Monday, September 26, 2016

Idaho Elk 2016 - Worth The Wait


Sit back, enjoy a hot cup of coffee, and come along with me on the hunt.

Airport drama started off this year's hunt.  I didn't recall paying a whopping $75 last year for the extra bag fee (one way) which constituted my sturdy extra thick cardboard bow tube and 2 Sunset Hill bows nestled inside, nor do I recall the attendant telling me that this is "non-standard" packaging and having to sign a waiver for any damages to the "package".

I was surprised when we saw our luggage being carted onto the flight from the terminal window and seeing my tube flopping around!  Yikes!  It appeared in this photo that my straight tube was now doglegged!  Could it be true that both of my beloved Sunset Hills were now kindling?


After a long layover in Denver and the subsequent flight to Boise, I finally retrieved my bow tube from the oversized luggage area.  Panic!  The tube was busted open and dangling.

I quickly opened up the tube to check on my valuable contents and to my relief there was no apparent damage done.

Whew!


Finally arriving at the Sawtooth mountains after the 2 hour drive from Boise, our host had already picked out a camp site for us, and sent an email with directions.  Nate had already scouted an area that evening that was reachable from camp.  Nate already had his sweet little homemade camper set up and the weary travelers discussed the hunt to come with hot coffee in the warmth of the camper as fire restrictions prohibited a campfire.  We hoped the dry conditions might make water holes and wallows an attractive ambush site.

The next morning Nate drove us around the complete area in his truck picking out a few good backup areas to check out in the future based upon his experiences there.   This scouting was a huge help to us as we only had a few days to hunt.

Part of the preparations involved constructing a log and rock bridge over the small creek we had to traverse to get to our initial targeted drainage.  This was a fun task that went pretty fast with 3 guys helping out.  Crossing the bridge every morning and evening with a walking stick reminded me of Fred Bear's bridge in his hunts on the Little Delta.



The remainder of the afternoon was spent taking in lunch and shooting the beloved longbow.  We shot at ranges of 40-60 yards, first at nothing and just grouping, then as the competitive spirit rose we set up one of those miniature soda cans to fire at.   All three of us were shooting well and making the can dance from time to time. My brother even managed to find an old discarded soccer ball and fun moving target practice began. 

That afternoon we began the hunt.  Here is a picture of us heading out.  What breathtaking terrain!  That ridge in the background held a healthy sheep population.



We would hunt a small north facing drainage above camp.  The bowl consisted of a small stream up the middle, thick dark timber to the west and south rimmed with grassy bedding areas.  The east was mostly rocky open areas predominated by two peaks of varying elevations with a lightly wooded saddle area between them.  That saddle was a good travel area between the dark timber on each side and the drainage basin. Nate found this skeleton earlier in the year of a 6 x 6 bull he thinks was killed by wolves.  The skull now adorns his shop wall.

Nate and I would still hunt together in this area, and my brother Chris would go up the west side for this first evening.  As we approached the first bench area, Nate and I split up.  He went up a small draw to the left and I was to work straight up the hill meeting him somewhere at the top of the bench. I got into sneak mode and slowly crept up the hillside.  At the top I did not know if Nate was already ahead of me or behind.  I continued slowly on.  The saddle area looked great.  The runway was about 200 yds long at it's narrowest, bordered by steep open rocky slopes on each side. Lots of beds and rubbed trees.  I found the bones of that wolf kill also.

Circling, I finally cut Nate's distinctive chain pattern LL bean boot tracks on a side hill trail and I picked up my pace.

Cresting the back of the main peak and bowl, I gave out a soft cow call.  Another call sounded back from Nate a little higher up.  Found him!  Moving closer we called back and forth again to establish location when suddenly a bugle sounded off in response down the bowl rim!  Hot damn!  The game was on.

I cow called back and hastily moved up and off to the downwind side in preparation as another bugle let out.  My heart raced and excitement rose up my spine as I gripped the string.  I tried to walk through the key elements of my shot sequence one last time and clear my mind.  Here we go boys and girls....

