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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. 

Friday, June 24, 2016

6 Reasons to choose a Recurve Kodabow Crossbow!

I asked a dealer why his customers liked their Kodabows so much. He replied, "Every game animal they point a Kodabow at ends up on the ground dead. "

Kodabow Hunter Don K. with his first bear. 
At the end of the day or more accurately, at the end of the hunt and specifically when a hunter has decided that conditions were right to take a shot, the best, most desirable and only acceptable outcome is for a quick and clean kill. Don, pictured above, purchased a Kodabow nearly 4 years ago. During that time, he has taken 6 shots at game animals - most recently, he let a Kodabow Magnum .338 arrow fly and killed the Black Bear shown in the picture this June in Canada.
Let's recap Don's hunting results during the past 4 years.
* 6 Game Animals (4 deer, 1 Boar and 1 Bear)
* 6 Shots
* 6 Kills
* All 6 animals traveled 30 yards or less  
* Zero events of bow repair or failure 
He has achieved a 100% crossbow success rate and that is not unusual among Kodabow hunters.
Don follows our recommendations and uses Killzone 100 grain mechanical broadheads on Kodabow Magnum .338 arrows with his Kodabow Bravo Zulu - he obviously takes his time and executes perfect shot placement. In the bow hunting world of arrows and game, going 6 for 6 with very short recovery distances (< 30 yards) is CRAZY AMAZING! 
We say that as we learned this same month that another hunter took a Cape Buffalo in Africa with a Kodabow and the 2,070 lb Buffalo traveled only 35 yards before piling up after a modified Kodabow Magnum .338 arrow hit the mark. Not surprising for Team Kodabow. 
Ask Don if he is confident with his Kodabow? He will bend your ear with a very positive assessment.....he sold his well advertised BIG BRAND NAME compound crossbow when he bought his Kodabow 4 years ago and never looked back! 
Well done Don! 
Be safe in the field. My best,
Chuck at Kodabow Crossbows

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Spring Bear Hunting - It;'s Time!

Spring Bear. Next week, Spring Bear opens up in Quebec. There was still some snow a week ago and getting bait sites established at Lac Suzie presented some challenges but everything is on course for a great season according to Serge Dapra who owns this camp in Northern Quebec.
We know Serge from the NRA Oudoor Show over the last several years and have logged a few meals with Serge at the Capitol Diner in Harrisburg. He is a good friend and we know several Kodabows have made the trip North and have had very successful outcomes at his camp. 

Canada bear hunting in this province is generally a baited hunt because the terrain is thick and a spot and stalk hunt would yield little harvest. Far different than a bear hunt on Vancouver Island I had a few years ago which was 100% spot and stalk. Each method has pros and cons.
This bear was taken at lac Suzie with a Kodabow.

Hunting bears over bait is fairly simple in principle but that is not accurate. The biggest bears know the game well and can always be counted on to make a cautious approach with their nose taking it all in. There is often the opportunity to study a bear closely prior to making a shooting decision which is a real benefit of bait sites.  Then again, if you are ground hunting, being that close can get the juices flowing pretty quick. A tree stand is a nice option but don't think you are out of harms way up in the air. A black bear can be up 20 feet in 2 seconds - they are fast climbers. Shots can be expected to be close at between 15 to 20 yards in most situations. Bear anatomy is different than a whitetail and whether shooting a firearm or bow, a deer type shot will often be in the wrong anatomical area of a bear.  Shooting for the "middle of the middle" as some folks have called it is the way to go to achieve the desirable double lung shot.  Bisect the bear using the midpoint between both legs (left and right) and then bisect the up and down in the middle again. Where the lines cross is the textbook aiming point. Maybe cheat a little and move a bit forward for a better margin of error. A good bow hunter is always looking for the double lung shot. Elk and bear can travel significant distances if only one lung has arrow penetration. Your Kodabow with a Killzone mechanical broadhead is a terrific choice for black bear --- expect a pass through shot and a very short blood trail if you hit your mark.

Another hunter with a nice Canada Black Bear and his Kodabow. This was a different camp than Lac Suzie. The best approach is to do your research prior to booking a bear hunt! 

