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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?

Food Plot Stand Location Tips

by Cody Altizer 16. May 2012 04:32
Cody Altizer

The art of taking a whitetail with archery tackle is a continually evolving sport.  As bowhunters, we are constantly on the lookout for strategies, gear and information that can tip the odds of arrowing a mature buck in our favor.  It’s hard to believe, in fact, that hunting from treestands was once thought of as unethical because it would make harvesting whitetails too easy.  We’ve come along away since then; however, many hunters still struggle to get within bow range of a mature whitetail buck during daytime hours.  In recent years hunting over, around and near food plots has become an increasingly popular hunting strategy.  If you’re looking for a new avenue in which to increase your chances of putting down a big bruiser buck this fall, read on for food plot hunting strategies and information!

It’s a common misconception that hunting over food plots is easy.  Some hunters have a very twisted idea that hunting over, or around food plots is no different than hunting over bait.  While that may be a great topic for a later article, I’ll preface this article by stating that hunting over food plots is not easy.  Food plots offer a variety of different hunting opportunities, so I’ll do my best to cover each option.

Food plot hunting is a great way to practice Quality Deer Management because you usually have ample opportunites to harvest adult does.

Retreat to the Timber

If you’ve incorporated food plots into your hunting strategy in the past, you probably quickly learned that the further away you get from the food plot, the better your chances of success can be.  This is true for both morning and afternoon hunts.  Setting up shop right on top of a food plot can be a great way to kill a deer, and it’s a topic I’ll touch on later in this article, but hunting back in the timber off the food plot keeps your very flexible as a bowhunter.  I’ll use my property as an example.

On my 260 acre hunting property in the mountains of Virginia, I have two destination food plots planted.  Each food plot is a little over an acre in size with one being planted in clover, and the other in alfalfa.  Both of these food plots are located in the center of my property strategically placed in areas that require deer to move past my stand sites when going to and from their bedding area.

By hunting off of these food plots, back in the timber, I am giving myself a better chance at seeing a mature buck during the daylight hours than if I were simply sitting right on the plot. Don’t let television shows and magazine articles fool you.  Mature bucks know what it takes to see another sun rise, and feeding in food plots during the day light is a sure fire way to ensure that doesn’t happen. As a result, mature bucks aren’t likely to visit food plots during the daytime.

For afternoon hunts during the early season, I like hanging my Lone Wolf stands about 50 yards or so back in the timber in order to catch bucks, or at least a mature doe, taking thier time getting to the food plot.   Temperatures in Virginia can vary greatly during early October, and if the mercury rises above 80 degrees, the deer aren’t likely to get to the food plot until after dusk.  I don’t want to get too close to the bedding area for an afternoon hunt, however, because I risk the chance of bumping a buck that may have gotten out of his bed earlier than normal.

I harvested this beautiful 127" 3 year old buck in late November, 2011.  I intercepted him on his way back to his bedding area after feeding in one of my clover food plots the night prior.

Many hunters don’t associate morning hunts with food plots.  While I certainly don’t advise sitting over a food plot during the morning (unless trail camera photos give you reason to), catching deer coming off the destination plots on their way back to bed can be a great big buck strategy.  In fact, my brother and I both used this method to shot our biggest bucks during the 2011 season.  

It’s been my experience that bucks will often times use the same trails when returning to their bed in the morning that they used to access the food plot the night prior.  This knowledge gave my brother and I the confidence to hang our stands on these trails and harvest both a 148” and 127” buck.  After field dressing the bucks we found each of their stomachs to be full of clover.  

My brother shot this 148", 15 point bruiser in early November.  He was set up on a trail that this buck used often to access our clover plot from his bedding area.

For morning hunts off of food plots, I like to be closer to bedding areas than if I was hunting the same food plot in the afternoon.  If you hunt to close to the food plot in the morning you run the risk of educating deer to your presence before the hunt even begins.  Also, you could climb your tree and get ready for the hunt well after the deer have exited the food plot and walked past your stand site.  Hunting close to bedding areas in the morning, with respect to food plots, eliminates both of those problems. 

Hunting OVER a Food Plot

As mentioned before, hunting directly over food plots can also prove to be a very successful option.  However, sitting directly over a food plot, or any food source for that matter, opens the door to several possible problems.  For one, I’ve always preferred bowhunting whitetails in transition areas; that is, in areas where they are moving, and less likely to look up and spot me in a tree.  When hunting over a food plot there are usually several eyes, ears and noses on the lookout for danger.  Also, when deer feed in a food plot, they usually feed well into the night; making getting down from stand undetected a very real concern.  

All that being said, sitting on a food plot for an afternoon deer hunt can be an effective strategy, and it’s one I utilize often.  There are two important factors to keep in mind, though, to ensure your hunt is as efficient as possible.  For starters, as is the case with all things deer hunting, pay special attention to the wind direction, and if your hunting in hilly country, the thermals as well.  There are few things as painful as sitting in a treestand looking over an empty food plot because the deer winded you.  

Obviously, you don’t want to hunt with a wind that blows your scent back into the timber in the direction in which your deer are traveling.  However, a wind that blows your scent directly out in the food plot isn’t ideal either.  If the deer that feed in your food plot are anything like mine, they prefer a certain area of the plot.  This is usually an inside corner.  A strategically placed Stealth Cam can reveal which inside corner your deer prefer, and you can hang your stands according.  Hunting inside corners is also beneficial because you can hunt cross winds that will keep you from being smelled by the deer.  

Be sure to pay attention to wind direction when hunting around food plots.  Deer are usually on high alert just prior to entering a food plot, so keep this in mind when hanging stands.

If possible, layout your food plot locations with wind direction in mind, and if possible, construct multiple food plots to accommodate different wind directions.  On my property, my two primary hunting plots are laid out to accommodate an east wind, and a west wind for afternoon hunts.  During the deer season, it’s very rare for my property to receive a due north or south wind, so if the forecast is calling for a west wind, I have a stand hung on a clover food plot specifically for that wind.  However, if a tricky east wind blows in, I have a Lone Wolf sitting over an alfalfa field.  

Find an Exit

The single most important factor that can make or break your hunt when sitting over a food plot is your entry and exit route.  Obviously, you don’t want to bump the deer on your way to the stand, but an effective exit strategy takes top priority.  If you don’t harvest a deer during an afternoon sit, chances are there will still be deer feeding in the field when it’s time to get down.

There are a few simple solutions to this problem.  If you’re hunting with a partner, you could have he or she pick you up with their ATV or truck.  Deer are usually very tolerable of a motorized vehicle, and being pushed out of a food plot by one isn’t a big deal.  I’ve also had a lot of success with “blowing” at a deer.  That is, mimicking the alarming sound a deer makes when it senses danger.  I usually do this after dark when it would be harder for a deer to pinpoint my location.  I can remember specific instances when I have blow a family group of does out of a food plot, only to have them return the next afternoon relaxed, calm and unaware of my presence.   I have also heard of hunters mimicking a coyote yelp or scream.  I’ve never done this and don’t question its effectiveness, convincing the deer that a coyote was on a field edge watching them is not a situation I’d like to mirror. 

Food plot hunting isn't as easy as it sounds, but if you follow the tips and information provided in this article then you could very well walk up to your biggest buck ever this fall when hunting food plots!

 

Not as Easy as it Sounds

Hunting over food plots sounds like an easy hunt, right?  The deer walk aimlessly out in a lush clover field, and you casually draw your bow back and send a Carbon Express right through the lungs.  Heck, if you’re lucky, another deer might make the same mistake.  While that may be true for the fortunate hunters who get to relive their hunts on national television, that isn’t the case for the most.  In fact, I sat overlooking a food plot roughly 10 hunts this past year and I only drew back once.  I couldn’t catch a break, nor could I figure out why, but I think it has something to do with me being a bad bowhunter.  

Conclusion

Food plot hunting is one of my favorite hunting strategies.  I usually see a lot of deer, and watching them interact with one another in a food source I created is a very rewarding feeling.  However, I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t expect to shoot a deer each time I hunted over or around a food plot.  Their ability to concentrate deer to a certain area makes for awesome bowhunting opportunities.  If you’ve struggled to find success hunting around food plots in the past, then hopefully the above article provided you with some insight that can help you put down a food plot buck this fall!

Bowhunting Black Bears

by Steve Flores 11. May 2012 14:50
Steve Flores

Let’s get right to the point. When you reach “full draw” on an animal that can kill you,if it chooses to do so the intensity level is, to say the least, high. And while a black bear may not seem as ominous as a grizzly or brown bear, the threat of bodily harm still remains. In fact, black bears can prove to be more dangerous simply because of their unpredictability and our own skepticism regarding just how much of a threat they really are. This leads many to let their guard down, thus opening the door for something bad to happen. However, if you find yourself face to face with a bruin, on purpose or otherwise, fret not; archery tackle can spell bad medicine for even the toughest black bear. 


Confidence in your equipment can go a long way toward keeping you calm and steady when the moment of truth arrives. Choose your weapon wisely.

Intimidation Factor

In my opinion, the most difficult part of trying to harvest a black bear with a bow is dealing with the “intimidation” that usually accompanies such a task. Like I said, when you draw back on a potentially dangerous animal, it isn’t like drawing back on a whitetail buck. Yes, emotions will be heightened, and excitement levels will rise, but trust me, it is a different emotion---one that certainly requires a different thought process.

 
Black Bears don’t look so intimidating once they are off their feet. In fact, “ground-shrinkage” is common and often drastic in most cases.

The first thing you need to realize is that black bears are not known to be “man-eaters”. Although they have attacked and mauled humans, for the most part, they are just as afraid of you as you are of them (where have we heard that before). Quite often, you will never even know that you have spooked one in the woods because they will flee the scene long before you arrive. Also, despite their “hulking” stature, black bears are rather small once they are on the ground, stone dead.

I learned this fact on my first black bear hunt in Canada many years ago. The first time I saw a bruin I was amazed at how big it “appeared”. However, I was even more shocked when my guide and I approached the bear after I introduced him to the business end of my arrow. In all honesty, I didn’t believe it was the same animal I had shot just moments before. Part of my misconception was due to the intimidation factor, and some of it was a result of a black bears nature to “puff” itself up in an effort to appear bigger than it actually is; especially when approaching a bait sight or otherwise. When you combine those two stimuli it is easy to see how an approaching bruin can seem larger than life. However, in actuality, they are most often the opposite.

Point of Impact

The largest part of a black bear, and certainly the one area you want to avoid hitting with an arrow, is the front shoulders. This area is very big and muscular and obviously presents the greatest obstacle for your broadhead and arrow. Apart from that region, black bears are rather small. Therefore, placing an arrow tight behind the shoulder (not into it) is of utmost importance. I have killed whitetails by driving an arrow through the shoulders (not on purpose), but I try to avoid such a shot scenario at all costs when it comes to black bears. 

  
You don’t need heavy draw weight to take down a black bear. It can be done using moderate poundage and a sharp broadhead---if shot placement is good. The author’s wife (pictured here) has taken numerous bear with such equipment.

Unlike whitetails, the coat on a black bear is, well…..black. As a result, there are no defining colorations separating or outlining the shoulder from ribs like that of a whitetail. Instead, when you peer through your peep-sight at a black bear all you see is BLACK. This can make the task of “picking a spot” much more difficult, which in turn, can result in botched shots.

When faced with shooting a black bear, I try to divide the animal in half. In other words, I will establish a horizontal center line, and then a vertical center line. Together the two will make sort of a “crosshair”. This will usually give me a good “starting point”. The main thing is not to stray too far to the “rear” of where these two lines intersect because that could result in a gut shot animal, which we all know is bad news. Once I establish where these two lines intersect, I move my point of aim slightly toward the shoulders; making sure I don’t aim directly into the shoulder but rather tight behind it (if I can properly make out the shoulder region). After that, I leave the rest up to my broadhead and arrow. 


Locating a “defined” aiming point in a sea of BLACK can make proper shot placement difficult. Therefore, take a few extra seconds to make sure your sight pin is in the sweet-spot before dumping the bowstring.

Blood Flow

Most often, the blood trail of a bow-shot whitetail will more closely resemble that of a “road”; even more so if shot placement is good and broadheads are sharp. This is due mainly to the short, rather non-absorbent hair of a deer. Black bears, on the other hand, are entirely different. Even when your arrow blows through the boiler room of a bruin, its long, sponge-like hair will often prevent a great deal of blood from hitting the ground. Don’t let this fact discourage you from taking up the trail or naively assuming that you have made a bad hit. I have shot, and trailed, bears that scarcely bleed a drop----despite the fact that they were mortally hit. Sometimes the blood trail will be good, but don’t be surprised if it isn’t. Trust your instincts and take up the trail until you’ve exhausted all effort to find the animal.


Blood on the ground makes tracking easier. However, when trailing a black bear, it isn’t necessarily an indication of a well-placed arrow. A bear’s thick coat will often soak up a lot of the blood before it hits the ground. 

Odor Control

Bears, for the most part, have poor eye-sight. However, they can easily detect movement and without question have very good hearing. But perhaps their greatest defense is their nose. With an unbelievable ability to “sniff-out” danger, food, or a mate, black bears will likely smell you before you even see them. Most often, when hunting over bait, bears will approach downwind despite the fact that they may smell danger. Heavily baited areas are marked with human scent (mostly unintentionally) and therefore many bears become accustomed to it and can’t distinguish between “baiter” and/or “hunter”.  While smaller, immature bears may come close I believe the oldest, largest, and wisest bears often shy away until nightfall; never presenting a shot. 


Regardless of where you hunt black bears, strict attention to odor is paramount for success. Take every “scent-reducing” precaution you can or the hunt will be over before it starts. Pictured here is the latest breakthrough in odor control technology, Under Armour’s new Scent Control clothing line (available summer 2012).

If you happen to be hunting black bears in a big-timber setting, such as I do, then odor control is critical. In most instances baiting is not legal and therefore any hint of human odor near your stand will send bears running in the other direction. With that in mind, the same steps that are taken to fool the nose of a whitetail must also be followed when hunting bears. In fact, your efforts should be increased because, yes, they can smell that good.  Use of a product like Tink's B-tech odor eliminators is an absolute must when hunting black bears.  From the hair & body wash to the field sprays, I recommend using them all to keep your human scent down to an absolute minimum.  Above all else, too much scent can ruin your hunt before it even begins.

Conclusion

With the end of turkey season fast approaching, it’s time to shift our focus to spring black bear.  Regardless of whether you are hunting with an outfitter or in your own backyard, consider these key points before hitting the woods. If you do, I promise you will be the one doing the intimidating in the spring bear woods. Good luck!