Then just as quickly, everything rushed out of my body like a flood.  I spotted the other hunter trotting up the nearby pack trail.  I had to laugh at how gullible I was.  I knew from Nate that these pressured elk were unlikely to bugle.  They are used to living in proximity and in secrecy of people to avoid the wolves.  The ones that survive know better than to bugle and give themselves away and any bugles are likely to be hunters.   Nate explained they will usually only give a soft chuckle.

Despite the outcome it was a very exhilarating short encounter.  Great stuff!

 That evening we again shared stories, tips, and tactics.  Talked Howard Hill and legendary hunters of yesteryear. Spoke of the strategy to come and longbow design in to the late hours over a strong cup of coffee. Sleep came quickly.

On Sunday night Nate left is to our own devices and since that initial drainage only held a little fresh sign, we decided to move camp and explore three more larger drainages deeper in the area searching for more elk activity to increase our odds.  Nate left us with some good options and we were eager to explore.

That we did!  Over the next day and a half we split up and hit those three drainages with everything we had.  I can't tell you how many miles we ghosted through, but at the end of each morning and evening the dogs were barking.  But life is good!

During one mid-morning I caught movement off to my left.  I spotted a bunny off to my right entering thick brush.  I moved to the side and scanned the area for the tell-tale big dark eye of the rabbit.  I found it and it allowed me to draw.  One bunny in the back quiver for lunch! Since we were bivy'd out away from the main campsites we decided to suspend the fire restrictions for a night and I dug a two foot deep stone lined hearth to cook my rabbit in.  Man was it good roasted over the coals.  Yummy young tender rabbit with a nice white wine.


After a day and a half of scouting new territory we still came up lacking with any fresh elk sign.  It was time to move camp and return to the primary drainage.  As we set up it started to rain lightly.....  by the next morning we were getting plenty of cold rain.  it was steady into the light so we decided to head into town and found some hot showers at the "Y" and hit the coin-op laundry to freshen up our clothes.  Once a hot breakfast was had we headed back to camp determined to hunt the afternoon, rain or not.



The rain was steady, but beginning to taper off.  I put a bread bag over my arrows in the back quiver and placed a baby bottle liner on a single arrow and pressed the nock through the back side as a quick backup shot.  If need be, I could shoot the arrow out of the liner.  It makes a little noise but is effective for a backup shot.

I decided to still hunt the thick timber as sneaking around in the wet conditions should be quiet.  There was a choke point funnel located on the bottom side of the open east slope that looked like a likely travel route for elk entering that area at evening.  There was a well worn trail there that would be my goal to reach for a few hour sit.

The small creek was now swollen badly and we had to walk upstream anther 1/4 mile to find a crossing as our homemade bridge was now swamped.

Alternate crossing was found farther down.


The conditions make for very quiet sneaking and I quickly ghosted my way to my sitting position without much drama besides seeing a few mulie does. The rain let up enough for me to remove my waterproof fletching covers.  I felt deadly, like a part of the woods itself and not an outsider.  After, about an hour I glanced up to see a light brown colored coyote sniffing around the trail.  As he was headed off to my right, I decided quickly that it would not get any closer and started my draw.  The yote was about 60 yards at this point but what the heck.  It heard the hum of the bowstring and looked up, but did not move until the arrow struck a few feet away in the duff. Then, he was out of there on jets.    I shot a follow up with a blunt and wouldn't you know I hit exactly where it was sitting.

As I retrieved my arrows something big blew out of the top side of the thick draw I was watching.  Interestingly I did not hear it blow like the deer always do after being startled.  Hmmm....  I sat back in my hide on the now dry spot my butt made on the deadfall log and let things quiet down again.



It was time I started sneaking back toward camp.  I climbed a little higher on my finger to find a group of fresh rubs and another trail crossing the gully a little higher up.

I crested the finger and as I stepped down into the side hill I glanced up to see a very light colored boulder on the side of the mountain that I did not notice coming in.....  What!?  That was no boulder!  I was looking at the broadside body of a very large elk with it's head down behind some brush about 100 yards up the mountain.  No clue I was there.  This animal's body was immense.  The side view reminded me of those big Brahma bulls that have the broad chest.

