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………………

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The Art of Disappearing.

The who, what, where, and why of odor control. We will be diving deeper into each segment in future posts but here is a basic overview of the major reasons for controlling odor.

Who:

Who is you and anyone that your partner up with for hunting. Believe me if you’re serious about hunting and being scent free, your partner should be serious about it too. Nothing is more disappointing than getting out hunting and having your partner scare the game away. So choose your hunting partner wisely. Make sure they’re as serious as you are.

What:

One of the most important parts of hunting and disappearing is knowing what scent to use. You need to know what types of brush and trees are in your hunting area. If you’re in the pine trees use pine. If you’re in the sage use sage and so on. You need to know your surroundings and the better you know them the easier it is to disappear.

Where:

This is very important on quite a few levels. You don’t want to get fully sent free at home. It won’t do you any good if you’re riding around in a vehicle full of different scents. You do however need to make sure your clothing is scent free prior to heading out. After your clothes are scent free you need to put all your hunting clothes in a scent free bag with your favorite scent. Close it and keep it there until you’re at the border of your hunting area. You don’t want to put your clothes on and apply cover scents until you are outside the vehicle just before you go hunting. You should always start by taking care of your skin, then de-scenting your clothing again.

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 and animal every three to five years, then by all means do what the majority of hunters do and don’t use scent products. Some people are successful not using scent products. BUT, they are not nearly as successful as they would be if they were to use scent products.

If you want to increase your odds of harvesting an animal get serious about taking care of odor, from your body to your clothes.

Your increased success is only a decision away.

Hunter’s Best – Helping make memories.

Three tips to successful antler hunting.

Three tips to successful antler hunting.

Finding a nice set of sheds is almost as fun as harvesting the animal. Antler hunting is becoming more and more popular. With more people doing it, we need all the help we can get. Not everyone has the time to spend 40 hours a week training a dog to hunt sheds for you. We don’t. Here are a few tips that have been fairly successful for us.

Know where to look:

You need to know where the animals spend the winter. This may seem like an obvious observation to some but not to all. The only way to actually know this for your area is to get out in the woods and figure it out. Here are some places for you to start.

The moose tend to like watery bogs and willow bottoms of creeks and draws.

Deer seem to stay near their food plots and thickets.

Most elk winter on the south-facing slopes and like high alpine meadows and openings.

Know when to look:

Most people make the mistake of starting to look for antlers too soon. While it is better to wait until you are sure the antlers will be on the ground, it is also not good to wait too long. The trick to being successful is getting out when there is still snow on the ground.

The elk don’t actually lose their antlers in their wintering grounds. They usually lose them on their way from their wintering ground to their summer grounds. This is usually in late March and into April.

For moose you want to look in willow draws where there’s quite a bit of water. You want to find their trails and follow them, usually in January and sometimes as late as February. Find places where they rub. I have found many antlers (both sides) right by the tree where they rub.

The deer usually start losing their antlers in late December through the end of January.

Find the trails at this time and follow the trails:

I like to find fence lines, follow the fence lines, and wherever they jump the fence. A lot of times they lose their antlers there. You can also find them in an area where they jump a creek or a log.

Also, look through thickets where the antlers are knocked off by branches or brush. Other places to look are south-facing slopes, around rim rocks, and bedding areas.

For elk, find their wintering areas and follow their trails on high ridges and rocky faces where the wind blows and the snow is shallow.

Special considerations:

Please, if you walk into an area where there is a lot of animals, back out and come back in at another time. Let’s not push the animals around.

Now let’s get off the couch and go find some antlers.

 

Hunter’s Best, helping create memories.

3 Reasons you should change your trail camera settings

If you are anything like me you probably don’t know what your missing. I didn’t until a friend and I were talking about scouting and trail camera use. He mentioned to me 3 things that I was missing that I never realized were important.

 

  1. Before and After. If you have your camera set on photo, even burst, you have no idea what you are missing.
  2. Whats in the background? Most of the time my camera is set off I have no idea what it is setting it off.
  3. Details. A photo that you can actually tell the mass and size of an animal seem to be few and far between.

 

How do you fix this problem?

Set your camera to capture video. Make sure you have a big enough memory card to capture the footage while you are gone. Try it out. You will be amazed at what you are missing.