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

CHOOSING A QUALITY ARCHERY PRO-SHOP PART 2

by Steve Flores 1. May 2012 10:16
Steve Flores

In Part 1 of this 2 Part series, we discussed the importance of choosing a quality pro-shop when making a new bow purchase or when simply adding upgrades to your current rig. There is no denying the “networking” value of an archery pro-shop, not to mention the fact that finding a good one can drastically shorten your learning curve. However, as I alluded to in last month’s article, finding one can sometimes be difficult. When searching for a quality pro-shop, be mindful of the presence or absence of the following traits: 

Good pro-shop’s not only help speed up the learning process for those who are new to archery, they also help veterans make sound decisions in equipment, shooting form, and everything else “archery” related.

Additional Clues
Years in business
–- Consider how many years the potential shop of interest has been in business before making a commitment. Undoubtedly, a pro-shop that is brand new is perfectly capable of providing quality service. Nonetheless, don’t assume that to be the truth merely because the sign on the front door says so. On the other hand, some businesses may not provide the best service, even though they have been around for quite some time.  
Variety -- Some say it is the spice of life. To an archer searching for a good place to take his equipment, it is a symbol of foundation. Simply put, oftentimes a good pro-shop, one that is committed to the happiness of the customer, will not only carry a wide variety of bows, and accessories, but will generally have the necessary equipment on hand to “test-drive” products of interest.  
Word Of Mouth -- When all else fails, hopefully you will know someone whom you can trust enough to point you in the right direction. If you happen to know an individual that takes their bowhunting and archery seriously, odds are good that he/she has already waded through the quagmire of imposter “pro-shops” and can quickly and easily tell you exactly where to start; or quite simply….whom to avoid.  

Take a good, hard look at your pro-shop of interest and listen to what others are saying and you will most likely know if it is worth walking through the front door or not.

Sign of The Times
We live in a society that demands a quick turnaround. We order food, and we want it in no more than a few minutes; often less. If the wait is much longer, we become irritated. It seems that this attitude has found its way into the world of purchasing archery equipment. The trend these days seems to be to purchase a bow quickly from somewhere other than the pro-shop, thus saving a small amount of money, then, going into the pro-shop to have it set-up. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am all for trying to save money whenever I can, but to me, this isn’t the way to do it. 

In today’s tough economic times it is understandable to look for ways to save a little money. However, in the long run, pro-shops will not only save you time and money sifting through faulty equipment, most shop owners “reward” their loyal customers in many ways you can’t put a price tag on.

Take my brother for example. Recently, he was in the market for a completely new bow setup.  Devoting an entire afternoon to test shooting each model of interest, he easily narrowed the field down to one. Being the type who always looks for “a deal”, he quickly went online to compare prices with the pro-shop. After a little searching, he was able to find a source that would perhaps save him just enough money to buy a dozen, high quality carbon arrows. When he asked me what I thought he should do, I promptly suggested he forget about the money he thought he was going to save and give his business to the local shop owner. Why?  Because, in the long run, he would gain more than the small monetary sum dangling in front of him.

After a little self-conflict, and despite the fact that the shop owner told him he could not match the prices he had found elsewhere, he chose the pro-shop----lucky for him. A few weeks after receiving his bow and getting it properly set up it was accidentally dry-fired.  As a result, the string and cam both were ruined. Upon returning to the shop, expecting some lengthy downtime, he was pleasantly surprised when the owner informed him that he had a brand new cam on the shelf and would happily replace his damaged one. The bigger surprise came when he tallied up the price. Zero, zip, zilch!

When something bad happens, and your hunt or your season is in jeopardy, it is nice to know you have a resource that can get things fixed and get you back in the field as quickly as possible. How much is that worth to you?

Apparently, the owner had acquired the part for the same price through an arrangement with the company and decided it was only fair to pass along the savings to his customers. My guess is he now has a customer for life. Sure, it is easy and tempting to sniff out a deal and save a little cash, and I’m not saying one shouldn’t participate in such transactions.  What I am saying, is make sure the money you are potentially saving is really worth it in the long run.  Remember, sometimes the most important part of the deal has little to do with dollar signs. 

 

Conclusion
In an ideal world, everyone who picked up a bow would have the technical know-how to perform any and every type of procedure necessary to insure optimal bow performance.  However, you and I both know that isn’t the case. For the individuals just getting started in this wonderful sport or the guys who would rather let someone else handle “the technical stuff”----there is hope. It is called “The Pro-Shop.”  Many establishments carry the name, but only a few actually fit the description. Hopefully, by now, you can recognize which ones are which.

First Impressions of the Can Cooker

by Keith Southworth 26. April 2012 10:25
Keith Southworth

Right behind my passion for bowhunting comes cooking and eating so I’m always looking for better ways to prepare food.  The Can Cooker looked so easy, and it came with a lot of praise so I didn’t think there was any way it could live up to the hype.   With only one meal cooked in it so far I can’t say that it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread, but I can say I cooked a meal that impressed everyone that sampled it. 

The Can Cooker is great for tailgating and can be used with any heat source.

I decided to start with a typical tail-gate type meal, bratwurst cooked with onions and peppers.  Until now, I have only grilled or smoked brats so steaming them was something new for me to try.  Right from the beginning I saw several advantages for using a Can Cooker for a tail-gate meal.  After chopping the onions and peppers the work was almost done at that point.  The Can Cooker can be used over almost any heat source making it very versatile in a variety of settings.  I chose to use my turkey fryer burner which was over-kill.  It doesn’t need that much heat to get the steaming process going.  Stove top burner, wood fire, charcoal, camp stove, will all work.  

The Can Cooker is as attractive as it is functional.

The directions say to spray the inside of the can with a non-stick spray so that’s what I did and then emptied the chopped onions and peppers into the bottom of the Can Cooker.  Next I placed the bratwurst on top of the onions and peppers and then for a twist I added two sliced apples on the top of the brats.  Then I opened three 12 ounce bottles of beer and poured the contents over all of the other ingredients.  I finished by using a generous amount of my favorite grilling spice.  I latched the lid, fired up the burner and sat back and waited for the steam to start spilling out of the vent hole on the lid.  Forty minutes after the steam starts and you’re done.   It can’t get much easier than that.  

 Cooking a variety of foods togather at one time is simple and easy with the Can Cooker.

Brats done on a grill can demand a lot of attention to make sure they don’t get over or under cooked and to make sure they don’t flare up and start a fire from the escaping grease.  Serving brats with onions and peppers can mean having to cook two things at once.  Combining all the ingredients together in the Can Cooker not only simplified things but I found it truly enhanced the flavor of the bratwurst.  I thought the apples were a great touch also.  

 Cleanup of the Can Cooker proved to be as easy as actually cooking the meal; thanks to the steam heating and the no-stick interior.

Cleaning up was very easy, maybe because of the steam nothing stuck to the can.  I just rinsed it out and then cleaned it with dish soap and a brush.  The Can Cooker comes with a nice cover with a draw string to keep it clean when stored and a small cook book and directions to get you started.   It’s large enough to make a meal big enough to feed a large crowd.  All in all I see many pluses in using the can cooker and no down sides.  It’s easy and versatile and makes a great meal. 
My wife, son and my best hunting buddy all thought the brats had better flavor than you get when grilling them and I agree.  To me, that’s the bottom line.  Give the Can Cooker a try, I think you’ll be impressed too.

Categories: Blog | Pro Staff

Food Plot 101

by Jordan Howell 23. April 2012 10:52
Jordan Howell

One of the hottest topics in the hunting industry today is Food Plots.  Some hunters will argue that they are absolutely necessary to kill big bucks; others will say you don't need them.  Despite the fact that there is no magical big buck potion, food plots definitely have their place in deer management and can drastically increase a hunter's success….IF they are done right.  For a bowhunter who may be a novice when it comes to food plots, trying to figure out everything on your own can be a nightmare.  For example, what to plant, where to plant, and the never ending when, how, and why’s associated with growing food plots can drive a person crazy. Quite often, these are questions many landowners and managers don't have answers to. As a result, many guess or take the advice of friends.  This trial and error method produces mixed results because not everything works in every situation. Hunters also have many misconceptions about food plots; such as you must have access to large equipment to be successful. This isn't true in most cases.  The only thing a hunter really needs is a determined attitude and the patience to do things right. So, if you happen to be one of the many bowhunters who have wanted to start your very own food plot, but didn’t because you thought you couldn’t do it for one reason or another----then this article is for you. Let’s begin with the basics....the EXTREME basics.

Establishing an intimate knowledge of your hunting area will go a long way toward reaching your management goals

It has been said that you must have long term goals to prevent frustration with short term failures. This is definitely true when it comes to habitat management.  Planning and forethought on the part of the hunter will have an immeasurable effect on the success of his/her food plots.  Because every piece of property is different, there is no food plot strategy that works for everyone. In order to be successful, one must carefully examine the needs and capabilities of his/her particular property before starting. The first question a hunter must ask himself is WHY do you want a food plot?  Is it to attract more deer to your property, or perhaps grow bigger bucks? Maybe it is to hold deer on your property by providing them with added nutrition. Before you plant the first seed, take a minute and write down what your short term and long term goals for the property are. This will help determine the starting point for your management plan because not all hunters want the same things, or can realistically achieve the same goals. For example, in the Southeastern part of the country, growing a “Booner  Buck” is not exactly an attainable goal. Many hunters in that region would be happy to simply see more deer while they are hunting. When it comes to your own wants and needs, think about what it is you ultimately wish to accomplish on your property.  Then, evaluate what your property's current short term and long term potential is; writing down its strengths and weaknesses. This will help you come up with a list of goals for the management of the property. 

 

Mineral Sites are an excellent means for not only attracting deer, but also helping bucks maximize their antler potential.

Once you have determined your goals, you can begin formulating a plan to carry them out.  The first thing that I like to do on a property is find out what kind of deer herd I am dealing with.  Although walking the property will give me clues about terrain, available forage, cover etc, there is no way I can accurately inventory the deer herd on a farm without added help.  One of the best tools for helping you do this is a good trail camera.  It will serve as your eyes in the woods….24 hours a day. When selecting a site to place a camera, I always pick an area where I can monitor and check it with minimal pressure to the local deer. This means placing my camera on the fringes of the property; places I can easily drive to or get very close to with my truck, thus minimizing the amount of human scent I leave in the area. This is a key step because the less intrusion I make, the more apt the deer will be to use the area. If placing minerals or attractants is not legal in your state, then pick a location that gets a lot of natural traffic, such as water holes, openings in fences, or where fence-rows meet the woods.  If putting out attractants is legal in your area, then by all means do so. This will increase the number of deer images you capture on your camera. Putting out minerals is also the easiest and cheapest way to establish deer numbers and develop a management plan on your property.  After that, the only decision you will have to make is do you want to simply attract more deer to your property or are you interested in growing bigger and healthier deer?  I know that is a simple question, but remember, we're taking baby steps here. If pure attraction is what you want out of your property, then a product such as Monster Raxx's Whitetail Magnet will work great.  It is a highly concentrated oil based attractant and deer find the sweet smell irresistible. On the other hand, if you want to attract deer, while at the same time, benefit them nutritionally, a product such as Monster Raxx's Trophy Minerals would be a suitable choice. This particular product still has some salt to attract deer, but has many different macro and trace minerals that will help with antler production and doe lactation which will lead to healthier fawns.  Mineral sites serve several roles to a hunter/ land manager. In addition to immediately attracting deer to your area and providing them with a nutritional boost, they help you inventory and keep track of your deer herd by documenting each visitor to the site. Plus they require very little effort on the hunter's part. I can't think of a product that gives a hunter more bang for his buck! 

 This plot was selected to be a "kill plot" inorder to intercept cruising bucks during the rut.

Once you have completed your mineral site setup, you can then begin to evaluate your property's food plot potential. The most important thing to remember is that without a clear picture of what your farm needs or what the conditions are, no one can offer a “catch-all” solution that will work.  The number one reason for food plot failure is improper site and/or forage selection. I cringe when I hear a plethora of different answers to questions regarding “what to plant” or “what to do” to improve a particular plot. While suggestions such as plant clover, plant beans, or add lime CAN be good, first and foremost, site selection and “plot purpose” must be taken into consideration. 
For example, currently I am working on a new plot on a piece of property that presents some unique challenges. I have hunted this particular farm for seven seasons. The entire southwestern corner of the property is roughly made up of 20 acre’s of impenetrable thicket; so thick that I can’t walk through it, much less hunt it.  The northeast section of this farm contains a swamp and holds a lot of deer.  The deer feed to the south in large agricultural fields. The swamp is the sanctuary on the property, so I don't hunt there. The center of the farm has little timber and is difficult to hunt.  I have put in a couple of plots in the center to provide late season forage for the deer.  This year I have decided to utilize the thicket that I haven’t been able to do anything with. 

 Treestand view from the "kill plot".

I have basically cleared out a section of the thicket where several trails crisscross and planted about a 1/3 acre “kill plot” in this section. I plan to utilize this particular area during the rut when I hope to capitalize on bucks cruising from North to South in search of does.  The addition of a plot surrounded by security cover will give wary bucks a spot to stop briefly and scent check for a receptive mate. Also, access to this location is perfect. With a North or Northeast wind I will be able to walk up the tree-line to the west and climb into the stand without alerting any deer to my presence. I cannot stress enough the importance of a covert access when hunting a food plot, or anywhere for that matter.  A good spot with perfect access is better than a great spot with bad access. If the deer know you are hunting them the greenest plot in the world won't do you any good. Once you have selected a location, you must decide on what type of forage to plant. Before doing this please remember to do one thing……A SOIL TEST!  This information will prove to be invaluable.  Not only will it provide you with soil PH, it will tell you soil type and nutrient levels as well. This will help you determine what kind of plot will grow the best on your land. 

After a site has been selected for your new food plot, it is vital to conduct a soil sample test.

In the case of the new plot on my farm, the soil test indicated my PH was low, and the soil was sandy, but organic matter was high. This is fairly typical of plots in the woods that have never been cultivated.  I wanted a clover plot, but typically clovers do better in heavier soils because they need a good amount of moisture. Based on the information in my soil test, I decided on a blend of annual clovers and brassicas, as well as alfalfa and chicory. I want a plot that will have peak attractiveness during the rut; when I plan to hunt it. The clovers and brassicas will provide that attractiveness, while the alfalfa's large roots will help hold moisture that the soil won’t; which allows the clover to attach to and utilize the water in its root system.
There are forages that would be easier to establish, but again I want peak attraction to be late October through November. The annual clovers will provide a quick green-up and will give the plot attractiveness while the lime builds up in the soil to raise the PH. Once the PH reaches 6.5, hopefully by next year, then I will plant a perennial. 

