winners for the right reasons.

Karl Anderson and local guide Tim Williams

 

What The Heck Is Going On?

by Daniel James Hendricks 5. January 2012 12:06
Daniel James Hendricks

It has become an UFFDA tradition for the participants of each hunt to walk around at the end of the year’s event scratching their heads mumbling to themselves about how they didn’t think it could get any better than this year. But sure enough, the next year comes and that hunt miraculously turns out to be by far the best one yet! Well rest assured that after reading and hearing reports from the 2011 Camp Wilderness and Camp Tesomas events that fine tradition has once again been carried on. This year’s events were the best ever for both the Minnesota and Wisconsin crews. And to both  teams I tip my hat and offer a hearty congratulations for all of the hard work, excellent spirit and stellar results.

The Camp Wilderness hunt celebrated its 17th consecutive year by hosting 32 hunters over a beautiful weekend that culminated Saturday with the biggest and most successful banquet we have ever had. The facility was packed to the seams with hunters, UFFDA staff, landowners, kids and a lot of folks that just came to camp for the evening to see what all of the excitement was about. By night’s end, the great food, hearty laughter, the emotional highs and excellent deals garnered on the auctions brought the 2011 hunt to a jubilant close. The next morning as the tired, but very content UFFDA campers headed home, each bore a peaceful and satisfied smile upon their face. This hunt had definitely been the best yet!

 Karl Anderson and local guide Tim Williams

The deer harvest was pretty much normal, but then again, the whitetail body count has never been what our annual conclave is about. On Thursday, the first night of the hunt, Matt Klein scored a double by taking two does. Terry Schwartz nailed a four point buck to put him out in front for the Delaney’s Sports Big Buck Award and our veteran beautiful Lady Huntress, Terrie Schrank took nice doe. Friday’s hunt produced three more does. Stan (The Killer) Koich took one, Board Member, Tim Sartwell took another and the third was taken by Karl Anderson. 

On Saturday, Leon Holmin shot a spike buck and our newest and rookie beautiful Lady Huntress, Dawn Peterson took a fine doe. Another first year hunter, Tom Voight took a seven point buck, which handily won him the Delaney’s Sports Big Buck Award. Besides the beautiful hunting knife donated by Delaney’s, Tom’s big buck won the number one slot in the 2012 Camp Wilderness hunt so we will be seeing more of him for sure. Tom’s buck brought our total reported harvest to ten for this year’s event.  A warm congratulation goes out to all of the UFFDA hunters and their guides for a job well done, whether you took a deer or not.

Matt Klein with dad, Mark & local guide, Blake Johnson

For the duration of the hunt, the weather was beautiful, there was only one minor injury (a finger smashed in a kitchen) and seemingly everyone had a wonderful time. The food this year, as with every year, was plentiful, delicious and nourishing. Were it not for the talented and dedicated kitchen staff, the hungry participants of the hunt would not be nearly as happy as they always are. Over the delightful UFFDA cuisine, companionship is always heightened to its apex making the hours spent in the homey Camp Wilderness mess hall a very special place where some of the fondest UFFDA memories are created. We sincerely thank all of the food preparers and handlers for their smiling faces and the hearty results of their labors that are seemingly designed to keep the entire crew fat and sassy. 

 

Stan (The Killer) Koich

To everyone who was at this year’s hunt, it was also a very special occasion in that it allowed us all to share in Greg Waite’s last UFFDA hunt. It was obvious that Greg knew that his time with us all was near it end. He dove into the activity and lapped up every second of the action driving himself to complete exhaustion each day. We will all remember Greg’s presence there and will cherish the last time that he shared himself with his UFFDA Family. Two other long-time UFFDA members who are doing their best to fend off the viciousness and cruelty of cancer were also in attendance. Delmer Bentz and Karl Denly both showed up in spite of failing health and much pain to deal with. Having these three very special men at Camp Wilderness was both inspiring and at the same time, very sad. We all hate to see loved ones suffer so much, but how deeply we are moved by their courage and their overwhelming need to be with the people that they have grown to love as they shared a common joy of doing for others. Bless them all!

Terry Schwartz and local guide, George Darchuk

The “One-Shot” target shoot for all qualified UFFDA hunters was held again this year as the contestants vied for the Kalk Traveling Trophy. In 2010 possession of the prestigious award was won by Mike Schurch who was a first time attendee at this annual UFFDA gathering. Well guess what? This year the Kalk trophy was won by Ben Rouw of Becker, MN who was also a first time hunt attendee. Go figure! Congratulations, Ben and welcome to the family. Ben also won the number two slot in the 2012 Camp Wilderness Hunt so we will be seeing him again next year. The participation in the Camp Wilderness Hunt by the local citizens continues to grow with new faces, new properties and new volunteers showing up at camp each year. We are so grateful for that hometown participation from the folks around the Park Rapids area as it enriches the event tremendously. We at UFFDA know that volunteerism is not at the top of everyone’s priority list of things to do, but when these special volunteers step forward from the surrounding community, you know that you are definitely partaking of the cream. The fine folks that have joined our mission from the Park Rapids area drive home that point with tremendous force every year. Thank you, one and all for blessing our efforts with your presence, sharing your land and just plain rolling up your sleeves and helping us make it all happen.

 

And to the benevolent donors both large and small that fund our undertaking, thank you for your continued support of the UFFDA Mission. Through your generosity, you give life to one of the most selfless efforts by a group of bowhunters who wish only to share the joys of hunting by recruiting and hosting bowhunting events for physically challenged people. Every year we accommodate new disabled members that enter the woods as bowhunters for the first time, learning the joys of pursuing wild things in a proud tradition that since the dawn of time has given the hunter his purpose.   

Tim Sartwell with local guide, Rick Knobloch


Through your support, disabled hunters are provided with a cost-free outing that is as good as it gets. They are fed, tutored and catered to by dedicated volunteers who give up much of their personal time and resources, just for the radiance that can only be captured by unselfishly serving others. More specifically in the case of UFFDA, our entire family is so privileged to be able to watch new hunters experience for the very first time the thrill of taking a big game animal with a string and a stick; and then listening as the successful hunter shares the unforgettable excitement of an experience that is so unique that it can never be equaled again.

 

Terrie Schrank with local guide, Perry Melbo

 

And that, dear friends, is the bottom line of what we do and why we do it. Once you have seen a hunter proudly roll into the Camp’s mess hall in a wheelchair prepared to share his or her tale of triumph about taking their first deer with a bow, you just know that this is the very heart of UFFDA, the organ that gives it its life. So to every supporter of the passion, whether you are on the front lines guiding the hunters, feeding them, providing the land for them to hunt, supporting the banquets or just donating from afar, you are an intricate part of a very noble endeavor to serve the disabled hunter, while nurturing our hunting heritage and the overall image of the modern hunter. Thank you for doing your part and doing it so well. 

 

As the United Foundation For Disabled Archers begins to prepare of its 18th season of service, we hope that you will continue to man your stations and also continue to support our worthy mission. Whatever your role, you are very important to the completion of the UFFDA Mission and its continued success. Thank you for the past year and now onward to the creation of new adventures that are destined to make us all winners for the right reasons.

 

 

 Tom Voight with local guides, Mike Hinton & Rick Knobloch

 

Wisconsin Buck Leaps to Death from Highway Overpass

by Patrick Durkin 30. December 2011 04:41
Patrick Durkin

 

When Al Rinka and his highway construction coworkers spotted a huge white-tailed buck crossing a field south of Marshfield, Wis., during their lunch break Dec. 8, they didn’t realize they were watching a dead buck walking.

Lane Wetterau of Stevens Point, Wis.; Aaron Seit, Wisconsin Rapids; Al Rinka, Osseo; and Dave Katzner, Arpin; pose with a giant white-tailed buck that leaped to its death from a bridge over an unopened section of U.S. Highway 10 south of Marshfield.

About an hour later, the buck walked up the embankment to the Washington Avenue bridge 1.5 miles away, leaped off and died on a concrete slab 34 feet below. The buck apparently panicked as a car approached, and jumped over the bridge’s parapet without realizing its height from the ground. The momentum from its leap carried the buck about 30 feet from the bridge’s base, where it landed head first.

The concrete below had been poured recently as part of the U.S. Highway 10 reconstruction, and isn’t yet open to traffic. A foreman for the road-grading crew called Rinka to tell him and his coworkers about the freak accident. When they heard the location, the men realized they had built that section of highway, and still referred to it as “our slab.”

This trophy buck leaped off the highway overpass in the background. The bridge's height is 34 feet.

When Rinka and his friends -- Lane Wetterau, Stevens Point; Aaron Seit, Wisconsin Rapids; and Dave Katzner, Arpin -- arrived to see the dead buck, they instantly recognized it as the one they had seen during lunch.

“We’re big hunters, and we all hunt anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour from there, but we saw nothing like that buck during gun season,” said Rinka, a civil engineer from Osseo. “We were amazed to see it crossing a field in broad daylight. It was opening day of the (four-day) antlerless hunt, so maybe some hunters pushed it out. We watched about 10 minutes before we lost sight of him. It’s a huge field.”

Rinka said he and his coworkers noticed the buck had a slight limp. They thought maybe a front leg was injured, but found no wounds or breaks when examining it later. The buck apparently landed on its nose, because nothing else on its body appeared broken, and its antlers weren’t damaged.

Rinka said an elderly woman who lives near the bridge was driving the car that spooked the buck. She told them the buck was standing in the middle of the road as she approached. It could have run down the road to get off the bridge, but jumped over the side instead.

Al Rinka of Osseo, Wis., displays the impressive buck that survived Wisconsin's nine-day firearms season in November, only to die 10 days later in a freak accident.

The woman stopped and looked over the bridge, and saw the buck writhing on the pavement in its death throes. She drove home and told her neighbor, who is a hunter. He notified authorities and received a tag so he could claim the buck.

Rinka and his friends marveled at the buck’s antlers. “As much as all of us hunt, and after all the time we’ve spent in the woods, here we were staring at probably one of the biggest bucks we’ll ever see, and it jumped off a bridge,” he said.