Avoid messing up your bait site by walking around the bait before getting into position. 
Go in quietly and proceed directly to your stand. Carry a Thermacell for the mosquitoes and bugs so your hands can stay still instead of constantly swatting flies while on stand. The bugs may be the most memorable event of a Quebec bear hunt if the weather is right. The mosquitoes can bite through a single layer of pants and duct tape will be critical to seal up any openings (like your boot to pants interface.)  Needless to say, a head net is mandatory even if you head out on the lake to fish. A bug suit and a rain suit are useful items. Your outfitter and the effectiveness of the bait sites established prior to your arrival in camp are the keys to having a terrific hunt. A few years ago I was sadly disappointed on a bear hunt when the outfitter failed to do the proper and timely baiting. Sites and tree stands had been ignored or had been hunted the week before by another hunter without success. Options were limited. This camp was more of an activity designed to keep hunters entertained and misdirected than a serious bear camp. A good rule of thumb is that a hunter should be allotted at least two fresh active baits that have not been hunted previously. Serge said that 17 of 18 hunters took bears last year at his camp which is a solid success rate --- 100% had shot opportunities. There were some very nice bears taken in 2015 and the pictures are posted on the Lac Suzie website. Serge invited me up to his camp this year. Who knows --- I just might join the other Kodabow hunters and get some time in up at Lac Suzie. 
My best --- (study your bear anatomy and tell us how you do!)
Chuck @ Kodabow


Thursday, April 28, 2016

EVERYBODY has problems! (Really?)

Let's say his name is Harvey. We had a chance to talk crossbows. I make the darn things. As an Outdoor Writer, he hunts and shoots them.
Like most Outdoor Writers, there is a passion for the fishing and hunting game so the conversation flowed freely.
I asked him how he did last year. (Today, we all assume that means whitetail hunting, 50 years ago, the response could have been a report on last year's squirrel and rabbit season.) The tale begins and the excitement and emotion in his voice made me feel as if I was there and this was no ordinary story.

Outdoor writers have embraced "blogging". Here I am with a young lady from Maryland who is all about hunting, fishing and blogging about those experiences. 

The writer replied that he had the opportunity of a lifetime but missed a tremendous buck last year. By the way, these types of bucks do not appear every year - you are lucky if you see a monster in a decade of hunting and even more fortunate to be in a shooting position. Hours and hours and hours are spent just to be in the position for that lifetime whitetail. The opening meant this story would not end well but Harvey had my attention especially since he was hunting with a crossbow. He didn't have a Kodabow - it was another brand....but OK, not everyone buys a Kodabow.

He related that he was in his tree stand and spent the morning glassing game going past and then the monster appeared. The big buck moved in closer as he centered the target in his scope. The moment came .... that millisecond right before the shot when everything lines up and the hunter's confidence level is so high, that thoughts of being at the butcher by 10:00 AM begin to cloud the thought process. He slowly squeezed the trigger. It was an easy shot. He was so lucky! At that point, ALL HELL BROKE LOOSE!
An Outdoor Writer takes in the benefits of the Kodabow EL-2 Sling  Imagine the need to take a quick shot and you get the picture.  Other benefits like the unique Kodabow Anti-Dry Fire (ADF) System are always impressive. Always ask for a demonstration that actually shows the ADF system functioning on a crossbow and see what type of response if offered. 
As the trigger was pulled, the arrow shattered sending carbon fibers in every direction. The string on his crossbow broke and loose string ends were flying in the wind. He said it scared the heck out of him as he watched the buck run in response to the commotion. There would be no trip to the meat processor today. No pictures. Just a walk back to the truck with a defeated crossbow. Harvey reached into his pocket and the cell phone came out. He showed me a picture of the buck. Another hunter killed the buck during rifle season and the photo was right there .....the big buck next to photos of family and past vacations. Obviously the memory still loomed large.

What happened? Harvey said the crossbow was a compound type and eventually was repaired with a new string and cables at a dealer. I  said a few different reasons could have caused the issue. The string or arrow could have been defective. He agreed. I said the most likely reason however, was that his arrow was not seated properly. This bow used a "half moon nock" and the string is moving up and away from the rail as the trigger releases the bowstring. The system depends on the arrow nock "catching the string" in the recess or slot of the nock -  named for its crescent shape. He said he might have not put the arrow in correctly. These type of arrows require that the nock be oriented to the string. Place it on the rail 120 degrees out of phase and there is nothing to stop the string from jumping up and over the arrow. He related that the dealer thought that the arrow position might have been just a bit forward but not so forward that the Anti Dry Fire system was not activated so the bow fired. Harvey said his arrow might have been in no - man's land. It was in far enough to fire but not inserted completely to function. I thought to myself --- "thank goodness Harvey was staring down a Whitetail and not a Cape Buffalo."