Success is failure turned inside out.  No matter what your goals are for a property, careful planning will make all the difference in the success of your food plots.  It isn't rocket science by any means, and anyone who wants to do it can.  All it takes is effort, determination, and creativity.  Just remember that to reach a destination, you must first know where you are going.  Make a list of management goals for your property, stick to them, and don't cut any corners achieving them.  If done correctly, food plots will be another deadly weapon in your arsenal of tactics. In my next article we will discuss soil testing a little more in-depth and move forward with the over-all food plot construction.

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.

 

Titanium Xtreme Bow Sight by Archer Xtreme Product Review

by Dustin DeCroo 18. April 2012 06:40
Dustin DeCroo

Every year I find a bowhunting sight that I like enough to use for the rest of my life, but each January my curiosity overwhelms me and my Mathews takes on a new look. This year my sight of choice is still unofficial, but the two competitors are the AXT (Archer Xtreme) Carbon Carnivore and the AXT Titanium Xtreme bowhunting sights. As of right now, the Titanium Xtreme is mounted on my new Heli-m but I can’t say for sure which one will be there come the Fall 2012.

Let's take an in-depth look at the Titanium Xtreme bow sight by Archer Xtreme.


The Titanium Xtreme bow sight by Archer Xtreme

The Titanium Xtreme (XT) bow sight is constructed of the strong, ultra-light material we all know as Titanium. The Titanium XT is built on the successful Carbon Carnivore platform with some minor changes. The first, and most obvious, is the switch from carbon fiber to titanium. Titanium is twice as strong as aluminum and 45% lighter than steel. The benefits of titanium (aside from a stronger and lighter material) are that titanium, unlike steel, will not rust and is not easily corroded.

Product engineering never ceases to amaze me in the archery industry. The Titanium Xtreme bow sight is the first sight constructed of titanium and is without question on the cutting edge. The Titanium Xtreme is a “no nonsense” sight. Bow manufacturers are producing light weight bows for back country minded hunters and Archer Xtreme is the front-runner for this trend when it comes to archery accessories. The Titanium XT design is super light weight with unnecessary material cut out around the sight housing and mounting bracket. There is only one slight change that may be beneficial to the design of the Titanium Xtreme and this would be to add a little bit of material to mounting bracket in the X-axis. This would provide a little extra rigidity to the sight and offer archer's some additional peace of mind.


The Titanium Xtreme sight is a light weight, well designed bow sight with clearly defined laser etched graduations and micro adjustment for fine tuning.

The Titanium Xtreme includes all the features that bowhunters expect out of high-end hunting sights. Tool-less windage and elevation adjustment are micro-adjustable. The adjustment knobs produce a very tight and audible “click,” when adjusting the sight housing there is no guessing as to how much adjustment you’re making. The sight housing adjustment blocks are also laser engraved for accurate adjustments. Around the large 2” sight housing is the HV Fiber Guard Ring system, this is a colored sight ring for proper peep sight alignment of the sight housing. The Fiber Guard Ring color can be ordered in fluorescent red, orange or green.


The adjustment knobs allow you to feel and hear each click while adjusting your sigh for windage and elevation.

The Titanium Xtreme includes five .019” diameter pins that come in green, red and yellow super flex fiber-optic. The sight pins of the AXT Titanium Xtreme sight incorporate C.C.P. (Center Core Pin) technology which is a tubular pin with the fiber optic running through the middle, this allows the fiber to be 100% protected at all times, eliminating the issue of broken fibers. The sight pins have an additional 8” of fiber for light accumulation in low-light situations that is neatly stowed out of the way down and around the sight mounting bracket with the Fiber Harness bracket system. Absolute Zero pin-gap spacing is possible for today’s high-speed bows.


Archer Xtreme's Titanium Xtreme sight uses Center Core Pin technology to protect the fiber optics.

One feature that is particularly nice to see included on a high-end bow sight, is the rear mounted LED pin light. The light sits at the very back of the mounting bracket where the sight mounts to the riser of the bow, turning the light on is simple and discrete.


The Titanium Xtreme comes with an LED light already mounted to the sight.

Archer Xtreme’s Titanium Xtreme sight is right/left hand adjustable by reversing the mounting bracket and replacing the bubble level to the top of the pin guard.

All in all, the sight is an excellent choice for the bowhunter looking for a performance driven bow sight. I used the Titanium Xtreme sight to take down my first animal with my Mathews Heli-m, a Rio- Grande turkey in Oklahoma. If you’re looking for a high quality sight to dress up your new bow or simply to upgrade the sight on your old favorite, the Titanium Xtreme by Archer Xtreme is worth a serious look.


My first animal of 2012, an Oklahoma turkey. My sight on this trip was the Archer Xtreme Titanium Xtreme.

Check back next month to see a review of the Carbon Carnivore by Archer Xtreme. You can also watch a video review of this sight and other Archer Xtreme products by clicking here, Archer Xtreme Products 2012.

Turkey Decoying to the Next Level

by Josh Fletcher 2. April 2012 13:04
Josh Fletcher

As turkey season is nearing this spring, majority of hunters that take to the woods will be carrying a turkey decoy or a whole flock of decoys. There is no questioning their effectiveness at fooling a long beard, but in this article we will cover tips and tactics that will take your decoying to the next level.

Questions turkey hunters ask themselves as they head to the woods each day is how many decoys do I use? Single or multiple hen decoys? Do you use a Jake, or a full strut decoy with hens? Where do you place them? How far do you set them away from your set up? To answer these questions we will first break it down, taking it one step at a time.

To help explain how to take your decoying to the next level, we broke the spring season down into time frames and explain what the turkeys are often doing this time of the year. This time frame is based on over eighteen years of observation here in the Midwest, if you live farther south, you will more likely see these events occurring earlier in the spring.

The biggest key to success with utilizing your decoys will be based upon what the birds are doing in your area at that given time. Even though the dates might be earlier or later based upon your geographical region, pay extra attention to what the birds are doing in your area. Locate below the description that best matches what the turkeys in your area are doing and base your turkey decoy tactics based upon the recommendations below.

Decoys are a must have tool when archery hunting turkeys


April 1st – May 1st

Flock Observation:

During the early spring from March to the beginning of April, majority of the birds are located in large flocks. You may see a flock of ten or more long beards hanging together; as it gets closer to April you will see more interaction between toms and hens. Seeing three to five toms in full strut with a dozen hens at this time of year is not uncommon.

Paying attention to what the turkeys in your area are doing and what you see in the flocks will dictate the decoy tactics that you will utilize. In the early part of the season here in my home State of Wisconsin, you will often see several toms strutting together with a flock of hens.

This is the stage of the breeding season that is similar to bachelor groups of bucks, the toms are still tolerant of each other and the dominant tom is willing to allow his subordinate buddy to hang out with him and his flock of hens.

Decoying Tactics:

Even though they are tolerant of each other they have worked out their pecking order in the flock. If you are seeing two or more toms strutting together in your hunting area, is when a full strut decoy with two or more hens will be the most effective.

By placing a full strut decoy with several fake ladies will eat away at the dominant tom. Your strutting fake also gives the subordinate toms an opportunity to maintain a higher position in the dominance chain by whooping the butt of your fake strutter.

Place the strutting decoy close to several hen decoys. We prefer to use a feeding and a breeding hen position decoys. For best results for a shot opportunity, place the strutting decoy facing you. As the jealous toms approach your set up, often they will come in at the shoulder or wing side of the decoy. They will often work their way up to the head of the decoy. This position will draw the attention away from you allowing you an opportunity to make your final movement before you make your shot.

As you reach later in this time period, we often find that a half strut or a three quarter strut Jake decoy works better than a full strut decoy. As the spring draws on, dominant toms begin to become less tolerant of their buddies and begin picking more and more on them eventually driving them from the flock. Because of this, some of the subordinate toms become more leery of picking a fight. So you will want to tone down the dominance of your decoy, a subordinate tom and his buddy may tuck tail and run from a strutting decoy but may feel like a tough guy to a less superior Jake decoy.

If you are working two or more toms, try a jake decoy with hens to make them jealous

May 1st- Mid May

Flock Observation:

At this time you will see more birds strutting by themselves or with several hens. Occasionally there will be two long beards together at the beginning of this stage; however by now most toms are no longer tolerant of their sidekicks like they were earlier in the season. This is also the time of year that the hens begin nesting. They go off and leave the toms to sit on their nests or they don’t hang with the flock for as long in the morning as they did earlier in the season.

Watch the flocks in your area, if you’re seeing more single toms or a tom with smaller amount of hens there is a good chance you are in this phase of the decoying season.

Decoying Tactics:

Since the toms are no longer tolerant of each other, you would think that a tom or a jake decoy would work best, however experience says differently. At this time of the season the majority of the subordinate toms have experienced their share of butt whooping, and will more than likely be turned away by a tom or jake decoy.

A tom or jake decoy will work if you’re calling the dominant tom in the area; however for one dominant tom you may have five or more subordinate toms. If you are like me I would rather play the odds in my favor and not use a male decoy that may spook one of the subordinate toms in the area.

At this stage in the breeding season your best results will come with a single hen or a flock of hen decoys. This is the time of the spring it is best to lighten your load and leave the tom decoy at home unless you are working a flock with two or more toms.

Later on in the spring less can be more, don't be afraid to use just a single hen


Mid May- End of May

Flock Observations:

At this time of the season you will often see a single tom strutting by himself or they may just have a couple of hens with him. It’s also not uncommon to see just one single hen by herself feeding in a field.

This is when the hens nesting is in full swing, the flocks are no longer and the birds have a tendency of doing their own thing, whether it be a single long beard strutting or just a single hen feeding by herself before she heads back to her nest in the morning.

Decoy Tactics:

At this time of the year less is more. Since it is uncommon to see flocks of birds hanging out together at the end of spring, we have experienced better results with just a single hen decoy.

Long beards are out looking and hanging out in their strut zones at this time of year hoping to pick up the last of the hens to breed before the season is over.

If you are hunting in a heavily hunted area they have pretty much seen every decoy and heard every call in the books by this time of the year. Your plan of attack if this is familiar to your situation is to tone down the calling and keep it simple. A lone feeding hen decoy is all you need, don’t overdo it this time of the year, keep it simple and cover ground looking for a lonely long beard.

Conclusion of Seasonal Set-ups:

The biggest piece of advice that we can give you is watch what the flocks in your area are doing and match your decoy set up to what you’re seeing around you. If you’re seeing several toms together and the season is early, don’t be afraid to go with a strutting decoy with hens.

As the season progresses and the flocks continue to break up and you’re seeing more single toms with hens, leave the strutting decoys at home and continue using a single hen or a flock of hen decoys.

When you begin seeing single toms with only a handful or less of hens, or seeing more lone hens in your area, we recommend leaving the flock at home and pack light. Just carry a single hen decoy for your best results.

One thing we do want to mention is that these are recommendations based upon years of experience and there are always exceptions to the rules because the only thing predictable with turkeys is that they are unpredictable.

In other words you may be able to bring in a long beard using a strutting decoy at the end of the season; however we like to have the odds in our favor. I’m not saying a strutting decoy won’t work at the end of the season, but you will have better odds with just a single hen than risking spooking a subordinate long beard that has already received a butt whooping from his buddies for the last three weeks.

A good rule of thumb is if you know you will be working two or more long beards hanging together, it is a safe bet to go with a jake decoy with several hens.

Decoy Placement:

Regardless of the time of year we like to keep our decoys close. If we are using a full pop-up ground blind and hunting with the bow, we will often keep the decoys 5 to 10 yards from the blind. If we are just sitting next to a tree or using a gun, often we try to keep the decoys from 10 to 15 yards away.

The reason for keeping the decoys close is just in case the tom hangs up and decides to make the decoys come to him; often he is still within range of the weapon of choice. This also holds true if the gobbler comes in and sees something that he doesn’t like. If you keep the decoys closer to you, you have a better chance of him being in range before he makes up his mind and bolts for the hills.

The other reason we like to keep the decoys close is that if we are “Cutting n’ Running” we often find ourselves scrambling to set up before the hot gobbler comes in. By keeping the decoys close we run less of a risk bumping the hot bird while running out to set up the fakes.

By placing the decoys behind you, forces the long beard to look down the road at the decoys, past your set-up

The next tactic we love to deploy is what we refer to as the “Walk past set-up”. This decoy set up is ideal for logging or access roads. If you’re hunting a long narrow open stretch of terrain such as a power line right of way or a logging road and a turkey gobbles in front of you down the logging road, we will place the decoys 10 to 15 yards behind us down the logging road.

By placing the decoys behind your set up which is on the side of the logging road, the long beard is looking past you at the decoys, this will cause the tom to almost walk right on top of you as he closes the distance to the decoys. This tactic will literally put him in your lap, but be careful not to let him get so close to you that you cannot move without being busted.

Tips for Productive Decoys:

As with any decoys, realism is the key. We have all driven by a field and seen another hunter’s set up with their decoys in the field. If we can tell from several hundred yards away that those are decoys in the field, you can bet a bird with an eye sight five times better than ours can definitely tell something isn’t right with that set up.

With modern technology, turkey decoys are becoming more realistic than ever. Some of the most realistic decoys on the market are Avian X by the Zink Company and the Dave Smith Turkey Decoys. They are very realistic decoys, but be prepared to take out a small loan to buy the whole flock.

Another tip for owning a flock of high quality realistic fakes is to buy in the buddy system. I along with two very close hunting partners all bought a decoy. We often hunt together and enjoy the hunt as a group, when we combine our decoys we now have a flock of the most realistic decoys on the market.

Avian X decoys by Zink Calls offers a truly realistic decoy



To make your decoys look even more realistic you can always add your own feathers to your decoys. Some companies allow you to use a real turkey fan for more realism. There is also a company that makes a product that is basically a cape of turkey feathers to be placed over your existing decoy.

If you’re real handy you can always make your own stuffer decoy for the most realistic decoy out there. By having a taxidermy back ground, several years ago I and some friends got clever and skinned out a turkey cape. We then tanned the cape and glued it on to one of our strutting decoys. We then bolted on some real wings with a real tail fan. We have used our homemade stuffer we named “KJ” for several years with great success. Even though KJ has taken a real beating over the years he is still working like he did the first day we made him.

Next is decoy body positions, hen decoys come in three to four different positions. The one position that we try to avoid is the head straight up or alert position. If you have ever been busted by a turkey you have quickly learned that when a bird sees something they don’t like the crane their neck strait up to get a better look. To me this is an alert position, and we much prefer a more relaxed looking flock or single hen. To vary the look of your flock the best positions are the feeding and the breeding position.