The buck had a 12-point rack with wide beams and thick tines. Rinka said the tallest tines were about 9 inches long, and the spread between the main beams spanned 18 inches. They guessed it would score 150 to 170 inches on the Boone and Crockett Club’s measuring system.

The buck's flying leap carried it about 10 yards from the base of the bridge.

He said the buck had a smaller body than what they expected. Then again, it’s not unusual for a buck’s body to look small, even emaciated, in the weeks following “the rut,” the whitetail’s mating season. Rutting bucks can lose about 25 percent of their body weight while seeking and chasing does. This buck weighed 180 pounds when it died, so it might have weighed around 240 pounds when alive.

In the days that followed, some people jokingly referred to the deer as “The Suicide Buck,” but Rinka said no one there truly believed the buck intended to kill itself.

“What it was doing on that bridge, who knows?” he said. “There’s much easier ways to cross that area than by walking up an overpass. It’s a confined area, and deer seldom walk on bridges anyway. It was out of its element, and probably just panicked when the car approached.”

Although Rinka doesn’t buy the suicide theory, humans have long debated the possibility of animal suicide. About two years ago, for example, “Time” magazine reminded readers that Aristotle (384-322 BC) told of a stallion that leaped into an abyss after realizing it was duped into mating with its mother.

In more recent times, the Overtoun bridge in Milton, Scotland, has gained notoriety as the “Dog Suicide Bridge” because dogs have jumped from it about once a month since the 1960s, causing about 600 to die. Some dogs have even survived, only to run back up and jump again. No one knows what’s causing them to leap.

Rinka is content to consider the buck’s leap a fluke of nature.

“We were dumbfounded when we realized it was the same buck we had seen during lunch,” he said. “When it walked out of sight, we thought we’d never see it again. It was unreal.”

 

 

Crossbow Hunting Safety

by Daniel James Hendricks 28. December 2011 14:13
Daniel James Hendricks


The crossbow is so powerful it is like a 30.06 that shoots arrows.” 

That’s a claim that has been made by the anti-crossbow camp for decades and the truth of the matter is that with a 100-225 lb. or more draw weight, crossbows usually are more powerful than most vertical bows.  The additional draw weight, however, is necessary to compensate for the shorter power stroke and the lesser amount of KE stored in a crossbow arrow.

One can only assume, therefore, that if a crossbow has a heavier draw weight, it’s more dangerous.  The truth is that, as with any other hunting tool, safety during use is critical with the crossbow.  The very first thing that every new crossbow hunter should do is sit down and read their owner’s manual – cover to cover – at least once; twice is even better.  That manual will explain proper handling and safety procedures for your specific bow.  There are some general practices that apply to all crossbow users regardless of which bow they shoot.   

Mark your serving on each side of the rail so that you can visually check to insure that you have cocked your crossbow evenly.

Step number one is always generously use rail lube and string wax when operating your crossbow.  If the string breaks, bad things will happen to your crossbow and perhaps to the shooter or the people in close proximity.  Both lube and wax preserve the string.  If your string begins to fray and strands break – change it, immediately.  Most crossbows are on safe at the end of the cocking process.  Always check to make sure
that your bow is on safe before doing anything else.  This is very important!  Also make sure that the string is centered after cocking by marking your serving so that you can visually verify that it has been drawn back evenly.  If the string is not centered, it will change the impact point of your arrow similar to using a different anchor point on a vertical bow.
 
Now listen up!  Please make sure that you thumb is below the rail of the crossbow before releasing your arrow; if not, when you pull the trigger the string will hit your thumb and something is going to give.  It will not be the string!  I’ve seen a variety of severe wounds inflicted by a crossbow string and none of them are fun, even the ones that do not draw blood instead of amputate.  The fact that most folks only do it once is of little comfort when you are hopping around, screaming in pain. 

When choosing a crossbow, select one that has a forestock that will help keep fingers well below the rail preventing injured fingers.

Never dry fire a crossbow.  Shooting a crossbow without an arrow to absorb the energy will blow up your bow and when that happens one is never sure of where all the pieces will fly; you may be seriously hurt.   Remember that a loaded crossbow should be handled exactly and with the same care as a loaded firearm.
 
On the range, make sure that you have a solid and reliable back stop.  Having a range that is at least 300 yards deep and open is recommended and will allow plenty of room for obstruction-free arrow flight.  Targets should be of a high quality capable of readily stopping an arrow from a crossbow.  If the target is badly worn or of an inferior quality, damage may be inflicted to the shorter crossbow arrows causing costly repairs or even destroying the arrow completely.

Cock the crossbow on the ground before raising it into the stand with a safety rope.

Now let’s move into the field and take a look as some common sense practices there.  When hunting from an elevated stand always cock your crossbow on the ground and then use a tow rope to raise it to the platform.  Do not attempt to climb into a stand carrying your crossbow. Once you are secured in your stand with a safety harness (always use a fall arrest system in an elevated stand), then raise your crossbow and load it.  Never have an arrow in place when raising or lowering your crossbow.  That’s how people get killed, and yes it has happened.  Unless your sitting in an enclosed stand, after taking a shot, your crossbow should be lowered to the ground to be recocked.  If you use a cocking device, which can be implemented from a sitting position, remaining in your stand is acceptable.  Never lean over in a treestand to cock your crossbow.
 
The preferred method for crossbow hunting is from a ground blind or an elevated stand.  The crossbow may be used for still hunting or stalking, but extra caution should be applied.  The crossbow may be cocked and on safe, but one should never move through the bush with an arrow loaded on the rail.  When game is spotted, only then should an arrow be loaded onto the crossbow.  Until that moment, the arrow with the broadhead completely protected should be carried in a bow or hip quiver, not in your hand.

Never shoot at a target on rise without knowing what is on the other side.

It is important that one never shoots a crossbow at a sky-lined animal.  It is critical that you are able to see exactly where your arrow is going to go so that no living thing is accidently harmed by your shot.  As with vertical archery, one should always wait until the game you are shooting at is relaxed and standing still.  No shots should be taken at moving targets.  Making drives while crossbow hunting is not an acceptable practice and should be avoided.
 
It is important that you are fully aware of all local ordinances regarding shooting your crossbow.  Check with local officials or authorities to make sure that you are not violating any laws while you practice.
 
There are no more injuries with a crossbow than there are with vertical archery equipment, but it still happens every year.  Knowing your equipment and being aware of common-sense safety procedures will insure that the time you spend in the field will be accident-free and gratifying for all around you.  Good luck and good hunting.

Make sure that your fingers and thumb are well below the rail to prevent injury or loss of digits.

The National Bowhunting Education Foundation publishes a booklet entitled Today’s Crossbow.  This publication’s the official Crossbow Hunters Safety program used by the NBEF.  To obtain a copy, email bowtwang@charter.net and request it by name.

Safety features to consider when buying a crossbow. 
Anti-dry fire safety - Some models of crossbows have an anti-dry fire mechanism that prevents the trigger from being pulled when there is no arrow loaded.  This is a common mistake that has been responsible for the destructions of many a crossbow.  Choosing a crossbow with this safety feature can save its owner a lot of misfortune and expense.  Consider it when you are looking for the right crossbow for you.

When tracking or still hunting never have an arrow loaded in the bow.

Preventive Fore-grip – Perhaps the most common injury inflicted by a crossbow is thumbs bruised, torn or even partially removed by the crossbow string when firing.  Many crossbows have specially designed fore-stocks that make it very difficult for this accident to happen.  I would like to say “never”, but there’s always one guy in the crowd that will manage to hurt himself no matter what precautions are taken.  One characteristic that should be considered when purchasing a new crossbow is the conformation of the fore-stock.  Look for one that aids the shooter in keeping the thumb and fingers well below the shooting rail.

Cocking Rope – Another device that can increase safety as well as imrove performance is a cocking rope.  This handy device cuts the draw weight of a crossbow in half, thereby saving wear and tear on the user, especially during practice sessions when many shots are taken.  It also increases accuracy of the crossbow by consistently drawing the string back to the exact same position.  Most companies also offer crank cocking devices that draw back the string by a mechanical winch that requires no effort other than turning the crank.  One company even markets crossbows with the cocking device built right into the stock of the crossbow.  All of these options will increase your safety, while enhancing your shooting experience.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wisconsin Bowhunter Completes 4-year Quest for Drop-Tine Buck

by Patrick Durkin 20. December 2011 13:27
Patrick Durkin

Paul Conley had every right to give himself high-fives and back slaps in early December after arrowing the trophy buck he hunted four years in Wisconsin's Chequamegon National Forest.

Instead, the 23-year-old Mellen, Wisconsin, bowhunter credited his girlfriend, Casey; children, Trinity and Xander; parents, Al and Theresa; as well as grandparents, siblings, buddies and his late friend, Tom Bruckner, for their help in his success Dec. 4.

Paul Conley, 23, shows the big drop-tine buck he shot Dec. 4 in the Chequamegon National Forest near his home in Mellen, Wisconsin.

It was Casey who chased him out the door for late-season hunts when he was burning out, Trinity who asked to see pictures of “Drop Time” when he returned, his grandparents who bought him his first compound bow, and Bruckner who assured him he’d eventually get the buck.

Yep, as Conley recited names, influences and vital roles, you’d have thought he was accepting an Academy Award or the Super Bowl trophy.

Then again, if you ask deer hunters, most would take Conley’s buck over an Oscar or a Lombardi. Why? Beneath the left antler beam on this monstrous 8-point buck hangs a rare 10.5-inch drop tine, which measures 6.5 inches around its end. Further, both main beams measure 21-1/8 inches in length and 7.5 inches around their bases. The tallest tines stand nearly 12 inches above the beams.

Brandon, Paul, Al and Theresa Conley pose with Paul’s monster buck at their home near Cayuga, Wisconsin.

Conley passed up shots at six different bucks the past four years after spotting this buck in his trail-camera photos in 2008. Since then, his cameras recorded the drop-tine buck in hundreds of photos and videos, documenting its growth, antler changes, and daily and seasonal travels.

