2 Tips That Could Change Your Elk Hunting Forever!

Step #1 – Pick a good area.

This is the most important part of the whole process. If you’re not where the elk are then you don’t have a chance. One of the best things I did in the beginning was to go down to the fish and game office and visit with the person that was in the field a lot.

For the first year I visited this person quite a bit. In fact, we became good friends. I asked tons of questions like, in what units do you see the most elk, and at what times of the year were they in this area. Out of his answers I for a good idea of where to start.

The other way I found good areas to hunt was to talk with the locals. I found a local hangout where a lot of older men would go and have coffee and I would sit and chat with the boys. It seemed the conversation would always end up about hunting.

In the early stages of our talks it wasn’t good. It always ended up at “No-tell’m Creek” or “Round-about mountain”. After we got to know each other, here’s how it sounded.

Back in my day when I was able to climb there hills I used to hunt up on Sheep’s Head, and Browns Meadows. Man did I find some great places to hunt from these old boys.

Now I’m one of the “old boys” and I love sharing my stories and hunting spots to the new guys.

 

Step #2 – Scouting.

It takes a lot of time in the woods in order to find the perfect place to hunt. For me, I have my best success hunting the “transition” areas. That’s the areas between the beds and their watering spots or feeding areas.

In order to find their beds you have to walk the ridges and, in September, north facing slopes. That’s where most of the shade is at.

Their feeding areas vary. In where I hunt they’re on the south facing slopes or clear cut areas.

Watering holes can be almost anywhere but the elk tend to like springs. You usually find wallows when you are water hunting. That’s a good thing.

Now you found a great place for a mid-day hunt when it’s hot. When you find their beds, feeding areas, and the watering spots, you will find some main trails that connect these areas together. That’s when the trail cam’s need to be set up to determine the times the elk are travelling between these three spots.

I log all my info on maps and the times the elk are moving. You will find there will be a definite pattern. Now you know the moving patterns and the times to hunt these areas.

Happy Hunting from Hunter’s Best!

Dad Knew Best

Back when I first started hunting with my dad in Central Oregon we hunted large fields and sage brush flats for mule deer. I remember the anticipation of opening day of deer season. If opening day fell on a school day dad would always let us skip school. We weren’t the only one. I think half the school took it off.

It seemed to me as a teenager that this day, opening of season, was the biggest day of the year. The weeks before we would go out and shoot every weekend. Most of the farmers in our area would supply my brother and me with the 22 ammo so we could clean their fields of ground squirrels, sage rats, and rock chunks.

We lived with a gun in our hands from age 8 and learned to respect the gun, everything, and everyone around us. The worst punishment was when I didn’t respect the or mistreated the gun or our property. Dad would ask me for my .22 that had its place above my headboard in a set of antlers dad had got some years before and would put it in the gun safe. It was like taking my right arm off.

What was I supposed to do without it? I would take long walks and pretend to shoot diggers. One of the best lessons my dad ever taught me was on a hunt for elk. We had planned our hunt months ahead of time before the season. We knew where the animals bedded and where they fed.

The plan was dad would let me and my brother off a mile down the road and we would walk the perimeters, one on each side of this large patch of timber. We were so excited to get to hunt on the driveto our spot dad had to tell us to settle down. We were like wild horses pinned in a 1978 CJ Jeep.

I remember trying to sit in the back and feeling my whole body quiver in anticipation. When we did finally reach our spot and get out I was having problems breathing normal. Dad went over the plan again and explained to us that we needed to wait until it was light before we started our hunt.

My brother, with flashlight in hand, headed to his starting point. I sat there by myself waiting for the light to fill the woods. As soon as I could see the ground I took off.

I was like a bird dog looking for a pheasant. I sprinted through the woods and it was no time before I was at the destination. As I sprinted up to dad all he could do is shake his head. He had just got in his area and was starting to hunt.

I had covered the mile in about 10 minutes and had pushed anything that was alive in to the next state. Then the lesson came.

“Son, it’s not how many miles you can cover. It’s how you cover those miles.”

I have never forgotten this. Enjoy your time out hunting and walk a little slower.

 

Hunter’s Best – Helping Make Memories….

The Elk I Never Saw

It was the middle of September and the elk were in full rut. At that time I was dating and my girlfriend wanted to see what all the fuss was about, why it meant so much to me to hunt in the rut.

When I woke her up at 3:30 am she wasn’t so sure about it. We had packed all of our gear the night before so all we needed to do was get coffee and hit the road. She followed me in her car. After about 2 1/2 hours we arrived at our destination. A place in Central Idaho called Black Dome.

I had been telling my girlfriend Debbie how much fun this place was when the elk were rutting. We were parked high on a ridge where we could see down in to a large canyon. There were remains of an old lake bed in the bottom that had dried up years ago. It was full of tall green grass and was a favorite hangout for a lot of elk.

I grabbed my binoculars and stepped out of the truck to take a look. I hadn’t even got to the edge of the hill where I could see the old lake when I heard a loud crash. The sound that was unmistakable. It was the sound of 2 bulls fighting. I quickly ran to a vantage point and the up my bino’s for a look.

There in the middle of the old lake were the 2 bulls. I watched them for a second then ran back to grab Debbie so she could see what inspired me to hunt all the time. We watched for about 10 minutes then got ready to head down into the canyon. We had to walk through a large patch of huckleberry brush which was taller than we were.