Movement adds realism to your decoys. If you are using more than one decoy you will get better results with more movement in your decoy set. If you watch a flock of turkeys you will see some feeding, some standing still, and even some flapping and stretching their wings. There is more movement visible with more birds in a flock.

To make your flock move with realism look for decoys such as those with a bobble head, or even a bobbing tail, also the lighter decoys will waddle beautifully under the right amount of breeze to bring your flock alive.

Conclusion:

Turkey decoys can be the difference from a hunt or a hunt of a life time. If you have never tried using decoys, you’re missing out on some real excitement. Decoys can pull a long beard that would ignore your sweet calling but couldn’t resist seeing an intruder with his ladies clear across the field, serving your next long beard up on a silver platter.

Just like your favorite turkey calls or even your weapon of choice, you won’t want to be in the turkey woods without a decoy. You may not necessarily use a decoy on every set up, but at least you will have it in case you need it.

The key to taking your decoying to the next level is as simple as paying attention to what the turkeys are doing around you. These simple observations will dictate whether you will want to use a whole flock or just a single hen.

An Introduction to Outdoor Photography

by Cody Altizer 30. March 2012 09:19
Cody Altizer

It was that time of year that deer hunters across the country dream about; mid-November, overcast, temperatures in the upper 30s and a little breezy.  The weather was perfect.  I was set up downwind of a sanctuary that I knew several bucks felt comfortable moving in and out of during the daylight and, coupled with the time of year and weather conditions, I had high hopes for the afternoon’s hunt.  I caught movement coming out of the sanctuary a little early than I expected, about 3:30, but I certainly wasn’t going to complain.  A quick glance through my binoculars revealed the sex of the whitetail; perfect, a buck.  

I was downwind and he was clueless of my existence.  I took a deep breath and calmly grabbed my weapon, all the while keeping my eyes locked on him as to immediately freeze should he peg my location.  He aimlessly crossed the steep ditch that separated his safety net from my stand location, and I slowly shifted my position to ready myself for the upcoming shot.  He was at 20 yards, but the angle was poor and I knew he’d come closer.  Finally, he stopped at 8 yards and began munching on acorns.  This was it, the perfect shot, the perfect angle, it was now or never.  Quietly, I focused on the unaware buck and... CLICK! Perfect!  I had just executed the shot on an unexpecting whitetail buck, what could better? 

This "soon-to-be" giant buck made the mistake of stopping right underneath my treestand in mid-November.  I took several photos of him that afternoon as he munched on acorns and kept me company for hours.

Well, several things could have been better.  For one, I could have “shot” the buck with my bow, not my camera, and two, the buck could have been bigger than a button buck, but I was thrilled nonetheless.  For me personally, hunting whitetail deer and photography are one in the same.  They both provide me with an inexplicable amount of satisfaction and enjoyment. Conversely, they are a skill and passion of mine that I will never fully understand and master, and do quite well knowing that.   

That being said, I’m sure the majority all of us have been outdoors, not even hunting I’m sure, and the natural world struck us with such beauty and awe, that we felt compelled to take a picture.  There’s no such thing as a bad picture, except a picture not taken.  The world famous Ansel Adams once authored this quote, “There are no rules for good photographs, just good photographs.”  I agree wholeheartedly.  However, since outdoor photography is art, a form of personal expression, I  wouldn’t feel comfortable authoring a “How To: Outdoor Photography” article, but I’ve learned enough through trial and error (many errors) on how to get the most out of your outdoor, landscape, scenic and hunting related photographs.

Rules of Composition

As stated above, I don’t feel comfortable at all writing an article telling you how you should go about taking your photos.  We’ve all been blessed with a creative mind, some more so than others, but it would be repulsive of me to claim to stake as an omniscient photographer, because there is no such thing.

There are however, a few rules that should be followed to get the most out of your photos, the rules of composition.  A poorly structured photo can turn a beautiful image into a train wreck.  

Rule of Thirds

The first and most common rule is the rule of thirds which states that you should place the most important subjects of your photo along 9 equal, imaginary segments broken down by two vertical and horizontal imaginary lines.  This adds depth, interest and balance to your photo, and can help tell a more involved story opposed to a subject centered image.

An example of how the rule of thirds helps balance the photo.

Ascending or Descending Lines

A little quality time in a treestand will tell you that we live in a vertical world.  It makes sense, because everything grows towards the sun, so it’s only natural that our eyes are drawn to lines.  Keeping these lines in mind when taking photos can greatly determine how we look at a photograph and the best part is, it’s up to the viewer to determine what each line means and how it tells a story within a photo.

An example of descending lines can take your eyes straight to the subject of the photo.

Viewpoint

Experimenting with different viewpoints is a very fun and unique way to develop your own creative photography style.  When outside shooting photos, we often feel rushed to get the perfect shot, without taking into consideration how the image could look if we changed our view point.  Changing your viewpoint can be easily done by shooting your subject at an angle, from an elevated position or from ground level.  Again, it’s your creative decision.  Photography is starting to sound pretty cool now, isn’t it?

I dropped down to my knees to capture this photograph.  Simply standing and shooting down at my dad's hand wouldn't have created such a dramatic effect.

Depth

Depth is perhaps my favorite photography “rule” simply because the majority of my photos are meant to tell a story, and adding depth to an image is a great way to do so.  Altering your framing as to place different subjects at varying distances in the foreground, middle ground, or background (or all three) adds depth to the story literally, as well as figuratively.  Another cool photography technique is using one subject to block, or reveal (your creative mind will decide that for you), another subject.  Again, this is another cool way to tell a story with an image.  

There are two subjects in this photo, one the foreground and one in the background.  Combined, the two come together to tell a story about the hunter and his beliefs.

Another shot where depth helps tell a more complete story.

Photography Equipment

In a world powered by social media, beautiful outdoor images pop up in our news feed and timelines regularly.  That’s because the technology in cameras continues to evolve making photography easier to learn and practice, more user friendly.  Fantastic photos can be taken with small point and shoots, and even mobile devices can capture a beautiful image. 

However, if you’re truly interested in outdoor photography, you’re going to need much, much more than those devices.  A point shoot can’t gather enough light to do a sunset justice, and your iPhone isn’t capable of the long exposures required to capture starlit nights.   

Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) cameras are becoming more and more popular, because they are becoming cheaper, easier to use and are capturing incredible images like never before.  What body you decide on is a lot like what bow you decide to shoot, it’s purely a personal preference.  Some cameras just feel better in hand to some photographers, while others don’t.  The bottom line is the camera doesn’t make a great shot, the photographer manning the camera does.

Before purchasing a camera and lens, develop a budget with which you are comfortable.  When making purchase decisions, however, remember that a quality lens is far more important that the camera body.

Many folks who are new or inexperienced in the world of photography mistakenly think that a camera body is the most important piece of equipment needed for their arsenal, when in reality they couldn’t be farther from the truth.  Yes, a camera body is important, of course, but it takes a figurative back seat to what lens you are attaching to that body.  Provided you don’t crack the glass, your lens will outlive any camera body, and your glass quality is what really gives you the beautiful contrast, sharpness, clarity and depth of field that will really make your photos pop.   

Landscape, Scenic Photography

Landscape photography is perhaps the most common form of photography, simply because the natural world is filled to the brim with beautiful imagery everywhere you look.  Whether you live in the city, the mountains or the Great Plains, breathtaking views are plentiful and willing to be captured by the creative and willing photographer.  

I've often heard folks say that the world just looks dead in late December.  I beg to differ!

Personally, I want to create a sense of passion with my landscape photos, a feeling that the viewer was there with me when I took the photo, and I want to share with them how I see the world.  Rarely do I want to trigger a viewer’s intellectual.  To me, as complex as photography can be, it should be more about feelings and emotions, and less about thinking and the analytical.  This can be easily achieved with landscape photography.  A shot of a bronze sky over a barn could tell a story of a hot, hard day’s work during the summer.  While a barren field with overcast skies certainly tells illustrates a blustery cold winters day.

What mood do you feel after viewing this photo?  I think of a springtime thunderstorm about dump buckets of rain on a booming clover food plot!

To me, this photo has great sentimental value.  But for you, however, it could mean something totally different!  That's the beauty of photography.

Wildlife Photography

Wildlife photography is perhaps the sexiest form of photography, especially to us hunters, because if there’s a substitute to putting an arrow through a mature whitetail, snapping a photo of him with your camera has to be a close second.  Unfortunately, wildlife photography is also the most difficult form of outdoor photography, because, like hunting you’re at the animal’s mercy.  

This is my favorite photo of a whitetail deer that I have ever been lucky enough to capture.  I was simply in the right place at the right time.

The most common obstacle outdoor photographer’s encounter when trying to capture images of wildlife is getting close to their subject.  It’s been well documented that animals aren’t comfortable in the presence of humans, especially when said human has a strange decide pointing right at them, it tends to make them uneasy and on edge.  So, to capture wildlife when they are calm and relaxed, a lens with a strong zoom, at least 200mm, is almost necessary.  This will allow animals within 40 yards to be photographed tightly enough for a strong image, and will allow for incredible detail for close up shots on animals less than 20 yards.  

This buck was no more than 20 yards from my car when he posed for me for a little over 2 minutes this past August.  I was able to capture several photos and record about 30 seconds of video footage of him as well.

Actually capturing images of wildlife (okay, some wildlife) isn’t as hard as it first sounds.  When I say wildlife photographer, I am sure you are thinking of an individual in a ghile suit hidden in the brush waiting for a deer to walk by.  While that is certainly one way to capture photos, and necessary for many species of wildlife, beautiful photos of deer, turkeys, birds of prey, and the occasional fox or coyote can be attributed to a simple drive around back country roads.  Animals feeding in fields near roadways are usually very tolerable of vehicles and will often allow you to snap several shots before either trotting back to cover, or resume feeding, especially during the summer.  

Every so often you stumble your way onto a crisp, clear and colorful photo.  Such is the case with this nervous doe.  She was very close to my car, and I was fortunate enough to grab a couple photos of her before she bolted back in the timber. 

Conclusion 

Outdoor photography is a wonderful art form and a beautiful means of expression.  It gives creative minds a chance to come out and play and, with a little practice, it gives not so creative minds a chance to explore the world in ways they never thought possible.  If you’re an amateur or photographer who is just beginning to explore the world of capturing still images, or a seasoned veteran who’s been shooting their entire lives, I hope this article has given you some useful information you can to the field with you.  Just remember, there are no rules when it comes to photography, so grab your camera, head outside snap some photos and about all else, enjoy the beauty that is the natural world! 

NAP Spitfire Gobbler Getter Broadhead Review

by Dustin DeCroo 15. March 2012 08:57
Dustin DeCroo

New Archery Products has built a solid reputation around designing and building top of the line archery products. NAP produces the oldest, most trusted fixed blade head of all time, the Thunderhead; and arguably the most reliable mechanical broadhead on the market, the Spitfire. Technology continues to progress in every aspect of life and the broadhead industry is no different. Welcome, Spitfire Gobbler Getter.


New Archery Products Spitfire Gobbler Getter

Bowhunters have long since discovered the advantages of mechanical broadheads for hunting turkeys and in 2011 NAP created an expandable broadhead designed specifically for turkey hunters. The Spitfire Gobbler Getter is a variation of the already proven Spitfire broadhead.  The expandable turkey broadhead is available in 100 or 125 grains, has a 1 1/2" cutting diameter and over 3" of cutting surface.  Similar to the original Spitfire, the Gobbler Getter integrates Micro Grooved Slimline Ferrule technology to allow air to pass over the ferrule with less resistance, thus, providing the truest arrow flight possible. The Diamize sharpened blades are sharpened through a rigorous process ensuring exceptionally sharp blades to produce the cleanest cuts for maximum hemorrhaging and quicker kills. The blades on both the Spitfire and the Spitfire Gobbler Getter are locked into place with a hidden blade tension clip that NAP guarantees will not allow the blades to open in flight. Finally, the radical change that transforms the Spitfire to the Spitfire Gobbler Getter is the shock inducing Gobbler point, a rounded tip in place of the hardened Trophy Tip. The sole purpose of the Gobbler tip is to minimize pass throughs, delivering the most shock possible into the gobbler. Why would anyone not want a complete pass through? Let us take a harder look.

Turkeys are tough birds, period. There is no arguing that fact. There are a couple of significant differences between turkeys and other big game animals that bowhunters pursue. The first being, turkeys have the ability to fly away after they are shot. Obviously, this creates its own, set of problems. Second, blood trailing a turkey can be extremely difficult because they don’t have much blood to lose and feathers can soak up the majority of your blood trail before it reaches the ground. For these reasons, the idea behind the Gobbler Getter is to put the bird on the ground where he stands or shortly thereafter, before he has the opportunity to fly. This is achieved with the combination of a large cutting surface and by the Gobbler point helping the arrow expend its energy in the bird. This delivered “shock” works the same way bullets deliver shock or “knock down power” to an animal.



The Gobbler point is designed to deliver shock in the same manner a bullet delivers "knock down power."

Let us be honest. Every broadhead on the market today will kill a turkey if the arrow is placed correctly. This holds true with deer as well. Every broadhead on the market will kill a heart shot deer. Unfortunately, I don’t make a perfect shot on every animal. My theory on broadheads, is that I don’t buy a broadhead for the perfect shot. I buy a broadhead that provides me the best chance of recovering my animal on a poorly executed shot. For this reason, my quiver was loaded with NAP Gobbler Getters in the Spring of 2011, and will be again in 2012.

In preparation for bowhunting turkeys, I practiced shooting my Z7Xtreme at distances out to 70 yards strictly to test the flight of the Gobbler Getter. The Gobbler Getter tipped arrows were flying like darts, at any distance, off the string of my Mathews. The Merriams and Rio Grande turkeys of the Western United States were kind to me, providing me the opportunity to take a total of five toms with the Gobbler Getter broadhead in the Spring of 2011. The NAP broadheads performed exactly as they were designed putting birds down on the spot on multiple occasions. My bow is set up with a 29 inch draw length at 70 pounds and I’m shooting a 413 grain arrow at 286 feet per second. That’s a significant amount of kinetic energy to be stopped in something as small as a turkey. While my arrows did pass through, they were all lying on the ground where the bird stood or were sticking with the fletchings straight into the air, thus, the energy was delivered to the bird instead of the dirt on the backside. On one particular bird in Wyoming, I made a shot that was higher than expected but the large cutting surface and cutting diameter allowed the shot to be fatal and the bird was recovered within 75 yards. 