For instance, the buck’s body appeared largest in 2008, and its antlers reached their peak growth in 2010. The buck’s distinctive drop tine appeared as an antler blemish in 2008 before sprouting into a long tine in 2009. It grew longer and more vertically in 2010, and blossomed into a replica of an old-time police Paddy-whacker this year.

Based on photos and the fact the buck wore its front bottom teeth to the gum, Conley estimates it was 8.5 years old. The buck never appeared at Conley’s bait sites until Halloween each fall, and then visited frequently until late January, when it migrated to winter deeryards farther south. The buck’s feeding visits, however, seldom occurred in daylight.

When Conley reviewed his trail-cam photos from Wisconsin’s nine-day firearms seasons from 2008-2011, none showed the buck during daylight. Until this month, its daylight visits occurred only during the rut from late October through mid-November.

When Conley shot the buck at 7:10 a.m. on Dec. 4, it marked only the second time the buck appeared in daylight after a gun season. The first time was the day before, according to his trail cameras.

Based on trail-cam photos the past four years, and the fact the buck had worn its front bottom teeth down to the gum, Conley estimates the buck was 8.5 years old.

The buck wasn’t eating bait, however, when Conley shot. It was about 300 yards away, returning to its bedding area.

“I had just moved my tree stand to that spot 15 hours before,” Conley said. “I thought I’d try cutting him off between his bed and the bait. I thought he might be going from his bedding area to the bait at dawn. I was expecting him from the west, but he came from the east. It looks like he ran all night and hit the bait before bedding down for the day.”

Conley said his long hunt and analysis of trail-cam photos also revealed interesting details about the buck’s rut-season movements. “Two days after the full moon (in late October to early November), he was out cruising during daylight all four years,” Conley said. “That’s when bucks really started chasing does.”

Conley couldn’t estimate how many hours he spent on stand since 2008, but he was there every day – usually dawn to dusk – starting in late October and running through gun season. He saw the buck six times while hunting; once in 2008, never in 2009, twice in 2010 and three times this year.

He missed killing the buck in 2010 when his arrow cut off a branch between him and the buck. That happened the Saturday before gun season, and it was the first deer he saw during a weeklong vigil.

This year he saw the buck the Monday and Tuesday before gun season, but it wasn’t close enough to shoot. His trail-cam photos also documented three other daytime visits in November while Conley was working.

The buck's drop tine reached 10.5 inches this year, its largest size since first growing in 2009.

The day he arrowed the buck, he chose his bow instead of a muzzleloader. “I really wanted to get him with a bow,” he said. “That was one of my main goals from the start.”

Soon after he made the 15-yard shot and watched the buck fall five yards away, he called two friends with his news. The word spread so fast his cell phone buzzed the rest of the day.

“Everyone in town knew I was hunting a big drop-tine buck,” Conley said. “I kept it hush-hush the first two years, but I couldn’t keep it in after that. I had friends from here to Green Bay calling to see if I had gotten him.”

What will he do for an encore? Although the Cayuga area holds some of Wisconsin’s lowest deer populations, and most hunters go days, weeks or years without seeing a whitetail, Conley thinks big bucks are worth the wait.

“It wasn’t easy, but shooting this one fulfilled a dream,” he said. “There’s other big bucks out there, and some of them have his antler traits.”

 

 

 

The iBowsight: Turn Your iPhone Into a Versatile Bow Sight

by Dustin DeCroo 16. December 2011 07:42
Dustin DeCroo

At bowhunting.com we are always fascinated by cutting edge technology in the archery world, with that said, the iBowsight is very intriguing. The iBowsight is a two part system that combines the iBowsight app (for iPhone 4 or 4s) with a bracket that mounts to any bow with standard AMO sight holes. From there your iPhone 4 or iPhone 4S utilizes the camera for your sight picture and can utilize the HD video camera in conjunction with your sight. This means, you can use the phone as a sight and record your hunt at the same time. The pins and sight ring are both fully adjustable in regards to color and size as well as offering a pendulum sight option for extreme angles.

This is what the iBowsight App/mount ready to hunt!

As interesting as this is, my skeptical mind began to ask questions about the “reliability” of an electronic and removable sight. With this in mind, I sent my questions directly to the manufacturers of iBowsight as I didn’t have the opportunity to speak with them at the Mathews retailers show where I was first introduced to the product. These were the questions that I asked as well as the responses from the engineers of iBowsight.

What happens when you get a phone call or text?

You can set your phone in airplane mode or have blue tooth on for incoming calls. With bluetooth, you can always answer with your headset, I personally will put mine in airplane mode when I hunt to lock out the distraction! For text it is simple, below is what it looks like when the text shows up, the text will show on top of the iBowSight Screen while in iBowsight mode even when at full draw. As you can see the text does not in any way interfere with your sight ring.


This shows what will be shown when a text is received.


Does the iPhone mount exactly the same way every time?

Yes for the first 1500 times it should be within +/- 0.003". To mount the iPhone 4(S) effectively, reliably, securely and quickly, a clamp system with 8 mounting points has been designed. This system allows the user to mount and remove the iPhone from the bracket in less than 10 seconds while maintaining the same position, +/- 0.003” from -4F to +120F.

Additionally, iBowSight allows users to create multiple profiles to meet the needs of the current bow in use. This means each profile can be set up individually and even be specific to the brand and length of the arrow being shot. One has the ability to build and tune these specific profiles to get within +/- 0.003” of an inch even in extreme temperatures. The beauty of these profiles is that they can be precisely recalled at an instant time after time. To make this a true sight system, the mounting bracket is predrilled to give up to 3 mounting positions on the bow and have a pre-tapped holes for a bow quiver. The back of the bracket is also predrilled to accommodate for future accessories and comes standard with a removable accessory mounting bar. There will be two different styles available at the ATA Show offered in Black and different Camouflages yet to be announced. The iPhone attaches to the bracket via the stainless steel bristle around the phone , the bracket does not attach to the glass screen because the screen can expand and contract due to temperature variances.

How does the app affect battery life?

The app does not affect battery life, unless you leave it in the foreground, with iOS5 multitasking, you can put it on back ground and it is just dormant. When running in the background mode, the battery will last 16hrs.

The app is designed to have a lot more features than most people can dream, like instant on, 2 seconds to in-focus from app being pressed.

How does the iBowsight work in rainy or snowy conditions?

With iPhone's water resistant design, there will be rain hood and USB plug sold as accessories for those who want to use it in those weather conditions.

How do you sight in the iBowsight?

Just like any other sight, but with iPhone you can micro adjust in +/- 0.003" once you have the iPhone bracket installed on your bow you can rough sight it in, then to do the fine micro adjusting to your sight. You will be able to micro adjust the sight within the iBowsight App. You will also be able to change the sight ring to any different color you want so that if you tilt the bow past level the color of the sight ring will change to warn you that you are not holding the bow level. In the App, you will be able to move the sight pins to sight in like you would with most other sights.

3rd Axis Calibration

3rd Axis Calibration


Color choices for pins, ring and bubble level.


The iBowsight has the ability to be a pendulum sight as well as a pin sight.



Pin Ajustment Mode





How do the lenses work with the sight?

The iPhone uses the built in optics of an iPhone, to reverse the wide angle built in lens, a fix focus telephoto lens is recommended to get a 1X1 ratio.

The app has a 4X Zoom. These can be purchased over the internet from various manufacturers with prices rangeing from $25.00 to $800.00, it all depends on how fine of optics you want... quality comes with a price.

As for optics, it is optics, you get for what you pay for. It uses standard 11/16" screw mount and I recommended non focus design lens.

The bracket will come with an installazion hole for the correction lense of choice.


The iBowSight App will be available for purchase via the Apple iTunes App Store in the near future. ( Should become avilable the day before Christmas )

The iBowSight App not only transforms the iPhone into a bow sight, by leveraging the iPhone’s advanced electronics and iOS 5, it is also a video camera which can film every shot and store them into the internal memory of the iPhone. The video will be recorded in 720p and 1080p when using the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S respectively.

In v1.0 of iBowSight, the following features are available:

  1. Sight ring can be size from 0.3” radius to an edge to edge radius of 2.1”
  2. Sight ring’s can have up to 2.6 millions colors of choice
  3. Sight ring can be micro adjust in an increment of 1/326”
  4. Each pin size can be adjust from 0.012” radius to 0.240” radius
  5. Each pin can have up to 2.6 millions colors of choice
  6. Each pin can have its own shape beside a standard dot. At version 1.0 there is a total of 9 shapes to start.
  7. One can add up to 7 pins to the sight
  8. There is built in digital zoom from 1.0X base on internal optics to 4.0X in an increment of 0.01X
  9. 3rd axis adjustment to accommodate the most demanding and complicated sight set up
  10. Built in water level for visual bow leveling
  11. Sight level confirmation via ring color choices. i.e. One can set the ring color to be green (color A) when leveled and red (color B) when the bow is tilted. Thus one can look at the ring color change instead of the water level to confirm if the bow is leveled.
  12. One can have the option to set the sight into an automatic pendulum sight when the bow is dropped below 45 degrees. This feature allows the best of both worlds. In pendulum mode, the choice of sight pin shape and color is totally independent from the original pins. However the reference position of the pendulum sight is still base on the 20 yard pin. Therefore setting the pins in use are critical for the pendulum sight options to function properly
  13. up to 20,000 storable profiles, (each profile also bow, arrow, arrow length, point weight, and other parameters settings)
  14. Operational indicators (mini icons to show on active screen which optiions are active

Q&A With the Pro's: Mechanical and Fixed Blade Broadheads

by Justin Zarr 13. December 2011 09:27
Justin Zarr

One of the hottest topics in the archery world is mechanical broadheads, I don't see this subject cooling down in the near future. I discussed mechanical broadheads (and fixed blade broadheads) with Chris Kozlik of New Archery Products, here is what he had to say...

New for 2012, the Deep 6 broadhead family has been engineered for small diameter arrows such as the Easton Injexion.

 

Q: The most common knock on mechanical broadheads seems to be that their blades open in flight, causing the arrow to fly off target which results in either a miss or a lost animal. What do you think about that?

