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Thursday, May 11, 2017

EXCLUSIVE - The key to turkey hunting success!

Pretty Bold - Eh? Read this article and learn the secret to turkey hunting success. Consider the following scenarios. 

#1 The Pennsylvania Corn Crib - It's 6 AM and a dozen turkeys march around a corn crib on this neighboring cattle ranch that adjoins a hunting property and are unseen by anyone. It is just a small piece in a large puzzle. The corn crib gate is open to allow a front end loader to scoop up a huge load of corn for daily cattle feeding. The ranch is a busy place but spilled corn is everywhere and makes for easy pickings for the turkey birds passing through. At 6:15 AM, binoculars tell the full story. The birds eventually begin a slow march across a flat, green pasture and cover a couple hundred yards, cross a property line and enter the woods. It is clockwork and predictable. Bird sightings - 90%  Turkey Rating: EASY 

Pictured are 8 different strikers of different wood types. A ceramic call on the left
and a slate call to the right. Different strikers will produce remarkably different
sounds on the same call. A box call is the old standby. Whether hunting with a shotgun,
 crossbow or traditional bow, a good turkey calling technique will bring the birds close.

#2 The Pennsylvania Mountain - A man in good shape would need an hour and a half to travel to to the top of this mountain on established trails to get to the fields at the summit before shooting time. Go off trail and fallen leaves cover slick rocks on steep grades making travel slow. Go too fast and a man will break a bone. Take an ATV and you might never see a bird. The turkeys are hard to find and are hard to figure out. They roost on the mountainsides. It makes for an easy glide down to the ground at sunrise but there is a lot of mountain. The birds are not predictable like the cattle ranch turkeys and are less numerous. They also are quiet and are less vocal after years of hunting pressure. Birds that "gobble" aggressively end up dead so the "gobbling gene" is slowly bred out. (That is my theory.) Public hunting pressure is high. Bird sightings - 25%. Turkey Rating: HARD

Our Pro Staffer, Rob, using a drill press to hollow out the pot for a slate call.
Again, different types of woods will produce different sounds. Here, Rob is working with
a Zebrawood board making a call. Eventually, Rob gifted this specific call to Chuck at Kodabow
and it was used to call in several birds. Rob is a scientist and has refined the depth and height  measurements of the pot type calls over the years to produce highly effective and
exceptional tonal qualities. 

#3 The Pennsylvania Orchard - A small patch of private land behind the orchard is home to several birds. Rarely hunted, the turkeys roost in the same trees every year. Touch that slate call at 5:45 in the morning and the gobbling response is powerful. Your heart rate jumps 100 beats per minute. Get into position quietly and a hunter will observe the birds fly down with precision -- nearly always within 100 yards of a fallen oak tree. In the evening, the same position provides a good view of the birds milling about before flying up into the same group of trees. Bird Sightings - 90%  Turkey Rating: EASY

Our Kodabow Pro Staff member, Matt, with his 2017 Spring Turkey.
While we might rate different hunting grounds from EASY to HARD, killing a turkey is never a layup. Turkey anatomy makes for a small effective kill zone and a big bird like this
can be very wary and cautious at times. Any hunter movement will
send the bird over to the next township.

#4 The Pennsylvania Canoe Trip - Take a boat up a creek for a 20 minute paddle and reach public land that is nearly unreachable by any other method. Most hunters won't fool with a boat and far less will walk 2 hours in the dark uphill and then downhill to pristine woods to Spring Turkey hunt which is the only other option to get to this spot. Walking in from the road requires a hunter to leave in the early morning at an ungodly hour for an unforgiving hike and the killer part is the uphill/downhill mix. Compared to Scenario #1 which was just a single uphill, this hike is a ball buster because it requires 2 uphill climbs. One going in and another getting out. There is a reason why many deer and turkeys are killed with 200 yards of a road. Take a boat.  Bird Sightings - 80%  Turkey Rating: MODERATE but REAL HARD without a boat.