These big Mearriams gobblers were two of the first toms to fall to my Spitfire Gobbler Getter broadheads.

The main criteria I have for selecting a broadhead are: true flight, sharpness, durability and performing in the manner they were designed (i.e. turkey shots, turkey head shots, or ultra penetration on large game). If we’re talking about a mechanical broadhead, I want the blades to open when and only when they strike the target, not in the quiver or on their way to the target. There are numerous quality expandable broadheads on the market but if you are looking for a five star turkey specific broadhead, I recommend giving the Spitfire Gobbler Getter a chance at taking down your next tom.

 

SHOT Show has changed, stayed the same since January 1991

by Patrick Durkin 14. March 2012 23:50
Patrick Durkin

While checking in and picking up my media credentials at the 2012 Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show in Las Vegas in January, I realized I was attending my 22nd consecutive SHOT Show. My first was in Dallas in January 1991.

Maybe that’s why I couldn’t help but eavesdrop in a hotel elevator the first morning when two guys next to me started complaining. They said they’d been coming to the show “for years,” and groaned about the “long day” ahead.

Pretty girls staff many SHOT Show booths to greet visitors and hand out information.

“It’s not getting any easier,” one guy said.

“Nine hours of walking and standing on cement covered by thin carpeting,” the other sighed. “The more I do this, the worse I feel.”

I glanced at them, expecting to see men in their 40s, maybe even 50s. But no, they weren’t even close to my age, 56. They looked to be in their mid-30s; late 30s at the most.

I couldn’t help but smile and ask: “How many SHOT Shows have you attended?”

The guy nearest me said, “Seven.” His friend replied, “Me too.”

Author and former Navy SEAL Chuck Pfarrer sold and signed copies of his latest book for charity at the 2012 SHOT Show.

I must have smiled wider, because one of them asked politely, “I take it this isn’t your first one?”

I silently thanked him for not adding, “Old Timer” to the end of his sentence. Then I told him this was No. 22 for me, and I hoped I’d be around for at least 22 more. “They’re all a blur now,” I said.

My companions seemed impressed, even apologetic. “I guess we shouldn’t be complaining, should we?”

Terry Drury, left, and Mark Drury, center, talk with Cuz Strickland of Mossy Oak fame.

“Well, don’t let me ruin a good time for you,” I laughed, and wished them well.

The fact is, the SHOT Show is a demanding way to spend four days, but as I’ll always say, “It beats working for a living.” My typical day at SHOT begins about 4:30 a.m. and ends at 10 p.m. Although the show is held in Las Vegas most years, I estimate I’ve spent no more than $70 gambling in all my walks back and forth between the show and my hotel room. And if I were to subtract two $20 bets I’ve made on Super Bowls played during SHOT Show weekends, I’ve spent about $30 on the slots.

The fact is, I must cover so much ground each day of SHOT that I’m too tired to do anything fun in Vegas at night. Plus, I usually file two 700-word articles each night of the Show, and another 700-word newspaper column one morning. Such articles don’t get written unless I visit a lot of booths and attend several press conferences each day.

Astronaut Joe Engle posed for a photo with my daughter, Leah Durkin, at a recent SHOT Show.

Yeah, my job requires a lot of notes, photographs and interviews. And I can’t say I look forward to my nine hours on the show floor each day, and roughly three hours of work before and after the show. Before self pity creeps in, though, I remind myself there’s only a few thousand hunters and shooters who would love to have my job.

During all these years attending SHOT, I think often about how it has changed. During the early 1990s, the show truly featured hunting. All the archery companies were clustered in one part of its massive floor, and the firearms companies stretched endlessly in the other three directions. I spent two days in each, and never came close to seeing everything.

By the late 1990s, the archery industry had all but abandoned the SHOT Show in favor of the ATA Trade Show. About the only archery companies you see at SHOT now are crossbow manufacturers. If not for them and a few tree-stand companies, you wouldn’t suspect the archery industry was once a key player at SHOT.

Miles of carpeted aisles lead SHOT Show business people past thousands of manufacturers' booths.

Then, soon after 9-11 and the United States’ “War on Terror,” SHOT attracted a growing number of entrepreneurs and manufacturers that specialize in police and military hardware. Unlike the archery and firearms industries, however, I don’t see as much overlap between the firearms and police-military industries. I often feel like I’m learning everything from scratch when working the booths in the law-enforcement wings.

Still, there’s one great thing about the SHOT Show that never changes: It never bores me. I always meet nice people who are passionate about their work, play and business. And whether it’ 1991 or 2012, I’ll often see celebrities roaming the aisles or standing at booths to meet people and sign autographs. Over the years, I’ve been fortunate to meet astronaut Joe Engle, test-pilot Chuck Yeager, football coach Bud Grant, actor/gunnery sergeant R. Lee Ermey, and various singers and musicians.

Another thing that hasn’t changed: Some companies still hire pretty girls to hand out brochures and pose for pictures with middle-aged and aging guys like me. After 22 years, I’m still not sure if those girls truly generate business for the exhibitors. I’ll never forget when I ran into my old boss at the 1992 SHOT Show, and said: “Al, you won’t believe this. I just saw two really pretty girls in bikinis working at a booth two aisles over.”

You'll never visit every booth at the SHOT Show, even if you spend every hour of all four days on the show floor.

Al smiled and asked, “Which company are they working for and what were they selling?”

I stood silent, totally dumbstruck. Finally I said: “You know. I never thought to look or ask.”

Al smiled again and said, “I rest my case.”

Well, at the 2012 SHOT Show I still saw a lot of pretty, smiling girls working the booths of several companies. None wore bikinis, but six weeks later, I still can’t answer Al’s timeless question: I don’t know who they worked for or what they were selling.

Maybe I’ll pay more attention and remember such things at the 2013 SHOT Show, but don’t hold me to it.

 

 

 

NAP 2 Blade Bloodrunner REVIEW - My Turkey Broadhead of Choice

by John Mueller 14. March 2012 14:50
John Mueller

In my opinion huge expandable broadheads are made for turkey hunting. I’m not worried about getting a pass through; I’d rather have my arrow stay in the bird. My goal is to do as much damage as I possibly can and do it as fast as I can. With its 2-1/16” cut when open the NAP 2 Blade Bloodrunner helps me achieve this goal.

The 2 Blade Bloodrunner is one wicked Broadhead.

When turkey hunting, unlike deer hunting, I’d rather have my arrow stay in the animal. If I don’t get an instant kill from my shot, having the arrow stay in the bird will prevent it from flying away. While a turkey is very good at running off after taking an arrow, he could put a lot more distance between himself and the hunter if he can fly away. Another benefit of having the arrow stay in the bird is he is much easier to spot lying in the woods with my Luminock sticking in the air glowing. I even back my draw weight off 5 pounds or so just so I have a better chance of my arrow staying in the gobbler.

When hit by a huge cutting diameter broadhead like the 2 Blade Bloodrunner, a massive amount of damage is inflicted to an animal the size of a Tom Turkey, putting him down in short order even with a marginal hit. Plus it delivers a great deal of shock to the animal, knocking him off his feet and disorienting him. Huge old Gobblers can be very tough animals to bring down. I’ve had a couple run off after taking a load of #5 shot from my 3-1/2” 12 gauge shells. I’m looking for all the stopping power I can get from my broadhead and the NAP 2 Blade Bloodrunner gives me that.

BloodRunner technology gives you the best of both worlds a fixed blade broadhead that expands upon impact and gives a hunter the peace of mind that it will cut no matter what! Just check out these impressive specs.
• 2-blade 100 grains (125 grain also available)
• Open Cutting Diameter: 2-1/6”
• Closed Cutting Diameter: 1-1/8”
• Blade Thickness: .039”
• Super-strong stainless steel razor sharp blades
• MSRP: $39.99 for a 3 pack
• Fixed position practice heads available

At 1-1/8" when closed and 2-1/16" when opened, NAP's 2-blade Bloodrunner is ready for the biggest of game.

The bloodrunner is unique in the fact that it is held closed by spring pressure and then expands to its full 2-1/16” cut upon contact with its target. It will stay open as long as it has pressure on the front of the broadhead. There are no o-rings or rubber bands to fail or loose. It cannot fail to open on contact. And if it starts to back out of the animal, the blades cannot close up like some mechanical broadheads will. So it will continue to do damage with its exposed blades.

Turkeys have a very small vital area when compared to the whitetails most of us are accustomed to bow hunting. The 2-1/16” cutting diameter of the Bloodrunner helps out just a little bit with getting the blades where they need to be. With this massive cut I don’t need to be as precise with shots. After all a Thundering Gobbler at 10-20 yards can give anyone a case of the shakes. I also do most of my bowhunting for turkeys from ground blinds and shots are frequently are taken from my knees and from odd positions to get the right angle out of the windows. All of these factors can have an adverse effect on my shots accuracy. The Bloodrunner gives me the advantage of having a small profile head in flight, but still gives me the huge cut after opening and allows for a little bit of the shakes.

Aim at the spot where the wing meets the body on a broadside gobbler.

My personal experience with the Bloodrunner doesn’t include a turkey kill as of yet. But I have taken a coyote and 2 whitetails with them. I couldn’t have asked for better performance from a broadhead. Once I had my bow tuned and had achieved perfect arrow flight, accuracy was never an issue. I knew if a shot presented itself, I could put the broadhead where it needed to be. Both the entrance and exit holes were unbelievable. All 3 animals were double lunged and recovered in less than 75 yards. I have no doubt if a gobbler presents me with a shot opportunity the Bloodrunner will do its job as long as I do mine.

Bowhunting.com prostaffer Dan Schaffer doubled up on Merriams with his Mathews Bow in Wyoming last spring.

If you plan on pursuing Wild Turkeys with bow in hand this spring, do yourself a favor and use the biggest broadhead you can shoot accurately. I’m putting my money on the NAP 2 Blade Bloodrunner. Hopefully you’ll see me in an upcoming episode of our webshow Bowhunt or Die this spring sitting beside a big old Tom Turkey with my Mathews in my hand and a Bloodrunner on my arrow.

Check out this video REVIEW done last year by our very own Justin Zarr.

Bison By Bow The Moment of Truth

by Josh Fletcher 29. February 2012 10:52
Josh Fletcher

On the morning of Thursday February 16th I had no problem getting out of bed, now falling asleep the night before was a different story. I lay in bed running my mental check list over and over again in my head, afraid that I was going to forget something. The next day I was prepared for a once and a life time hunt at the Scenic View Ranch in North East Iowa on a buffalo hunt with a bow.

As Thursday afternoon dragged on I tripled checked my equipment, shot my bow, packed and repacked our hunting rig while waiting for our camera man Bryce, (also referred to as Loo Loo) to arrive before we would depart to Prairie Du Chien, Wisconsin where our hotel was located for the night’s stay.
 
Prior Bryce’s arrival I must have worn marks in the floor form the constant pacing as my nerves for the upcoming hunt was getting the best of me.

It didn’t take long and Bryce arrived. As we traveled we talked about the possibilities and the tactics to employ for the next day’s hunt. Neither Bryce nor I have ever hunted on a ranch a day in our life, so we had no idea what to expect. I was towing a trailer with an empty freezer to hall the rewards of a successful hunt back from Iowa. We also had several rubber bins packed with all the equipment and supplies to process a 1,000 pound animal ourselves.

The next morning came early, and both Bryce and I didn’t even wait for the alarm clock to go off. We sprung out of bed like kids on Christmas morning. We scrambled about the hotel room resembling ants in a freshly kicked anthill. We quickly prepared our gear and donned on our camo as we headed out the door.

As we crossed over the mighty Mississippi River and entered Iowa it hit me. This hunt was really happening. We were going to be chasing bison by bow. We would be partaking in a hunt that has taken place thousands of years ago. We would be hunting the great thunder beast that once roamed North America by the millions.

We arrived at the beautiful Scenic View Ranch just outside the small town of Monona Iowa, around 8:00 am. When we arrived we met with Co-owner of the ranch, Rex. He gave us a quick tour of the ranch.

A view from the top deck of the cabin at the ranch

Scenic View Ranch is working on expanding the hunting experience for their hunters. Rex showed us their skinning and meat processing shed that they are currently building for hunters such as ourselves that wanted to process their own meat while on the property. They have a large electric winch to hang your animal up and to assist with skinning; they also have the shed equipped with a walk in cooler and a walk in freezer.

Next he showed us their guest cabin that they are also currently building for guests to stay at to enjoy trout fishing in the summer, or hunting in the fall and winter months. I must say that to me this is much more than a cabin, once complete this would be my dream home. With two large decks that sat on the Yellow River, along with several bedrooms and loft, it is sure to be a hunters dream to spend the night in preparing for the next day’s hunt.

Once complete the cabin will have a rustic feel for the hunters to enjoy

After a quick tour and some final shots with the bow, we were cut loose to match wits with the large baffalo that roam the Mississippi River bluffs.

As we entered the property we felt like we were entering Jurassic Park. As we topped one of the many bluffs on the property it was common to see large white rams, bull elk, and whitetail deer. However for all the animals we were seeing the one we were after seemed to be nonexistent. As we glassed the large bluffs, open fields and down into the deep cuts, we realized that the buffalo could be any ware.

After searching for several hours, luck was finely on our side. As I looked up the hillside approximately 150 yards away I observed a large bull bison bedded, looking directly at us.

A herd of white rams added to the feel that we were hunting in "Jurassic Park"

With Bryce filming every move, I quickly turned to him and asked, “Well, what do you think?” We quickly devised a plan to make a large circle and to approach the buffalo from the back side, for two reasons. The first, being that we were currently staring directly in to the sun. If we circled, we could put the sun at our backs to help disguise our approach. Second with the crusty snow on the ground, we wanted to approach from an area of the ridge that had minimal amount of snow on the ground.

As we circled this bison, only one thing ran through my mind, how big this animal really was! The size of this buffalo just got bigger and bigger with every step we made towards him.

As we got within 70 yards of the buffalo, he spotted us and the gig was up. The massive beast rose to his feet, now alert. Unsure just how spooky buffalo are, or how close the shaggy beast would let us get before he would run or possibly charge, we decided to stay still for a while to allow the buffalo to calm back down before we would begin continuing our stalk.

Bryce (Loo Loo) filming every move of the hunt to share with the viewers

After he calmed back down, we again began our approach. As we got closer, Bryce made several references towards being able to film from a distance while I continue the stalk, along with the fact he was not sure just how quick a 1,000 pound animal can turn and charge. I quickly realized that my camera man did not trust my shooting abilities!  Knowing that if this beast charged, I needed my camera man with in a push-able or trip-able distance to buy time for my escape, I reassured Bryce that everything was going to be fine and to continue our approach.
 