A: Modern bows are certainly pushing the envelope on speed. Crossbows even more so. Having the blades on a mechanical head stay closed during flight is critical to hitting your mark. We’ve done extensive testing to make sure our heads work perfectly and stay closed during flight with the fastest equipment on the market. It’s easy to test. Hang a piece of paper in front of your target and shoot thru it. You should have a small hole, that shows the blades stayed closed. If not, it’s time to go find a better mechanical head.

Blades that open in flight are one of bowhunters major concerns in regards to mechanical broadheads.

 

Q: When it comes to shooting whitetail-sized game is there anything to be concerned about when shooting a mechanical broadhead?

A: Even though mechanicals have been on the market for over 20 years, there are still myths that revolve around the use of mechanical heads. Three statements seem to come up in conversation more than any others. Specifically, “You can’t take an angled shot with a mechanical” or “It takes too much energy to open the blades / a mechanical won’t penetrate well” or “My broadhead didn’t open!” I’d like to address these one at a time.

First off, any correct angled shot that you would take with a fixed blade, you can take with a mechanical. There are no additional restrictions. 45 degree quartering shots are no problem. Angles steeper than that and you risk the shot, mechanical or fixed blade, period. Three years ago, I received an email from a happy Spitfire customer who took such an angled shot that he cut 8 ribs clean thru and still had a full pass thru. I still have the pictures. Understanding that this shot should never have been attempted with a bow and arrow, it nonetheless proved to me the effectiveness of a full mechanical head even on a steep angled shot.

About blade opening and penetration, I’ll take that question in two parts.

Our mechanical heads use very little energy to open. The resistance that you feel by slowly opening a blade by hand simply isn’t there when the head slams into a target. I routinely demonstrate this by shooting a Spitfire thru a piece of cardboard using nothing more than a draw length check bow with a draw weight of 3 pounds. Blades will open every time. Now imagine a hunting arrow going 250 feet per second (which is 170 miles per hour!) with 60 pounds of kinetic energy. Even a modest 45 pounds of kinetic energy will cleanly kill any big buck out there with any well designed mechanical.

The biggest obstacle to getting a full pass is not the broadhead on the end of your arrow, but how well that arrow was flying as it hits the target. Any side to side whipping or porpoising of the arrow , either from a poorly tuned rest or string slap on your hunting clothes, will cause drastic reductions the penetration power of the arrow, regardless of the broadhead you choose. A bad flying arrow at close distance is even worse than one shot at longer distance because the vanes have no chance whatsoever to recover or get that arrow flying properly. In just the last few days I’ve had 2 bow setups, one being my own personal bow, which shot excellent field points at long distance (my first 50 yard robin hood) and still had a barrel rolling arrow coming out of the bow. Had I just installed a broadhead and gone hunting, the results would have been, regrettable. It’s easy to blame the broadhead when something goes wrong and in a lot of cases, the broadhead had nothing to do with the poor results. Take the time to tune your setup to perfection before stepping into the woods.

“My broadhead didn’t open,” is one of the biggest fear some people have of shooting a mechanical head. In the closed position, all of our heads are still angled partially open. In the 15 years that we have produced the Spitfire, we have never had a head that didn’t open. Like pushing on a door handle, the door has no choice but to pivot around its hinge and open. Now, what has tricked a few people along the way is that the blades may slam shut if the head goes thru a deer and into the dirt. Also in practice, if the head pops out the back of a target and the arrow stays in the target, the blades will again rocket forward and slam shut. In all cases, the head will show a little dent where the back of the blade whacks into the edge of the ferrule. It’s a witness mark that happens even on lower poundage bows. You can test this by taping a piece of paper on the back of a target block and shooting thru. Three large slots will be left in the paper. Even withdrawing an arrow from a deer or foam target will fold the blades closed again. On a yearly basis, I will receive one or two suspect heads where a customer believes it didn’t open. I’ll take a head that’s full of fur, dried blood, and dirt and shoot it as-is. The head will open perfectly! A few years ago, I shot a doe in Seneca, Wisconsin, quartering away at 20 yards with the first Spitfire Maxx prototype. The doe went downhill and out of sight. When I retrieved my arrow, the blades were shut. My gut response was predictable, I thought it didn’t open. Then I took a deep breath, looked for the dents where the blades hit the ferrule and found the head had worked perfectly. My doe was laying 50 yards away.

 

Q: Do mechanical broadheads really fly better than fixed-blade broadheads?

A: Yes. We have found that at or above 270 feet per second is where larger fixed blade heads can exhibit some wind drift. With precision tuning of the arrow rest and looking closely at the spine of the arrow, large fixed blades like the Thunderhead, can be made to fly extremely well. The faster the arrow goes, the more time you may need to spend on the tuning. Mechanicals almost always fly like field points. There’s very little wind resistance on mechanical heads, so no way to steer the arrow off of target. In 2001 I shot a caribou at 43 yards with a Spitfire with 30 mpg gusty winds and raining. Looking back at the video, you can see the arrow tracking perfectly to the animal and see just a white tuft of hair blow out the back of the animal. It was one of my best kills I’ve ever had, especially in bad conditions.

At high speeds fixed-blade broadheads can drift and plane but with a little bit of tuning, they too can fly like fieldpoints.


Q: Under what circumstances should someone not shoot a mechanical broadhead?

A: 40 foot pounds of kinetic energy would be the minimum I’d recommend when shooting a mechanical head. This would also be the minimum for fixed blades as well. Arrow flight and tuning is even more critical with bows that generate less kinetic energy. With today’s equipment, most hunters are far above this minimum.

 

Q: The hot trend in broadheads right now is massive cutting diameter. What do you think about that? And how does it affect arrow penetration?

A: Yes, cutting diameters on mechanicals are on the way up. With a setup that has 65 to 70 pounds of kinetic energy, the diameter can be increased with no lack of penetration on game animals. Our FOC crossbow head has a three inch cutting diameter. With crossbows generating 100 pounds of energy or more, this is no issue at all. That being said, it’s easy to forget that what was once an average cutting diameter of 1-1/4” a few years ago, some people now consider small. For decades Thunderheads have killed more deer, elk, moose and other big game animals with a cutting diameter of 1-3/16”. Moose and elk hunters have loved the killing power of the 1-1/8” Nitron for years. Blade sharpness, broadhead strength and quality, along with shot placement and arrow flight seem to be much more important than initial cutting diameter. We’ve seen many Spitfire kills where the entrance hole is bigger that the cutting diameter of the head!

Giant cutting diameters are the hot trend, like this Spitfire Maxx.


Q: We all know that the sharpness of the blades on your broadhead is important for a quick kill, better blood trail and short recovery. How can the average bow hunter decide which broadheads have the sharpest blades?

A:Determining broadhead sharpness can be a little tricky sometimes. A lot of people will run their fingers over the blade and if you can feel it catch your skin, they believe it’s sharp. What you’re actually feeling is a roll over burr that some blades produce when being sharpened. Once the burr breaks off, there is a microscopic rounded edge that does not cut cleanly. It’s when you feel nothing at all, then look down and see your blood all over the place, then you truly have a sharp edge. If you don’t want to find out the hard way, slice thru a piece of notebook paper or shave the hair off the back of your hand to be sure. We make sure nothing touches the edge of our blades between when they were manufactured and when you screw them on you arrow to guarantee the sharpest blades possible.

There is no substitute for ultra-sharp blades, the blades on the NAP Hellrazor are just that.


Q: Why should bow hunters replace the blades on their broadheads with new ones from the manufacturer rather than trying to sharpen them on their own?

A: It’s always better to have brand new blades on your heads. Most blades like ours have multiple grind angles that can never truly be resharpened effectively by hand. A solid head like a Hellrazor can be made almost as sharp from the factory by using a high quality flat stone. Patience and skill are needed to get the edge perfect. I cannot overstate the importance of sharp blades for killing game animals as quick as possible. The cost of new, sharp replacement blades may be the difference between finding an animal or not when a marginal hit occurs.

 

Q: Is there any advantage to shooting a 125 grain broadhead rather than a 100 grain broadhead?

A: We’ve found that heavier heads up front do two important things. For one, they just seem to fly better. Moving the front of center balance point forward helps the arrows (or bolt) fly better. Tenpoint Crossbows regularly put brass inserts in their bolts for that very reason. In addition, the penetration power in increased. Studies have been done showing that an arrow of a given weight will out penetrate by just moving the weight forward. I put this to the test last year with a fellow employee at New Archery who has never had a full pass thru. He shoots a lighter weight bow and a short arrow. I constructed some Easton Full Metal Jacket arrows with a 60 grain brass insert. 24-1/2” arrow, 100 grain broadhead for a total weight of 428. Front of center comes in at 15.3 percent. Full pass thru’s are now happening. Don’t worry about any extra drop. Even 25 grains extra up front in stays inside a hunter’s normal grouping pattern inside of 30 yards. Arrow speed loss is negligible and in most cases, the kinetic energy has increased! Whatever grain weight broadhead you choose, make sure your arrow is spined out correctly.

 

Q:The past two years we’ve heard a lot about the NAP Bloodrunner broadhead. Can you tell us why this head has been so popular with bow hunters?

A: Mechanical head sales have soared over the last few years. There are dozens of different designs to choose from. Unfortunately some just don’t perform as well as others under hunting conditions. The Bloodrunner broadhead appeals to hunters who may have tried mechanicals before with bad results or people who would like to try a mechanical, but just seem leery about the whole idea. The Hybrid design of the head is such that in closed position, it has a 1 inch cutting diameter, and by pressing the point back, expands to 1-1/2”. “Even closed, it’s bound to work” is what I hear from potential customers. The fact is there’s no way for it not to open to 1-1/2” cut when passing thru a target. Confidence is key when selecting a broadhead and it’s easy to see how this head performs.

The NAP 2-Blade Bloodrunner offers a huge cutting diameter and a fail-proof expanding design.

 

 

Q: What broadhead will you be shooting this fall?

A: That’s always the toughest question for me to answer because all of the heads we make work so well. A lot of us over here shoot Spitfire’s and Bloodrunner’s. I’ll be shooting the Spitfire Maxx with a 1-3/4” cut. I just need to stay awake in the tree long enough to let one fly…..