That's me ....  shooting a Bravo Zulu! 
Life is short. We can be blunt. I told Harvey that if he was shooting a Kodabow that morning, he would have killed that buck. The truth is the truth. I explained that our bowstring is moving down towards the rail as the trigger is pulled and not trying to hop over the arrow. We use a "Flat Nock" and arrow orientation is not critical. I showed him the external indicator on a Kodabow that monitors the position of the arrow on the rail and shows if the arrow slips forward, a hunter is alerted.

Harvey totally understood as he popped a few arrows downrange with a Kodabow. He gets it now. (Note: The Kodabow operating system is a preferred choice for hunting Dangerous Game because the visual confirmation and arrow control is absolute.)
The writer said he never expected last year's outcome when he purchased that crossbow because it was supposed to be good. I leaned back and thought about how effective and powerful the marketing in the Outdoor Industry has become to the degree that even a seasoned Outdoor Writer can get all confused. If you purchased every recommended item to go turkey hunting from the mail order catalog sitting in your mailbox, you could spend $4,000 and still not significantly improve your success for bagging a turkey. Most gear is nice to have but unnecessary. My guess is that Harvey's new Whizbang 350 with a history of epic failure will be retired by the time next season rolls around.
He will become a Kodabow man. We have heard this type of unfortunate story many times. After all, a monster buck doesn't appear every year.  Around here, we think a Kodabow is nice and necessary but actually provides a huge edge to improve your success. As Harvey headed over for a cup of coffee, I thought I heard him say to himself, "I should have had a Kodabow."  He is still hurting.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

March is Gear Prep Time -- Nothing else to do!

March is an ideal time to take a realistic assessment of your gear -- or take the dog for a walk because there is nothing better to do for a few weeks before Spring Turkey season kicks in.
Sam as a young pup! He has worked the 9 day NRA Show for several years now. See article below.

If you are positioned to have hunting opportunities right now (like Texas hogs), you are fortunate and good luck! If not, maybe pick up a new skill until the time is right.

Here are a few ideas: 

Deep thoughts on Fletching and Vanes:  Maybe it is time to learn to fletch your own arrows if you don't know how. Can you use feathers in a crossbow? Certainly. Can you pick other colors and styles than the 4" parabolic plastic vane that we supply on our standard Kodabow Magnum .338 arrow. You bet!
But keep in mind that the Kodabow Magnum .338 arrow is one of the best kept secrets in the crossbow industry as one customer recently told us! 

From Left to Right: 3 traditional arrows with 4" to 5" long feathers and a high amount of helical. This degree of helical won't work well down a crossbow rail. The red arrow was redone with 2" Blazer vanes with helical. The helical works because of the shorter vane. The two arrows to on the right are standard Kodabow Magnum .338 Arrows with 2 degree offset.
The best practice for crossbow arrows is to avoid putting so much helical on a vane or feather that the poor arrow can't get down the crossbow rail without making heavy contact. What works is a standard 2 degree offset on a long vane or feather. The vane is applied in a straight line exactly like on our Kodabow Magnum .338 arrow. If you are using shorter vanes and feathers, you can try helical (which twists the vane around the arrow and is more aggressive than offset) and still be safe because of the shorter fletching length like on the red arrow above .....but it won't work on a 4" vane. 
Here are some other considerations:
Weight: Feathers weigh about 1/3 the weight of plastic vanes. Feathers are lighter. Feather companies will also tell you that the surface of a feather engages the air mass better than the slick surface of plastic which is favorable.... and since the 3 feathers are lighter, they will help boost the FOC (Forward of Center % - high %  is a good thing) vs. the 3 plastic vanes by eliminating weight at the rear of the arrow. Feathers are slightly less durable but I have never found that aspect to be a real issue. (except in real heavy rain and snow.)  To make arrows, you will need feathers or vanes, and cement. An early decision will be to choose a jig that will help you affix the feather/vane precisely at 120 degree intervals. We use a brand called the "Jo Jan Fletcher" for repairs and building custom arrows and it can do one vane on 6 arrows at a time. Other options are single arrow fletching jigs like the Bohning, Aizona EZ Fletch or Bitzenberger -- do your homework and choose what you like or find appealing. Another tip - we find that standard Gorilla Instant Glue --- makes a great fletching cement and is much less expensive (comes in a big bottle) than typical "archery specific" fletching cements. This is the white stuff --- not the brown colored Gorilla Glue and you can find it at your local arts and crafts store. But then again... those Kodabow Magnum .338 arrows sure are sweet. (Hint: How much longer before our current fabulous prices increase?) More important - why do any of this? Maybe it is just to repair arrows or because you simply want to try your hand at it. One customer went through the whole process and found that accuracy with his "custom" arrows could equal the Kodabow Magnum Arrows - but he could never make an arrow shoot any better.