As we cautiously approached the bison, we closed the distance down to thirty yards. I took a minute to regain my composure before drawing back on the slightly quartering away buffalo. As I began to draw my bow is the when the moment that I least expected occurred to me. At that moment I looked into the bison’s eyes. Those big deep eyes locked me in a trance for what was a split second, but felt like minutes. As I looked into his eyes I could see history flashing by. I imagined what the great Native tribes on the prairies thought as they also gazed into those same eyes. They too must have seen an animal that was created for man’s survival. A beast that was designed for sheer power, that once it was killed it would provide hundreds of pounds of food, shelter, and tools.

 I also saw the sadness. The sadness of a great free roaming species that once roamed North America in the millions, that was decimated merely for their fur and tong. I saw the ancestors of this great animal, as they lay in the prairies to rot.

 I also felt the pride that this animal will feed my family with clean pure meat, like its ancestors did for the early settlers and the Native Americans before.
 
After realizing just how amazing this large animal truly was, I needed to provide the purest meat designed by the good Lord himself for my family. I came to full draw, took a deep breath, and picked a spot for the arrow to drive home. As the arrow released from the string, the world seemed to be placed into slow motion. I remember seeing the rotation of the fletching as it glided through the air. I could hear a loud “thwack “as the arrow pierced through the thick furry coat. The arrow drove home perfectly behind the shoulder, assuring a quick and clean kill.

The blood trail made by the NAP two blade Blood Runner 

 
At the speed of sound everything was back playing before me at normal speed. The large buffalo with a kick, took off running down the hill towards a thick brushy bottom. As he ran down the ridge we could see the blood as it streamed from his side. He immediately turned and ran his way back up the ridge towards our direction. This is when Bryce decided he no longer wanted to be in-between me and the running bison. At this time is when the video footage becomes a bit shaky as he and I shuffled for cover.
 
As we were pushing for cover, is when the buffalo succumbed to his fatal wound. In less than fifty yards of the initial shot the 1,000 pound animal instantly fell to the ground quickly expiring.

The Carbon Express Maxima performed flawlessly with a well-placed shot

 
As any hunter knows, this is when the sudden dump of adrenalin pierces through our vanes. I couldn’t stop shaking as my legs became week. The moment of truth was presented and executed perfectly, for I had just provided hundreds of pounds of food for my family and friends.

The animal rights activists and non-hunting community will never understand this moment of truth. Yes we as hunters kill; we talk about blood and quick kills, but we are not barbarians. We study the animals that we hunt. We respect the animal and understand wildlife management, that some must die to provide life for others. We are predators just like the bear or the wolf. As hunters we refused to depend on rich business men and the stock market to feed our family. We refuse to feed our family with imported animals that are pumped full of growth hormones from other countries to produce more meat.  We are conservationists, predators, and providers.

We are predators just like the bear or the wolf

As I walked up to the fallen beast, I knelt down beside him. I said a prayer of thanks, for this big bull made the ultimate sacrifice. He sacrificed his life to feed my family. As Bryce and I admired the fallen bison, we talked about how life must have been when they once roamed in the millions, what the first settlers must have thought when they first laid eyes on a prairie that was black with herds of bison a mile or more long. As we sat there next to just one buffalo, what was life like when so many once roamed our continent?

This was truly the hunt of a life time that I will never forget

The sad reality is we will never know, we can only assume and imagine. One great aspect of history is that like a good book it is up to the reader to paint his or her own picture of what life was once like, the possibilities are in the eyes of the beholder.

As this great beast has fallen, it will provide life. To be a part of this great experience words cannot describe, for that moment in the Iowa bluffs, I was a part of history. It was the memories and the insight of what life was like when times were much simpler and the understanding of life was much clearer. This I am forever grateful for and these are the memories that can never be taken away. For this day I experienced the moment of truth.

Whitetail Deer Herd Health And Using the Winter Severity Index

by Neal McCullough 29. February 2012 02:42
Neal McCullough

Winter can be hard on wildlife—deer especially. During the winter months, wildlife agencies and departments in many states monitor the health of their respective deer herds using a system called the Winter-Severity Index (WSI).   This index is a simple calculation based on two key components of winter survival for whitetail deer: temperature and snow depth.  The index is a cumulative sum of the number of days with 18” of snow + numbers of days with temperatures below zero.  These scores are added together between December 1 and April 30.  Any total of 100+ is considered very severe, 81 – 100 is severe, 51 – 80 is moderate and anything lower than 50 is considered mild.  In Wisconsin, for example, the long term average for this index is 55.


The above chart shows this history of the Wisconsin WSI (1960 - 2010)

I spoke with Michael Zeckmeister of the Wisconsin DNR last week and at this point in the year, nearly all stations are in the single digits or teens; meaning this is shaping up to what could be a very mild winter.  This same time last year could have “gone either way” according to Zeckmesiter, with 60% of the stations reporting 16” of snow or more.   But last winter ended up staying around moderate for most stations (Wisconsin State Average = 47 for 2010/2011).  And this year we will probably end up mild or close to moderate unless, of course, we see some drastic changes in the weather.  Typically, the “tipping point” for winter is the 3rd week of February and as of today – we are starting March in a good place.


The above map shows WSI recording stations in Northern Wisconsin.


The above maps shows WSI recording stations in Northern Minnesota with measurements for 2011

Like any index, the WSI is not a perfect indicator of health of the herd; other factors do come into play.  These are a few additional factors that many wildlife managers consider:
•    Annual Summer Rainfall – Good rainfall in the summer and into the fall provides growth of summer vegetation that can help deer build fat reserves for the winter.
•    Arrival of Winter – The earlier arrival of winter (snow and cold in November or earlier) can have a significant cumulative effect on whitetail deer.  The longer winter waits to arrive, the better.
•    Type of Snow – Some snow storms may produce 10” – 15” of very light fluffy snow, through which it is generally easier for deer to travel.  Heavy dense snow or crusted layers of snow can make it difficult for whitetail deer to access food as well as escape predators.
•    Timing Spring Green-Up – This factor is probably as important as any; the sooner spring green-up arrives, the better the chances for herds to rebound after a long winter. 

The WSI is a great tool for wildlife managers to measure the current and/or future health of the whitetail deer herd.  However, it isn’t 100% accurate and they will make adjustments and use their discretion when determining how the deer herd is faring overall.  I always keep an eye out for these full reports in my home states of Minnesota and Wisconsin (typically they are ready at the end of April);  some DNR websites even offer current views of the Index as the winter progresses.


Current WSI (February 22, 2012) for Minnesota

Lets hope this mild season continues for not only whitetail deer but also for turkeys, pheasants, grouse, and all wildlife... Oh and this mild WSI Index also means that I don't have to shovel my driveway as much, which is an added bonus.

See you in the woods,
Neal McCullough

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

Choosing a Quality Archery Pro Shop - Part 1

by Steve Flores 26. February 2012 08:48
Steve Flores

Whether you're looking to purchase the latest bow on the market, or simply want to upgrade your current rig, the road to finding a quality pro-shop, one that knows how to set you up right, can throw more twists and turns at you than the track at Laguna Seca; but it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, consider the following advice, and the next time you walk into an establishment looking for excellent service, you’ll be walking out with a smile.

Why Pro Shop?
There are several reasons why the beginning to mid-level archery enthusiast should choose a Pro-Shop. Perhaps one of the chief reasons would be a familiarity with bow “set-up” procedures; or better yet, a lack there of. Given the wide array of compound bows available today and the mind staggering number of equipment options being offered, choosing the products that will work best with you, your bow, and your style of hunting or shooting can be a daunting task; especially if you, like the majority of bowhunters, are not schooled in the “technical aspects” of archery. In which case, “properly” setting-up your new rig will be a difficult goal to accomplish.

To combat this harsh reality you will need to find someone who knows what works, what doesn’t----and why. You need to find someone with the experience and mechanical proficiency to do things the right way. To put it simple, you need to enlist the help and guidance of a quality pro-shop.

 

In archery, confidence can go a long way toward success. And nothing will give you more confidence than knowing your bow-rig is set up correctly. A quality pro-shop can make you an accurate, self-assured shooter by setting you up with the right gear.

A Good Start
One of the most critical issues faced while attempting to correctly set up your bow revolves around the arrow rest. Today’s rest of choice is almost unanimously the “drop-away” version.  While this style of arrow rest most often represents the most accurate choice, it only works when installed correctly. Simply adding one to your bow doesn’t exactly mean that you will automatically achieve “laser-beam” type arrow flight. Unless you know how to set one up and what to look for when determining whether or not it is functioning properly, you’re most likely not going to get the added performance you paid extra money for; perfect arrow flight after the shot with no contact between the rest and you’re arrow’s fletching.

 Most Pro-Shop experts will say the a critical starting point when setting up your bow involves choosing a quality arrow rest. Pictured here is the new NAP Apache Carbon drop-away mounted to a 2012 Mathews Helim.

Properly tuning a drop-away style arrow rest sometimes requires a lot of tinkering and technical “know-how” in order to get things just right. Some models simply do not match well with certain bow brands, some do not match well no matter what brand of bow you shoot, and some even require the shooter to orient the fletching a particular way. For example, some rests simply will not tolerate a cock-vane “up” orientation, conversely, others do. Some may call for a rotation with the cock-vane to the side in order to achieve good results, some may not. Unless you know which fall-away rest your bow prefers and how to correctly set it up, you could spend hours and hours trying to tune it. This is where a quality pro-shop can make all the difference. They’ve been there, done that. They know which rests work and what type of bow and arrow system they work well with. Obviously their knowledge can save you valuable time and money, but more importantly, they will insure the job is done right”.

Learn from the Best
Another significant reason for choosing a pro-shop is a shortening of the learning curve. Most aspects of archery are rarely cut and dry. Consequently, in order to avoid the many pitfalls facing a newcomer it pays to find someone who has been around the block a time or two. A quality pro-shop is the ideal place to find such an individual. In one afternoon, you can learn valuable insight with regards to shooting tips, equipment choices and bowhunting wisdom in general; things that otherwise may have taken you years of trial and error to figure out on your own. Talk about an advantage!  When you consider the valuable information available at top notch establishments and the immediate affects it can/will have on your success as an archer and bowhunter, it is clear why finding a quality pro-shop is so important. The “networking” potential in these venues is immense. 

 Anytime you can be around other bowhunters or archers is a great time to learn something new. No other venue offers as much opportunity for this than a quality pro-shop.

Added Benefits
In addition to insuring that your equipment functions as it should, along with the ability to speed up the learning process, pro-shops offer several added advantages over the DIY (do it yourself) route. For instance, good shops will often times offer their customers “free” shooting lessons and advice after purchasing a new bow-rig. Most often, at the really good shops, a certified IBO pro shooter will be on hand to assist with the lessons. Obviously, this type of professional attention is invaluable. Not only does it insure that proper shooting habits are instilled from the start, it also guarantees that the majority of bad habits that plague archers all over the country are immediately recognized and avoided.

Also, don’t overlook the fact that most quality shops will be happy to provide their loyal customers with “perks” so to speak.  These gestures of appreciation can come in many forms.  Most often minor adjustments are made to your rig at no charge. Sometimes hats and shirts are given away as well; providing advertisement for the shop owner and perhaps a means of showcasing favored equipment and/or facilities for (you) the shooter. 
Another nice benefit of the pro-shop is the option to go in and “test” drive new equipment before actually putting down your hard earned cash and then realizing you made the wrong choice. Without a doubt, pro-shops are a bee-hive of knowledge, experience and camaraderie just waiting to be discovered. 

Most good shops will have a place to “test drive” merchandise before actually buying it. This is an essential part of the process that ensures you leave with a smile on your face; the right set-up in the right hands will often cause such a reaction.

Making the Right Choice
When choosing a pro-shop one of the most important things to remember is that the devil is in the details. What I mean, is that there usually isn’t one or two defining characteristics that will reveal that you are in the wrong place. Rather, there will most likely be a number of little things that, while seeming trivial at first, could reveal clues too much larger issues.For example, be cautious of shops that try to push a certain piece of equipment into your hands.  Having said that, let’s make clear that in order to accurately judge the true intentions of the guy behind the counter you must first understand that there is a difference between pushing a product and eagerly suggesting one. If a certain piece of equipment really is better than the one you initially went in to purchase, the guy selling it to you should be able to explain exactly why it is better. If he can’t, then that might be the first clue that your best interest aren’t what he had in mind. 

Suggesting certain equipment options is fine as long as the reasoning behind such advice can be validated. If the transaction doesn’t ultimately benefit you the shooter, then it’s probably not a good investment. A reputable shop will do nothing without your best interest in mind.

In contrast, guys working at shops that are the “real deal” will often have their own personal bows on hand and can readily show you exactly what equipment they are using. More importantly, they can also tell you why they are using it. If that happens to be the case, pay close attention to what these individuals are telling you because odds are good that they have already sifted through the “low-grade” stuff and have found the best of what the market has to offer. Essentially, they can save you time, money and in the end make your set-up the best it can be.

Post-Sale Service
Another indication as to whether or not you have made a wise choice lies in what happens after the sale. Is that where the service ends? Are you no longer ministered to like customer #1? If things seem to drastically change after you’ve spent the last of your piggy bank funds, then you’ve probably made the wrong choice. Case in point, even though it has been a few years since my last bow purchase, if I were to walk into my pro-shop today, the owner (Frank) would treat me like I was the most important guy in the building. Frank Addington and his wife Kathy, own and operate Addington’s Bowhunter Shop in Winfield, WV, and have been providing customers top quality service for over 25 years. When it comes to knowing what the consumer wants and needs, they are masters. 

 The benefits of any good pro-shop shouldn't stop once a purchase has been made. In fact, service typically gets better and better if you’ve selected the right shop for your needs.

In addition, if I was having a problem with my bow-rig he wouldn’t hesitate to fix it for me. Now you might be thinking that I receive special treatment for being a “writer” or something along those lines ….wrong! Frank treats everyone the same---like a close personal friend.

To Be Continued

Of course, there are other important aspects that go into selecting a quality pro-shop. In Part 2, I will delve a little deeper into the process and offer some final tips that will get you pointed in the right direction.

Late Winter Is The Best Time To Scout Your Deer Woods

by John Mueller 22. February 2012 11:49
John Mueller

Just as the title says, “Late Winter Is The Best Time to Scout Your Woods”. There are many advantages to scouting this time of year. From sign being more visible to not spooking the deer you are hunting to just getting out and curing a bout of cabin fever, get out and scout.

