Archives for September 2014

Kansas Paydirt

Kansas WhitetailI just got home from a week of muzzleloader hunting in Southeast Kansas and as usual, it did not disappoint.  My wife was nice enough to let me leave to go hunting on our first wedding anniversary too so I feel confident in saying that I’ve found myself a keeper.

The early muzzleloader season in Kansas is a unique hunt.  Bucks are still coming out in the crops every evening to feed before the cold weather sets in and there is a good opportunity to kill a good deer out in the open.  The bucks are still in their bachelor groups for the most part, and it is very cool to get to see a bunch of deer filter out into the bean fields.  Weather is the deciding factor of this hunt and if it is hot, as Kansas sometimes is this time of year, the good bucks will stay bedded and will not come to feed until it gets dark.  This was one of the big issues on this trip.  One evening when we went to our stand, it was 94 degrees.

My buddy Rob Stone did me a solid and came with me to run a camera to document the trip.  I’m working on getting the footage together now and will post the final edit as soon as I get it finished.

We hunted a bean field that I’ve killed 2 bucks out of before and sat in a box blind overlooking the east edge with a half section of bedding area behind us.  I’m not much on playing musical stands if I know there’s good deer around, so we made the decision to sit tight all week and see how it played out.

Our view to the north.

Our view to the north.

The weather was hotter than normal and the deer movement was definitely impacted somewhat negatively but we dutifully stood our post seeing a few small bucks and several does.  The second evening right before dark, two big bucks (150 inches or bigger) appeared on the south end of the bean field.  At 250 yards with the shooting light quickly disappearing, they were beyond my comfortable range with the Encore .50 so we watched darkness swallow them up, hoping they would reappear later in the week.

As the week progressed, we faced several challenges from 100 degree box blinds, ravenous mosquitos, and shifting unfavorable wind.   Worst of all, the two giants we saw early in the week never appeared and the biggest buck we encountered was a 60 inch 8 point.  But we were having fun and that’s why we were there.

With darkness coming fast on the final evening of the hunt I had come to the realization that I might be eating a tag sandwich, but around 7:30 Rob said the words I’d waited to hear all week.  “A deer just walked out.  Good buck.”  Standing where the two big bucks were a few evenings before, we swapped seats giving me a better shooting position.  Knowing I had about 20 minutes of shooting light left, I opted to wait and see if he ventured our way.  If he got to 200 yards and wouldn’t come any closer, I was going to send one at him, but for once in the week, luck was on our side.  We had the wind in our face and after a few minutes, the buck started working his way toward us.  It soon became apparent, that he was coming quick and would be on top us in minutes.

When he got to 100 yards, I went to cock the rifle when disaster struck.  The hammer would not move.  At all.  Panic stuck.  Here I am with my gun out the window of a box blind with a buck facing me and closing fast and I can’t shoot him.  I tried everything.  I had adrenaline enhanced strength and still couldn’t budge the hammer.  All those hours of getting toasted in that oven of a box blind and getting devoured by mosquitos only to have a shooter buck walk within feet of us with a gun that wouldn’t work conjured up one of the sickest feelings I’ve ever felt.  Calm as could be, Rob told me to slide the rifle back through the window.  He fiddled with it for a little bit and after opening it and slamming it shut a couple times, he got the hammer cocked.  I got the gun back out the window somehow without being spotted.  I found the deer in the scope at 40 yards, and Rob got the camera back on him.  “Kill him,” he said.  The Encore roared, and the buck dropped stone dead at 33 yards.

I’ve been on some exciting hunts over the years, but I’ve never had something like this happen.  The feeling of utter despair being replaced by absolute elation was almost too much to handle.  I got extremely lucky that night and it’s a hunting memory I won’t soon forget.  We were patient that week and while it almost got screwed up by my rifle, we got rewarded.  I’ve already got the Encore receiver stripped and I’m going to tear into it this week to make sure this won’t happen again.  Check back later in the week to see the video of how it all went down.  I don’t have a whole lot of editing to do, but it’s safe to say I have a lot of four letter words to bleep out.

 

 

Gettin’ Stickbow Close

I’ve been considering getting into traditional archery for some time.  I’m not ready to drop my compound and go all trad but I think it would be fun to occasionally break out a recurve and shoot a doe or two.  It’s simple and I like simplicity.  The guys over at gettinstickbowclose.com are some amazing archers and are pretty good at stabbing big bucks with the old stick and string.  While I don’t think I could every completely ditch my compound, these guys’ videos definitely make me want to try it out.

The Real Badass of Bowhunting

In an age of hyper speed bows, carbon arrows, and huge mechanical broadheads, it is easy to lose sight of where we’ve come from as bow hunters.  People have been killing things with a stick and string for over 30,000 years.  It is easy to forget that what we’re doing is nothing new regardless of the space age materials our equipment is now made of.

Currently, it seems everyone is fixated on arrow speed and how big of hole their broad head can leave.  Spend five minutes in any bow shop and you’ll come out believing your equipment is completely ineffective unless you’re zipping an arrow out of a carbon frame bow at 330 fps.  It’s easy to get wrapped up in all this stuff and think that by being on the cutting edge of technology we’re breaking new ground in archery when in fact, we really aren’t.  If anything, as our equipment is advancing, we as hunters and shooters are regressing.

Howard Hill is considered by many to be the greatest archer of all time.  Before his death in 1975 he had tallied over 2,000 animals with a long bow and was the first white man to kill an elephant with archery equipment.

Remember back in the early 90’s when 80 and 90 pound compounds were the measure of manliness?  Hill used a 172 pound long bow on that elephant.  That, sir, is a man.

Everyone nowadays seems to think the pinnacle of “making it” in the bowhunting world is to get a tv show on one of the pay to play outdoor networks.  Howard Hill produced over 20 feature films for Warner Brothers in his career.  When is the last time you saw one of the current hunting “celebrities” get national exposure other than Ted Nugent spouting some inane garbage on a cable news show?

Levi Morgan might be one of the best 3d shooters in the world right now, but Howard Hill won 196 field archery competitions in a row.  Hill also shot plums and other small targets off of people’s heads at 20 yards.  I’m going to say that again.  He shot small pieces of fruit off of people’s heads.  One miscue and it was curtains for his volunteer.  Youtube abounds with 100+ yard bow shots but whens the last time you saw someone make an almost 400 yard shot with traditional equipment?  Howard Hill pulled that one off in the 1950’s.

As time has progressed, we’ve lost our way as archers.  We no longer have any Howard Hills, Ben Pearsons, or Fred Bears.  These guys have been replaced by fist pumping, over the top personalities pimping the latest and greatest shortcut to success.  Gone are the days of packing of into the backcountry solo to pursue something other than a 150 inch whitetail.  We’ve become obsessed with antler scores and trophy management.  Having the newest and best camo and scent suppression system has taken the front seat over woodsmanship.  This needs to change.  Our forebearers did what they did because it was fun and it was challenging.  They were breaking new ground and not even knowing it.  So this fall, when you take to the woods, do it for yourself.  Keep it simple.   Embrace the challenge of what we do and love and try to channel your inner Howard Hill.  You don’t have to go try shooting plums off of someones head, but instead, I challenge you to do one thing this fall with a bow that you have never done.  Whether it is expanding your effective range, taking up traditional equipment, or small game hunting with your bow, it will put us back on track and increase your overall skill set as a bowhunter.  Our sport is getting stagnate and it’s up to us to change it.