Where you hunt is the most significant predictor of success. "Hunting Ground" and  "Access" has little to do with skill. Well.....maybe it is the special skill that some hunters have to secure great hunting spots -  either through contacts or money. Keep in mind that a seasoned hunter with a "great place" will have many more opportunities for action and shot opportunities. Other hunters are not around. The game animals will be less pressured and will be more predictable in movement.  When new hunters see all the "trophy - look at me photos", they can get discouraged if they are hunting HARD ground. Don't be too tough on yourself if you hunt a challenging environment. We have all been there. Not every hunt is like the Outdoor TV Shows where the hunting grounds are often REAL, REAL EASY. Take action to improve your situation and consider the "super human" effort required to travel to better ground. One morning, I slept in the backup of a pickup truck getting to sleep at midnight. I just finished a 2 1/2 hour drive to get to this special spot which required leaving the house at 9:30 PM. I walked up hill in the dark alone -  leaving the truck at 3:30 AM (with 3 hours sleep) just to be in position a first shooting light. The end result was a tagged turkey. There are better and easier ways to hunt but the payback was a satisfaction level that was off the charts. A walk down the mountain carrying a 25 lb bird is priceless. The moral of the story is do the best you can with what you have --- and realize that abundance of game on different ground is significant as you can tell from these 4 different scenarios.  
My best --- and have a great hunt (which means you don't always shoot!)   Chuck @ Kodabow

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

The Quiet Time of Year

It was a very good 2016 hunting year. Our Kodabow users had tremendous success with our product and all the news was good. For the most part, hunting seasons have winded down -- today, we find many of our Kodabow friends either planning next year's hunts, getting equipment straightened out after a busy season or just enjoying a nice venison steak and remembering last year's success. We applaud the hunters who just can't wait till the Fall Whitetail season and are making the trip to Africa this summer for Kudu, Oryx or Waterbuck etc.--- or heading down to South America to chase large game like Red Stag or Water Buffalo.

Before moving on to fishing and summer vacations, consider getting your crossbow gear ready for later this year. Order a few arrows... replace your broadheads if required.  Maybe it's time for a new bowstring. Help us out and encourage a friend to look at Kodabow Crossbows. You would be doing them a favor.

March is quiet and you might find yourself spending time reflecting on life and all things hunting. You are not alone. Here are a few observations that you may find useful, insightful or just plain interesting.

Most folks will say that venison cooked
on the rare side using this method
 turns out best. 

1. Venison Butchering: One hindquarter went to the butcher with instructions to make chipped steak." This is the thinly sliced meat that you will find as the key ingredient in a cheese steak sandwich and it is absolutely wonderful. A great 2016 discovery. 

Pictured is a classic venison steak cooking on the stove with a little bit of butter. The original intent was to share the steak with Sam, our Labrador. The steak was very good ... the actual result was that Sam came up a little short with the size of his share. 

Damage typically occurs after a pass through
shot and the broadhead hits a hard object.
2. Killzone Replacement Blades: After collecting several used and slightly damaged Killzone broadheads on the workbench, I used one of the Killzone replacement kits (available at www.kodabow.com) and replaced the blades and internal cams to make perfectly new heads for 2017. I immediately felt better.

After thorough cleaning, the blade in the photo was resharpened and reassembled and will be re-used.  It was not damaged at the shot. If the main body is not damaged, the cutting tip and blades are easily replaced.

Girl Scouts visited in the last week -- the archer
with the best form normally does best! 

3. Hat's off to all the Parent's who support their Child's Interests: We teach traditional archery here at Kodabow. We always have held the highest respect for parents and grandparents who bring a child to Kodabow to shoot a bow only because the child has expressed an interest in archery. 
This week, we had a 4 year old sending arrows down range. Why? He told his Dad who was a real "City Guy" that he wanted to shoot a bow. They will be back next week.  While the parent may have zero experience in archery, target shooting or hunting, they "enable" their child to explore and who knows where it will lead. It is a huge responsibility on our part to make the experience very positive. 

More on this subject of "enabling" in the next section..

