Tag Archives: Bow hunting

How a :60 Sec Hunt Etched a Life Long Memory

bullyherophoto

The Author and his prized ‘Bully 5.’

The actual hunt for this buck lasted all of: 60 seconds, but the memories made will last a lifetime. The morning of October 25, 2016 started as mine usually do – getting my kids out of the house and off to school. Except this morning, I didn’t have to continue on to work. Instead, I had taken the day off and had to head to one of my two hunting properties to retrieve a doe my son and I and hit the night before.

For this, I asked my Dad to tag along for some help and hunting companionship. Days like these are rare. Dad and I don’t have time to spend alone hunting like we did back in the glory days of my upbringing. Now it’s me and my wife who are raising children and teaching them the art of hunting and the respect for the great outdoors.

Once scooping Dad and hitting the road for school drop-off, I noticed an SUV pulled to the side of the road adjacent to our home property. I rolled down the window and could see the damage to the vehicle. The driver soon confirmed that he’d hit a deer, but wasn’t sure what it was or if the animal was fatally wounded. We exchanged pleasantries and continued on our way.

After dropping my son at school, Dad and I soon arrived at our property in Livingston County where I had shot the doe the night before. It took us approximately :30 minutes to locate the downed whitetail. However, upon walking up to the doe, I soon realized we weren’t the only ones who had discovered the kill. Coyotes had beaten us to the scene and had devoured the venison I was so looking forward to depositing into my freezer. Gosh, I dislike coyotes.

With a disappointing ending, Dad and I hopped back in the truck to return home. On our ride back I suggested to Dad that we do the ethical thing and check the area where the gentleman had struck the deer hours before to ensure the animal wasn’t laying in the brush suffering.  Dad agreed and we formulated our plan. Upon arriving back to our Ontario County property, I grabbed my bow and gear. Dad and I made the short walk through our property to the neighbor’s lawn where the man had told us the deer was seen flopping around after he’d struck it. We began searching the edge of the road and the perimeter of the lawn for any sign of the wounded deer. We didn’t see any evidence. No blood, hair or any other sign of a wounded animal.

Not sure what to do next, Dad suggested I grab my bow and stand at the end of a section of brush while he entered to continue the search. Our idea was; that if the wounded animal was to get up and try and escape the brush-lot I would at least see it or maybe even get a shot at the wounded animal. I agreed and headed over. I knocked an arrow and waited.

musiccamp

The ‘Music Camp.’ The remnants of the old bandstand can be seen in this satellite image.

It’s important to note that this section of brush we call the ‘Music Camp’ is very familiar to Dad and me. We’ve hunted it our entire lives. The 4 acre swath got its name from the 1960’s when in its glory days the property’s former owner literally ran a music camp there. Kids would come from all over New York and points beyond to attend the camp. As of a few years ago, the old bandstand – including chairs and music stands still stood as they were left by the children decades ago. The camp is long gone and in fact resembles more of a jungle now as the brush is well above my head. The deer love it though and we love it, too because it acts as a deer sanctuary and allows them to escape the area’s heavy hunting pressure.

As I stood at the end of the brush lot and watched, I was reminded of some of the previous hunts Dad and I have shared in years prior. There was that big 8-pointer I had tagged with my muzzleloader back in the early 2000’s and the time I saw one of the biggest bucks of my youth, but choked when I shot a dogwood (tree) and not the deer.

And then it happened. I had glanced up to the north and I could see a large-bodied buck moving through the brush and headed to a clearing. Could the ‘Music Camp’ produce yet another magical memory? I was around 80 yards from the buck and needed to close the distance – and fast. I tucked my bow and arrow under my arm and began to run. As I edged closer and closer to the clearing, I glanced up to ensure the buck was still on his way. He was. I closed another 20 to 30 yards and waited. I could see the buck walking slowly through the brush – he was nearing the clearing and I knew the encounter was going to happen. I drew my Bowtech 101st Airborne and waited. At 22 yards, the buck stepped out of the brush. It was the moment of truth and in the game of hunting I was in the driver’s seat because the buck hadn’t detected my presence, but I had his.

I waited, aimed and let the Easton arrow fly. It was a true and perfect shot as I’d hit the buck right in the boiler. He spun and ran right back into the ‘Music Camp.’ I dropped to my knees and laughed. What the heck had just happened? Unreal!

I could hear Dad in the brush and he was making his way. He had no idea that I had shot or had even seen a deer. I grabbed my phone, clicked it on video and hit record:

bully5three

‘Bully 5’ (foreground) makes an appearance just hours prior to his face-to-face meeting with the author. Date and time clearly wrong in photo.