Scouting this time of year is low impact on my hunting grounds. I’m not hunting them any more so I don’t mind if I spook a few deer.  They will be long over the intrusion by the time hunting season rolls around this fall. Plus it gets me out of the house and into the woods again. I just need to be in the woods every now and again.

My main reason for wanting to hit the woods scouting in late winter is the sign is very easy to spot this time of year. The leaves are all gone and the woods are wide open, enabling me to see a long ways through the woods. If there is no snow on the ground as is the case this year on my farm the well used deer paths look more like cattle trails full of hoof prints. The deer tend to have just a couple main food sources left and they hit those more regularly now and use the same paths traveling back and forth from food to bed. Make note of these trails for future late season ambush points if the food sources are the same as this year. These trails can also lead you to preferred late season bedding areas. While these may not be the same bedding areas the deer will use during early season, keep them in mind if you still have an unfilled tag as next season is winding down. Deer will return to favored bedding areas, it’s where the feel safe.

 

This is the type of trail to set a stand up on for a late season hunt.

Buck sign also sticks out like a sore thumb this time of year. Well used scrapes will be the only places where leaves and other debris doesn't cover the forest floor. Especially look on old logging roads or field edges where branvhes hang out into the field. These would be great places to start a mock scrape next fall and set up a trail camera to take inventory of the bucks in your neighborhood. The shredded trunks of rubbed trees are easily spotted without all of the underbrush hiding them in late winter too. Rub lines can be detected by standing next to one rub and looking ahead for the next one and so on. This can be good place to hang a stand next fall too. The buck is showing you a travel route he likes to use when traveling across your land.

Many times bucks will use the same location for scrapes year after year.

If you use exclusion cages in your food plots you can tell which crops the deer favor the most on your land. This will allow you to design your food plots to have the deer end up in front of your stand. By planting their most favored food near the funnels and pinch points where your stands are hung, you can coax them into bow range without them even feeling the pressure of the forced movement.

I think they really, really liked the winter wheat. I'll be planting more of it this fall.

The one thing I don't like finding on my late season scouting trips are the remains of deer. This can mean my predator population is too high or the deer are stressed because of the cold weather. Or it could have been a wounded animal that finally succumed to his injuries. I'm especially not wanting to find the remains of any of the bucks I was chasing last year or the ones I passed up hoping he would be a bruiser this fall.

Definately a scene I don't want to find on my property.


But this on the other hand, is what we all want to find while scouting for next season.

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

Bison by bow Part 1

by Josh Fletcher 13. February 2012 14:45
Josh Fletcher

The North American Bison also called the buffalo once roamed in the eastern forests, the oak savannahs of the Midwest, in the vast prairies and mountains of the west.  The Bison population in the early 1800’s was estimated at approximately 50 million strong.  It was common for trains to be stopped for hours waiting for the immense herds of the thunder beasts to cross the railroad tracks. Herds would stretch miles wide by miles long, turning the prairie black from a distance with their shaggy coats. The bison were Mother Nature’s cultivators of the prairie. With so many bison with their massive weight, the hooves would tear up the prairie, stirring up dormant seeds in the soil, buffalo chips were natural fertilizer to help jump start the new seeds growth, to provide new and fresh forage in the years to come. They were the perfect balance between fauna and flora on the North American continent.

The Native Americans survived off the large thundering beasts. Natives would do large buffalo drives, luring and funneling bison to stampede off an edge of a cliff, ultimately falling to their death. Quickly the members of the tribe would all work together at cutting up and utilizing the dead beasts. The bones were used as tools, hides as shelter and cloths, dried meat for food and the bladders for water bags. Nothing was left to waste; the bison provided life to those who depended on them.

The author making his final preparations before the hunt

After the Spanish introduced the horse to North America, Native Americans developed new and more efficient ways of feeding their families with buffalo. They utilized this new animal that carried man on their back while running at the speed of the bison. Native Americans began chasing bison on horseback. They were equipped with spears and the bow and arrow. The arrows were often equipped with flint sharpened to a razors edge.

As the early settlers began expanding their way west of the Mississippi River, the bison began to compete with the settler’s crops and cattle for the valuable yet vulnerable land.  The settlers had no concept of conservation, and believed that they would never eliminate the herds in their life time.
 
As the railroads worked their way west, buffalo were shot to feed the workers. These buffalo hunters were hired by the railroad companies to supply fresh buffalo meat to their workers. One of these buffalo hunters became known as Buffalo Bill Cody.

The bison hunters would use the modern technology of the time with their long range guns. They would look for the herd leader. By taking out the leader of the herd first, the remainder of the bison would stand there not knowing what to do. They would just keep dropping the bison one by one until they ran out of shells. I was once written by a buffalo hunter that his hunting partners shot so many bison that they had to urinate on their guns to cool the barrels.
 
As railroad’s made their way west, the hide of the bison became popular, along with the bison tongue as a delicacy in fancy restaurants. The hunters turned from shooting for meat to shooting for hide and tongue. Thousands of carcasses would be left to waste in the blood stained prairies. The vast herds of approximately 50 million strong were decimated to less than a 1,500 in North America. As the bison disappeared, early conservationists realized that the bison were on the brink of being extinct.

Citizens lobbied the United States President Ulysses S. Grant to help save the buffalo. President Grant replied that the Indians depend on the buffalo to live, with the elimination of the buffalo, means the elimination of the Indians, leaving them subject to reservations. President Grant refused to save the bison.

Several private organizations along with concerned citizens captured and raised several of their own herds to prevent them from becoming just a page in the history book. Other remaining herds sought refuge in the remote Canadian wilderness.

Today the bison are no longer in danger of becoming extinct. The population that was once approximately 1,500 animals has been brought back to approximately 500,000. This is still a far cry from the once 50 million that roamed North America. Out of 500,000 bison today, half is found in the United States. Out of approximately 250,000 animals in the US, over 90 percent are privately owned bison on farms and ranches.
 
I began my quest for taking a buffalo with the bow just this winter. Being intrigued by the history of the North American Bison, I too wanted to take part in a hunt that dates back centuries ago. I began my quest looking for a free ranging wild buffalo.  After doing research on places to go, I quickly felt the impact of the early settlers over a hundred years ago. There are only several select areas in North America that true free ranging bison exist. They are Alaska, parts of Canada, Utah, Arizona, along with smaller herds in several other states. I learned that some of these tags may take a life time to draw, or the price of the tag was too high for me to afford in my life time. I was determined to hunt bison by bow and was not willing to except that this hunt may take years before I could get a chance. I realized that my best option was to begin looking at hunting with the 90 percent private herds for a hunt this year.

I began calling outfitters and ranchers. The first one I called offered the quality of hunt I was looking for. I wanted to fill my freezer with good clean high quality protein at a reasonable price. With all things there are the pluses and the minuses. This ranch offered a great hunt, however by the time I paid for the hunt and the gas to get out to South Dakota I would have maxed out my wallet for this years hunt.

Again being determined to find the right place to make my dream hunt come true at a reasonable price and at a very short notice, I contacted another ranch. This ranch offered a bison hunt at a reasonable price and was close to home. When I asked how big of an area I would have to chase down my dream bison, I was told it was a vast 70 acres! That’s not vast! That’s a pasture! Was my reply as I quickly hung up the phone trying to be polite to the rancher.  I know that the majority of buffalo are privately owned on ranches but I still wanted a real experience, not a walk up to your animal and kill it experience.
 
Just when I thought there was no hope for a buffalo hunt this year, and that it may take me many years to draw a wild herd tag, I found a ranch located in north east Iowa. The ranch is called Scenic View Ranch, located near the little town of Monona, Iowa. I quickly called the owner, Lloyd Johanningmeier. As I asked Lloyd questions about his ranch, I quickly realized this is where I am going to try and take my first buffalo with the bow.
 
Scenic View Ranch has over 300 acres of beautiful hard woods bluffs with the fastest running river in Iowa, the Yellow River running through the property. As I talked with Lloyd it became quickly apparent that Scenic View Ranch’s main goal to show the hunter a good time in a very relaxed atmosphere. Some ranches I contacted did not even allow archery hunting for buffalo, but not Lloyd, he actually encouraged it and his hunts were close to home at a very reasonable price.
 
I have never hunted on a ranch a day in my life, so I have no clue what to expect.  My biggest concern was that I did not want a “canned” hunt. I truly wanted to match wits with one of these big thunder beasts. Lloyd reassured me that this will truly be a hunt. 300 acres in the wide open prairie may seem small, but 300 acres in the large rolling hard wood bluffs means they can be any ware. Also some ranches would not let you keep your entire animal that you killed. Being a do-it yourself style of hunter, I didn’t feel that this was fare. If I’m paying for the hunt, shouldn’t I get to keep the entire animal that I killed? At Scenic View Ranch you keep what you shoot, and you don’t pay unless you shoot what you are looking for.

A recipicating saw does an excellent job at cutting through large bone

 
Lloyd was patient with me and all the questions that I was inquiring about the hunt, and every time I talked with him, the conversation started out about the hunt but quickly we found ourselves talking like we have known each other for years. It didn’t take me long to book my buffalo hunt at Scenic View Ranch.

With the hunt booked, I immediately began preparing for the hunt. I will be using the Mathews Helim bow set at 68 pounds of draw weight. My arrows are Carbon Express Maxima Hunters and the broad heads will be the NAP two blade Blood Runners.

I quickly started hitting the range, fine tuning my archery skills. The best part about shooting outside in the winter time is that I’m practicing at the range wearing the heavy bulky clothing that I will be wearing during the hunt.

While practicing daily under cold weather conditions, I also hit the web and books learning about the anatomy of the buffalo. The key is a well-placed shot. You can shoot 80 pounds with the  best broad head, but if you don’t hit your mark, or if you don’t even know where that mark even is, that high powered bow doesn’t do you any good. I quickly learned that the vitals in a buffalo sit very low in the chest cavity, I also learned from reading forums of different hunters that most people shoot too high in the buffalo’s chest. The mark that I am looking for is the top of the heart or both lungs. If I find the buffalo’s elbow joint and draw a horizontal line until I hit the shoulder crease, ware those two lines meet will be my mark. Hopefully I can be presented with a quartering away shot to lodge the arrow up into the kill zone of the big thunder beast.

It takes alot of preperation to process a 1000 pund animal yourself

Next I had to figure out what I’m going to do with the buffalo if all goes right and I get him on the ground. Again being a do-it yourself hunter, I’m choosing to process the buffalo myself. To transport the meat we are using an elk hunting trick, by placing a freezer in a trailer and trailering it to the hunting location. This works great for handling a large animal such as an elk. Once back at camp, you cut the meat up and vacuum pack the meat prior to placing it in the freezer. Then just plug the freezer into a portable generator and let it run over night to cool and freeze the meat if you are in a remote location. If the meat is frozen solid and the lid stays closed, the meat will remain frozen in the freezer for days. Also a chest freezer has the capabilities of holding several hundred pounds of meat.

For cutting the meat we will be bringing knives of varying sizes. A handy trick for cutting large sections of bone, such as splitting a carcass in half, is using a reciprocating saw with a fine tooth blade. We will also have a hand bone saw for the smaller bone cuts. I also have two vacuum packing machines; two meat grinders, 200 one pound bags for holding ground burger, 12 boxes of vacuum bags, freezer paper, and don’t forget a good knife sharpener.
 
The weather looks like it is going to be warm, in the mid 30’s for the hunt which is going to take place in less than a week, on February 17. We will be packing all the camera gear to bring the action into your home right here at Bowhunting.com. Be sure to check back for part two of this blog to read about how the hunt unfolded, and the end results.

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

 

Post Season Training: Next Season Starts Now

by Steve Flores 25. January 2012 13:01
Steve Flores

Now that most hunting seasons have closed, it is important to discuss a common “post-season” trap. And, while it may seem innocent in nature, make no mistake it is one that prevents a lot of bowhunters from reaching their maximum potential; with regard to bow shooting skills, number of tags filled and even overall physical fitness. I understand that after many long months chasing your favorite game animal the urge to “take it easy” for a while can be overwhelming. However, if you want next season to be better than last season, now is the absolute best time to work toward that goal. Later, in subsequent blogs, we will discuss Hunting Prowess (tags filled), and Physical Fitness in more detail. But for now, let’s take a closer look at the first of these three areas: Shooting Skill. 

Your favorite treestand may be sitting dormant, but that doesn't mean that the time for perparation is over. 

Shooting Skills
You don’t have to be a competitive shooter to be a successful bowhunter. In reality, perhaps the most deciding factor in closing the deal on your next bowhunting opportunity comes down to 2 things: muscle memory and your ability to handle pressure. Thankfully, if you put enough time into actually shooting your bow, muscle memory will take care of itself. This is important because you might believe that you can talk yourself through such details as picking a spot, bending at the waste, relaxing your shooting hand or squeezing the release trigger----all in the heat of the moment! But, the truth is, you will most likely forget, simply because your heart will be in your throat. I know because I have tried. It should come as no surprise that my odds of success were very low during those seasons when I tried to will my way through tough shooting situations. 

The off-season is a great time to introduce advanced shooting techniques such as "Blind-Bale Shooting" into your practice regimen.

During those seasons when I failed to pick up my bow until late summer, I was essentially “relearning” all of the skills I had worked so hard on during the previous year. As a result, even though I was practicing, I wasn’t really making any strides in my ability to shoot well. Thankfully, I wasn’t loosing much either. But honestly, I definitely wasn’t getting any better. I quickly learned that maintaining some form of consistency during the off-season was the only way to really improve my proficiency to hit what I was aiming at in actual hunting situations. Some of this included just slinging arrows in the back yard. A good deal of it however, entailed actually shooting from a treestand, long-range shooting, and even up close, blank-bale shooting. 

Shooting from the ground, in a kneeling position, while wearing a face-mask, can affect your odds of filling a tag; especially if you wait until the moment of truth to find out if doing so alters such things as anchor point and arrow flight.

I should also mention how important it is to make a good deal of your practice time “situational”. For example, if you primarily hunt above “terra-firma”, then you should conduct the majority of your practice sessions from a treestand. This will only add “realism” to the situation and better prepare you for the real thing; and, what better time to do this than during the boring winter months. In addition, shooting outside when it is cold allows you to evaluate your cold-weather gear for any potential interference problems with the bowstring. This can be hard to do in the heat of summer or just before opening day when temps are still high. 

 

While everyone else is spending time doing something non-archery related, why not try out a new grip or arrow and broadhead combination. The new Mathews Focus grip is great for reducing hand-torque and the new NAP Big Nasty broadhead, along with the new Easton INJEXION arrows should prove to be leathal. It's never too late to start dialing things in and testing new gear.