Camo Face Paint  If you haven't tried it, we think you should. Forget the constant facemask hassle. Buy some for the Spring Turkey hunting season. We sell this three tube kit on our website for $13.99. And if we sell it, you know it is good and it works! 

Link to Kodabow Accessories

The Presidential Election: About a month ago, Petersen's Hunting Journal made a real strong case to Sportsmen to consider voting for Donald Trump. Politics are your own business but we always attempt to stay fully informed around here --- and while Donald's behavior on the campaign trail has certainly been controversial, it appears a lot of folks really like him.  The media and political elites can't stand the guy and are doing the best to derail his campaign but with a lot of voters behind him, he might be unstoppable. Here is the article by Michael Schoby.


Trump's son, Don Jr. is the real deal when it comes to hunting and bow hunting in particular. I am impressed with Don Jr. He appears authentic and genuine. I think it is reasonable to believe that should Trump win the 2016 election, his son Don Jr. would be a tremendous asset for the American Sportsman. Long before the election campaign, Don Jr. was frequently on hunting forums. One seller of a traditional bow was surprised when Don Jr. made payment with a check and the seller realized the identity of the buyer. Don Jr. appears to be a regular guy - had to work at it a little harder but he looks like he really knows his archery stuff.  

Wierd Crossbow Excusions:  Crossbows (and archery equipment in general) have plenty of energy. In certain circumstances, the force behind the arrow can cause a carbon arrow to flex and spring back in unusual ways. Hunters have discharged crossbow arrows into the ground and unknowingly struck a buried root causing the arrow to flex and rebound directly back towards the hunter. A high speed arrow passing right by your face will get your attention. That can be dangerous. Always consider your backstop. A few years ago, I shot a deer at 15 yards with my Kodabow. As the arrow entered the deer's engine room, the arrow direction was altered by bone and muscle in a very peculiar manner and the arrow flexed and turned 90 degrees going straight up in the air --- high --- at least 30 feet --- then floated down to the ground at my feet. The deer was dead 20 yards away but the path of the arrow was impressive. Another time, a Kodabow customer related that he shot over his target one day and struck an oak tree in the backyard just right. The arrow's direction was altered 90 degrees and ended up in the fender of his F-150. The picture below was taken at the NRA Show in Harrisburg PA. Look closely at the center of the door. A vertical bow arrow was launched apparently a little high on the target range and traveled into a large metal overhead door nearly finding freedom in the parking lot. Yikes! We observed an improved backstop in place shortly thereafter. Always be sure of your backstop! 

9 Days in Harrisburg, PA  The NRA Show in Harrisburg (Great American Outdoor Show) was a great success especially considering the Super Bowl was on one weekend and Valentine's Day the following weekend. We sold plenty of Kodabow crossbows and many Kodabow owners stopped by to say hello, show pictures or pick up some arrows, a backpack or other accessory items.  At one point, there were 2 gents visiting our booth looking at the Kodabow products. There were 6 other folks who just happened to own Kodabow Crossbows standing right behind these 2 prospective Kodabow buyers. The first fella asks, "Just how good are these Kodabows?" 
Before we could say anything, the Kodabow crowd erupted with statements like, "You are nuts if you buy any other crossbow than a Kodabow."  We just stayed out of the way for the next 10 minutes.  
All crossbows look the same from a distance. Digging deeper, Kodabow is in a class by itself.

"Kodabow was our first stop. I never believed I could shoot a deer but here are the photos."