4. The Passing of a Great One: My father recently passed away and at 92, he had a great run. WWII.... 150 miles North of the 38th Parallel in Korea, he made the rounds. We would go fishing and hunting together but he never had the same passion that I had. That was fine. To his credit and with my deep appreciation, he kept his crazy son supplied with jon-boats, outboard motors, shotguns and bows.  He enabled me to pursue my dreams and passion.
A military man -- he was one of 5 brothers who served
in WWII, Korea or Vietnam.

One afternoon, I badgered Dad to go fishing as only a 15 year can do. Relentlessly! The fish were biting on a local lake and Dad regretfully turned off the TV baseball game to join me. We were soon in the boat and on the reservoir with our little 3.5 HP Sears motor. After fishing for 30 minutes, I looked at darkening skies. In minutes, the "Mother of all Thunderstorms" rolled in and Dad and I were forced to go ashore and sit in a blinding, cold rain squatting in the pines for 45 minutes till the afternoon storm blew through. We had short pants and t-shirts for protection -- we nearly froze to death.
I looked in Dad's eyes and knew he was thinking about being home watching the Cleveland Indians. While he "enabled" me to pursue my dreams but it was a long time before I could get him to go fishing again. 

5. Old Timers: They say you are only as young as you think but when you can't pull your recurve or compound bow anymore, it is crossbow time. Go with it... it is part of life. As we get older, we need less stress and a Kodabow is a perfect choice. 

This Olympic style shooter stopped by the Kodabow range recently. He is shooting a 72" bow with a 50 lb draw eight and was holding at full draw for an extensive period of time while executing every shot. He suggested that this shooting style might be a more of a young man's game. I agreed.

6. Technical Stuff: We have a good friend who is sharing some detailed information with us about hunting and equipment. We started reading a synopsis and were fascinated by the simple concept of marrying up (1) technical details about arrow, bow and equipment used. (2) the hunting situation and 

Jim Aken after another successful arrow launch! 

how the shooting scenario develops as the game animal comes into range. 
(3) results and how the hunt finally ended. It is basically the story line of any hunt but when combined with engineering insights, it is a compelling read. We hope to share that information with you shortly. 

7. Outfitters: Please be careful as a customer. The outcome is typically either terrific or disastrous when booking a hunt. You just can't do too much research. It is definitely a "buyer beware" scenario.
Mark from Kodabow exploring some of the
vendors at the NRA Great American Outdoor Show
in February. An Oudoor Show should be the
beginning of your search
for a great Outfitter.
There are so many pitfalls. If you book a $7,000 Elk hunt, it is my hope you would see Elk....and not go for days without any action. After all, the outfitter is local and you are paying for expertise. As an "out of town guy" showing up for a week, you are at the mercy of your guide. A friend recently booked a trophy deer hunt at a big operation after very little apparent research. I pulled out my smart phone and read a review that was about 2 months old indicating that 25 hunters were in camp the week the reviewer was there and NONE had an opportunity at a large buck. No bucks were taken.  Zero. The number of deer stands was limited and it was likely that they were hunted by other hunters the week before. It seemed to me the operation was more about separating hunters from their dollars. Hunting is hunting and there can never be guaranteed success but don't kid yourself, there is an unscrupulous side to nearly every business area and hunting is no exception. We know  everything on the Internet isn't accurate. But several sketchy reviews about an outfitter should put you on high alert. A good and trusted outfitter is worth their weight in gold -- there is no better reference than a hunter who was there recently and can provide an objective opinion. 

My best .... turkey season is around the corner. Keep the faith.

Chuck at Kodabow

Monday, January 9, 2017

Lessons from Last Evening's Hunt

January Bow Season and a snowstorm in the forecast arriving this evening. There is probably not a better time to hunt. I traveled to a location not far from the Kodabow facility with the intent to fill an antlerless deer tag for the freezer. At this particular hunting spot and in these perfect conditions and deploying a crossbow rather than a traditional recurve bow or a compound bow, the confidence level was extremely high. Conditions were perfect and the deer would be moving before the storm. There are certain times when it pays to be in the woods and the next 2 hours was going to be one of those periods. Lesson #1 is do whatever possible to hunt prior and during a snowstorm. 