As we were making our way through I stopped suddenly. Right in front of me, about 8 yards away, was a black bear. He never even knew we were there. I stepped to the side of the trail and pointed for Debbie to look. She grabbed my arm and stepped closer to me. We watched the bear pull down the huckleberry and eat the berries.

We stood very still and watched. All of the sudden he must have gotten our scent. He ran up the hill out of sight. We still had about 300-400 yards to go and we could still hear the crashing going on down in the dried lake bed. We made it to the rim of the clearing and we were only about70 yards away from the commotion. I wanted to crawl the rest of the way so I asked Debbie if she could wait by the tree.

If she faced the lake she could watch what was going on. The grass was about 3 feet tall so crawling the last 50 yards wouldn’t be too bad. I started the crawl and was going slow. I could hear the crashing and the cows chirping. When the bulls broke apart they were screaming at each other. At times I would just lay there and listen to everything that was going on around me.

One time I stopped and heard what sounded like a dog sniffing at me. I slowly sat up and peered over the tall grass. About 3 yards away was a rag horn that must have seen the grass moving and decided to come check it out.

When he saw me sit up he slowly walked towards the middle of the lake. I could see the 2 bulls with locked antlers about 50 yards away. I cautiously got back on my hands and knees to start crawling when I heard something behind me. I had been gone from Debbie for about 15-20 minutes and the sound was coming from the direction she was in.

I turned to see Debbie crawling up behind me with tears running down her face. She looked like she had just seen a ghost. She got up next to me and grabbed on the me with streams of tears running down her face. All I could do is hug her. We laid there until she calmed down then I asked her what had happened. She had been sitting by the tree and watching all the elk when something sounded like it was behind her.

She turned to see a big black object in the brush no more than 10 yards away. She tried not to yell and ruin my elk hunt. She just watched the black object, which she assumed was a black bear.

It kept getting closer and closer until it was about 5 yards away and it lifted its head above the brush. It was a moose. She said it was licking its lip like it wanted to eat her. That’s when she took off and followed my path. I tried not to laugh but I couldn’t stop. I buried my face in my arm so I wouldn’t spook the elk.

I hugged her and said stay with me. We went on crawling to the lake clearing. We got within 30 yards of the 2 big bulls but could never get them to stop fighting or stand still.

Just when I was thinking they were slowing down I head another bugle. This one had that growl that you knew was big. It came from the other side of the dried lake. Out of the trees came a monster of a bull. He was at 80 yards and closing fast. He started to jog and let out a loud bugle.

The 2 fighting bulls stopped for a second and then ran the opposite way of the monster. He quickly turned around and went back the way he came in. It was over. All the elk had filtered out of the old lake bed clearing.

They were gone. It was like an old man scolding children for playing in his front yard. We just sat there in the tall grass for about 30 minutes waiting for something to happen. Nothing did. We talked about the man eating moose and laughed a lot. We walked back to our vehicles and with a kiss Debbie headed home, leaving me alone for the next few days.

I stood on the edge of the canyon way after dark just listening to the elk bugle until I got so tired I was falling asleep. I went back to my tent I had set up and tried to sleep but the sound of the bugles down the canyon kept me awake for most of the night. I got up the next morning before daylight to fix breakfast.

I then got my pack ready for the days hunt. I hadn’t heard any bugles for a while but was hoping to catch the elk in the dry lake where we had seen them the day before. I stopped at the viewpoint and listened for a few minutes. It was still dark and I hadn’t head a thing for a while. I decided to walk in anyway.

When I reached the back of the dry lake I could hear cows talking and I heard a couple of squeals from small bulls. It was still dark so I sat down at the same tree Debbie had her encounter with the man eating moose. I could hear quite a few cows and it sounded like they were bedded in the dry lake. I laid back for the 2 hour wait for daylight. It seemed like the 2 hours turned into 4 with all the sounds of elk so close.

I heard sounds in those hours that I had never heard before. When daylight finally got there, I could see about 20 cows feeding along the banks of the dried lake. There were 3 bulls bedding in the middle. They were small 3 and 4 pointers, and the rag horn. I just sat and watched for about 25-30 minutes.

On the south end of the lake I saw a large bull moving towards all the cows. He let out a bugle and the whole place erupted. There were at least 5 bulls screaming. The big bull, a 6×6, was chasing all the cows. When he got close he would let out a loud bugle. A threat to any other bulls in the area.

Every time he would bugle, the other bulls would bugle back. The 6×6 went from cow to cow. Sniffing them he was jogging now and getting all worked up about something. Out of the shadows on the far side of the lake walked in the monarch. I couldn’t believe my eyes. A huge 6×7 with very long tines and great mass.

The bull of every hunter’s dreams. His ears were laid back and he was walking stiff legged, head down low, swaying his rack from side to side. What a sight! I almost forgot I was hunting. The 6×6 stopped his jogging and went in to the same stiff legged walk. They walked about 20 yards apart, paralleling each other.

Staring each other down and not saying a word. They walked this way for about 80 yards and then they stopped at the same time. the 6×6 arched his head back and let out a loud bugle. Before he could finish the 6×7 cut him off with a deep raspy growl and a chuckle. Instantly they faced each other and charged.

When the antlers crashed together it was very loud. Now I know why I could hear them almost a mile away. At this point I’m in the tall grass about 85 yards away. There were no trees, just grass. The bulls would push each other away, tearing up the ground with their hooves and antlers when they hit. It was quite a sight.

