Category Archives: General Tales

Never How You Want to Find Them

As I found him.

Where I found him

My fears had come true. It was May 11, 2013 and I was out chasing spring gobblers in Upstate New York when I stumbled upon him. It was the end of the mystery – I now knew what had happened to this buck 8 months prior.

It’s something we as hunters never want discover, but unfortunately we do from time to time. Finding a dead rotten buck is never a pleasant sight, especially when it’s a deer you recognize. It’s a theme that many deer hunters experience, we focus in on a particular buck only to have the animal disappear for one reason or another. Such was the case here.

I had captured several trailcamera photos of this buck back in mid-September. They weren’t the best quality images, but I saw enough of the deer’s antlers to interest me. I knew the buck was a definite up-and-comer and I looked forward to monitoring his progress and finding him back the following season.

Trailcam image from Sept. 2012.

Trailcam image from Sept. 2012.

The 2012 hunting season came and ended without a single sighting of this buck.

The next time I would lay yes on him would be that warm May morning. The buck lay dead nearly a mile from where my Bushnell Trophy Cam had captured those images of him back in September.

It’s always a bitter-sweet moment when you discover an animal like this. On one hand you’re relieved that you know what happened to him and on the other; you’re disappointed and saddened that he’s gone and won’t be around for the upcoming season. And then there’s always the question of how the animal died.

G5 T3 - Illegal in NYS.

G5 T3 – Pokes out from bone.

I began inspecting the 8-pointer for clues as to what may have lead to his death, and there in pain sight was the answer. A G5 T3 Broadhead was wedged in to the buck’s right shoulder blade. The finding left little doubt that the deer had been shot by a fellow archer and never recovered – most likely because the arrow never penetrated the deer’s vitals.

This story would end here if I lived in Texas or Illinois, but I don’t. I reside and hunt in New York State. I tell you that to tell you this: G5’s T3 Broadheads are illegal for hunting purposes in NYS.

A quick check of the NYS Department of Conservation’s website will tell you that ANY barbed broadhead is illegal. Period.
broadhd

Image if T3 - illegal in NYS.

Image of G5 T3 – illegal in NYS.

Here’s how the DEC defines a barbed broadhead: “A barbed Broadhead is one in which the angle formed between the trailing or rear edge of any blade and the shaft is less than 90 degrees.”

Clearly the T3 fits this description.

I’m unsure of who shot the buck – and to be honest, I don’t really care, but may I suggest that he or she pay a visit to http://www.dec.ny.gov prior to heading out to the local pro shop to stock up on next season’s broadheads.

As for the buck, I salvaged his head and plan to do a european mount on him.

It’s a shame really, but at least I now have answers to my questions.

Mystery solved.

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Exercise the Ol’ Fashion Way – Chasing Rabbits

My feelings on rabbit hunting weren’t firmly in place until college.

While I managed to pop a few bunnies here and there as a teen on our farm, it wasn’t until I met two beagles named Flash and Barney while away at school that I found out just how enjoyable it can be to round-up rabbits.

Now I just wish I could do it more often.

My brother-in-law Jeff Albaugh, and his son, Brock, allowed me to join them (and their beagle Abbie) for a holiday hunt last weekend and it brought back a lot of the memories from those rabbit hunts way back when.

We opted to take along a couple handheld cameras in order to make a blog post out of the hunt. Have fun watching it, if for no other reason than you get to see me in a funny hat.

Here’s hoping you all have a great start to the New Year!


Further Gun Control Doesn’t Add Up

As my dad tells it, he was amid a normal service call in the fields of one of his best farming customers. This day was pretty ordinary except he had my cousin Richie, who was no bigger than a blade of timothy grass, along for the ride.

Then ordinary turned anything but.

With his focus squarely pointed toward the mechanical task at hand, a wack job with a loaded shotgun pointed it square at my dad’s head, threatening to pull the trigger at any moment. The tripped-out gunman, who turned out to be the son-in-law of the farmer, was certain that my dad was on the property stealing.

He was not.

And if the farmer wasn’t home to disarm the gunman after several intense minutes, there stands a strong likelihood I wouldn’t be here.

My dad, a concealed weapons permit holder in one of the most difficult states to be so, was able to have a weapon with him for every service call from there on out.

I pride myself on being open minded. And I’ve heard a lot in the last eight days about folks wanting to talk about gun control.

Let’s do it. I’m more than happy to converse about it. Part of engaging in the talk about gun control comes with the responsibility to get educated about the facts.

None of my arguments are new – many of them are circulating media channels and social media networks in unprecedented fashion. Very few are as powerful to me than the fact that our Commander in Chief does not spend any waking moment without armed security protecting his life.

That luxury is more than justified.

But any argument to reduce my ability to protect myself, is to say that my life is less important than the President’s. That very well could be true. My mama might beg to differ, just as I can assure you that I will utilize whatever means possible to protect my children. To me, they are the most valualbe lives on this earth.