I immediately began my stalk straight at it. I was moving quickly but staying quiet as a mouse due to the still wet forest floor.  As I began I tried not to notice light colored antler tip above his still lowered head.  Despite this my heart began to pound and my mouth went dry. I made up about 20 yards when I noticed I had to decent down a small ditch where I would lose sight of the animal briefly before I could ascend the other side.  As I committed to this and began to descend out of sight, I noticed he was now facing completely away from me.....hind quarters showing.  Perfect.

I slowly eased up on the other side and scanned the thick brush.  I couldn't see anything for a few moments as I stool statue still and scanned with my eyes only.  Then suddenly I saw a head and rack rise above the brush about 15 yards further away then when I last saw it.  This bull was huge!  It's head looked shrunken and tiny compared to that wide spread of antler that seemed to reach several feet one either side of him.

He was definitely on alarm now....starring straight in my direction.  I froze.  He retreated a few feat, and them came back in an attempt to make me move. A few more tense moments passed and he started to head up and away.  In a desperate attempt, I moved a few yards across the side hill and let out a soft cow call.  No dice, it only quickened his pace and as he crested the hill away I heard him chuckle at me.  Too smart!

Near as I can figure, the thermals gave me away.  I do not think he saw or heard me advance. He was directly uphill from me as I stalked in closer.  Maybe I should have tried to go back over the finger and gain elevation before the stalk. That is always a tricky endeavor as I would have lost sight of him and it is usually best to move head on and not lose contact.  Oh well.  Another learning experience. 

What a great evening hunt.  A shot at a coyote and a chance at the bull of a lifetime!  Perhaps a reward for venturing out in tough wet cold rainy conditions.


  The next morning I gave  "Brahma" a rest and it the back edge of that saddle crossing while Chris sat on the front edge.  Working my way up the draw towards the back side I came across some bones and found this bull skull that had been killed last winter.  Wow, these animals are huge!

I continued on my slow hunt through the dark timber.  When I ended up over the crest of the back side, I heard that low chuckle of a bull down in the dark deep slope.  I made a soft cow call and tried to get 20 yards cross wind.  The problem was that wind again.  It was prevailing down in the bull's direction.  I was hoping the thermals might keep him from winding me, but as the minutes ticked on and no bull arrived or answered my calls, my fears were realized.

I slowly slunk back down the draw, stopping at that skull again to retrieve it on my way back to camp.  Crossing the log bridge was an experience carrying that 5x5 limb grabber, but I manged to make it.


Not quite the circumstances I wanted to carry antlers out in, but there way more time to hunt and I was not going to give up yet.

My brother never came back to camp that afternoon.  I figured he must have found a good area or maybe even had a shot.  Turns out he found a good wallow and was sitting on it all day.  unfortunately, all he saw was a cool pine martin hunting chipmunks.


The next morning was one final chance.  I would go back into the thick timber after "Brahma", and my brother would go after "Chuckles".  The weather finally broke, and as I was side-hilling toward the bench where "Brahma" was spotted before, the woods was alive with rising steam.  Towering pine and fir trees filtered the mottled sunlight through the rising fog of warming deadfall.

How beautiful and wondrous.  I thought how self important and impenetrable ones mind must be to think that all these natural wonders occurred by some cosmic accident rather than by some plan or guiding spirit.  Truly the two places where God is always apparent is on the battlefield and in the wilderness!



Things remained uneventful until the evening shadows drew long across the mountainside.  I eased down near the draw to sneak back along the steam / wallow area.  As it started to get dark I began to move across the open rocky east slope when I heard a deep throaty elk cow call.  I knew it was "Brahma" likely hearing my footfalls but not being able to make out what I was.