Grass and dirt flying. All the other elk weren’t even paying attention to the battle. I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was like being in the middle of a National Geographic film. With all the commotion going on I decided to try to get closer. I put my head down and stated slowly crawling.

Every now and then I would peer over the grass and see where I was. I could hear the bulls fighting so I knew I was headed the right direction. When I got close to the bottom of the lake the grass was starting to thin out. I decided to stop there. I sat up and got my range finder out.

I took a reading and found out I was only 40 yards from the bulls. They were still locked together and pushing. By this time it was getting more violent and tearing up more ground. One would push for about 20 yards and then the other would catch footing and for back for 20 yards or more. I tried to get a shot but they would never stop.

They were spinning and pushing when I realized they were coming in my direction, fast. I didn’t have anywhere to go but I was on my knees ready to take off running. With dirt and fur flying, they were on a path to run me over. I didn’t know where to go or what to do. Before I could move they flew by me at about 3 yards, fully locked up and tearing up grass and dirt while they passed.

They ended up about 60 yards in the direction I had just crawled, in fact, it was by the man eating moose tree. At this point all I could do was to watch and pray they would stop moving so I could get a shot. They pushed their way over the rim of the dry lake bed and out of sight.

I could still hear them but I wasn’t positive where they would come back. The fighting went on for about 35-40 minutes. I was wondering if they would ever stop. Suddenly, as fast as it started, the sound stopped. I heard the raspy sound of the 6×7 bugle. I knew he had won the battle and would be coming back.

I was ready, arrow on the rest, yardage already lazed, and my nerves were even settled. I was watching in the direction of the man eating moose tree and I could see antlers coming through the brush. Yes, it was the big boy. The 6×7 was walking towards the cows which would put him at 80 yards. That was too far. I wanted him less than 40.

My heart was sinking fast as he walked out of range, down in to the lake bed, and started chasing cows. All I could do is hope he would walk closer so I could get a shot. He chased cows and mated a couple and was still running around trying to find another receptive cow. By this time all the cows were spread and some were within my range. It seemed like hours had passed and all I could do is sit and watch.

A few cows had wondered my way and were standing 30-40 yards. One of the cows started whining with a high pitch. It was like a regular cow call but all drawn out. This got the attention of the big boy and he started jogging my way. I was ready and he was finally going to be in range.

I ranged the whining cow at 35 yards. That was perfect. He came at her like he was on a string. He sniffed her back and did his business. He got off and was standing broadside at 35 yards. It doesn’t get any better than that. I drew, put my 30 yard pin high on his chest, and released. Just as I released, another bull ran down the hill and the monster bolted towards him.

I heard the unmistakable sound of a direct hit but, on what? I couldn’t believe it when the 6×7 bolted forward and the arrow missed. There was a cow on the other side of him and it hit here in the neck, dropping her in her tracks. I couldn’t believe I had just shot at the largest bull of my life and harvested a cow.

The cow was thrashing and the bulls stopped to look at her. The 6×7 turned back to check her out. He was sniffing, she was thrashing and kicked him in the nose. He jumped back and walked towards the other bull. I knew I had an either sex tag but this is not what I wanted. I didn’t see her behind him.

How could this happen? I watched the other 2 bulls for another 20 minutes until I couldn’t stand it anymore. I stood up and started walking towards my cow. The bulls were about 30 yards away. They stopped and just looked at me. I told them to get out of here and they ran up the hill.

All the other bulls and cows scattered like roaches in the light. When I got to my cow she was dead. The arrow had hit her about 10 inches behind her ear and broke her neck. She never felt a thing. I tagged her and dressed her out and started packing. Maybe this isn’t what I hoped for.

A miss caused by the bull I never saw.

One thing was for sure, my freezer would be full. I would have to give it another shot next year.

Tony – Hunter’s Best  –  Helping Make Memories.

10 things you should already be doing to get ready for hunting season:

  1. Know and understand the hunting regulations:

This may sound like an obvious thing to some people but you would be surprised how many people do not actually know the regulations for where they will be hunting. This applies even more so if you plan to do an out of state hunt.

 

  1. Know and understand the animal you are going to hunt:

This may again sound like an obvious thing but there are a lot of people who just go out in the woods with hopes of killing something that they know nothing about. Where do they feed? Where do they bed? Are they rutting? Each factor will determine where and how the animal is hunted.

 

  1. Scouting where you are going to hunt and know the terrain:

This is kind of piggy backing off of number 2. You are going to need to know where the animals are and how to prepare physically for the trip.

 

  1. Get your license and tags:

If you haven’t already done so you should seriously be considering purchasing your license and tags at this point. With the season just a couple of months away there isn’t much more time to get this done.

 

  1. Clothing:

Make sure you are dressed for the weather you will be hunting in. Being over dressed or under dressed can be life threatening. Heat exhaustion or hypothermia can leave you in the woods.

 

  1. Gear – safety/survival:

This is going to be a slightly extensive area. We have put together a list of some of our essentials when we are out in the woods. Your pack should be a suitcase for an overnight stay in the woods. ALWAYS hope for the best but plan for the worst. Below is a list of some good ideas for a pack list.

-water bladder

-8×8 piece of plastic

-space blanket

-lighter/matches/magnesium

-toilet paper

-meds (ibuprophen)

-skinning knife

-hand saw

-mirror

-3 plastic bags (for heart and liver)

-rope

 

  1. Weapon:

This one is an area that many people, including myself, struggle with. I don’t spend near enough time with my bow or my rifles. This one is easier said than done for me. It is, however, very important to make time to get your weapon sighted in and fine tuned. If you are waiting until you are out in the field then you are way behind.