Erin (C) speaking with a Kodabow buyer who had been looking at Kodabow Crossbows since last year. (The whole family ended up purchasing 3 bows at the Show). Matt (R) carrying a bow back from the shooting range. Mark (Background) shooting with a future Kodabow owner. Kodabow shoots more than any other crossbow maker at the NRA GAOS Show.
Leatherwork: Another Skill to Learn  Many Kodabow owners appreciate craftsmanship and craftsmanship has always been part of archery. 
We teach traditional archery on our Kodabow range on weekends. We enjoy crossbows but we also enjoy traditional bows and gear and know it pretty well. One aspect of traditional archery is a propensity for archers to make their own accessory equipment. You will see custom leather quivers, armguards  and carry sacks. Archers by nature, are patient folks and there is an element of pleasure of customizing and using equipment that you had a hand in making.  (At Kodabow, we have consistently added modifications to our own Kodabow crossbows and some of those additions make it as mainstream accessory products. For example, the Stock Tube Adapter was developed by a Kodabow customer. Our Decocking Aid was developed in the field because of necessity.) Leave the Kodabow development work to us but consider picking up  a new skill and work with leather to make yourself hunting items that just can't be bought.
Here are two examples that were completed in the last 2 months:
The first was an old hunting knife made in Germany in the 1960's that was badly in need of a sheath and some metal polish. The knife is not a collector's item. It was in the bottom of a tackle box inherited years ago.  Many knives of this style were imported after WWII and can be bought relatively inexpensively on Ebay and they are nice. So with a few evening's work, a nice sheath was made and the knife was suitable as a gift.  Not an expert leather worker here --- but a nice way to relax.

A knife was resurrected with a new sheath -- hand  sewn and there is no other one like it in the world. 

The second item was driven by the recent NRA trade show experience. The nylon badge holder (L) was very convenient to hold a cell phone, business cards and writing tools during the show. It was so useful that following the show and a few hours work, I made a similar leather holder (R) customized for my cell phone. This pouch will be a great tool for hunting season and has been in daily use since the show.

Just a few ideas .....be safe and thank goodness --- my turkey permit just arrived in the mail!   

Chuck at Kodabow Headquarters

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Looking Forward to 2016 - No Regrets

When hunting seasons ends and the calendar turns over, I always think about the past Kodabow year and all the events and friends that crossed our path.  Here are a few pictures from the scrapbook of living, hunting, and reflecting on life.

We introduce a lot of folks to archery on our Kodabow range facility. Hundreds of people in a year. I bet you didn't know that. The emphasis is teaching using traditional equipment with the goal of educating a prospective archer around the ethics, technical aspects and joy of launching an arrow downrange. I think there is no better insight into how an individual processes information and handles challenges than observing their mental and physical performance as they draw back a bow. Fred Bear once said, "Nothing cures a troubled mind like shooting a bow."

We discuss the future of our country around here every day. We are closely connected to many people in the armed services and worry about them. They are scattered around the world doing their duty and we hope they return safely. Sometimes, they are injured or make the ultimate sacrifice. We remember standing at a memorial service a few years ago for Sgt. Bury. Never forgotten. Freedom has a price and we pray that this country always has leaders worthy of our servicemen and women who are on the front lines.  

Making crossbows is great fun and we have the privilege to meet many accomplished hunters who shoot and appreciate our Kodabow crossbows. They send in photos and we feel the excitement of their success. THANK YOU! A Kodabow hunter is typically very successful --- maybe it is the way they go about their business. We believe you can't buy a finer crossbow and we want everyone who chooses our product to be confident. These photos from the past year reflect that type of success. We strive to always earn and be worthy of the trust you place in our company.

Hunting is the biggest part of our business. We enjoy the hunt. The majority of the time afield ends with great memories (if you are fortunate) and far less often with the killing of an animal. Success is better defined by the experience and not the kill as most of you know. As the New Year starts, I think about all the great 2015 moments -- being surprised in heavy cover by a nice whitetail at 4 yards - being fortunate to have a friend that would stand with me at 9,800 feet in Colorado with a recurve bow in search of Elk --drawing back on a nice buck in Pennsylvania at 12 yards but deciding to give him another year as I slowly let the arrow down. No regrets. (But I do think about it.)  The killing of an animal reinforces the cycle of life and death and can highlight our own mortality.  My mom told me one day that "it all goes by so fast." When you are making the trip, friends are the best. So if you can get down this road with a great friend, be thankful. If you have a great friend you can hunt with --- be more thankful because that is pretty rare. Whether you are miles in the Colorado back country with Mark, in Texas learning how to chase whitetails with Monte, or in suburban Pennsylvania exploring the art of backyard hunting with Ted, it is always far more fun with a friend. Good luck hunting in 2016! 
My best, Chuck 