Overlooking a ravine with a Kodabow
at the ready position. (All the photos in this article
were taken in the last three days.)
A small doe moved in early and loitered between 20 and 25 yards. The wind was very still. The slightest noise I made caused this doe to perk up and look in my direction. The sounds were not loud to get this deer's attention. The slight rubbing of a glove on a bow handle or twisting enough to cause an outer vest to rub against a jacket was enough to put the doe at full attention. Without showing any movement, I was safe from full identification. Wintertime deer have the edgiest personality of the year. Lesson #2 is to never underestimate the acute hearing of a whitetail especially in the wintertime.
A benefit of snow on the ground - tracks can provide solid
and very current clues about deer movement. 

A larger antlerless soon moved into range. I waited. Again, this new arrival was wary and proceeded carefully being alert for any danger. Well hidden, I waited for a broadside shot. The distance was 28 yards and with a Kodabow, this situation should be a a certain outcome. 
I reflected about a discussion I had earlier in the day with another hunter. Candidly, it was a subject we don't hear about very often at Kodabow - that is, making a Kodabow shot and failing to recover a deer. In this case, the hunter told me his sons had lost 2 deer. He was in search of different broadheads or possibly a heavier arrow. That was not the problem. I asked, "where exactly were the shots?" He replied, " well the 1st was in the neck and the 2nd was high back shoulder."  Let me tell you that those placements will never deliver terrific success. Whitetails are resilient creatures and those two deer are still walking the woods today. A faster or more powerful bow, different broadheads or different arrow weights would only miss the vitals more quickly with a poorly aimed shot. Shot placement is key. A broadside or slightly quartering away shot profile with arrow placement in lungs, heart or liver combined with a Kodabow Crossbow, Magnum .338 arrow with brass insert and the Killzone 2 blade broadhead is a formidable shooting system. You can't do better.  We will repeat that. You can't do better!  I pulled the trigger on my Kodabow and the deer I was watching nearly dropped in its tracks. Lesson #3 is to be patient and make a good shot. 

If you are fortunate to have a wintertime hunting season and unfilled tags, our advice is to get out there. There is a strong pull to stay indoors, watch TV and wait for next year but you might miss some memorable times.
While hunting prior to the snowstorm was excellent, the
next morning was still very good. The crossbow was retired and
the recurve and a climbing treestand were the ticket.
It is snowing pretty good in this photo! Location was on a good trail
--- but the deer moved 60 yards away. 
Proper clothing is key. Merino wool underwear is a good bet if you haven't tried it. Headgear is essential and when hunting from a ground stand, ensure there is foam, carpet or a stool) between your bottom and the cold earth. The game animals are edgier than normal so movement and noise must be eliminated for success. In a perfect scenario, a hunter will be confident and comfortable. 

Checking the forecast now and hoping for more snow! 

My best,
Chuck @ Kodabow 

Thursday, December 22, 2016

"Old Bows and 5 Reasons to Love Them"

1965 ....52 years ago. The Federal Debt was $322 Billion. US troops were sent to Vietnam -- by the end of the year, there would by 190,000 troops in country. The first spacewalk by an American (Ed White) and the Rolling Stone's "I Can't Get No Satisfaction" reached #1. If you were alive back then, most of your possessions from that era are probably gone, lost, broken and tossed. The 1965 Mustang is in a scrap yard and Mom threw out the baseball cards. But archery bows from that time period are still around. 

While these bows were mass produced by companies like Bear Archery, Pearson and Wing Archery, they still have a lot of personality and are simply beautiful. The wood used was bubinga, rosewood, shedua and other hardwood types with remarkable figuring. At the time, they might have sold around $29.95 and up. Today, you would go to a custom bowyer and pay $600 and far more to find a bow with these types of woods. Over the next decade after '65, and well into the 70's, these old wooden bows became overshadowed by compound bows, metal risers and cables that were the start of a meteoric rise in compound bow popularity that continues in archery to this day.
But those old bows --- they are beauties! 
Pictured from Left to Right in my collection:
a. 1972 Bear Kodiak Hunter, b. 1968 Bear Kodiak Magnum with attached Quiver, c. 1965 Bear Kodiak Magnum, c. 1967 Bear Grizzly, d. 1968 Wing Red Wing Hunter, e. 1969 Bear Alaskan with Reynolds Sight, f. Pearson Apex No. 9

Here are 5 reasons to fall in love with these bows and treasure them.  