 

  1. Get in shape:

This area is very easy for some. I can say that when you have to hike 6 miles back to your camp you will realize very quickly if you are in shape or not. Try to train yourself in a way that will simulate the terrain you will be hunting in.

 

  1. Transportation:

How are you going to get to your camp? How are you going to get from camp to your hunting location? How much gas will you need to bring?

 

  1. Plan with those you are going to hunt with:

Over the years I have had the pleasure of hunting with the same people, friends and family. We seem to talk about the following years hunt even before the current year is over. Here are some things we talk about and make sure we have a plan before we set out on our trip.

-The after harvest plan

-Food list

-Shelter

 

If you can get a grasp on these 10 things now then you are going to be in much better shape for the season both physically and mentally. You may have some other things that you feel are important to start working on right now also. Please leave a comment. You may be helping someone out more than you know.

Oh! And don’t forget to pick up your bottle of our scent. Get it now before it’s too late!

http://www.huntersbestllc.com

 

Hunter’s Best – Helping make memories!

Pop’s Bear

It was early spring and bear season had just opened. My hunting partner at the time and I were on our way to find a bear. He had just picked me up at 4:30 am and we were excited to get out into the woods. It had been a mild winter and we knew the bears were out of their dens and wandering around looking for food. My partner and I had been hunting together for the past three years with great success. We were both excited but I could tell he had something heavy on his mind. After our conversation on where we thought we should go he fell silent and I was wondering what was on his mind. I knew his dad wasn’t doing well, he had been fighting cancer for a few years. The silence was broken when he said “Dad passed last night.” I wasn’t surprised but it hurt the same. I asked him why he wasn’t with his mom. He said “Pops would have wanted me to hunt opening morning and all the family is getting together this afternoon, so let’s get a bear for Pops.” We hunted hard that morning and never saw a bear. About noon we both thought it was more important to head for his moms place to be with the family. On the way to my place he asked if I would go with him and I said yes I would like that. On the long drive to his mom’s he shared a few stories of his Pops and him hunting when he was young. We arrived at his mom’s house, a log cabin sitting in a meadow with three ponds about 100 yards from the house. I loved coming here it is a perfect place to live. Just as we parked and started walking towards the house his mom opened the door and with an excited voice said “Come quickly, hurry get in.” We weren’t sure what was going on but ran for the door once she said there is a bear trying to get in the cabin. There were six adults and four kids in the house. She explained he is standing on his hind legs with his front paws on the big picture window. We turned and headed for the living room. He wasn’t there so we started going from room to room looking out the windows to find him. One of the guys yelled “He is over here”, so we all ran into the bedroom to see. There he was, walking towards the ponds, obviously tired of getting nowhere with the house. He had been trying to get in for about an hour going from window to door and walking around the house. After we had heard this I suggested that he needed to be removed. He isn’t afraid of humans so he is a danger to have around. His mom said yes so we watched him waddle across the meadow and into the trees. The plan was to let him get out of sight of the house so the kids wouldn’t see us harvest it. I went to the truck and got my rifle, a .280 Remington, a gun I got from my father when I was in my teens. I walked across the meadow and past the ponds to where the bear had entered the woods. My mind was racing, “What’s he going to do when he sees me? Is he going to charge or run?” I wasn’t sure but I was ready. I was walking slow and straining my eyes to see any movement. There was a hill to my left with thick timber and a creek to my right. I was walking on an old road my partners Pops had built years earlier to log some trees on the back half of the property. I had walked into the woods far enough that the house was out of sight. As fat as that bear was I figured he would be walking on this road. I heard a muffled branch break on the hillside, so I knew he was close. I was taking one step at a time making sure not to alert him of my presence then I heard the ominous sound of snapping jaws. I could hear him but I couldn’t see him the timber was thick about 40 yards up the hill. I readied myself not knowing what was going to happen. I didn’t dare move. The snapping turned to low growls then a loud snap of a branch and a loud huff. There he was coming straight at me huffing with every step. He was closing the distance fast. I raised my gun and looked through the scope, all I could see was hair. I fired and looked around the scope. I couldn’t believe my eyes, he was still coming. About 10 feet in front of me was a large log laying across the ground. He ran into the log and stood up, with both front paws grabbing a tree. I quickly reloaded, pointed the gun, and pulled the trigger. He fell, hit the log, and rolled towards me. I started to run but my feet wouldn’t move. I reloaded again but didn’t see any movement. I just stared watching for any movement. I am not sure how long I was there but my partner heard the 2 shots. He wasn’t sure what was going on so he ran across the meadow and was yelling for me. His yell brought me out of the trance I was in and I tried to yell back. All I got out was a whisper. I realized I wasn’t making any noise so I tried harder. I finally got out a loud “I’m over here.” He came running up behind me. I hadn’t moved and I hadn’t taken my eyes off of the bear. When my partner touched my shoulder I started shaking. I hadn’t been able to process what had just happened. It had all happened so fast. When I saw him he was at 40 yards so my first shot was about 30 yards, the second at about 10 feet. Now he laid dead about 5 feet away. I finally moved. I stepped around the bear and sat on the log still not taking my eyes off of him. My partner started laughing and after a few seconds I started laughing. It took 4 of us to load the bear into my truck. He dressed out at over 350 lbs and had a green score of 20 1/6″ and later dried to 19 9/16″. I can’t help but think Pops was there.

