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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Ground Stands vs. Tree Stands

Imagine a deer glancing in the brush looking for the deadly serious Kodabow hunter.
When it's hard to pick out the human shape --- you have unlocked the secret of selecting a high performance ground stand.
It is official. You can get a lot closer to deer on the ground than you ever will from being up in a tree. Close is 3 feet ---- probably too close but when everything works, be prepared for many memorable close encounters. After spending hours in both trees and natural ground blinds, it is evident that ground blinds offer many advantages that are often overlooked. After the leaves have fallen in late fall, treestand hunters can be seen hanging exposed at great distances. Give me a good ground blind or deadfall instead.
1- It is easier to shoot more accurately from a ground blind. Notice how this hunter is using the tree trunk as a natural rest. Any shot will not be at a severe downward angle. Unfortunately, many treestand shooters (who only practice on level ground) do not make the required correction for shooting from an elevated position. They miss until they learn the hard way that "practice" means shooting under expected field conditions.
2 - In the picture, the hunter is set up overlooking a field and several deer paths but his feet and hands are well hidden and slight movement is undetected. He can make minor adjustments during the day without detection. His position is comfortable and he can remain alert for hours. He made very little noise when he silently slipped into position in the morning.
3 - Tree stands have their place and always use proper safety precautions when you go up but the point of this article is that you do not need to hunt in a treestand 100% of the time. A crossbow provides many options. And some days, it is just not attractive to haul in the climber and finally get up 25 feet only to accidentally drop your backpack, release or grunt call. Note: The stand in this picture would be less useful for a vertical bowhunter because there is simply no room to draw the vertical bow in the deadfall. Conversely, it is an ideal crossbow stand.
4 - Using an aerosol like "Buck Bomb" or equivalent (selling for about $9.00) to lightly spray leaves and bushes in the immediate vicinity of the ground stand can help mask human scent. A few sprays will knock down human odor significantly and deer will travel on the nearby established routes without alarm.
5 - The hunter has selected this stand for an early morning hunt with the sun at his back which helps him hide in the shadows. A face mask is a key component of his hunting gear.
Enjoy your Kodabow .... and use the flexibility of your Kodabow to explore new hunting methods that you might may have not fully considered.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Whitetail Deer - Admirable in Every Way

Whitetail deer are impressive in every way. Look closely at this 8 point buck taken a few years ago. This style of mount is called a "European Mount" and displays the exposed and whitened deer skull on a oak board. This style has become popular and now plastic replica skulls can be purchased that allow the antlers to be easily attached. Its a nice shortcut but I like the real thing -- the real skull -- even if it means more cost and time. We know archery hunting requires ethical shot palcement. Here is a story about the other side of the coin. One afternoon, a phone call from the taxidermist gave me background and information about a deer that I never realized. He said, "Did you know there is a broken off arrow and the remnants of a broadhead in the skull of the deer I am preparing for you? The bone has grown over the aluminum shaft." Upon close inspection, you can see the pointed end of the broadhead still exposed. The transverse length of the shaft and broadhead combined is 4 1/2 inches and it runs completely though hard bone from one side of the skull to another. The brand of the broadhead was a NAP Thunderhead and the 3 blades were destroyed by bone at impact. The full story about this deer requires the use of one's imagination. Did a hunter make a bad shot and hit the deer poorly? Was a poacher hunting at night and attempting to take this good animal illegally a few months earlier? That is my guess. There were reports of illegal night hunting taking place in the area at the time. The bone growth indicated the event was not recent. When the animal was being field dressed, I felt a sharp point as I handled the deer but thought nothing of it at the time. When the animal was killed, he was feeding with a doe and exhibited no unusual behavior. Just an unusual story and an unusual deer. One can only admire the toughness of a mature whitetail deer --- tough winters, hunting pressure, illegal hunting activities .....and once in awhile, the story can get more interesting long after the hunt.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Crossbows and Tree Stands

Just finished a phone call with a gentleman in the hospital. He fell 30 feet from his treestand and I agree with his surgeon that he is "lucky to be alive." Lots of broken bones but he will walk again. 30 feet is a long way. The odds must be something like a 1% survival rate for a 30 foot fall.
We will call him Fred. I asked him how it happened.
Fred told me had climbing sticks attached to a tree. As he reached the top rung and was swinging over to the platform stand, the top restraining strap broke holding the climbing sticks to the tree and he was headed down fast. (In the picture, it would be the yellow strap.)
Fred was wearing a harness but planned to connect once he was on the platform. He had no chance when the strap broke. Does it make you think about your own practices? Yes -- I bet most of us sometimes will take a calculated risk thinking we have everything under control.
I have the same stand setup. It is only about 15 feet high but we all know that a fall of any height can do you in. It would have been better to use multiple straps on the climbing sticks. It would have been better to clip in with the harness before swinging over to the hang on stand. I often do that but I sometimes don't. As hunters, we can get so excited about "the hunt" that we can lose sight of reasonable safe practices. "Sun is rising. Need to get in the stand. Let's cut a corner."
We have all been there.
Hindsight is 20/20.
Equipment can fail so be careful.
Don't take chances and become careless for one moment. Plan your tree stand ascent and have everything organized from hand placement to foot placement.
Look at every piece of gear and think about the outcome should that ratchet strap fail or nylon strap tear.
I count among my best friends others who were not as lucky as Fred. They fell far less distance and were hurt a lot more. Sometimes, a helicopter medivac is your trip home as another freind related his 22 foot fall and compound leg fracture. Mike was going to crawl back to his vehicle. He only made it about 4 feet before the pain became unbearable.
Hindsight is 20/20.
Keep in mind that a crossbow can provide very decent ground hunting opportunities and your hunting season will not end prematurely with both feet on the ground. It is something to consider.
Be safe.