Pressure
Your ability to handle a pressure situation in the treestand can be increased by spending time behind the bowstring. There is no question that when your shooting skills improve----your confidence goes up. When your confidence goes up, so does your ability to manage pressure; simply because you expect to perform well. The old cliché that archery is 90% mental carries a lot of merit. Even if you only shoot a few arrows a week, that is better than laying the bow down for the entire off-season (until just a few weeks before opening day).

 

When the moment I have worked so hard for finally arrives......I want nothing more than to deliver. For me, this starts in the off-season.

I like to think that my bow is an extension of my arm. I maintain that feeling by making sure I don’t let too much time go by without launching some arrows downrange. When faced with an actual shot on a living, breathing animal, I want my mind and body to go into sort of an “auto-pilot” mode. That way, all I have to do is find the single hair I want to split….nothing more. Of course, I am only human and completely capable of screwing things up. However, I can decrease the chances of that happening by constantly sharpening my shooting skills----year round. 

Next time we will discuss ways to improve our ability to fill tags. Again, post season is the optimum time-frame to accomplish this. However, there is more to it than aimlessly stumbling through the woods. You need to have a plan.

Hunting Boots: Finding The Right Fit

by Josh Fletcher 24. January 2012 11:54
Josh Fletcher

Each year hunters will spend thousands of dollars on outfitters, guns, and bows. They will research and spend hundreds of dollars on everything from calls, scents, to back packs; however the one item often over looked is proper foot wear. They will buy top of the line equipment from archery specialist at pro shops but will run to a big chain store to pick up a pair of hunting boots on sale, basing their boot selection just on price and looks.

Even the United States Military under stands the importance of taking care of your feet. A solder is no good if he has a bad case of trench foot or feet so blistered the soldier can’t walk.

Your feet and foot wear are just as important as the weapon you are carrying on your next hunt, because if your feet get cold, wet, or blistered your done hunting. If you don’t take care of your feet you won’t sit in the stand long waiting for a big whitetail to walk by. You’re not going to cover the amount of ground needed to find that big bull elk if your feet are blistered from an uncomfortable boot. You’re not going to stay in the woods or cover much ground chasing that long beard in the early April morning if your feet are wet from the morning dew.

I think by now you get the point, and understand the importance of proper foot wear. There is no magic boot out there, nor is there one style of boot for every hunting situation.  The key is to look for certain characteristics in a boot that will not only fit your foot but also your hunting situation.

In this article we will break down the three main types of boots to fit a variation of hunting situations. These are not the only style of boots out there however these are the most popular. Next we will take a close look at each type of boot and common characteristics that you will want to look for in picking the right boot for you and your hunting situation.

Keep in mind that with all the boots out on the market the main thing for all three categories is to get the best boot that you can afford. I am not saying that you will need to break the bank for a good pair of boots, but foot wear is an area of your hunting equipment you won’t want to skimp on.

We have noticed that you are better off paying up front for a good pair of hunting boots that will last you many years and treat your feet well versus buying a cheap pair just to get buy, which will often leave you buying a new pair year after year.

Again we want to emphasize that there is no one perfect boot, the reason is, there are too many variables in your hunting situation and environment for a one size fits all situation boots.  With that being said we will not focus on a particular brand of boot but common characteristics that you will want to look for in making your next hunting boot selection.

The three main categories that we will cover for hunting boots are, knee high rubber boots, hiking or hunting boot, and pack boots.

The knee high rubber boot is often best suited for the whitetail stand hunter. The guy or gal that walks a relatively short distance whether it be through swamps or upland, but is looking for scent control and who has the main goal of sitting in a tree stand for several hours. The other type of hunter that utilizes rubber knee high boots is that of a hunter in swampy wet conditions or a turkey hunter battling the morning dew.

The hiking boot or hunting boot is for the hunter who will walk through a variety of conditions, whether it is shallow swampy water, upland conditions, snow, or mountains of the west.

The third popular boot is the pack boot. This type of boot is often used in the far north ware hunting conditions consist of extreme cold and snow. Most often used for sitting long hours in the cold waiting for a deer to walk by.

Now that we have the three most popular types of boots available, let’s break them down to discuss what to look for in making the right selection for you.

Knee High Rubber Boots:

With rubber boots there is no laces to tighten up the boot around the top of your foot and around the ankle area of your foot. Because of this it is important to select a good pair of rubber boots that is form fitting in this area of your foot and ankle. Some companies such as the Irish Setter Company designs the boot to have a flexible cup for your ankle to stretch out from the boot allowing the top of your foot to slide down into the boot. By doing this it allows the company to make a more form fitted boot to your foot.  Other companies are now producing a more properly molded boot to the hunter’s foot. This will make the boot tougher to slide your foot into, however once your foot is slid into the boot it is more locked in and secure allowing less “slop” for your foot to slide back and forth in.

A good rubber boot such as these from Scent Blocker have an antimicorbial inner sole to resist mildew and bacteria growth.

This is very important to have a secure ankle and foot fit in rubber boots because if you’re a hunter who has a considerable distance to walk to your tree stand you will start to feel fatigue in your legs from trying to compensate your natural walk and to avoid the boot from slapping the back of your calf and to prevent your foot from sliding around.  Not only will this fatigue your legs, but will also create blisters on your ankles from the constant rubbing of the boot.

Next, you will want a rubber boot that provides good ankle support so that you don’t roll your ankle while walking through a given type of terrain. A good rubber boot will have a thicker rubber around the foot and ankle area.  Above the ankle you will want to have a more flexible rubber, some companies use neoprene in this area. The reason is that the boot above the ankle must flex with your shin to allow a more comfortable stride to your step.
 
You will also want to find a rubber boot that has a removable insole. The negative of rubber boots are that they do not breathe. Because of this, often the insoles of the boot will be ridden with foot moisture and need to be pulled out of the boot to dry and avoid bacteria growth.

Also pay attention to the outsole of the boot or traction. Because these boots are less flexible and forgiving as hiking boots and are often worn in wet muddy conditions you will want an aggressive sole pattern that will clean out and not get clogged up with mud limiting your traction.

Last and most important the boot must be comfortable. When trying on a pair of rubber boots, don’t just take a couple of steps in them and throw them in your cart. Walk around, make some laps in the store, you may get some strange looks but for the people that understand the importance of a proper fitting boot, they will know what you’re doing. If you feel just the slightest part of the boot that is uncomfortable or ankle slop, start over and look at a different pair, because what might  feel slight in the store with a flat smooth floor will be magnified tenfold in the woods on uneven ground.

It is also important to note that with all boots you want a good snug fit, especially in the ankle and the top part of your foot, however you don’t want a boot to tight that it will restrict the blood flow and circulation of your foot. Even just the slightest restriction will cause your feet to feel cramped and also cause your feet to get much colder very quickly. You will want room to freely wiggle your toes. If you know you’re going to be picking out a pair of boots at a store, wear the type of socks you will be hunting in, because if you wear wool socks while hunting they will fit much differently in a boot than thin cotton socks that you wore while trying on the boots in the store.

Tips for taking care of your rubber boots:

•The biggest thing to remember with rubber is that as soon as it is produced from the factory, when exposed to UV (ultraviolet light) the rubber begins to break down. To avoid your rubber boots from cracking, ultimately leaking, keep your boots out of any sun light when not in use. Don’t store them out on the deck or next to a window. Keep them in a tote or a box for best life of the boot.

•Try to avoid extreme heat on the rubber. Avoid keeping them in the vehicle for an extended period of time. Extreme heat can warp the boot causing a different fit.
 
•Because rubber does not breathe, after every use, pull out the removable insole and allow it to air dry. Next place the boot on a boot drier or have a fan blow fresh air inside the boot. By doing this will avoid bacteria and mildew from growing inside the boot. If your feet are like mine, I highly recommend sprinkling foot powder inside the boot after each use.

•A flexible rubber bonding glue works good for quick fixes of your rubber boots to patch minor holes or cracks such as “Shoe Goop”. However depending upon the amount of use, often this is just a quick fix and not a permanent one.

Hiking or Hunting Boots:

These boots are on average from 6 inches to 12 inches in height and often used for upland or mountain hunting. Just like the rubber boots mentioned above you will want the boot to fit properly. These are boots that you would wear on an elk or mule deer hunt in the mountains, a prong horn hunt in the prairies, or a pheasant hunt in the CRP grass. There are many different applications for the hunting boot and is the most adaptable for varied types of terrains.

Leather is the most durable and longest lasting material for boots.

When it comes to hunting boots I prefer all leather over Cordura for material. I have owned both types of material boots, and I got more life out of the leather boot than the Cordura. Leather is more flexible than Cordura, and when properly oiled leather will get you more years of use.
 
The problem that I have had with Cordura, is that after several years the Cordura begins to break down, especially in the crease where your toes bend in the boot.  I also prefer leather because when properly oiled, the leather its self has water repellency giving you extra water proof protection.

A friend of mine has a pair of leather hunting boots that he has worn for the last twenty years, and my last pair of leather hunting boots lasted me over twelve years.
If you do decide to go with a boot that has Codura, it is strongly advised to make sure the area around the toe, especially ware the toe bends, be made of leather. This is often the first area of the boot that Codura begins to break down at.

Next let’s look at the soles. There are two main ways of attaching the soles to the boot. One is sewn on and the other is glued on.  They both have their strong and weak points. I prefer sewn on soles because if I wear down the soles of my boots I can take them to a shoe cobbler and have them just sow on a new sole. The weak part of a sewn on sole has a tendency to feel like the boot is more top heavy while seated on the sole. What is meant by this is it feels like the bottom of your foot may tend to feel like they will roll over the sole on steep angles.
 
The glued on sole seems to provide more support on steep angles than the sewn on sole because most glued soles are molded to come up over the sides of the boots to provide more surface area for the glue. The negative of glued on soles is that the glue has a tendency to break down and not hold the sole on, causing the boot to leak or the sole to begin to come off.
 
You will also want to make sure your boot is 100 percent water proof, with no exceptions.  I feel so strongly about this that not only do I look for a boot that is water proof but it MUST be Gore-Tex lined. When I see a tag on a boot that says 100 percent water proof, my first question is, for how long? By being not only water proof but also Gore-Tex lined, I know that I will get years of use out of the boots without them leaking.

Dont just trust that the boot is water proof. Make sure they are Gore-Tex lined for added years of water proofing.

When trying on a pair of hunting boots, just like the rubber boots, make sure they are very comfortable with zero discomforts. Often people will try on a boot with mild discomfort, but they still buy the boot any way with the mindset that they just need to be “broken in”. However it always seems that the discomfort never goes away, and if the boot is not comfortable you won’t wear them, and if you don’t wear them, why even buy them in the first place.

Next you want to make sure that your toes do not hit the front of the boot while on steep angles. You want a good boot that provides great ankle support and also a snug fit at the top of your foot and front of your ankle. By having a proper fit in this location your boot will prevent your foot from sliding forward and slamming the tips of your toes in the front of the boot while on a steep angle. If you ignore this while trying on a pair of boots, you better invest in a lot of mole skin and band aids on your next hunt in the mountains.

Also just like the rubber boots make sure you have enough room to wiggle your toes so that you don’t restrict circulation, and pick a boot that has good aggressive outer soles for traction in many different types of terrains.

Tips for taking care of your Hiking Boots:

•If your hiking boots are leather, keep them well-oiled after each hunt using a quality leather treatment or a product such as Sno-Seal.

•Keep mud off your boots while not in use. Get a firm bristled shoe brush to help wash off the mud from your boots after each hunt. If the mud is left on while in storage it will cause the leather of the boot to dry out and possibly crack.

•Just like the rubber boots, remove the insole of the boot to air dry from foot perspiration, and also place boots on a boot drier or allow a fan to circulate air inside the boot to prevent mildew and bacteria growth.

•Keep boots from direct sun light. The UV from sun light will break down and dry out the leather of the boot.

•With boots made of Codura, treat with a thin layer of silicone water proofing spray after each hunt to maintain the boots water proofing abilities.

Pack Boots:

Pack boots are designed for extremely cold temperatures. These types of boots are often used by deer hunters that spend hours on stand waiting. Because of the large bulk and weight of the boots for insulation against cold temperatures, these boots are not meant for long walking.

Pack boots can be large and bulky, however you will never wear a warmer type of boot.

When selecting a pair of pack boots, keep in mind that the rating of the boots does not mean they will keep you warm down to that particular temperature. For example, if boots are rated for -25 degrees, does not mean your feet will be warm in them when the temperatures plummet to -25 degrees. Use this as a rating system to compare to other pack boots. An example is, if you plan on using pack boots for extremely cold temperatures or if your feet get cold very easily, you may want to go with a pack boot that is rated down to a -150 versus a boot that is rated to a -110.

When picking out a pair of pack boots you will want a pair that has a removable liner. The reason for this is similar to the removable insole on your hunting boots. After each hunt you will want to remove the liner to allow to air dry and also place the boot itself on a boot drier. While hunting under extremely cold temperatures you will want your boots bone dry before each hunt. Any amount of moisture in your boots will result in cold feet no matter how insulated the boots are.

Because you will most likely be wearing pack boots in snow, they must be 100 percent water proof with no exceptions. You may also want some extra room in the boot for thick wool socks along with room to attach adhesive toe warmers inside the boots, also just like the rubber boots and the hiking boots, a proper fit with good ankle support is a must.
 
Tips for taking care of your pack boots:

•Just like the hiking boots, keep the leather uppers well oiled. If the uppers of the pack boots are made of Codura spray them with a light coat of silicone water proofing spray after each hunt.

•After each time you wear your pack boot, pull out the removable liner and dry the boots on a boot drier or have a fan blow fresh air into the boot. When wearing pack boots you will want them to have zero moisture inside the boot. If your feet are damp, they will be cold no matter how well insulated the boots are.

•Most pack boots have rubber bottoms, just like the rubber knee boots avoid direct sunlight on the boots to prevent UV damage to the rubber.

Conclusion:

No matter what style of boot you choose they must be comfortable. Do not put up with an uncomfortable boot with hopes of it “breaking in”. If they hurt your feet you won’t wear them to break them in. You will also want good ankle support in your boots and they must be snug around the ankle with no room for “slop” however you don’t want your boots tight around the toes so that it restricts blood circulation in your feet. Also keep in mind that if it just says 100 percent water proof on the tag, asks yourself, for how long?  Not only will you want your boots 100 percent water proof but you will want them to be Gore-Tex lined for many years of water proof durability.  Most importantly get the best boots that you can afford, and you will get many years of comfortable hunting out of your next pair of boots.




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