“I’m pulling out my phone to record this because no one in the world will believe what just happened,” I said. “What,” Dad said it a surprised look on his face. “A monster just walked out of the ‘Music Camp’ and I shot him at like 20-yards,” I relied. “You’re kidding me!” “Nope!” Dad and I started hugging and acting like all hunters do when we achieve success. Dad said to me he was just thinking that every few years he and I do something so stupid and end up shooting a nice buck. He was right and we had.

We decided to give the deer some time to expire and headed back to the house for a coffee and to reminisce on the morning’s events. On the way back to the house I decided to pop a card on a camera I have located not too far from the ‘Music Camp.’ I replaced the card and headed to the house. I popped the card in the computer and, as fate would have it, on this memory-filled Monday, there was he was. The buck I had just arrowed posed for that camera just hours prior. This was certainly cool and added to the hunt. He was a deer we had limited history with, but one I’d coined as the ‘Bully 5.’ This buck was a tank with a set of wacky antlers that only sported 5 points.

bullyfromback

Where the Bully landed.

Dad and I returned to the site of the shot and took up the blood trail. Some 80 yards later, we walked up on ‘Bully 5.’ He was down.

He was exactly what I thought he was – a fully mature Western New York bruiser of a buck. I was thrilled with him. After tagging ‘Bully 5,’ Dad snapped a few pictures to document the day. They turned out great, but the memories made will remain as vivid in my mind as the images captured.

As it turns out, we never did find any sign of that wounded deer – and ‘Bully 5’ didn’t have any injuries to him. So that mystery remains unsolved. I do owe that motorist a ‘thank you’ though. Had he not struck that deer with his car, Dad and I would have never done what we did.

bullybolt

The Bully & The Bolt. The buck’s 170 lbs. field dressed weight proved to be too much for the author’s hanging system. #busted

‘Bully 5’ tipped the scale at 170 lbs. The big boy proved to be too much for one of my eye bolts as it snapped in half when I was hoisting him up.

What a blessed day in the deer woods of WNY.

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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.


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.


Preparation Leads to Success (I hope!)

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve updated the blog. Things have been busy around these parts! I assure you updates will become much more frequent as the 2011 season truly kicks off in my book next weekend. The North Carolina archery opener is Sept. 10.

I’m especially excited about the North Carolina season for a few reasons.

One of the plots being prepped on our lease

First, four friends and I have acquired a new 270-acre lease that is a couple years of tender, love and care from being pretty sporty. We’re not anticipating a lot, with respect to big bucks, this year. That said, there are several young deer that seem to be finding their way on the property regularly. While we gained control to the land a little late in the summer, we did get after it quick enough to get four food plots planted and do enough scouting to find several “deery” spots on the grounds. It seems like the land gets a little better every time we walk more ground.

Best of all, we’re all good hunting buddies who are looking for the same things out of the land (more than just a place to kill a deer).

With our second child due late this year, I expect to hunt more in the state of North Carolina this year than I have in year’s passed. Although I have no midwest deer hunting trips planned for the first time in several years, my hunting buddy Kenny and I will be making the pilgrimage to my family’s farm in Western New York. I’m looking forward to that trip. I’ve not hunted our farm since 2009, and never anticipated going a hunting season without setting foot in the woods I hold so dear to my heart. Here’s hoping it doesn’t again.

In just one month, I’ll be joining another hunting buddy, Richard as he takes his young son on his first out-of-state duck hunt to North Dakota. This will be my second trip to the great waterfowl state, but we’re hoping to make this trip all about Nate. We’re planning to be armed with more cameras than guns and document much of the trip for a few AHuntersTales.com episodes.

My hunting gear is ready to roll. I’ve spent a lot of the summer retooling both of my bows for the season. With new strings and a few other accoutrements, both have been sighted in, and are shooting broadheads really well. There is only one new set of camo in the locker (already have too many!).

The final bit of tune up came to my hearing! For the first time in a number of years, I’m hoping to take to the field this year (at some point this season) being able to hear well out of my right ear. I had my eardrum replaced and the ossicles bones better aligned yesterday and the surgeon reported after surgery that he’d be surprised if I didn’t have better hearing than before I had it. Be great to have my senses in better working order – I’m sick of the deer having such an advantage over me!

Let’s roll – it’s time to get hunting!


Hunting: My favorite sport.

I am a proud venison eater. Just last week, I went to a dinner event – attended by more than 100 people – where we enjoyed more than 20 different entrees prepared with the harvests of many successful hunts. And each bite of food that hit my mouth was tasty. This post, though, is less about venison and more about the reasons why I have a freezer full of it.

One of this blogger's early whitetails with a bow.