I immediately cow called and moved away from him.  I was hoping he would think this cow was ignoring his calls and moving away.  Maybe I could draw him out of the timber.  I t was barely light enough to shoot but it was worth a try.     He called back to me again and I called out again toward by back as it I was still moving away and I re-positioned across the hill instead to get a shooting lane at him should be pursue this "reluctant cow".   This was likely it!

Well, darkness came with the speed of a train and soon I was feeling my way back downhill.  I'll never know of the the bull bit on my rouse or if I just ran out of time and light.

Back at camp we reflected on the hunt which was now nearing an end as the flames of our campfire illuminated the antlers from this deadhead.  We were spent emotionally and physically.



We had one final hunt before we had to pack up and leave.  We decided to attack the backside of the bowl from the direction of the pack trail and go at the rear of chuckles, hoping to catch him before bed.  We split up and headed uphill in the early morning. As I moved up the steep slope I could hear my knees creaking and I hoped they would not give me away.

Moving up closer to the position where I heard chuckles to begin with, I spotted a big barred owl.  I allowed me to stalk within about 10 yards from the tree it was in.  Pictures never do this justice, but it was close!

Later,  I watched a mouse dart uphill toward my boot.  I thought about what a hard life to be a mouse among all the predators in the woods trying to eat you!  I was feeling a part of the wilderness.

The walk was otherwise uneventful and regretfully we began the task of packing up.  As I walked back down the pack trail a group of 4 does past by and I thought of the deer season to come back home.

This was my 9th out of state trip.  Once you go, you are forever hooked.  Hunting these leviathans is extra special.  I am already planning for next year.

Happy hunting!


Thursday, June 23, 2016

Bob Swinehart - His Archery Equipment and Methods



In May of 1982, the bow hunting world tragically lost one of its superstars and most famous big game hunters in the world.  Ever Since, the legacy of Bob Swinehart has been fading with only the record books reflecting his accomplishments.  His two book publications are long since out of print, and collectors have put a high demand and price tag on copies.  His African photo collection was titled "In Africa" and his autobiography and accomplishments named "Sagittarius".


Since Sagittarius is so hard to come by, I wanted to recount some of the wisdom in this publication to folks that cannot acquire a copy to read.  Chapter 9 of the book is called "My Archery Equipment and Methods" and I will point out a few things from this chapter that may be contrary to the modern popular movement of target style archery for hunting, but have been proven effective by legends like Swinehart. The advice has much in common with the other proteges who actually lived and hunted with the great Howard Hill such as John Schulz.

Length of bow - Swinehart recommends not using any bow less than 60 inches.  The reason given is a short bow is more sensitive to error than a longer bow.  The most common length are between 64 and 66 inches.  He also recommended to learn on the straight limbed or reflex bow, and going to the "Fancy" recurve only after mastering the fundamentals.

Bob actually recommends that the average archer should not draw more than 28 inches.  He goes on to say that if the shooter is not comfortable bending the bow arm enough to get down to around 28 inches, that a anchor point closer to the front of the face should be chosen to that end.  The reason given is for "technical reasons" relating to arrow and bow materials and "ballistics".  He stated that Howard Hill contended that 27 inches was the ideal length for perfect arrow flight characteristics.

He describes his bow as 6 feet long.

Why does he use a straight-end bamboo longbow?  Because it gets the job done in hunting situations better than any other design or bow material.  Here are the specific 8 reasons given:

 1). Long length means geometrically less deviation potential at distance.  Less error in the trajectory of the arrow.  More forgiveness in the release under hurried or unorthodox situations. A poor release may still kill the animal, whereas with a shorter bow the same error may prove a miss at 30 yards. 

 2). Strength and dependability.  Tempered bamboo Straight ended longbows have 75% of the strength of the bow in the wood and only 25% in the fiberglass.  Other models with hardwood cores and wide flat limbs are just the opposite, and fiberglass is easily fractured.  So if a bow is nicked or dropped on a hunt it is more likely to fail completely if the glass if holding a majority of the weight.  A similarly damaged longbow may survive as there is not as much stress on the glass.

3). Unorthodox shooting.  Shooting from odd or awkward positions is easier with the longbow.  The action and design of the longbow helps in these situations, and if similar shots are tried with a short recurve they would not work "Half as well".