It’s a memory I will never forget.

 

Hunter’s Best – Helping Make Memories.

The Jackpot

It was early September and my wife and daughter wanted to listen to me bugle some elk. I, on the other hand, was dying to sling an arrow. At the time, I was working a job that required most of my days and every other weekend. I couldn’t hardly stand waiting for the weekend. It seemed like the week was in slow motion. I worked as hard as I could all week and when Friday came around the anticipation was eating me up. Friday I got off work a little early and called my wife and had her and my daughter get ready for a quick run up the mountain. We were almost to the place I wanted to bugle when I spotted a black spot on the hillside about 1000 yards away. We stopped and pulled out the spotting scope to take a look. Sure enough it was a bear, and a nice one at that. While we were looking at the bear we heard the faint bugle of a bull way off in the distance in a place there was not enough time left in the day to even attempt to go after. After a few minutes I decided to drive to the other side of the canyon where the bear was at and put a stalk on it. When we arrived where I needed to get out and stalk the bear I only had about an hour of light left. I grabbed my pack and bow and got ready for a quick hike. We decided that my wife and daughter would stay in the truck because of the time issue. We were parked on an old road that had been closed for years. It was brushed in with downfall every 10 feet. I was trying to hurry as fast as I could so I could at least get a chance to stalk the bear. I came into a large opening where I knew I could speed things up. I started to jog and was making good time when I came to a small patch of trees. I wasn’t trying to be quiet and wasn’t paying attention to what was around me because I had a long way to go before I got to the hillside where I hoped the bear still was. My time was getting short and I was worried I wouldn’t get the chance to put a stalk on the bear. My mind is racing with how to get in front of the bear and get close enough for a shot. I got where the base of the draw was, where we had seen the bear and stopped to get prepared for the stalk up the hill. I took my pack off and got my no-scent spray out and sprayed my clothes and pack down. Now I am ready to go. I checked the wind and started to head up the draw. There was two big bulls locked together and they were heading down in my direction. I immediately went from bear hunting mode to full elk mode. I moved to my right and got in front of some small trees. The bulls were still locked together and headed in my direction fast. I got an arrow out and knocked it and started picking my yardages. At about 30 yards away they unlocked antlers and backed away from each other. They were staring each other down with their ears laid back. All I could do is watch with unbelief. One bull was a 5×5 with long tines. The other a 6×6 with what looked to be extremely large mass. I checked my yardage and decided to take the 5×5. As I raised my bow a large crash of brush behind me made me turn my head in the direction I just came from. Out of the small grove of trees I had just walked through came a huge bull at full run. He past me at about 10 yards and ran up the hill and chased the two bulls away. He was screaming about every 50 feet and all three disappeared over the ridge. With sunlight almost gone and me trying to recover from the shock of what had just happened I decided to head back to the truck and come back in the morning.

I couldn’t sleep that night. I tossed and turned all night. I couldn’t get my mind off of those three bulls. I kept thinking, which one would I take? Which one was the biggest? Then my thoughts came back down out of the clouds. I decided to take the first one that presented a good shot. After all, they were all big bulls and my goal is to fill my freezer. I rolled over to look at the clock and it was 4 am. If I got up now, I could get ready and drive up the hill where I encountered the bulls and it would be perfect daylight. I threw off the covers and in record time I got ready, ate breakfast, and was on the road. I got to my destination and pulled down the old abandoned road. Good, no one was there. It still wasn’t legal shoot light so I got out of the truck to put on my hunting clothes. I was straining to hear any bugles but there was nothing. Not hearing anything got my mind wondering. Where had they gone? Were they here only in the evenings? Should I drive around and locate them with bugles? Stop! My heart says they are still close. I finished getting ready and headed up the old road. I walked to where I had encountered them the night before but there was nothing. I continued until I reached the end of the old road then I headed up hill to get on the top to see if I could hear them bugle. When I finally got to the top of the ridge it was about 8:30. I found a great place to listen and sat down. I had been listening for about an hour when I faintly heard what I thought was a bugle. It sounded like it was miles away. My heart sank. I guess they must have moved out. I got up and decided to check out the next draw. I walked for about a half mile to the head end of a very small draw. This was an area I had only been to a few times in my 20 years of hunting these mountains. As soon as I cleared the edge of the draw and started down into the thick timber I got hit in the face by the sound of a screaming bull. My first thought was, there you are! Have you been here all morning screaming where I couldn’t hear you? Then two more bulls started screaming. The draw wasn’t over 200 yards wide at the head end and the bull was loud enough to hurt my ears. The sound was so loud that I couldn’t tell that there was at least three bulls and I could hear one rubbing his antlers on a tree so they had to be close. I quickly checked the wind. It was coming up the draw. I started working slowly towards where I thought they were. I got about 40 yards from the top when I saw a tree swaying back and forth. I couldn’t see the elk so I continued one step at a time while trying not to make a sound. I made it through some small trees and then I could see him. A nice 5×5 raking his antlers on a tree about 35 yards in front of me. Then, I saw another bull about 10 yards past the raking bull and he was in a wallow. The screaming was so loud I was having a hard time focusing on staying quiet. Two bulls were in front of me but where was the third? Then I saw the third bull walking back and forth to my right. It seemed like he was guarding something. Maybe cows but I couldn’t see them. I continued to get into a position for a shot window. At 30 yards I could see his whole body with his head behind a tree. Perfect! I lifted my bow to take the shot. I slowly pulled the bow back and at that very moment something else caught my eye to my left. I turned my head and there walking towards me was a big 6×6. He was 25 yards and closing fast. I lost all thoughts of the other bull and swung my bow to the left. The bull was walking so fast he passed me at 20 yards and kept walking. All I could do is watch. He walked towards the 5×5 and jumped a log and all I could hear was a big splash. He landed in a wallow and started throwing mud with his antlers. I watched for what seemed to be about an hour but was probably only a few seconds. He was perfect broadside. I was already drawn so I looked through the peep, set my pin right behind the shoulder, and released. It sounded like it hit him but all he did is lift his head. Then he turned around. What the heck? Did I miss? He presented me with another broadside shot. I placed another on the string and drew back, put the pin right behind the should, and released. This time I saw the arrow disappear where I was aiming. He didn’t even flinch. He started walking out of the wallow up the hill. My mind was racing! Did I just miss twice? Why isn’t he running like most I have shot do? Then something strange happened. His front feet lifted off the ground. It was like he was walking on air. He took about 4 steps uphill and landed with his antlers stuck in the ground. The only thing keeping him from falling back in to the wallow was his antlers. Now all I could do is stand there with big eyes and an open mouth. I did it! I shot the big 6×6! At that time I was so focused on the shot I couldn’t hear the other bulls who didn’t know what was going on. They were still raking and screaming. The excitement of just shooting a big bull was so great I forgot about all the ruckus. When my excitement finally calmed down enough I could see the 5×5 was still raking and the bull in the back guarding something were still there. I sat down, got my cow call out, and had some fun getting the boys all mad. I played with the bulls for 40 minutes or so trying to get them to move on but they wouldn’t leave. I couldn’t stand it any longer so I stood up and started walking over to look at my bull. The 5×5 just lifted his head and watched me walk over to where the bull was laying. All three of the bulls stayed around and were entertained while I was prepping my bull for the pack out. I worked until dark and then walked out. The next morning I came back in with 5 buddies for the final pack out. When we walked back in to the draw all 3 bulls were still there screaming. We all sat down and had a great time listening to the bulls. What a way to end the season!