The Spitfire Maxx is one of the favorite mechanical broadheads on the market.

Big Buck Killed by Coyotes, Check Out These Photos!

by Todd Graf 13. December 2011 05:52
Todd Graf

These photos show us the gruesome truth that sometimes goes forgotten in the wild.  Many of us spend lots of time and money managing our property for deer by planting food plots, creating bedding areas, etc., but how many of us spend time managing the predators on our grounds?  Research shows that coyote populations can only be marginally controlled for short periods of time, as litter sizes and the number of females that enter heat increase as the population declines.  What are your thoughts on predators and predator control?

We are unsure as to the origin of these photos, but what we see is fairly clear.  At least two coyotes attack and kill this big buck.  Granted, we don't know if he was sick or injured (he appears healthy in the photos) but one thing is for sure, he lost his life to coyotes!  If you need a little help managing your predator population, check out the predator calls in the bowhunting.com store by clicking HERE!!!

 

Curiosity Kills Whitetails Too, Not Just Cats!

by Patrick Durkin 17. November 2011 13:54
Patrick Durkin

 

RED OAK, Iowa – The white-tailed doe lying dead in the creek bottom on a recent Tuesday morning proved cats aren’t the only creatures killed by curiosity.

That doe would still be alive if she had simply kept feeding downhill in the steep gully 35 yards from my tree stand. Unfortunately for her -- but fortunately for my venison supply -- she spotted movement as I turned my feet to follow her progress, bow in hand and arrow nocked.

I froze when she stopped and stared up at me, her head jerking up and down, then back and forth, trying to get a better look. After studying my statue imitation for two minutes, the doe flicked her tail and resumed feeding downstream. She still stopped occasionally to look my way, but was no longer on red alert.

Patrick Durkin prepares to pull his bow-killed doe from a creek bottom in southwestern Iowa in late October.

When she was 50 yards farther down the creek, she jerked around and looked upstream to the east. I watched as a larger doe stepped into view.  If this second doe stayed her course, she would soon offer a 20-yard shot.

As I extended my left arm to start drawing my bow, the bigger doe thrust her nose high overhead to test the wind. Then she whirled and cantered back upstream. Obviously, she had caught my scent on an errant breeze.

The first doe still stood in the creek bottom below, watching her counterpart flee. She seemed puzzled, and her curiosity soon betrayed her. Rather than resume feeding, she walked to the spot where the other doe had caught my scent. The breeze now favored me, however, and the doe soon relaxed and walked within 18 yards of me. I drew my bow when she looked away, but I wasn’t fast enough.

Jay McAninch admires the 9-point buck he bow-killed near Red Oak, Iowa, on Oct. 25.

As I settled in at full draw and aimed, the doe whirled to face me head-on. She now presented too narrow of a shot angle, so all I could do was stare at her while holding my 65-pound bow at full draw. Again, she jerked her head back and forth, up and down, more vigorously than before.

I hoped she would relax before my strength gave out from keeping the bow drawn. A minute dragged by and maybe another. Just as my right arm began twitching with fatigue, the doe turned and walked five yards, offering a quartering-away shot angle.

After aligning my bow sight, I settled the top sight-pin behind the doe’s left shoulder and released the arrow. It flew true and the doe took off, mortally wounded. After running downhill into the gully and back up its far slope, the doe stopped atop the embankment, wavered and tumbled back down the hill. Its body came to rest on a fallen log at the creek’s edge.

This buck fell within 80 yards after getting double-lunged at 20 yards.

My friend, Jay McAninch of Centreville, Va., soon arrived with my truck to help field dress the doe and take it to Jill and Roger Bergstrom’s farm a mile away. McAninch and I were making our third Iowa bowhunt since first drawing a nonresident archery license in 2004. He grew up in Red Oak, and with help from Jill, his sister-in-law, secures permission for us to hunt nearby farms.

This was the third day of our six-day bowhunt and it grew even more memorable before sunset. That night, McAninch and I hunted a farm east of town we hadn’t tried before. I saw only one doe, but when McAninch picked me up after dark, he announced he had shot a big-bodied buck and felt confident the wound was fatal.

We discussed our options and decided to wait until morning to track and retrieve it. The night would be cool, so we wouldn’t lose any meat to spoilage. When we returned Wednesday morning, McAninch suggested I hunt till 9 a.m. before helping him. He said he would send a text message if/when he found his buck before then.

These fawns were just two of several deer walking within bow range of the author.

At 8:12 McAninch texted to say his search was underway. At 8:37 my iPhone’s vibrated to tell me I had email. The subject line of the first message read, “Found him.” The buck’s photo was attached.

The buck hadn’t run 100 yards before dying, and it was a stout-framed 9-pointer with shoulders and hind legs resembling a steer’s. McAninch said it was the biggest buck of his life and asked if I would remove its cape so he could take it to a taxidermist.

“No sweat; happy to help,” I said. “You know what will happen the next three days, though? Every time we hunt, you’ll see only bucks and I’ll see only antlerless deer, and we won’t fill our second tag.”

If that forecast proves false, you’ll be the first to know.

Tags:

Do Whitetails Have a Sixth Sense that Detects Hunters?

by Patrick Durkin 17. November 2011 13:38
Patrick Durkin

 

While peering through yellowing leaves in the aspens surrounding my tree stand a few weeks ago, I watched three deer trot down an open hillside toward the woods’ edge. Seconds later the lead deer, a yearling buck, flickered through the sumacs bordering the woods and headed toward the oak holding me and my stand.

I wasn’t interested in shooting the 4-point buck, so I turned my attention to the other two deer, which were lingering in the sumacs. Moments later an adult doe walked into view, heading straight toward me. To her rear, another adult doe fed into view. With an antlerless tag burning a hole in my pocket,  I decided to try arrowing the first doe.

Can deer sense a hunter lurking nearby, even when it can't see or smell us?

As the thought took hold, a jolt of predatory adrenaline raced through my system. Just then, the lead doe jerked up her head and stared at me. My mind raced. Had I twitched, moved my bow or cocked my head without realizing it? What caught her attention?

For about 30 seconds the doe stared at me, occasionally dropping her head as if to feed, and then jerking it back up. When that didn’t work, she jutted her head first to the right, then to the left, trying for different views. Unlike humans, deer have poor  three-dimensional vision, so they often take several views to get a perspective on possible threats.

All told, she must have taken eight such “readings” in those 30 seconds before walking off stiff-legged, occasionally stopping and stamping the ground with a front hoof. When the doe got about 30 yards away and was still unsure about me, she looked  over her shoulder a couple of more times, and then trotted away.

If this buck had a cold, prickly feeling on the back of its neck when walking into range of Minnesota's Sara Larsen, it didn't heed its internal warning soon enough.

Once all three deer were gone, I kept wondering how the doe had suddenly picked me out. Maybe my silhouette was too obvious against the gray-dawn sky. Or maybe it was the deer’s sixth sense, which hunters often ascribe to whitetails. Could that doe have somehow sensed my deadly intentions when I decided I wanted to shoot her?

Don’t laugh. I’m not sure I believe deer can sense danger, but I know deer hunters more skilled than me who swear deer have that power. Besides, anyone who has a dog can attest how quickly Rover knows your mood without hearing your voice. And who hasn’t had a cold, prickly feeling on the back of the neck when something doesn’t seem right, or when you sense someone is watching?

But do deer and other prey animals get such sensations? That’s a question that will never be answered with authority. After all, we don’t even know how much extra sensory power humans have, so how can we prove or disprove such abilities in a nervous, jumpy critter like a whitetail?

Some skeptics of the "sixth sense" believe deer pick up errant odors or sounds, not just "bad vibes."

A friend in Ontario, however, believes animals can sense intentions. Lil Anderson of Kenora is married to a deer hunting pal of mine, and when she goes deer hunting, she has an incredible knack for getting close to deer. She’s been so close she can hear their stomachs growling, and she has pinpointed deer after hearing them sniff the air as they try to locate her.

Anderson thinks deer get close to her because they don’t always perceive her as a threat, even though she has killed some impressive bucks in her time. Besides her job with Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources, she also works as a wildlife rehabilitator. At any given time, Anderson is nursing bald eagles, geese, beavers, cub bears and fawns back to health. She says her "patients" instantly sense her mood when she approaches. If she’s tense, they respond in kind. 

A wildlife rehabilitator interviewed for this article says her "patients" quickly sense if she's stressed as soon as she approaches.

Anderson believes it’s possible deer don’t always get so close to me or her husband because they detect our intentions. I’m not sure I agree, and joke that it might just be that she smells nicer than we do, or maybe she doesn’t shake as much as I do from buck fever.

I guess we won’t settle this one today, but if you want to share your thoughts, you know how to reach me.

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Wisconsin Hopes “Dr. Deer” Will Improve its Deer Program

by Patrick Durkin 19. October 2011 14:29
Patrick Durkin

Folks around the Midwest are asking what to think of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s choice of Texas professor James C. Kroll as the Dairy State’s “deer trustee.”

Picture this: If you took Wisconsin’s most traditional deer biologist, Keith McCaffery of Rhinelander, handcuffed him to Kroll and hung them from a branch like tomcats bound by their tails, the caterwaul wouldn’t cease till one bled dry.

Dr. James C. Kroll of Stephen F. Austin University has been named as Wisconsin's "Deer Trustee."

So, don’t expect this latest theater of Wisconsin’s decades-old deer war to end with hugs, handshakes and hard-fought admiration. Will Kroll improve the state’s deer program? Well, his review can’t fare much worse than previous assessments by the state’s Legislative Audit Bureau, and expert panels of agency and university biologists from outside Wisconsin.

All those findings more supported than criticized the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. But, fair or not, the public ignored each probe as just another internal investigation designed to absolve.

The current review is already more intriguing. For instance, even though the governor’s Department of Administration hired Kroll, the DNR must pay his $125,000 fee. Given that DNR biologists typically view Kroll as a deer heretic, even Judas, that’s like funding your own firing squad.