4.) Quiet. The design of the bow makes for the quiests bow of any according to Bob.  This important aspect when shooting at game is often overlooked by folks with "twangy" bowstrings.  If there is any background noise or a slight breeze blowing his bow is hard to detect at 10 feet.  His friend's recurve, "Wow, .....he alerts every animal within 100 yards". Bob did hunt with recurves from time to time.


5). Heavy Arrow. Longbows can accurately propel a heavy shaft  much easier than a short bow or recurve.

6). Stringing. Easier to string without tools, especially heavy bows.  While a recurve is more likely to be twisted or damaged upon stringing.

7). Carrying. the bow does not snag up on foliage like a recurve who's string lays over the curve of the bow.

and un-numbered #8.  He can stuff 3 bows in one tube for transport, whereas only 1 recurve would fit.  

Bob mounted his broadhead vertically, for two reasons. 1). So the back of the head will bite into his knuckle so that he does not overdraw.  and 2). It sights just like his practice arrow.

Bob uses 3 opposing wing feathers on his arrows (left handed using right wing fletch).  His feathers are higher, longer, and have more helical than most bowhunters use.  It straightens out an arrow quicker for shooting through brush and limbs."Better to lose a few feet per second and hit what you're aiming at, then to wiz by a miss".

His bow strings have over 20 strands of Dacron.He also rubs a "great amount" of beeswax on the string and then carefully bakes them in the oven for a few minutes.  This saturates the fibers with wax and when strung hot on the bow results in very little string creep.

Bob also uses dental floss to tie his one nocking point that is 1/8th of an inch above zero.  He wraps the floss crisscross over a loop and pulls the tag end under the nock once completed.  No knots and no loose ends. 


The backquiver.  The large off-the-shoulder quiver serves him the best.  For long trips it holds 3 dozen mixed arrows.  For quick second shots at game or rapid fire trick shooting the quiver has no equal. With any other type of quiver it would take a second or two more. It is also easier to shoot by feel, and easy to slide out of the way when crawling through brush.

Aiming.  Instinctively. He is aware of the arrow tip in his peripheral vision but does not consciously pay attention to it. He gets a feeling things are aligned like pointing a finger. The bowhunter has little time and generally shots are quick and usually not from the traditional upright position.  Shooting at game should be performed without conscious effort and as natural as tying your shoes.

He also advocates strongly for practicing from unorthodox positions "for the archer who desires to hunt - to bring things back once and a while".  Many photos of him shooting from many positions including laying down.

To summarize he also has similar sentiments to Mr. Hill's opinion when learning to choose whether your goal is hunting or targets because the two just don't go together.  Bob states "Seldom will an expert tournament archer make a good hunter and vice versa.  The methods of these two phases of the sport are too conflicting."

I hope you enjoyed reading these jewels of wisdom that are seldom heard, and often scoffed at, in today's popular hunting advice venues.  Mr. Swinehart sure had success using these principles in the not so distant past.  I have been doing the same with great success and so have a small group of other Hill devotees who still carry on the torch that Mr. Hill lit, and those like Swinehart and Schulz helped to promote.  It is a shame that the target mentality is presented today as the only way.... it is not. 




Friday, June 17, 2016

The Longbow - Here Comes The "Pitch", No Silencers

The hunter alert and on one knee struggles to keep the shakes of excitement at bay as the young buck feeds slowly toward a shooting lane through the multiflora.  With a final step, the wait has ended, and the arrow is drawn and smoothly loosed only to lodge in the ground beneath the startled deer.  Turning ends in midair, the buck takes a leap and then freezes.  Minutes tick by as both hunter and deer try to decide what to do next.  Finally, the buck walks nervously over to the where the sound of the arrow impact happened and sniffs around.  By this time the hunter has regained his composure, withdrawn another arrow from his quiver, and this time he does not make the same mistake twice.  The hit is good behind the crease of the front leg and the deer does not go far.  Does this scenario sound familiar to anyone else?  Well, there may be something going on other than just the lack of smarts on the part of a young buck.