 

~Tony Martin – Co-Owner of Hunter’s Best

The Art of Disappearing – A Closer Look

In the first post of “The Art of Disappearing” we talked briefly about this. In this closer look we want to dive in to each one a little more and talk a little about the science.

This isn’t magic. The Native Americans have been perfecting this art for hundreds of years. In the beginning all they had were spears, bows and arrows. So getting close to the animals was very critical. One of the innovative thinkers decided to cover himself with mud as a source of camouflage. It worked very well and this continued for some time. Somewhere along these mud covered years, someone probably got tired of washing the mud off all of the time and tried covering their body with sap from a tree as a way to help mask their human odor. Creative as this is, it was indeed a sticky mess that was even harder to clean off. However, it was in fact very effective. This innovative thinking slowly evolved into breaking branches off trees and rubbing them all over their body. This worked just as well and wasn’t nearly as messy, and as many of you know, it’s a practice that is still in use today. I like to think of us here at Hunter’s Best as innovative thinkers. Like the original innovators, we know that scent control has to start with the core of the problem, the skin. If you can’t first control the human odor that your body puts off, then it’s not going to be very effective. That is why we have developed a product that is meant to be used on the skin to control odor where it starts. Most cover scents are used on your clothing and they work well, but if you control the core of the problem you will be much more effective. Please understand, controlling the core is the first step. Our product is meant to be used in conjunction with scent free clothing and gear to obtain complete scent control. The goal is to get close to the animals without being detected and lets face it, wild animals make a living out of staying alive, so going undetected is extremely difficult. Our mission here at Hunter’s Best is to help others achieve their dreams. We’re helping to make memories.

In this segment we’re going to discuss the who, what, where and why.

Who?

The who is you and anyone you are hunting with. Believe me, if you’re serious about being scent free, then you need to make sure that whoever you hint with is on the same page as you. Nothing is more aggravating than getting where you know the animal are and someone spooks them away before you even get a chance. Find a hunting partner that is as serious as you are.

What?

One of the most important parts of disappearing is knowing what scent to use. You need to know what type of trees and vegetation you will be hunting around. If you’re in the pines, use pine. If you’re in sage, then use sage, and so on. Know your surroundings. The better you understand your surroundings, the easier it is to disappear.

Where?

This one is very important. You don’t want to get scent free at home, it won’t do any good if you’re riding around in a truck full of human odors. Put your clothes in a scent free bag with whatever scent you choose and keep them there until you are on the border of your hunting area. And no, a trash bag will not do. Let me ask you something. When you take the trash out of the house and it sits for a few days before trash day, it begins to smell fairly bad, right? So if you can smell odors coming out of the trash bag then odors can get into the bag defeating the whole purpose. So use a quality sealed bag. When arriving at your hunting grounds, start with Hunter’s Best scent concealer on your skin from head to toe, then put your clothes on.

Why?

The answer to this should be very obvious. The object to hunting is to harvest an animal. If all you want out of your hunting season is to be normal and harvest an animal once every 3 to 5 years, then by all means, do what most hunters do and don’t scent up. If you want to be above the average, then that’s the why. It’s only a decision but it’s one you have to make on your own.