I do not own any of the oft-reffered to “assault-type” guns. My reason is simple. The legal versions of these guns do not provide any advantage for me from several of the semi-automatic weapons I own when it comes to protecting my family. If they were to provide additional value on that front, you could bet your bottom dollar I would have one.

Why?

The evoloution of evil is scary. Anyone who thinks greater government meddling in gun rights will keep nimrods, or persons outside of their normal capacities, from performing evil acts is simply ignorant. Any further restrictions are only mandating the means for law-abiding citizens to react to that evil.

Among many of the things that still aren’t adding up to me is the fact that every single terrorist who performed the evil acts at schools in acts that are gaining media attention of late, were breaking the law the moment they stepped foot in an educational building with a weapon. THEY WERE BREAKING THE LAW. How will stricter gun control stop them from doing those hateful acts?

I’m all for talking about gun control. All I ask is that those talking come armed with the facts. Far too much is riding on it.


My Formula For Not Keeping Score

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The question is better than the answer I told him. My friend had stopped over to the house to take a look at the buck I had harvested earlier that day. That’s a nice buck Greg, he said. What does he score? I haven’t put a tape to him I said, and I’m not sure I ever will.

The buck, a big 9-pointer with a small G5 on his left side that could possible make him a ten, was one of the heaviest racked New York State bucks I had ever killed in my 20-year plus whitetail hunting career.

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I had anchored the buck on the afternoon of Nov. 19 with a Winchester slug fired from my Remington 1100 Special. The encounter happened by chance, as I ascended to my stand for the afternoon hunt and spotted the buck standing in a nearby CRP field. A few shots from the stand and a finishing shot from the ground, and the buck was mine for good.

After admiring my kill, my buddy’s question really got me thinking. How do we as hunters really value our trophies? Is score the end-all, be-all in the whitetail woods? Gosh, I hope not. I’ve never been big on score; in fact I’ve never had any of my deer officially scored. That’s just not me. I hunt mature deer, period.

Why, you ask? My answer is pretty simple really, I feel putting a label/score on a deer diminishes the hunt I had for him. Personally, I like to let the memory of the hunt marinate in my thoughts a while. It’s kind of like placing a back-strap in a bag of spiedie sauce for the weekend. Follow me? You have to let it sink in. To me, slapping a number on a trophy buck too quickly devalues the animal.

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Now having said that, I recognize the fact that The Pope and Young Club and the Boone and Crockett Club set whitetail records based on the score of a buck’s antlers size. My fear however is that in the new-aged world of whitetail hunting with so much emphasis being placed on harvesting trophy deer, the sport of hunting is getting lost in the mix. Don’t get me wrong, I agree with and practice Quality Deer Management. I enjoy hunting big bucks and like killing them even more, but does the score of a deer inflate or lessen the worth of the animal or hunter? I say no.

I embrace and cherish the sport of whitetail hunting. I live and breathe whitetails. Anyone who doubts this fact can ask my beautiful wife or taxidermist. I just don’t feel we as hunters should base a trophy on a series of numbers.

What say you?

Cat Tales:

I’d like to give a shout out to my Dad who spent the majority of these past summer months conducting a Timber Stand Improvement Project on our property. Dad and I are committed to growing big deer, but with two young children and a full-time job, much of the grunt work gets left to him. He rarely disappoints. Thanks Dad!

I’d also would like to publicly congratulate my friend and good hunting buddy, John Koska who put the hammer down on this mature 8-pointer while hunting my property December 1st.

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I cannot tell you how many bucks John has passed over the years on our farm looking for the right deer to take. This guy seemed like a fine candidate. Way to go John!


A Head Scratcher and Kentucky Elk

For the last several years, I have joined some 35,000 individuals who have entered an annual lottery for a Kentucky elk tag. In all, 90 hunters will receive a tag to bow hunt the burgeoning herd that roams the Bluegrass State.

Waddell and Mundt, who are both among my favorite professional outdoorsmen, pose behind Waddell’s 2012 Kentucky elk. Photo borrowed from facebook.com/RealtreeOutdoors

Before I go further I want to go on the record, and be crystal clear, that this post is not in any way a bash on celebrity hunters. In fact, it’s far less about them – in this case two of the most popular in the country – and more about a program that decided to provide tags to celebrities sans the normal procedure for obtaining one.

I noticed a Facebook post this evening highlighting the successful exploits of Michael Waddell and Nick Mundt of each taking a bull elk this week in Kentucky. Congrats to those two Bone Collectors for closing the deal.

But I’m left scratching my head a little bit on what the “deal” actually was here. If I’m doing my scratch-pad math correctly, the chances of both hunters (neither a resident) drawing a Kentucky tag this year is less than .00013%. And that’s rounding up!

Providing “media” tags to out-of-state hunters for the purpose of highlighting and promoting a state’s hunting attributes is not a new practice. For years the state of Iowa has provided annual tags in order to get their state in focus on television. And they’re certainly not alone.

I point to both of those states, though, after feeling the same level of confusion with why they’re doing it at all.