Venison is not the reason I hunt. And I’m not looking to use it as an excuse for explaining to people why hunting deer makes me happier than a lab’s jowls lapping up peanut butter.

I hunt deer because I enjoy the challenge, the time in the woods, and the sport that comes with outsmarting an old, wily whitetail. My preferred method of success is with a bow and arrow, but I don’t mind shooting a deer with a gun.

The food my family gets, and the fact that it’s the most effective manner for conserving wildlife, just so happen to be great byproducts of hunting. Let that be crystal clear to anyone who’s wondering.

Far too often, I find my fellow sportsmen having to defend the reasons why they hunt. That’s hogwash. No one in our country should have to defend their participation in an honest and legal sport that has roots as deep as the trees in the Redwood Forest.

You might wonder why I’m a bit feisty about this topic. I just watched a propaganda-filled video being kicked around the digital world where an alleged veterinarian presents a case that bowhunting is an ineffective way to hunt deer. He spends a great deal of time pointing out that deer, when shot with archery equipment, do not die instantly. At this point, I’m hoping I hear a collective, “Naw, really?” from our readers.

I have shot somewhere in the neighborhood of 25 deer with a bow. While that number might represent an “insignificant sample” in the world of research, I can tell you that my successful retrieve rate for bowhunting is better than my own rate with a gun. I know that reams of data exist to point out a variety of metrics on what is the best way to kill a deer. Articles published on the topic are probably in the hundreds. I can read all that until I’m blue in the face, but what matters to me is the experience I’ve had in the woods. That is my first-party research. I assure anyone who reads this and might question otherwise that a compound bow is more than effective at placing a lethal shot on a whitetail deer.

Is every shot lethal? No. Much like hunting with a rifle, a shotgun or a sling shot, hunters are not perfect. Heck, even Peyton Manning throws interceptions. While it’s not a pretty point to make for some, that too is part of the sport.

While you think about that, I’m headed to the kitchen to cook some venison chili.


Country boy humbled!

Shortly after celebrating my 12th year on this fine Earth, I started seriously shooting a bow. That came after years of flinging arrows out of my oldest brother’s hand-me-down Bear youth bow. When it became serious, my dad armed me with a brand-new PSE Spirit, the appropriate accoutrements and just enough wisdom to be dangerous.

I remember vividly having to get him to take me back to the bow shop to get a package of nocks after shooting well enough at 20 and 30 yards to break several. I’ve always felt like I could hold my own when it came to shooting arrows during the couple decades since.

One of my shots from day one on a mountain lion.

Then came Union Grove! More specifically, then came the 30th Annual Bowhunters Jamboree held in Union Grove, N.C.

I knew the humility was coming well before I stepped foot on the course, which would mark my first time shooting in a 3-D competition with bow and string. Shooting alongside three good friends kept my embarrassment manageable, and actually shooting a sliver higher score overall in the two-day tournament than one of them reduced subsequent ridicule. That said, I was truly humbled. And I had a blast.

The biggest challenge for any of you that have not shot a tourney of its kind, is that you’re challenged to identify the distance between your shot location and a 3-D target … without a rangefinder … and without help from your shooting partners. That is more difficult than it sounds as I write this. The range of distance is apparently supposed to be between 20-40 yards.

Day 2 with a large black bear standing WAY back there!

However, there is the ol’ +/- factor for those distances. I have no doubt one of the targets on the first course we shot was in excess of 45 yards (coincidentally, that target was one of my few 10-ring shots of the weekend – coming only after watching two of my shooting partners missing the target completely, which is a good sign that the distance “is further than it looks”).

In total, we shot 40 targets on the weekend. They were all unique, and the entire experience was fun. I will shoot more tourneys in the future. And I’m happy to report that I was able to improve by some 37 points on Day 2. My first accomplishment.

Equally important to making the trip enjoyable was sharing a camp with several of the active members from RackMasters Outdoors. What a great group of hunters! And their site is loaded with great topics and a full array of information from seasoned archers to help people out.

Like all fun forums, it also has the right amount of ribbing going on! It’s free to join and worth the time to be active on the site. Go to www.wildcountryarchery.com to sign up. Make sure you introduce yourself when you get there!

Cat Tales

I wanted to give a shout out to Bob Chavez for sporting one of the AHT stickers on his personal hunting machine. Bob’s ’99 Jeep Grand Cherokee just turned past 210,000 miles. As he notes: “Built right here in the USA!”

Thanks for your support, Bob!


Bob has added a hefty 4-inch lift with “some 31.5-inch meat on those wheels.”

Thanks for representing Bob. And please give him a wave next time you pass him sporting his decal on the way to the stand!

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