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Friday, November 17, 2017

2 Reasons Hunters Miss!

Part of hunting is missing. Not good. But there is a reality we need to face and simply stated, "Not every projectile will fly to the precise point the hunter expects."  There is always an explanation but frequently, the explanation is not correct. Wind, the bow, deer movement etc. are all reasons hunters will talk about in camp to explain their misfortune. Much of the time however, it is hunter error. In the last week, I was with 2 hunters who missed easy crossbow shots. They each made a simple mistake and after talking it out, the evidence was clear. These two scenarios are worthy of study.
Poor understanding of optics is a key reason hunters miss.

Case #1:  The hunter was in a treestand. A very large buck slowly approached across an open field to the hunter's position responding to a grunt call. The prior year, the hunter passed on a frontal shot from the same position but at 37 yards, the buck was standing broadside. He looked through the scope. There was a little window through the tree branches in front of his stand but he could clearly see the aim point on the deer's heart/lung area. He squeezed the trigger and "whack" ..... a small branch propelled the arrow into space.
Analysis:  When a scope is properly mounted on a crossbow, the scope is not parallel to the arrow. At Kodabow, we achieve this by cutting the scope rail with a slight downward angle...think 1 degree. The scope is angled down slightly which results in launching the arrow slightly higher and it all works out at distance. (If the scope was parallel, the arrow would immediately begin dropping at the instant the arrow leaves the rail due to gravity - a lot of scope adjustment would be required to get the arrow "up" to match the aim point the hunters sees in the scope. Many scopes would run out of adjustment.)
In this case, the hunter didn't fully understand the parabolic flight path of his arrow. Yes - he could see a direct line of sight to the deer using the 40 yard aim point but didn't realize the arrow started out slightly higher to offset the effects of gravity......just enough to hit the little branch at the top of the very small window he was attempting to shoot through. A better outcome would have been to wait and allow the deer to clear the brush and make the open shot without interference. 
This big boy was shot at 15 yards. At closer ranges, there will
be less chance of making a judgement error that can would result
in a miss at longer distances.  "Just shoot" at closer ranges -- less aiming
precision will work. 

Case #2:  The deer was in the open field at 45 yards. The hunter studied the shot, used his rangefinder, and placed the aimpoint in his scope on the animal's heart. When pulling the trigger, he launched the arrow into the dirt below the deer's chest just beyond his intended aim point. The deer ran off.
No harm - no foul - but the deer was missed. I asked "What did your scope picture look like?" The hunter's answer was basically a "25 yard aim point"  when we sorted it all out. In the excitement of the shot, he neglected to use the correct aim point in his optics that corresponded to the actual distance to the deer. If the distance error is great .... 20 yards or more ..... there will not be a great outcome.  The hunter kicked himself for making this mistake. 

The Kodabow is an accurate shooting tool. Understanding ballistics
is critical whether shooting a rifle, crossbow or vertical bow. 
As the distance to the target increases, additional precision in aiming is required. In both cases, these hunters were shooting at deer that were not alarmed but a judgement error was just enough to deliver a clean miss. A "clean miss" is the 2nd best shot in archery. In both cases, waiting for the animal to close range or clear obstructions would have been prudent! Hope this helps.  Good luck out there!
Chuck @ Kodabow

Thursday, November 9, 2017

I'll Admit It - Totally Surprised

The flash of chocolate brown in the timber 25 yards away could only mean an Elk was headed my way down the game trail. In Colorado's early archery season which begins in late August, it is not like the TV shows. In the first week of the season, the bulls don't seem to respond to calls. The temperatures can get hot .....especially at midday.  Simply put, the rut is not really going. A a "cow call" might get a look but the bulls are more interested in eating than romance.
We covered 7-8 miles a day. Lunch time at 10,000 feet in Colorado.
Boots off and a little Gatorade. The Elk bedded down and we took a break too!

No Elk expert here so it is possible an expert caller could do better but I have always been able to get "close" by just getting between Elk and their destination. What's close? Three cows walked by me at 7 yards the day before and Mule Deer were at similar distances. Keep working the strategy, yep, keep working the strategy........ and a bull was destined to eventually get in range. Hunt the thick stuff. Sort out where the Elk were spending their time.