Dr. James C. Kroll, left, is shown here with Wayne Sitton (far right), manager of Michigan’s Turtle Lake Hunting Club; and biologist John Varnel, a graduate of Stephen F. Austin State University’s wildlife-management program.

By any definition, Kroll is a maverick among deer biologists. He has published few peer-reviewed academic studies on deer, and he does not belong to The Wildlife Society, a professional community of scientists, managers and educators who study, manage and conserve wildlife and habitats.

Instead, Kroll “went commercial,” focusing his research and educational efforts on the hunting market, primarily through “North American Whitetail” magazine and television. His moniker is “Dr. Deer,” he appears regularly on national TV, he talks at deer expos, and he writes books and magazine articles.

Academicians and agency biologists typically dismiss such work as “the popular press,” sniffing and tilting their nose for emphasis. Consider this scene in late September at the Midwest Deer & Wild Turkey Group meeting in Roscommon, Mich.: When a speaker announced Wisconsin would name Kroll its “deer trustee,” a collective groan, followed by laughter, swept the room.

Talk about “Mean Girls.” Among themselves, they say Kroll personifies what’s wrong with deer management in Texas, a state where “corn” is both noun and verb, as in, “We corn our deer with time-activated feeders.” Kroll also backs private ownership of deer in game farms, supports breeding experiments to grow big antlers, and defends “high-fencing” land to manage and hunt the deer inside.

And it’s not like Kroll enhanced his reputation by being the Walker administration’s choice as deer trustee. The guv was never a hunter until playing one on the 2010 campaign trail, and in announcing the appointment, the DOA dubbed Kroll “the world’s foremost expert in modern deer herd management.”

Such hyperbole might work for TV or live audiences, but the scientific community finds it showy, unbecoming and self-important.

But you know what? No one accuses Kroll of stupidity. And as Gov. Walker appointments go, Kroll is far more qualified for his task than DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp was for hers, or Natural Resources Board member Greg Kazmierski was for his.

Only fools underestimate Kroll. If you put him on a dais with “respectable” biologists to debate deer behavior, deer hunting and deer management, most hunters would probably vote him the winner by the end.

Why? Kroll knows how to communicate, and most biologists and researchers don’t. Is he an arrogant, ego-driven showman with a strong personality? Maybe, but who’d you expect to take this job, Sweet Polly Purebred?

Kroll is in a unique position to push Wisconsin deer management forward, but he needs DNR biologists’ help. As soon as possible, he must share his review plans with them, and dismiss the “deer czar” nickname he inherited. He’s running a 6-month analysis, not a country.

And he’s not doing it alone. He’s assembling a team that includes Dr. David Guynn, professor emeritus of Clemson University’s department of forestry and natural resources; and Dr. Gary Alt, who ran Pennsylvania’s deer program 5.5 years during the late 1990s.

Granted, many folks criticize Kroll’s $125,000 fee, but let’s not forget the Wisconsin DNR spent $1.2 million a decade ago on “Deer 2000 and Beyond.” That effort attracted thousands of citizens to work with the DNR in crafting a long-term deer-management strategy.

Where is it now? The DNR apparently slid the plan into a briefcase, forgot it atop the car and lost it on the Interstate. Talk about squandering public money, effort and trust.

Given that and other DNR deer-leadership failings, no one should act offended by Kroll’s presence.

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Categories: Blog | Current News | Pro Staff

Bowhunting’s Good ol’ Days are Now, Not the 1970s

by Patrick Durkin 19. October 2011 14:12
Patrick Durkin

 

Although I tried sneaking out into the dark at 4:30 a.m. on opening day of Wisconsin’s 1971 archery season, my mom must have heard me carrying my bowhunting gear to my awaiting bicycle.

She must have moved downstairs with stealth, because she startled me when asking, “Where you going?”

When I said “deer hunting,” she didn’t ask “where” a second time.

“What about your ankle?” she asked.

Patrick Durkin at age 19 with his first buck, taken in Iowa County in October 1975 during the archery season.

I assured her the swelling had eased in my week-old soccer injury, and I no longer needed the crutches beneath my bed.

“Well, be careful,” she said. She shook her head and returned upstairs.

I recalled that scene as Wisconsin’s 2011 archery season opened in September, my 40th anniversary as a bowhunter. So much has changed. For one, I doubt many 15-year-old bowhunters bicycled before dawn to woodlots six miles away to greet the opener.

A much older, and possibly wiser, Patrick Durkin in October 2004.

Most kids don’t ride alone into pre-dark darkness these days, at least not with “deer hunting” as the stated destination. Parents hover more today. Many plan their kids’ weekends for them, specifying activities and destinations by distinct categories. (In my mom’s defense, she had a general idea of my intended whereabouts. She just didn’t worry herself with specifics.)

Equipment has changed, too. My Bear Grizzly recurve bow tied nicely to a bicycle’s crossbar, and my hip quiver didn’t go anywhere once inside my bike’s newspaper-carrier rear baskets.

Although I began bowhunting in 1971, I didn’t get my first deer – an 18-month-old doe -- until two years later. I didn’t get my first buck, another yearling, until I was 19. By that year, 1975, I was shooting an Allen compound bow, with its revolutionary 20 percent let-off cams. Today, of course, 80 percent let-off is the norm.

Bowhunting has seen great change the past 40 years. Portable tree stands were rare in the early 1970s.

My old friend Vic Cunningham snapped a photo of me with my first buck the next afternoon. I feel a bit wistful whenever viewing the picture. I haven’t seen Cunningham for 35 years, nor hair atop my head for nearly 25.

Those changes, however, are small compared to the expectations now imposed on deer hunting. Wisconsin had 100,206 licensed bowhunters in 1971, not even near half the 254,446 we had in 2010.

When I arrowed my first whitetail in 1973, it was one of 8,456 deer that bowhunters killed that year. In 2010, bowhunters registered 83,833 deer; nearly 10 times as many deer with about 2.5 times more bowhunters.

And when I arrowed my first buck, it was one of 4,439 that bowhunters killed in 1975. In 2010, bowhunters registered 42,115 bucks, nearly 10 times as many bucks with 1.9 times more bowhunters. As an fyi, that 2010 total is the third largest archery buck kill in Wisconsin’s history.

Well-made ground blinds are far more available now than they were during the 1970s.

For further perspective, realize the annual archery buck kill has exceeded 40,000 only eight times, but all eight seasons were since 1998. In fact, the combined 1970-79 archery buck kill didn’t reach 40,000. But at 39,293, the decade’s total was close. Imagine that: an annual average of 3,930 bow-killed bucks.

And it’s not like we made up the difference with antlerless deer. From 1970 through 1979, the combined archery kill of bucks and does was 119,244; an annual average harvest of 11,924. In case you missed it, Wisconsin bowhunters twice surpassed 110,000 deer the past five seasons, registering 113,918 bucks and does in 2006, and 116,010 in 2007.

Not bad. Not bad at all, especially when you consider the gun deer-kill never reached 110,000 from 1969 through 1974. We could find worse six-year runs further back in time, but you get the point.

Or do we? Wisconsin bowhunters have never had it better. During the past 10 years, we’ve registered 381,528 adult bucks and 533,640 does and fawns; annual averages of 38,153 and 53,364, respectively.

And somewhere in all those numbers was lots of fun, excitement and high-5s as we pulled deer onto tailgates and admired them on buck-poles. We even tried capturing the moments forever with digital cameras, and then framing our favorites and viewing the rest on smart-phones, e-frames and screensavers.

Hunting photos are nice, no doubt. But the moments we best recall often occur when cameras are turned off, and anticipation heals sprains and worries better than faith itself.

 

 

 

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Crossbow REVIEW – Barnett’s Ghost 350

by Daniel James Hendricks 19. October 2011 01:53
Daniel James Hendricks

  Over the years I have watched as Barnett crossbows steadily evolved, getting better with each passing year due largely, I believe, to the creative genius of David Barnett.  Many still consider Barnett products to be inferior to most crossbows on the market based simply on the fact that Barnett is priced at a working man’s level of affordability.  One hears chatter about break downs and mechanical problems from the Barnett line, but based on my vast personal contact with grassroots crossbow hunters, there seems to be no more problems with Barnett than most other brands. In an age where crossbows are becoming far more complicated and increasingly powerful, I truly believe that a large part of mechanical troubles originate with improper usage by the owners.  Users who believe that an Owner’s Manual is a guide to refer to when you have a problem and not a instructional guide from which to learn proper handling and use of their new hunting implement.  Regardless of which crossbow you purchase, please spend the time to read the Owner’s Manual from cover to cover, at least once.  The time invested in that little booklet will pay big dividends in the safe use and longevity of your crossbow.

 The unique and artistic design of the Ghost incorporates the foot stirrup right into the bow.

 Barnett’s Ghost 350 arrived at my door in two pieces, which was not a transportation tragedy, but instead the traditional manner that it is shipped.  Once assembled with a single bolt, which firmly attached the bow to the stock, I careful inspected the crossbow.  The first thing that caught my eye was the classic design; one that incorporated the foot stirrup right into the contour of the bow in an undeniable artistic manner, giving the Ghost 350 a very unique and quite handsome appearance. 

 The 3x30 scope on the Ghost is enhanced by reticules are illuminated circles.

 The overall length is 37”; its only 24” wide and has a 12” power stroke; that combined with the 175 lb draw weight produces a stunning 350 fps.  The carbon riser and aluminum flight deck keep the total weight to right around 7.5 pounds.  The bow is enhanced with the Barnett AVI technology molded over laminated limbs reducing noise and vibration up to 30%.  Whiplash cams, a very sensitive anti-dry fire mechanism and one of the finest triggers I have ever seen on a crossbow top this package off.  The stock is beautifully adorned in Realtree APG Black camo.  My Ghost 350 package included an illuminated 3x32 scope, four 20’ arrows, a 4-arrow quiver and a rope cocking device.

 The overall appearance of the Ghost 350 is second to none.