I have been dedicated to hunting for many years now with what is known as the American Semi longbow (ASL), also known affectionately to its devotees as the "Hill" style longbow. I have always received questions from others inquiring why I don't have string silencers on my hunting bow.  My answer most times is something like "Well, I never felt the need for them", or "I like simplicity, and I don't want extra stuff hanging from my bow if I can help it".  Since my stint of hunting with recurves for a few years, and then returning to the longbow, I have noticed an increase in follow up shot opportunities when I  do miss.  There may actually be a scientific reason why.

At work I was recently asked to perform some sound level monitoring in the animal housing areas where construction activities were occurring in other parts of the building.  The sounds were not bothersome to the human caretakers or researchers, but they were stressing the animals.  While doing some research on the subject I came across some interesting information with usefulness to the hunter.

Animals can hear high frequency sounds that humans cannot as referenced by the right side of this chart below:





Turner et al., 2005; Adapted from the works of Richard Fay, Henry & Rickye Heffner, and others

This got me thinking that deer might also be affected more by higher pitched sounds that are outside of our ability to detect.  I found a research paper that specified just that. 





H. Heffner, Jr. and H. E. Heffner: JASA Express Letters DOI: 10.1121/1.3284546 Published Online 11 February 2010

Another paper showed how high pitched sounds that were imperceptible to humans can cause a stress response in animals such as an increase in blood pressure on a study of desert mule deer.

So our game animals do notice high pitched sounds in an adverse way that we cannot even hear.  In fact, deer have a better ability to hear higher pitched sounds and a poorer ability to discern low frequency sounds as compared to you or I.   I would have never guessed humans might be able to hear better than a deer, but for lower frequency sounds this is true.

Higher frequency sounds are also very directional in nature.  They are so directional that they can be used in our measuring instruments and by motion detectors that control the door at the supermarket.  Therefore, if an animal does hear a higher pitched sound, it is more likely to be able to pinpoint your exact location faster.  These adaptations no doubt evolved over the millennia to increase the deer's ability to discern the exact location of a predator by the crack of a twig in an instant. Yet this also explains why after a low grunt, a buck will often come in looking around in all directions for the animal that made the sound.

This knowledge has all sorts of implications for the thoughtful hunter.  The clank of an aluminum arrow off the rest, the jangle of keys or change in your pocket while walking, the chatter of our aluminum stand on a branch may be akin to shining a spotlight on your location.  Conversely the deep muffled cough in your sleeve as your allergies react to the musk of decaying leaves in the fall might not be as big a deal.

Then there is my beloved longbow.  Considered slow and inefficient by some compared to modern bow designs, it's long and fat elastic dacron string creates a deep low hum when shot.  It is quiet without the need for string silencers, but it could actually be even quieter to a deer than it is to you or I.  Something to think about now that the current trend in traditional bows is short compact equipment with skinny low stretch strings.  









Thursday, May 26, 2016

The Best Hunting Stool

video

No stool!

Learn to shoot sitting on your rear end.  Nothing to carry, nothing to lose.  It is a skill like any other in traditional archery.  You need to lean forward and keep the bow almost horizontal.  Watch out for the bow arm sleeve dropping down and really put a bend in your bow arm.  It just takes practice.

Bob Swinehart Practicing.


Schulz Sitting


SIMPLICITY

One of the things that draws traditional bow hunters to the sport is the idea of simplifying our methods and gear.   It is also human nature to try to improve upon technology and evolve.   This is what drove our species to innovations and improvements  ultimately securing the survival of our species over the millennia.  It is engineered into our genetic code to want to "Geek out" and over-analyze our gear and methods.  Unfortunately, sometimes this can work against us and our enjoyment of the aspects that interested us in traditional in the first place.