1- They work. And they work well. They are called vintage bows and they still shoot extremely well. Every year, hunters kill large and small game with these bows and some prefer them to modern recurve bows in terms of their liveliness and performance. Get to the big auction site and search "Vintage Archery" for a sampling of the times and products of yesteryear - from broadheads to bows.

2 - Family. Imagine heading to the woods with the same bow that your Father or Uncle used years ago when he went hunting. Look at the wood and the worn leather grip knowing that they were once held by a family member and you are continuing the tradition. Maybe the bow was saved from the trash bin when it went unsold at a garage sale --- but behold the treasure. Any vintage bow has history and stories left only to the imagination.

3 - Shooting Satisfaction. Pick up a Kodabow Crossbow and YOU WILL hit exactly what you aim for. The same is true for a modern compound bow. Some shooters look for something more. They want more challenge and begin to enjoy missing the target as strange as it sounds. With practice, you will be able to shoot these bows as accurately as any other archery tool. With the bows pictured, a good archer will hit a coffee cup at 20 yards with regularity. 

(Editor's Note: When you positively need to put some venison in the freezer and time or schedule is limited, a Kodabow is the #1 choice. But sometimes, a hunt has additional considerations. We hunt with both traditional bows and crossbows.)

4. Peace and Well Being.  Shoot these bows with a deliberate purpose and get connected with your inner spirit and self. There is nothing mechanical about these bows. An archer will feel the wood of the bow bend and slowly load with stored energy powered by one's own muscles. Zen, Japanese Archery, Become the Arrow ...whatever ....but the connection is strong. To propel an arrow well, the archer's mind must be "right" and the process can't be rushed. There is no room for other thoughts. There are no shortcuts. Every arrow sent downrange teaches the archer. To think less about the process while being very mindful of the process is the key from my viewpoint.  Fred Bear said that shooting an arrow "clears the mind." 
Walk and retrieve the arrows and begin the process again. In all of the shooting sports (rifles, handguns, crossbows, compound bows etc.) there is not a stronger, closer or immediate connection to the tool than with a traditional bow and your hand on a bowstring.  

5. Hunting Awareness. Fred Bear said, "You can learn more about hunting deer with a a bow and arrow in a week than a gun hunter will learn in his entire life."
In fact, Fred Bear had numerous insights about hunting and the outdoors that you might find valuable (Google - "Fred Bear Quotes") but the point is that archery hunting and in particular, hunting with traditional bows has the potential to be the most satisfying experience of any hunting activity simply because it is so difficult and so close and personal. With modern rifles and optics, shooting a deer at 500 yards is in the realm of possibilities for the average hunter like never before. It can be intense but it's a calculation. Shoot a deer at 7 yards with a traditional bow and it's deeply personal.
Most of the time, traditional hunts do not end
with a downed game animal. 

At Kodabow Crossbows, we learned a great deal from traditional bows. Our Kodabow Destringing Aid was born from the typical aid used with traditional bows. Our stringmaking was shaped by traditional bow experience in terms of strands and materials. The ability to change a bowstring in the field is a Kodabow feature we share with traditional bows as well as the deep experience that comes from designing a proper arrow and hunting head that will efficiently dispatch game. We kept everything simple with a hope that 50 years from now, hunters will look at our crossbow work and craftsmanship with an appreciation much like we have for these "old bows."

Merry Christmas,

Chuck at Kodabow
December 2016

Monday, December 5, 2016

Deer Hunting 100 Years Ago.