 It all made for a very striking package in appearance, but I was anxious to see how the Ghost 350 preformed on the range.  My first observation was the bow’s extreme comfort when shouldered.  The fit was accented by the raised cheek rest, a thumb hole stock and the extra wide fore-stock (which also keeps one’s fingers clear of the string when firing), which naturally forms the bow to my body.  The scope was very close to zero and within the first half dozen shots the Ghost was impaling the bull's-eye with every release.  We zeroed the top mark in at 20 yards, which automatically placed mark #2 at 30 yards.  Mark #3 zeroed in at 35 yards and mark #4 was right on at 43 yards.  (Never assume that the reticules of the scope on your new bow will automatically be zeroed in at 30, 40, 50 and sixty.  Shoot and move until you have determined the yardage for each mark and then mark it down on a piece of tape and adhere in plain sight to your bow for reference.)  A note of the yardages was made and then there was little left to do but enjoy the smooth performance of the Ghost 350. 

 The trigger on the Ghost 350 is one of the finest I have ever seen on a crossbow.

 It was quiet, fast, consistent and deadly accurate, just what any person would expect from a state-of-the-art, respectably scary Ghost.  The thing that I am most impressed with, however, was that darn trigger.  It’s just as fine a trigger as I have experienced on any rifle.  Smooth, light and with a surprise release; it is just amazing to experience that well-crafted of a trigger on a crossbow.

 Since I present my reviews from a hunter’s point of view, the question is, “How did the Ghost 350 perform in the field?”  The targeted game for the test was Pronghorn Antelope on our annual pilgrimage to Douglas, WY.  I combined the Ghost with Lumen-Arrows and Grim Reaper broadheads experiencing excellent results.

Buck taken at 16 yards. 

 The buck was taken at 16 yards and went perhaps 50 yards.  I was not pleased with the shot as the nervous animal, from a standing broadside shot, actually began to spin away from the arrow before it arrived.  Entry was back a little far, but due to the angle of the body as it was turning away, the exit was just behind the front leg on the opposite side.  The buck expired within five minutes.  The Lumen-Arrow passed completely through the goat and was intact, although buried deeply into the sloping bank of the waterhole.  The doe was taken from a standing broadside shot of 18 to 20 yards.  The arrow passed through the heart damaging both front legs causing the animal to collapse in less than 30 yards, in all probability, being out before hitting the ground.  The arrow was broken due to the major contact with the front legs of the goat, but the Lumenok was retrieved in excellent shape and still burning brightly.

 The doe was taken with the Ghost 350 and a single arrow to the heart at under 20 yards.

 I ran into only one problem while using this bow and guess what?  User error!  And that is where, experience has taught me, most crossbow problems originate.  This problem was self-inflicted and occurred while trying to uncock the bow by firing an arrow from of it.  It occurred on the first day of hunting.  I had passed on a shooter-buck because I had been caught with a camera in my hands (that same buck became a victim of the Ghost 350 the following day).  When I attempted to take the bow off safe, the latch would not budge.  At first I thought I had gotten dirt into the latching mechanism, but a quick shot of WD40 had no visible affect on the problem.  After a few minutes of painful pondering the problem, the solution to dawned on me; I recalled that the Operation Manual had specified moon nocks and upon checking my arrow, I discovered that I was trying to unload my bow with a flat nock.  The anti-dry fire mechanism on this bow is so finely crafted that even this minor detail prevented the bow from being discharged.  That kind of engineering can only be admired and respected, which is more than can be said for my personal attention to arrow selection.  

The thumb-hole stock and raise cheek piece make this bow extremely comfortable to shoulder.

 The bottom line is that the Ghost 350 is one fine crossbow from this hunter’s point of view and the fact that you can get completely set up for around $600 only makes it better.  Barnett has been manufacturing some excellent and reliable crossbows at friendly prices in the past few years and if you are in the market, you owe it to yourself to check them out.  But whatever crossbow you decide upon, do yourself a big favor and study the Owner’s Manual carefully.  It will save you a lot of headaches, not to mention the inconvenience of service calls. 

The safety release and anti-dry fire mechanism are extremely well designed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mountain's Critters Add Excitement to Elk Bowhunting

by Patrick Durkin 5. October 2011 03:52
Patrick Durkin

 

SODA SPRINGS, Idaho – Swoosh!

Ouch!

A 3-inch pine cone – hard, fresh and green – whizzed past my right ear and whacked my wrist before thumping the ground. Seconds later another cone banged off the log where I sat, and then a third smacked off my compound bow.

From left, Patrick Durkin, Mark Endris and Karl Malcolm discuss the day’s elk hunts and other mountaintop encounters.

I warily looked up, worried I’d take one to the schnoz. Twenty feet above, a pine squirrel hung by its hind legs, cutting and chucking cones. I knew the rascal. He had cursed me minutes earlier after running up the log where I ate lunch, detouring around me and ascending the tree.

I doubted he was retaliating for me blocking his travel route. Then again, this wasn’t the only cone-bearing pine in the Targhee-Caribou National Forest. Couldn’t he harvest cones elsewhere? Apparently not.

A pine squirrel chatters from a tree in Idaho’s Targhee-Caribou National Forest.

So, I kept sitting, continually hoping for elk to move through this Rocky Mountain ridgeline. Elk roam these mountains in good numbers, but you’d seldom know it if not for the trees they rub, the dung they drop, and the mews, barks and bugles they voice.

It’s much easier to see pine squirrels, chipmunks, chickadees, Steller’s jays and myriad other birds and critters that are tiny compared to elk. In fact, if not for these “others,” elk hunting wouldn’t spawn as many campfire stories when my hunting partners, Mark Endris of Hillsdale and Karl Malcolm of Arena, and I trudge in from the peaks each night.

Although my pine-squirrel bomber story was worth sharing, it wasn’t as intense as the story about my lunchtime nap two days before. In that case, my knee knocked over my bow and arrows as I awoke and stood.

Instantly, something rushed through the brush behind me, snapping branches underfoot. It was a black-bear cub. Seconds later, its mother barreled in to assess possible threats, stopping 20 yards away.

A mouse retrieves camp crumbs outside Patrick Durkin’s tent in Idaho’s Targhee-Caribou National Forest.

I stood still, eyeing the pepper-spray canister in my daypack. I doubted I could reach it in time if the sow charged first and asked questions later. Within 15 seconds, however, the cub padded back to Ma and they departed nonchalantly.

Malcolm trumped my stories, however. The same day as my bear encounter, Malcolm thought he heard two pine squirrels chasing and clashing nearby in a battle for turf or food. Then the squirrel’s barking erupted into a shriek of mortal agony lasting at least 15 seconds.

A pine marten investigates a sound after killing a pine squirrel in Idaho’s Targhee-Caribou National Forest.

Soon after, Malcolm saw a pine marten trotting along a log, carrying the limp squirrel like a Labrador toting a mallard. The marten then laid atop the log, squirrel beneath its paws, and chewed its prey with its canines and premolars.

Malcolm moved closer, pulled out his pocket camera, and squeaked with his mouth to get the marten’s attention. It approached within 5 feet before deciding Malcolm might be trouble. It then retrieved its squirrel and departed.

Although the marten couldn’t know it, Malcolm poses no threat to anything except elk. The proof? The night before, Malcolm entered his tent and surprised a mouse burglarizing his granola supply.

The mouse scurried around the tent, Malcolm in pursuit. The chase didn’t last long. The mouse probably sensed impending doom as Malcolm scooped it up with one hand. But instead of chewing on it with his incisors and premolars, Malcolm released it into the night.

Reprieved but not enlightened, the mouse next targeted my tent, which I share with Endris. As I prepared my daypack for the next day’s hunt, Endris entered our tent and saw the mouse run behind me.

The hunt was on. The mouse dashed behind my cot and broke for the tent door. Finding the door zipped, it retreated beneath my cot. Endris opened the door as I moved gear from the floor to our cots. The mouse, its hideouts vanishing, again dashed for the door. This time it hopped atop the open sill and leaped to freedom.

We didn’t see the mouse again until breaking camp at dawn Tuesday. When it emerged from beneath the log outside our tent, Endris tossed it a peanut. The mouse grabbed the morsel and disappeared.

Little did the mouse know it’s now part of our elk-camp lore. Barring encounters with a hawk, weasel or marten, maybe its legend will grow when we return next year.

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Bugling Bull Leads Bowhunter to First Cow Elk

by Patrick Durkin 5. October 2011 03:40
Patrick Durkin

 

SODA SPRINGS, Idaho – Two blue coolers sit in the shade at camp’s edge, crammed with the heart, liver, tenderloins and several-score pounds of other meat we hauled off the mountain Sunday when Karl Malcolm bow-killed his first elk.

After reviewing topographical maps, we decided Malcolm arrowed the cow about 2 miles and 1,600 feet above our campsite, which sits at 5,500 feet of elevation. Just to make sure we earned her meat, the cow ran 120 yards down the mountain’s far side before collapsing in the first bushes stout enough to block her 500-pound body from sliding farther.

Karl Malcolm admires the cow elk he arrowed Sept. 11 in southeastern Idaho.

As Mark Endris and I congratulated Malcolm at the kill site, I reminded him he broke camp policy: “I told you not to hunt any higher and farther than the saddle. We figured 1-1/2 miles and 1,200 feet above camp is far enough to pack an elk.”

He just smiled and said: “I heard a bugle up here. I had to follow.”

I dropped the subject, hating to sound like a grumpy 55-year-old scolding an eager pup of 29.

“Well, tell the story,” I said. “What happened?”

Patrick Durkin, left, and Karl Malcolm bone out Malcolm's cow elk.

Malcolm had sat on a ridgeline a mile from camp till 8 a.m. After hearing nothing, he stalked uphill toward the saddle, a flat meadow where two east-west ridgelines converge beneath a steep north-south ridgeline.

Elk cross often feed in the saddle and bed nearby. In fact, two days before, Malcolm got within 53 yards of the “king of the mountain,” a trophy bull no hunter would spurn. Although Malcolm had a clear shot at the bull, he passed it, thinking it too far for a bow and arrow.

Mark Endris, foreground, and Patrick Durkin head back to camp with meat-filled backpacks.

As he returned to the saddle Sunday, with the passed shot’s memory replaying in Second-Thoughts Theater, Malcolm spotted a cow elk feeding downhill. He tried moving in front of her, but never got close enough to shoot.