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

A Sad and Woeful Tale High in the Rockies

It was a big Elk high on a ridge. 
The first week of archery season in Colorado and the big fella acted as if he owned the place. He did. He was surrounded by 7 cows and periodically bugled as the sun was setting. His antlers reached far back to his rear quarters. He was a big one. I could only watch from a well hidden vantage point 500 yards away.
"Ready for Elk in 2015."
Three close encounters at 30 yards, 10 yards
and 15 yards ended with the swirling wind foiling
each opportunity. Excitement is a big bull Elk raking the trees
at 15 yards. More excitement is making the shot with
traditional equipment but it was not meant to be this year.
The bull was on a neighboring ranch and was safe across a fenced boundary.  Then along came Rodney. (Name Changed by design)  Appeared to be a nice fella...had been bowhunting this property for several years and had never killed an Elk. Rodney and I had met briefly in camp and the introduction included a woeful tale about how he lost his handgun while hunting the year before. Apparently Rodney had to drop his drawers and take care of business. The task was completed and the toilet paper was buried and Rodney went on his way only to realize sometime later that he laid his Glock 9mm on the ground while in the woodsman full squat. In 30 seconds, I think I knew all I needed to know about Rodney. He lost his handgun that day. Despite searching, the loaded handgun was never found and remains at 9,000 feet in the Rockies. The episode highlights two critical lessons. #1 - Know where you are when you take a crap. #2 - Always be aware of your handgun location. It won't do you much good in the sagebrush. The bull Elk was still bugling and Rodney (with no handgun) was making an approach with bow in hand. My Swarovski binocs were focused on the unfolding drama. I expected the odds were well in the Elk's favor. The bull wasn't on the property we had permission to hunt.  At 150 yards, Rodney made a cow call that sounded like a chirping bird. The big bull arched his neck with a facial expression of "what the heck was that." Elk  have eyeballs and ears three times the size of a whitetail and suck in four times as much oxygen with every breath through a nose that is five times as large as a bloodhound.  After Rodney made his cow/turkey call and with the bull Elk focused intensely on the direction of the sound, Rodney thought it would be a great time to close the distance. He took one step and the bull immediately glanced at the cows and in unison, the entire group headed across the meadow and over the next ridge. It would be another year with no Elk hanging in camp for Rodney.  When hunting with a group that includes strangers that you meet for the first time, my overall experience has been very positive. This is especially true for bowhunters who always come across as thoughtful for the most part. The lost handgun story had my head spinning as Rodney took the time to educate me on thermals and how the wind shifts as the air mass warms. Thoughtful. Nice. I muttered to myself, “this guy just finished an Outdoor Life article.”  
Here is the final analysis.

The camp had a rule that prohibited ATV use beyond a certain point.  The rule maker was wise because he might have hunted the land for years or possibly knew about the adage that if you take an ATV in 1/2 mile, the Elk move away a mile. Run in before dark 1 mile and you might push the Elk two miles out. Rodney had a rip roaring ATV of course. Our small group was hunting hard and it took some time to sort out this next piece since we were hiking 2 miles before sunrise daily and other hunter’s movements were not visible. As the week progressed, we noticed that Elk activity diminished and the bugling was always on neighboring ranches. Eventually, we realized that the young “thermal expert” Rodney was driving his ATV 2 miles across the property into prime Elk habitat daily. Rodney would return for lunch, watch a TV on his satellite dish in the afternoon and head back for an evening hunt traversing the property 4 times each day.
If your drive an ATV into the middle of Elk habitat,
quality opportunities will decrease. 
 Even the most neophyte hunter should have been embarrassed by the disregard for others in camp. In this bowhunting situation, Rodney proved himself to be lazy and inconsiderate of others with his ATV use.  It explains why the big Bull moved off the property and really behaved with his guard up. The ATV behavior was selfish and disrespectful and the empty meat pole in camp was proof. During a week of hunting, our small group was walking at least 6 miles daily with many miles in the dark. When we returned to camp, we were exhausted. They say Elk hunting is a young man’s game.  By the end of the week when we figured out what was happening with the ATV use, it was too late to remedy the situation....... but next year in camp, we look forward to providing Rodney with a better orientation on Elk hunting that will begin by leaving the ATV behind. *

Be safe out there and good luck! 
Chuck at Kodabow

* a fictional Elk hunting story based on a 2015 Elk hunt