Our modern social media only works to help amplify these discussions and analysis.  The online forums are full of the latest general opinions on everything from speed, to arrow weight, to camouflage, to string material, etc.  Newcomers to the sport have a wealth of information bombarded at them to the point that some feel they NEED to have xyz gear, or this bow or that, or that EFOC, or super engineered single beveled broadheads in order to kill game efficiently.  This is just not the case.  To me, all this has become a trap in what is an otherwise simple and enjoyable sport.

Throw in the propensity or quick fixes and the cultural tend of immediate gratification and there is a recipe for frustration.   Sometimes, perhaps we are too smart for our own good. 

It is important to remember those that came before us.  It has been estimated the bow and arrow has killed more animals and humans then "guns and bombs" throughout history.  The bulk of which were accomplished with what we would call "Primitive" all wood self bows and wood arrows.  In the heyday of "modern" archery our bow hunting pioneers like the Thompson brothers, Saxton Pope, and Art Young and their compatriots killed everything from small birds to large African game with all wood gear.  Howard Hill amassed a list of 2,000 game animals he took with the cedar arrow and a straight limbed longbow that is considered by most neo-trads as antiquated and inefficient equipment.

Many of our community transition from techo compound hunting to the traditional bow and with them bring the short cut propensity and gear dependency that drove them to the stick and string to begin with.  My point is not to be divisive or discourage new ideas and equipment, but only to point out how we all can get tied into circles with over-analysis. Maybe this is even the cause of the onset of target panic for some?

It is to the point now that some of the doctrine being promoted by "the analyzers" is thought of as the only way or law.....well, there is another way.  The simple way, that has been effective for eons and can be the most enjoyable aspects of our sport.    Simplicity!

What is an "elk arrow"?  Haven't hundreds of elk already fallen to the Port Orford Cedar arrow with 125 grain or 145 grain double bevel point? Are those animals less dead? There are those that would convince you that hunting with anything less than EFOC is not ethical....  Give me a break.  Now we need a excel spreadsheet to figure out what spine arrow we need for a 55 pound bow.  Good grief!

Well, I propose an alternative.  Let's change our mindset, quit stressing, and just shoot. 









Thursday, March 24, 2016

Bow Hunting Stingrays

 
The spring is here, and having previously learned the basics of stingray hunting from the late legendary pioneer J. Rob Davis and failing to land any rays on that hunt, I have a renewed interest in getting some ray meat to eat.

Recently there have been a few others on the internet forums expressing an interest, and it was obvious that many folks out there needed some more detailed information on these larger rough fish.  I dug out my copy of Rob Davis's "FAFFY" (Flinging Arrows for Fifty Years) book and I will present some information on this blog for those interested to learn from someone with 60 years of bow fishing experience!  Below is some information cobbled from "FAFFY".


First, of all let's discuss equipment.  On our hunt with Mr. Davis, I used a strap on gadget device upon which I had screwed the rubber crutch tip to accept my plastic bottle.  Mr. Davis already had rigs that consisted of a bottle filled with expansion foam, a 2 inch strip of rubber bicycle inner tube stretched over the bottle, a plastic clip which was nothing more than a piece of coffee can plastic secured with glue under the inner tube making a tab, and about 20 feet of 400# test braided line attached to a heavy duty swivel as a slide threaded through a cabled fiberglass fish arrow.




Line is connected to, and wound around, the bottle allowing the shooter to fire line directly from the bottle which is then pulled off the crutch tip and acts as a float.  The float can be retrieved and line wound around the bottle until it is close enough for a second arrow to be put into the ray.

The shooters stand at the bow of the boat, while the helmsman steers at a slow troll until a ray is spotted by the shooters.  The shooters point in the direction of the ray with the arrow so the helmsman can steer to within 10 or 15 feet of the ray.  Because of the water refraction the point of aim should be at the bottom edge of the ray to stick it, otherwise a miss high will result.

Never handle the line alone without the protection of a leather glove!  The bigger rays may take 3 arrows to get up to the boat and gaffed.  After gaffing, the Ray should be pulled up so it's tail is in the water but it's head can be hit with a cudgel (mallet with a 1 inch screw protruding from the face) and struck between the eyes a few inches back.  