100 years ago --- there weren't too many deer running around the woods .... at least in Pennsylvania. Deer were scarce and the mere sighting of a deer would have made the local paper in some regions. Needless to say, if a hunter was fortunate enough to actually kill a deer, the proud hunter would head to Main Street and pose with the trophy receiving praise from all the town folk. After decades of deforestation as the Eastern US timber was harvested to build a growing nation, the lumber industry fell on slow times with the timber resource exploited. Towns built around the lumber industry shut down and regrowth promoted a slow reemergence of the whitetail population. Conservation ideology was developing. In 1913 archives, I observed references that limited a hunter to a 1 deer limit, male deer only and antlers that were at least 2" and visible.
Hawley, PA over 100 years ago. 
50 years ago, shooting a deer was still a very, very special event. As a youngster, I recall the opening day of rifle season in Virginia when my best friend and I were both successful killing 7 point buck deer. John shot a big one and we felt it was important to get the "huge" deer weighed for posterity. Being only 16 years old, shooting a deer was a monumental event that would even make the high school newspaper. To make a long story short, we headed to the local Safeway Supermarket, Meat Department and told the butcher we shot a very nice buck and asked if he would be willing to weigh the deer for us. He said "sure, just drag it right back here, front door is fine."  That butcher must have been a limited government gent because there appeared to be no rules. So we awkwardly pulled the big buck down the aisle of canned goods by a rope (much to the alarm of an elderly lady who was doing evening shopping) and put the deer on a scale --- the weight is now forgotten ..... and then dragged the buck back through the supermarket to the 1966 Mustang in the parking lot. That deer was prominently displayed on the rear trunk for the trip home. Those were the good ole days ...seriously. 

This buck traveled up and down the "canned goods" Safeway Supermarket aisle in Northern
Virginia to get weighed. Times were sure different in 1969. 

Today, deer seem to be everywhere. Here is a photo of nice buck walking through an apartment complex not far from Kodabow headquarters recently. We are fortunate to be living in remarkable hunting times and it is appreciated at Kodabow. 

Walking through the Apartment Complex, West Chester, PA 2016

Bob killed this nice buck this year
with his Kodabow - not far from Hawley, PA!
It is hard to kill a deer. There is always a two part problem. You need to find the deer which is part A. Then you need to kill the deer which is Part B. The second part is the hardest because far too many unexpected events can happen especially in the final few seconds when pulling the trigger is required. Bob, pictured with this fine 2016 deer,  will tell you that the buck appeared quickly during the rut and was about to disappear in the brush when he used his Kodabow with no time to spare.  A crossbow makes it easier to manage those final seconds --- and we are pleased to hear that some hunters use a Kodabow to take their first deer. It is a great choice. While times have changed, some things remain the same. Much like Hawley, PA in 1913, a hunter is still limited to one male deer a year in Pennsylvania. We enjoy the longer seasons and opportunities to hunt frequently using different tools. In 2016, the Kodabow boys have spent most of our time hunting deer with traditional recurves. I know --- some think we are crazy! But in the morning, I will pull out my trusty Kodabow (even though it's firearms season) and expect a good opportunity to fill a doe tag and put meat in the freezer. The mornings are cold and it will be a short trip to the butcher. It is still too early to shoot a buck ---- after all, Rifle Season is still open this weekend. Flintlock Season opens the 26th of December for two weeks  --- and Archery Equipment (both recurve, compounds and Kodabow crossbows) can be used in this area until January 28th.  Oh...my goodness! What a great time to be alive and be a hunter.
My best,
Chuck at Kodabow HQ 

Tuesday, September 13, 2016


Hunting Season 2016 Kickoff

(West Chester, PA 13 September) Here is our September newsletter. We are so excited! My goodness - as a hunter, I have a super mental outlook heading into this Fall season and my hope is that you feel the same way!  So far, it has been a tremendous year. One highlight was Big Jim Aken stopping a Cape Buffalo in June with a Kodabow in Africa. It is unheard of to shoot and drop a "Buff" within 30-35 yards of impact with a single arrow.  Just a wild and perfect hunt --- and no hunter prepares more for that singular moment when the trigger is pulled than Jim. 

So going into the Fall season,  I feel terrific, am not rushed, and just seem positive about everything. The highlight so far this year for me was spending a few days in Colorado chasing Elk in the Steamboat Springs area.

We often walked 8- 10 miles daily. That's me sitting in an ambush spot.