As that opportunity passed, a bull bugled from atop the north-south ridgeline. Malcolm hoofed uphill several hundred yards to the plateau, and then moved toward the bull’s last sound.

Patrick Durkin inspects a bull elk's impressive rub.

As he inched over and stalked downhill, he spotted an ear twitch in the brush below. At least three elk were 40 yards away. When they acted nervous and minced northward, Malcolm stooped and trotted downhill, angling to cut them off.

He stopped about 20 yards uphill from the elk, which grew increasingly spooky. Malcolm drew his bow, anticipating they would cross an opening below. He released his arrow when the lead cow stepped out. The arrow and three-blade Muzzy broadhead cleaved both lungs and clattered into the brush below.

After the cow fled and collapsed, Malcolm sat, waited an hour before trailing his kill, and then summoned his packers. Endris and I reached him within two hours, toting freighter-size backpacks, knives, sharpener and large meat-storage bags.

We congratulated him while admiring the elk’s tan hide, rock-rounded hoofs, and chocolate-brown head and neck. After taking photos, we rolled the old girl onto her back so Malcolm could field dress her.

The three-hour job that followed reduced the beautiful elk into a hide, skeleton, gut-pile and more than 250 pounds of boned-out meat. Malcolm and I worked at opposite ends of the elk, filleting its meat and dropping the sweet slabs into 2-gallon plastic bags. As each bag filled, Endris sealed and slid it into our packs’ cargo holds.

A view of Idaho's elk country.

With the meat removed, Malcolm extracted the elk’s two “ivory” or “whistler” teeth – their canines -- and sealed them in a bag for safe-keeping and jewelry. We then adjusted the loads on both freighter packs, and transferred the hide and leftover meat to Endris’ army backpack.

I’ve walked farther distances and lifted heavier weights, but never at the same time in combination. The pack-out took about 2-1/2 hours, most of it down steep, brushy mountainsides, causing constant mental reminders of “baby steps, baby steps.”

We seldom sat to rest, finding it easier to simply bend over and wait as our breathing returned to normal. Darkness greeted us as we stumbled into camp and transferred the meat to the coolers.

I congratulated Malcolm once more, silently praised the elk for her meat, and then welcomed an 8-hour sleep to toast our labors.

 

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Treestand Safety Application For Smartphones

by Scott Abbott 1. September 2011 03:33
Scott Abbott

The following Application can be downloaded on your cellular phone this fall for absolutely no cost to you. The benefit of this App. is that it could potentially save your life. Please read and pass the information to your hunting friends. Let's make this year the safest year we've all ever endured.

The people at forHuntersbyHunters in association with the Hog-g App team has completed the prototype of a treestand safety tool that will be on display at the Eastern Outdoors Sports Show in Harrisburg,Pa on 2\5-13 at the Kodak Outdoors booth.

A "first of its kind safety device" that utilizes modern technology to aid hunters in the event of a fall from an elevated hunting platform. forhuntersbyhunters are dedicated to meld modern technology with the oldest hobbies of all time, hunting and fishing. Originally designed for Hunters , SafeClimber could be used as in other ares such as roofing work, for Linemen or anywhere there is a risk of injury from falling when you are by yourself.

This much anticipated prototype is finally ready - the "SafeClimber" safety Application for all who hunt from an elevation that have or will buy a smartphone and it is FREE. Thats right, not a cent. 4HxH and the developers are more interested in saving lives than making money. We will be rewarded when the first hunters life is saved because you just can't put a price on life.
Nearly every hunter I know, myself included, knows of at least one hunter that has fallen from a treestand. Hunting accidents such as accidental shootings, rank high, but still treestand accidents are among the top reported accidents during hunting season We want to drive that number down.If you own a smartphone, this is a must have hunting App, a real no brainer because it's FREE and can save your life.
Statistically, nearly one out of every three hunters that hunt from an elevated stand will fall at some point during their span of hunting and treestand accidents are among the top reported accidents during hunting season.There are an estimated 13 Million climbing treestands in use today.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) nearly 75% of falls happen while the hunter is climbing the tree. The "SafeClimber" application has a 1 touch SOS button to enable an emergency text if you find yourself dangling from a tree. The App also has an automatic contact function (automated safety monitor) that will text two preselected contacts (one click from your contacts list for each for a total of two contacts for redundancy) and if you have a GPS signal, the phone can deliver your location by telling exactly where you are located if you you fall from the stand and are unconscious. Another important feature is that your phone will let you know that it has been triggered which gives you time to stop the emergency texts on a false alarm to keep the EMT's from coming.

 

Watch the Demo:

Wandering Cougars aren’t Only Wildlife to Stray

by Patrick Durkin 26. August 2011 08:40
Patrick Durkin

 

An acquaintance of mine probably wasn’t surprised to hear about the cougar that wandered all the way from South Dakota to the East Coast before getting SUV’d in June on a Connecticut highway.

Sheesh. Talk about missing your exit and ending up in the wrong town!

This cougar first surfaced in eastern Minnesota in December 2009, and then traipsed over to  northern Wisconsin later that month. It then roamed America’s Dairyland from January through May in 2010. It apparently then went north into Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and crossed into Canada. Sometime later, it crossed back into the United States and headed south through New York state before going on to meet its fate in Connecticut.

DNA from this cougar confirmed it originated in South Dakota, and wandered through Minnesota and Wisconsin about a year before getting killed by an SUV in Connecticut.

As I was saying, my acquaintance can relate. Years ago, he became tired while driving on I-90/I-94 in south-central Wisconsin, so his wife took the helm near Mauston. Before dozing off, he reminded her to take I-90 to La Crosse when the highways forked in 25 miles.

No problem, she said. When he awoke, they were pulling off to gas up. In St. Paul, Minnesota.

No problem. They found a motel room, slept off their irritation and took Highway 61 to La Crosse at dawn. The Mississippi River is so pretty in autumn, y’know.

Wayward cougars seldom find comfort in alternative routes. Cougar watchers might recall the cat that fled a barn near Milton, Wisconsin, in winter 2008, only to be shot dead by police in mid-April that year on Chicago’s North Side.

The cougar walked at least 1,800 miles from South Dakota's Black Hills to Connecticut.

Likewise, other wandering cougars have been road-killed by Missouri motorists and gunned down by Iowa farmers. In most cases, the cougars are young males dispersing from South Dakota’s Black Hills.

Biologists believe these tomcats are simply looking for turf to call home; a place with food, shelter and breeding-age females. The cougars typically find some chow and cover, but keep searching when failing to wind a feminine feline. They eventually run out of luck and die too young.

At least the Connecticut cougar left his mark. According to Adrian Wydeven, a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources biologist, the cougar’s romp to Milford, Conn., covered 1,055 miles on a straight line from Champlin, Minn., where it was first seen by police on Dec. 11, 2009. That’s a record. Assuming its trip actually began in the Black Hills, the straight-line distance was 1,800 miles.

The ‘Connecticut cougar’ was spotted in Wisconsin from late 2009 through June 2010.

This was Wisconsin’s fourth confirmed cougar sighting the past three years. All were young males.

Be assured, confused cougars and mystified motorists aren’t the only critters going astray. During recent decades, biologists have attached high-tech tags and collars on fish, birds and mammals to document their movements. Every now and then, they take wrong turns or listen to bad directions.

For instance, a lake sturgeon tagged in Wisconsin’s Lake Winnebago in 1978 was later netted in Saginaw Bay off Lake Huron in 1994, and again in May 1997 on the western end of Lake Erie. In June 1999, it washed ashore dead in Erie’s southwestern basin near Sandusky, Ohio; about 400 miles on a line from Oshkosh on Winnebago’s western shore.

The ‘Connecticut cougar’ was captured on a trail camera on January 18, 2010, in Clark County, Wisconsin.

But sturgeon are fish, not birds, so it had to swim at least 650 miles to get there. It first swam down the lower Fox River past De Pere, and then up the length of the bay of Green Bay, across Lake Michigan, beneath the Mackinac Bridge, down Lake Huron, down the St. Clair River, through Lake St. Clair, past Detroit, and then to Lake Erie.

There it died, presumably from exhaustion.

Another Winnebago sturgeon must have tried duplicating the feat. This fish was first tagged in April 1991 on the Embarrass River, nearly 110 miles northwest of Oshkosh. In May 2005, it was caught in the bay of Green Bay; and in April 2006 it was caught in Saginaw Bay on Lake Huron.

It hasn’t been heard from since. Maybe it’s still trying to find Lake Erie.

OK. Back to mammals: As with cougars, young male bears often wander lovelorn after Mom forces them out. One notable black bear shuffled 314.3 miles from Eglin Air Force Base in Florida to Baton Rouge, La., in 1996.

Biologists document many examples of wandering wildlife after attaching coded tags, collars, GPS devices and radio transmitters in fish, birds and mammals.

Wolves are no better. Wydeven said a young male from northern Minnesota holds North America’s “Wrong Way Corrigan” record among Canis lupus for its 550-mile jaunt to Saskatchewan. And an Upper Peninsula wolf holds the Great Lakes region record for its 447-mile spree to north-central Missouri.

Not far behind is a Wisconsin wolf that loped 428 miles in 2003 from Black River Falls to Winchester, Indiana. Just a few more miles and it would have made Ohio.

The world record for wolves, according to Wydeven, is the 678-mile expedition of a Norwegian wolf to the Finland/Russia border.

Impressed? Don’t be. A male lynx from British Columbia was once trapped, shipped and released in the Rocky Mountains to try rebuilding Colorado’s lynx population. After ditching researchers in 2007, it hiked 1,240 miles back home. It died three years later in a trap set near Nordegg, B.C.

White-tailed deer can’t compete with such endurance runners. Among the notables, though, is a doe from northeastern Minnesota that hoofed 104 miles in 1993. In addition, researchers say a yearling buck traveled 99.82 miles in 1981 after leaving its study area in east-central Illinois.

Don’t you just love researchers? I mean, come on; 99.82 miles” Can’t scientists just give that buck the .18 and make it an even 100 miles?

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