Once the cudgel has been applied, heave the ray on board the boat and immediately cut the tail muscles on each side (Mr. Davis uses a machete).  Then the barb can be cut away and placed inside of a soda bottle with a 50% bleach solution.  Kept in this solution overnight, and then rinsed with cold water, the venomous grey mucus will be dissolved leaving a bright white memento of your hunt. 


Cooking and Preparation:

First remove the skin of the "wings" before the underlying fillets are removed because of the difficulty in removing the skin.  Make sure ALL cartilage and the white membrane that separates the muscle from the internal organs  is removed, otherwise the fillets will have an ammonia odor and taste.

Cut into 2 inch strips and marinade overnight in equal parts of oil, concentrated frozen lemonade mix, and light soy sauce.  Barbeque over coals is the favorite cooking, but oven broiling for 15 minutes per side is a close second method.

Supposedly other commercial marinades also work well.  Cutting rays into 1 inch chunks and dipped into a milk/eggs mixture and coated in Italian breadcrumbs before deep frying is also popular.  Ray also works well once parboiled to an opaque consistency and added to casserole or crab cake recipes. 



Friday, February 12, 2016

Tips and Tricks for the Longbow Hunter

This post will be a continually updated list of tips and tricks that I have found valuable in my quest for Longbow hunting proficiency consisting of simple nuggets of information that I have found to really work.

  • Besides ensuring your glove is well fitted.....Rub a little soft string wax inside of your shooting glove.  Moisten your finger with saliva before putting it on and your stalls will not slide off easily when shooting.
  • A rubber band, looped over your arrow stuck in the ground, then over your cell phone, and back over the arrow is an easy way to take a selfie of your game success.
  • File or grind the back of your broadhead file to a chisel point.  You can use a stick in the woods to baton the flat top of the file and use it as a chisel to free a stuck broadhead.  You may want to put a wood cap on the sharp end to protect yourself during normal use.
  • Carry your TP or baby wipes in a ziplock sandwich bag.  This can be used to keep clean and carry home the heart once your field dressing chores are completed.
  • Coat your feet with antiperspirant when it is really cold out and use wool socks.
  • unwaxed dental floss from your upper limb tip is the best wind indicator
  • Oil Based Rustoleum is a great arrow sealer and can be brushed on with a foam brush.  Duco sticks well to it also.
  • Get a little potpourri crock pot from the craft store.  This is great for melting beeswax and soaking your bowstring in after construction. You can easily dip your loops in it from time to time as these are the hardest part of the string to wax once the string is built.
  •  The side edge (short edge) of a file is great for removing the burr when sharpening.  Use it like a steel.
  • Turn the slick side of your back quiver in (suede side out) so that it slides around your body easier when going through brush.
  • Tie a dental floss nock by making a loop on the serving and wrapping a hump of floss over it.  When done put the tag end through the loop and pull that loop under the mound to lock it in place (it may break but that is fine).  Use some superglue to make sure it doesn't move when back at home. This tip was from Swinehart's Sagittarius.
  • Dust your string with baby powder after waxing and it will not transfer wax to your bow limbs.  Also your shooting glove to make it slick and protect it.
  • A small set of pliers with a 5/16th inch hole drilled out centered in the jaws is great for removing broadheads from trees without mangling the ferrule. The ferrule goes in the hole to protect it.  You can use your pocket knife as a fulcrum also to get leverage on the head (Howard Hill Tip)
  • A sharp old Barlow knife is about the easiest thing to dress out a deer with.
  • Shower curtain rings work great for hanging lanterns and gear in your wall tent with frame.
  • Use the same type of battery in all your electronics - headlamp, flashlight, GPS, and camera etc.  If one set goes bad in an emergency you can always swap and it allows you to carry less.
  • A KBAR fighting knife can be used with a log baton to split fire wood.  The flat pommel can be used to bang in tent pegs. 
  • Light grey wool is about the best winter camo out in the hardwoods.
  • Vaseline soaked cotton balls are about the best fire starting (tinder) in the field I have come across.