Without a disability, using a crossbow is not an option in Colorado so we used traditional equipment which I enjoy immensely. I will tell you that having a strong grounding in traditional equipment (recurve bows) HAS HELPED US UNDERSTAND CROSSBOW TECHNOLOGY MORE THAN ANY OTHER ELEMENT....from arrows, to broadheads, to energy, to penetration. I could go on! An either sex elk Colorado license can be purchased over the counter for most of the state and the elk population continues to do well because, in my view, there are high elk numbers combined with so many remote and nearly inaccessible places for elk to hide. In the first week of the season, the bulls do not respond aggressively to calling so we had two choices. Walk a lot and find elk or set up in the morning or evening in places where a hunter would expect to find elk.
I did not release an arrow. The 2nd hunting day, I had 4 cow elk (2 were young ones) come into my position where I was sequestered behind an evergreen. They would all move within 20 yards. Amazingly, the largest cow came right to my evergreen, turned around and looked down her back trail and then stopped leaving me with a 4 yard quartering away shot. It was early in the week and I felt good watching Mom and her young ones depart after milling around for a few minutes. I had bulls at 50-60 yards numerous times but needed to be closer with my trad gear. 

Elk moving past an ambush locations caught on my trail camera.

Deer Season Opens

 Opening Day --- nothing like it even if it is 90 degrees. Here Joe on our Pro Staff is on stand last Saturday up a tree in NJ with his 5 year old Kodabow Bravo Zulu. (Kwikee Quiver Bracket shown -- Quiver removed.)

Plenty of converging deer trails in this photo. 

Our friend Ted has his ground blind set up 1 week early in a recessed area just off a field.  He is sizing up the height of his stool and the length of his shooting stick and this Saturday, at sunrise, this is where Ted will be hanging out!  

Close the back door of that  blind when hunting and be
mindful of East and West so that sunrise and sunset do not interfere with your shooting dynamics. 

Lessons Learned

Big Country - my hunting partner is on the green
colored ridge in the distance. 
Getting ready to walk in. Most days, we stayed and had lunch in the mountains.

A hunter can reach a point where lessons are learned, forgotten, and re-learned again. The re-learning part can be painful. Here are a few gems:

1 - Never walk out on a different or new route in the dark.  The sun was down and it was about 2 miles to my rendezvous spot. I decided to cut a straight line to meet Mark and save a few minutes. Huge mistake. I knew I was in trouble after dropping unexpectedly into a deep and heavy growth dried out creek bottom sliding down 12 feet at once. I would still be there if I broke my leg because a walkie-talkie or cell phone would have been useless. In the daytime, the big green brush signifies water and uneven terrain where the water collects and the bushes grow high. Those areas are best avoided because travel is difficult. At night, everything looked the same. 

2- The Power of the Sun. Your clothing is going to get grimy and sweaty hunting several days in a row. There is not a backpack large enough to carry in fresh clothes for each day of a hunt so plan on cycling through the same trousers and shirts every other day. I was shocked at how well hunting attire cleaned up just by hanging out the clothing in the direct sunlight. Mom used to have a clothesline but then dryers came along and clotheslines disappeared across America. I said to Mark, "wow, this 3 day old shirt smells like it just came out of the wash." He replied, " what do expect? , smell and odor come from bacteria, UV light kills bacteria, mix in a rain shower here and there and I'm not surprised." It's tough hunting with such a smart guy. 

3- Strategy - Either Ambush or Stalk   I am good at determining areas where game moves. Being a big guy, I am also better at sitting still and motionless than stomping around. I see fewer animals because the places I choose to set up will be tight but when I do see them, they will be close. In these spots, I will not be glassing across canyons and counting deer or elk 1 1/2 miles away. Consequently, it was not a surprise for me to get within a few yards of elk on this last outing because that is how I hunt. 
A huge part of this strategy is wind. You may be wearing the latest "ScentStop 505 carbon-ozone -whatever" clothing but my experience is that deer and elk will smell you anyway if the wind is wrong. Walk 4 miles and break a sweat and you smell very much like a human no matter how much you spent on clothing. Getting the wind right in ambush spots is key.  Learn about thermals - how the wind warms and moves up the mountain in the morning and cools and moves down the hillsides in the afternoon. There is a predictive factor on how the thermals react with the prevailing winds of a particular day. All fun. 