Here’s why:

In both cases – Kentucky for elk tags, and Iowa for whitetail deer – the demand for tags far outweighs the supply of tags. The famous economic supply/demand curve shows that in this case, the two are in different countries.

It takes no fewer than two years to be selected for a non-resident archery tag in Iowa, considering that most hunters try in the first year, are denied and provided a preference point, and then re-apply the following year. That’s the minimum time I’m aware of for the large contingent of hunters I know who apply each year. Three years is becoming more the norm for those hunters.

Winning the lottery, literally, in Kentucky is seemingly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

So why do either of these states, or the large groups of others, supply these tags to hunters in order to be featured on their television program? My spidey senses say at the core it has something to do with dollars and little sense, but I’m sure some politician getting ready to seek re-election can provide a better explanation than me.

Perhaps it’s to shine light on the successful conservation efforts by a lot of groups to re-introduce elk to Kentucky (side note: pretty amazing is the success of this program, by the way. It’s a testament that pretty much pokes anti-hunters, ones who doubt hunting as a fantastic conservation tool, right square in the eye).

For now, though, I’m left to ponder the logic alongside more than 34,000 other hunters who don’t stand a chance of getting drawn for a Kentucky elk tag next year!


Back in the saddle

Fear and the observation that my nimbleness has lost some of its vigor in recent years led me to drop a little extra change before this hunting season started. And unlike that slumped over walk of shame you sometimes present around your wife after a hunting purchase, this one came with nothing but support.

HSS Lifeline

After doing research, I purchased the multi-pack of Hunter Safety System Lifeline in order to maximize my safety over the duration of my ascension into a treestand, and the subsequent climb down following. I’ve always worn a safety harness of some kind the last 20 years, but have zero reason why I haven’t completed my safety repertoire by having a climbing system in place.

Why now? Well it started with an innocent fall out of the back of my truck a couple weeks ago after my foot got hung up between the wheel well and 4-wheeler. A few days later, I slipped while adding corn to a feeder that led to a ‘(bleep) over tea kettle’ moment that knocked the wind out me. Simply put, I’m just not as nimble as I used to be. Call it age, lack of concentration or added weight to new places on my body (I don’t quite weigh the 150 lbs. I did as a young hunter), it’s just different.

I purchased the HSS Lifeline instead of opting to make my own for a couple reasons – none more significant than the fact that the cost was not significantly higher to purchase the sets already made.

I was able to put the Lifeline to the test already this season. The NC opener was Sept. 8 and my hunting buddy Jason and I were able to hit the woods for a few hours.

Jason Shell and me during a beautiful NC morning hunt. No shots fired.

Our hunting team is planning to do a lot more videoing this year after Jason’s resilience led to the purchase of a full set of HD equipment (all the top stuff). I’m looking forward to being part of both the hunting and videoing of several hunts throughout the season.

Where did all the posts go? Posts have been a little bit ‘off the radar’ for much of the year. Good news – the hunting season is upon us and I have a sleeve full of ideas to write about. The frequency of posts is likely to start climbing soon. There are a few AHT8 posts coming up too (8 questions from people you’ve heard of in the outdoors).

We’ll also be hearing more from our AHT Northern Field Editor Greg Johnston over the next several months. Please keep checking back for that.

Whether your season has started or not, here’s hoping the 2012-2013 season is the one where your outdoor dreams come true.


AHT “Shoot 25” Archery Training Program

It was a shot I took with the same confidence as a two-foot par putt – that’s the only reason I let that arrow fly. The 46-yard shot ended up true to its mark and helped me arrow my biggest buck to date.

Never before has archery equipment provided such capabilities to effectively shoot big game animals at distances once scowled upon by archery purists. And the only way to become more proficient at shooting those distances is to practice until your comfortable with them.

I wanted to create a way to practice, and track my progress, at shooting shots longer than normal. Headed into this year’s hunting season, I wanted to feel comfortable shooting well beyond my normal “comfort zone.”

I feel confident in that being the case before September 15 rolls around.

After a few modications, it’s my pleasure to share with you AHuntersTales.com Shoot 25 archery training program. The video blog entry will help explain the program too (nevermind the bald guy shooting so poorly).

The 25-shot program is simple. You shoot five arrows at 60 yards and measure the total number of inches away from the target you’re aiming at (for all five arrows).

[AHT Shoot 25 Program Scoring Sheet]

Then, you shoot five arrows at 50 yards and measure again. Next, shoot your five arrows at 40 yards, etc. You end up following the routine at 30 yards and 20 yards for a total of 25 arrows.

The downloadable scoring sheet shows how you take each of the cumulative inches away you are at each 10-yard increment, and multiply it by the respective number on the sheet (x1 at 60, x2 at 50, x3 at 40, x4 at 30 and x5 at 20).

Simply put, the program is much easier to shoot than it is to explain!

The primary goal of the program is to have fun, but it’s also designed to track progress over the time you shoot the program. My goal is to shoot it a minimum of three times a week over the next three months. Ultimately, I’d like to feel extremely comfortable shooting distances out to 60 yards.

Give it a try – and let us know how you’re progressing.