I’ve been asked, why not put on animal urine instead of tree scents? Well, all I can do is share my experience with you. In the late 80’s I was trying to develop a urine scent to apply to your clothing, so you could become more like the animal you are pursuing. This worked great, possibly too great. In the next 5 years of trying to develop the perfect scent, I got ran over by a bull elk, knocked down by a rutting buck, charged by a black bear and stalked by a mountain lion to within feet. Now some would think these are dream hunts, but I’m telling you, they were near death experiences and more like nightmares. I came to a conclusion early on that I don’t recommend wearing animal urine. These are some of my early findings. When an animal smells another animal, there is a heightening in awareness, so the animal approaches with caution and is expecting to find what he smells. At this point, you can’t move or you’re caught and your hunt is over. The animal will then charge or run away. Either way, you lose. I started experimenting with cover scents on my clothes and it worked OK as long as you didn’t walk or sweat. I did observe the animal’s demeanor was totally different. They came in not looking for another animal and when they got close to within 30 to 40 yards, sometimes would spook. I finally discovered why. I was only taking care of the outer shell and not the core problem, my skin. Ever since we have produced Hunter’s Best scents, I’ve had a turn of events in the field. I’m finding the animals aren’t aware of any danger. They can’t smell another animal or me and when they see movement, they don’t just spook. They lift their head to see what the movement was and that has given me more opportunities to get a clean shot. My success rate went up by over 40% and the close encounters by over 60%. There is still a lot of room for human error. If you’re serious and want to improve your chances, use Hunter’s Best. Helping to make memories.

 

 

The “what” of scent control

Have you ever been shopping in a store and someone walks by and your nose goes crazy from the smell of perfume or some not so other nice smells?

Have you ever seen someone that stands out in a crowd of people, someone that because of the color or the way they wear their clothes just stands out.

Think with me for a second when you’re out in the woods.

What’s around you?

Is it trees or rocks?

Brush?

What is the most dominant color?

Once you found out what is the most dominant color for you area then sit down and close your eyes.

Take a couple of deep breaths and try to determine the most dominant smell.

Is it the smell of trees or brush?

Is it the dirt?

Once you establish the most dominant smell and the most dominant color for your specific area, then you have found the secret on how to disappear.

You want to smell like a most dominant smell and you want to wear the colors of the most dominant colors in the area.

When applying scent you don’t want to be so strong that that’s all you could smell you want to have a faint smell, not over bearing.

You want to blend in not stand out.   

That’s where Hunter’s Best comes in.

You want to deal with your core, your skin first.

Hunter’s Best scent concealer was designed to go on the skin to help eliminate human orders and also to apply a faint scent of your surroundings.

The same is with your clothes you want the colors to blend in not stand out.

Wear clothes that match your surroundings.

Now that you know what to wear and how to smell like your surroundings, you can disappear.

Good hunting.

Hunter’s Best helping to make memories.

 

“The Hunted” part 2

If you haven’t already read the first part of this story you may want to take some time and look it over. It’s a great story and you may be a little lost as to where we are picking up the story. We will wait here for you to get back….

Ok, let’s jump into it where we left off.

….In what felt like an eternity, the close encounter played out in just a matter of minutes. Raising his head, he simply stepped back onto the trail and continued to walk along the edge of the clearing. At 10’ out I raised the bow and drew it back as slowly as possible. The bow was shaking so much that I couldn’t steadily keep the sights on him as he walked directly away from me. Meanwhile, my window of opportunity was quickly diminishing. At 30 yards out, he stepped over a log. Leaving his hind feet up on it he paused for a moment. Still too shaky to make a clean shot, I stood there holding my 70 lb bow at full draw. He slowly made his way into the trees on the opposite side of the clearing. Lowering the bow with a sigh of relief, I could breathe again and actually enjoy what just happened. The thrill of a lifetime! Overwhelmed with excitement and frustration, I walked over and sat down on a nearby log. Blown away with what just happened, I set the bow down on the log at my left side. Sitting there in silence, I began to replay the encounter over and over again in my mind. It’s rare that I let an animal just walk away, but I knew that I never had a clean, confident shot. Coming down from the high, I soon became grateful of the everlasting memory that was just created and I realized that the slightest change to my self control could have taken a nasty turn for the worst and what had become a fond memory could have been a living nightmare! Praise God! The Lord was watching over me.

After about 30 minutes had passed, now calm and content, I suddenly realized that the hunt was not over. From the north side of the clearing, movement caught my eye. I looked up to see the same bear walking back out into the clearing, heading back toward the creek. For the second time in the same day, I made the exact same mistake, not prepared! Dry leaves beneath my feet, my bow laying on the log and once again not facing the right direction to make a bow shot. I was trying to make the most of my current poorly staged opportunity, I stood up while grabbing my bow and knocking an arrow. Not able to move my feet again, in one fluid motion, I twisted my body and drew my bow, following him with the sights broadside as he walked behind the only log 30 yards out into the clearing. He stopped. Right behind the log and the only standing tree in the entire meadow. I saw a window through the branches. I wasn’t about to let him go a second time. Quickly I set the sights on him through the six inch opening and released. Thump! With all of the excitement that had taken place in the last hour, I had forgotten the yardage and shot as if it were 20 yards instead of 30. Though I was dead on, the arrow placement was 2” low and the broad head buried itself in the log. Suddenly he bolted to the south edge of the tree line where he stopped and looked around trying to understand what made the loud noise. I knocked another arrow and drew on him. Now any successful bow hunter knows that distinctive sound of an arrow connecting with its prey. By sight and sound I knew this time I made a good shot as he bolted into the trees. For ten minutes I quietly celebrated my first victory with a bow. The success of a perfect shot was indicated upon retrieval of the blood soaked arrow. Daylight was now quickly fading in the deep ravine of old growth pines and firs, so I went to work tracing his exact steps into the trees. Now I’m beginning to doubt my so called perfect shot because I couldn’t find a single trace of blood anywhere. Crawling on my hands and knees through the only logical path he could have taken, I searched and searched for the slightest sign. Armed with nothing more than a small Mag light, I crawled through the dense dark thicket in what was now pitch black darkness. I looked for blood. I looked for hair. It was like he had just vanished into the darkness. Then it caught my eye, a glimmer of light that reflected off a single drop of water which had been splashed upon a blade of grass at the creek’s edge. Yes! I then knew that I was at least on his path. Leaping across the creek, I fell to my hands and knees in search of the slightest clue. Unbelievable! Still no blood. How is this possible? The arrow passed clean through him and the blood on it indicated a lung shot. “I’m gonna be here all night” I told myself. “There’s no telling how far he went.” Then with an unsuspecting turn to my right, just like a sleeping cat that was startled, I nearly jumped out of my skin when my hand touched the warm fur of the bear lying in the darkness. For the 3rd time in as many hours, I had to catch my breath and calm my racing heart! There he was, not 20 yards from the point of impact, lying dead in the thick brush at the creek’s edge.