My best --- call us if you need arrows, supplies or accessories and if you are bow shopping, don't wait till the last minute! 

Chuck at Kodabow

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Animal Behavior - A Perspective

When talking with a Kodabow friend recently, the subject of "Wildebeests" came up. Jim had just returned from Africa where he successfully killed a Cape Buffalo with a Kodabow Crossbow. (Truly an unbelievable hunt.) Jim and I were discussing the variety of animals encountered on a typical African hunting trip. Compared to North America, Africa has a very diverse animal population with so many different animals that a hunter can be overwhelmed sitting at waterhole watching the parade of critters coming and going. For a new hunter, it takes considerable time and study just to be able to identify these animals by name.

(source: Wikepedia Images)

Some might think that a Wildebeest is a strange looking creature. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. There are Black Wildebeests and Blue Wildebeests to further complicate matters and attract your interest. 

I needed to tell Jim my Wildebeest story. It was early morning and I was in South Africa not far from where Jim recently hunted Cape Buffalo. I grabbed my vertical bow and walked out along the bush road along the Limpopo River. The river was now dry in the African winter. It was a chance to slowly observe Africa awakening for 45 minutes or so before heading up to the main house for breakfast. I looked across the dried riverbed to Botswana which serves as the border between Botswana and South Africa. Animals cross back and forth .... there are no fences. Every turn in the dirt road could deliver a new surprise. I walked slowly. I was being careful. The bush was filled with noises from birds to monkeys as the sun arced upwards. In the distance, there was a sound - "a dull jet plane roar." While the sound was slowly increasing, it was just another African curiosity at the moment. I dismissed it and moved along. Every day in Africa brings the unexpected. But darn....this sound was really increasing in intensity. REAL LOUD now. I looked in the direction but could see nothing. Then it all became clear. Headed my way and arriving in a matter of seconds was a large herd of Wildebeests in a full stampede. FULL STAMPEDE. 

No idea what caused the alarm but these boys were moving fast and headed my way.
Maybe the high speed exodus related to the Wildebeest being a favorite food of lions, cheetahs and hyenas. They were coming and coming fast.
Some animals exhibit stampede behavior and stampedes can be very dangerous. Not all animals will exhibit stampede behavior but cattle, wild horses, elephants and wildebeests are among the critters that gather in large numbers and will run in a large herd together at any signs of danger. Sometimes, it doesn't even take a predator in the vicinity to get Wildebeests moving. They just seem a little crazy. After all, the Afrikaner word "wild beast" is a pretty accurate description. They are just wild. Jim told me that he has seen a herd bolt for no reason. One minute - everything is fine. The next minute, pandemonium can break out. One twitches an ear and floors the accelerator and everyone follows. Running at 50 mph and weighing 500 lbs each, the Wildebeest herd was passing by just feet away from me. I was in the middle of a bad situation as I watched animal after animal veer left and right. I tried to make myself small hiding behind a 2" tree. Stampedes are dangerous and a fatal situation can quickly develop for any animal or human in the path. I guess 50 to 75 Wildebeests passed by my position in less than 10 seconds. They moved so fast that attempting a shot with a vertical bow was fruitless. I think I was pretty lucky looking back at the situation. The morning with the Wildebeests is right up there with so many other African experiences ..... ( such as - Did you see that Black Mamba?)  

Another Kodabow friend opted to rifle hunt this year with his Weatherby .340 Magnum. He just returned in June from a great hunt in Namibia. This appears to be a nice specimen of the elusive Black Wildebeest.

It takes money and intent to travel to Africa.
Not as much money as you might think but far more personal initiative than you might ever expect. It is a long difficult flight or series of flights. Then comes a long ride to camp. But every day --- every day --- is the best hunting day imaginable. Along the way, expect to confront the unusual and at times, the dangerous. Africa is a wild place and the Wildebeest is just as wild as the continent.