Service berries. This was the key food source. The Elk and Bears were feeding on the ripe berries and sun exposure determined the best areas on the mountain. We were within 60 yards of very large bulls but the distance was too great for our traditional bows. 

A Palmer recurve bow, 65 lbs. with 630 gr. weight arrows was in my left hand. Anticipation increased as the brown shape increased in size at 22 yards and then the ALARM sounded.
This wasn't an Elk.
It was a Bear and it was brown. In general, it is not a good thing to see "brown" bears up close. 
The bear's head swung left and right as it came up the game trail. At 19 - 20 yards, the shoulders were huge and everything was happening fast. 

There can be plenty of surprises in the back country. 
At 18 yards, I was fast cycling through various thoughts in seconds.
1. This is Colorado.
2. There are no Grizzly Bears in Colorado.
3. I am 22 miles from Wyoming.
4. There are Grizzly Bears in Wyoming.
5. I have an Elk tag. I do not have a Bear tag. I cannot shoot this bear.
6. The bear is brown. The bear is brown. Yikes.

The second ALARM sounded at 16 yards. There was a "Black Bear Cub" following the Brown "Bear."  The mama was huge. The cub was large.  Everything was too close. I had a female "brown phase" Black Bear headed my way.  Any woodsman knows that a mama and cub are one of the most dangerous combinations in the outdoors. 

I glanced down at my recurve bow and arrow and felt underwhelmed.  I looked at my pack on the ground and the attached 10" Kabar Knife. The knife now seemed miles away. The game trail would bring these bears in my direction but not directly to me. (Providing the bears maintained course and speed and stayed on the trail.) My instinct was to stay very still rather than shout and attempt to scare the bears. I was taking a chance but the wind was favorable and at 13-14 yards, I sensed that I was already in the critical zone. Surprising the bears at that distance could go be either good or go real bad. The playful cub strayed left and right while mama stayed on the trail nose down. Mama's teeth were bright white. The belly nearly touched the ground. I was nervous. I decided not to move and trust that these bears would move past without incident. I stopped breathing and was still. Very still. 

7. The bears walked past at 9 yards.

After everything settled down, I pulled out a rangefinder and it read 9 YARDS. Exactly 9 YARDS to the log across the trail that the bears stepped over.
In retrospect, I was not well prepared. I had bear spray at home but home was 1,500 miles away. Same with a handgun. In Western hunting, a day in the field can mean many miles and each ounce of weight in the pack needs to be carefully considered. I rationalized that a handgun was unnecessary. After all, I hunted this area before and had zero bear encounters. 
There was plenty of bear sign in hindsight. I incorrectly assumed that a bear encounter would not be an issue. Note how much upward distance is covered by a single "pull" when a bear climbs.
I returned home and read as much as I could about bear attacks and encounters. Female bears begin to have offspring around age 4 ....often later. A female bear with a cub will be a mature bear. It was apparent that many bear attacks begin very much like the scenario described above. DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE HOW FAST THE SITUATION CAN DEVELOP. It all happened so fast. I felt lucky. Maybe I'm overreacting to the experience and it really wasn't such a big deal ---- but if the bear veered at 9 yards, (or worse, if the cub wandered over) the situation would have been unpredictable. Would I have the presence of mind to draw and shoot if threatened?  Would shouts and waving of arms send the bears deep into the timber? Was the better action to shout and warn off the bears at 18 yards as soon as I identified the brown shape as a bear?  Was there a chance that a Grizzly Bear could actually live in Colorado?  I don't know.
Here is what I do know: 
I will always carry a handgun (where legal) in bear country in the future.
I will anticipate bear and mountain lion encounters and mentally prepare.
I will keep in mind that bear spray or a handgun anywhere else but on the hip is too far away to be useful.
It was an exciting experience. Unexpected. Life is that way. We roll with punches.
Good luck out there! 
My best,
Chuck @ Kodabow

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