Although this archery bear hunt turned out to be an exciting and successful hunt, it could have easily been a tragedy. Hunter’s Best does not recommend intentionally placing yourself in harms way for the thrill of the hunt or any other reason for that matter. Please be safe out there and happy hunting!

The Hunted

Bear hunting with hounds has always been lots of fun. Back in 2001, I was introduced to bow hunting. Archery bear hunts quickly added a degree of challenge and excitement to the hunt. Bears can be a creature of habit, so I easily adapted to patterning their habits and setting up a tree stand in their path.

My second season of archery bear hunting has become one of my most memorable hunts to date. I spent 3 days searching for, then studying and learning the daily pattern of, a black bear. Sharpening my new found hunting skills, I had great hope that this would be the year that I would harvest a bear with my bow. The boar that I was after had a habit of walking a game trail through a small half acre meadow near the bottom of a deep ravine, nestled between two mountains. There was a small creek isolated by dense woods and undergrowth running through the bottom. On the second day of the hunt, in the late afternoon, I slowly hiked into the clearing where my tree stand was. I had encountered a few does during the hike in and quickly realized that I should have arrived a few hours earlier. I stood at the base of the fir tree where I had placed my tree stand a few days earlier, watching and listening for a couple of minutes prior to climbing the rope ladder into the tree. I could hear a heavy set animal quietly stirring around down in the dense thicket below the clearing. Knowing that there were deer nearby, I was unsure if what I was hearing was a deer or a bear. To prevent spooking the animal, I decided not to climb into the stand. I found a huge pine next to the trail near the edge of the clearing. Placing my back to the tree, facing the meadow with bow in hand, I waited anxiously hoping the animal would soon show itself. For about 30 minutes, I listened to it move back and forth just 20 yards from me, but out of sight it remained. Then 10 minutes of puzzling silence. I waited anxiously as many thoughts raced through my head. “Where did it go? Did I spook it?” Though I was dressed in full camos and using every scent concealment product I knew of at the time, I checked for a breeze. There was a very, very slight breeze, barely noticeable but swirling around in the ravine. “It must have winded me” I thought. Then I hear it, a faint twig snap coming from behind. I slowly twisted around to see and there he was. A beautiful cinnamon colored black bear had just stepped out of the thicket and had caught my movement. We both stood there motionless, just staring at each other. He could only see my head because of how I was looking around the large pine. Strangely enough, he seemed to have lost interest and began walking cautiously up the hill through the fallen trees and dry leaves toward the trail. He paused for a moment with a small fir blocking his eyesight of me. I slowly turning back around, and positioned my bow. Already having an arrow knocked, I clipped the release around the string and rested the bottom cam against my left leg so that I wouldn’t tire while waiting. I couldn’t reposition my feet without alarming the bear, so I was stuck facing the wrong way. Making a shot would be 100% impossible from this position. I kept thinking “please come up on my left side”, but he wasn’t doing it. I strained to listen as he walked up the hill, getting closer and closer behind me. I knew he had reached the trail because he wasn’t rustling the leaves anymore. If there was ever a time in my life to wish for eyes in the back of my head, this was it. Ever so quietly, he walked the trail toward me. I knew he was getting close because I could now hear his breathing. I strained my eyes peripherally trying to see him without turning my head. Closer and closer he came until finally I could see him out of the corner of my eye. Wearily, he walked the trail that I was standing just 2’ off of. The word “nervous” took on a whole new meaning as he approached and stopped right in front of me. With my heart racing, he stretched his nose out to my right knee. Taking a step closer, he ran his nose down my leg to my boot. Though he never touched me, I don’t believe I could have gotten a pencil between us. With his head down, smelling my boots, I looked down at him with my mouth open and eyes as wide as they could get. I thought to myself, “I like a good thrill, but holy smokes this is too close!” I looked back up as my heart was trying to explode out of my chest, just to see the top cam of the bow start to shake. “Stop it! Don’t move!” said the voice in my head. I knew that the slightest movement would cause him to either attack or run. Black bears are generally not aggressive to people, however, being this close could provoke an attack if startled. It solely depended upon his gut reaction and I had no intention of finding out which it would be……………….To be continued………………