By: Bears Butt

Last night found the breeze more out of the north than it has since the beginning of the extended archery hunt this year. As most of the deer we have seen have come from the south and east of our ground blinds, Weasel decided he should move from his place on the north end of the grove of trees we have been hiding among. His new position is farther south and east of my blind and a place close to where the deer come out of the swamp and into the meadow.

We arrived about 15 minutes earlier than we had been arriving so as to give him the extra time to work his way over to where he would make up a new blind and let the woods settle down from the extra noise.

As the evening sun dipped behind the Promontory mountains to the west, the sky lit up with a stark orange/red hugh, not as much as in past evenings but still a stunning display of God’s work. The temperature also dropped a noticeable amount and I was reminded I need to start wearing wool gloves into the field. I texted Sherry about this as a reminder I needed to purchase some gloves.

As the light of the evening darkened, I moved from my seated position to one closer to the edge of the grove and edge of the meadow and stood with the lower tip of my bow resting on the top of my left foot. My tab readied under the nock of the arrow. I was calm and looking mostly toward where Weasel’s position was, although I could not see him hiding in the thick brush and overgrown vines.

My view was a narrow strip of the meadow from where most of the deer have been coming and all I needed was a glance of one approaching in order to raise my bow and get ready to draw back.

I was thinking it was almost to late for any deer to come out, when suddenly as I slowly turned my head from looking more westerly, back toward the narrow strip to my left, there stood a deer right in the middle of that space! A doe I thought, as I could not see any antlers, even though the light was very dim and it was over 100 yards away. I saw her stepping out into the meadow farther and farther with every step. Behind her was a young fawn, probably one from this years birthing. The fawn held back some 50 yards behind her and she continued to step out into the meadow.

The meadow has a ring of low growing wild meadow hay grass that grows from the edge and for about 20 yards in it is all you can see, from the 20 yard mark out into the middle is a taller stand of red clover and the deer love that stuff. The doe and fawn were not concerned of my presence and were munching down on the clover as if they were starving. The doe was at least 30 yards out, maybe 40, I didn’t have my range finder, nor would I have used it had I had it, I just know she was out of range. She would have to be at the edge of the clover stand and in the ring of wild grass in order to be within my range.

She continued to graze to my right and soon the slight breeze we had going shifted and took my scent straight to her. She snorted to warn the fawn and the fawn ran back toward Weasel and where they had come out of the swamp. Then the doe started to search for where the smell was coming from. Her curiosity took her farther to my right, then she turned and went back toward the south. When she had gone far enough to lose my scent, she turned back to the north and slowly worked her way until she picked up the scent again. At that, she stared into the brush trying to locate me. I was standing, but not moving and my leafy suit was hiding my human shape perfectly.

Suddenly, without warning she dashed toward the south part of the meadow, then stopped and started walking toward my position. A very surprising move in my mind. I tensed up and watched as she slowly walked toward me. My muscles were tight in my arms as I rehearsed in my mind the moves I would have to make in order to get a shot should she give me one. She kept coming, and soon she was standing in the short meadow grass, her back feet in the clover. She was well within range and my guess is she was 15 yards from me. Staring straight at me. I only had a frontal shot of her should I decide to take it.

The light of the evening was darkening quickly and I knew I only had maybe two more minutes of legal shooting light, when she turned her head away from me and looked toward where Weasel was hiding. My mind raced and I began to raise the bow to the height I usually draw from. I figured Weasel had left his hiding spot in order to draw her attention from me. I needed her to move her whole body to her right to give me the shot I would take. A straight on frontal is not a shot I want to attempt. If it was a paper target or a 3D target, I’d shoot that shot all day and into the night, but this is a real live animal and I want a “best odds” shot to ethically take the animal. She maintained her frontal position and slowly turned her head back in my direction. I saw a slight glimmer of something in Weasels direction, perhaps his bow quiver, arrow tip or something that shined in the nearly dark conditions.

At that I moment I knew my shooting day was over and I stood motionless but not so tensed up, I knew I would not be taking any shots the rest of the evening and I just had to wait until she left the area to walk out and back to the truck. She suddenly looked back toward Weasel who had made it to the road by this time and she bolted straight west and out of sight into the darkness.

Folks, the RUSH IS REAL! When you are that close to the game animal you are after and the time slows to a crawl as the scenario plays out. I’m not sure how many more of these “rushes” this old man can take, but I’ll be back to do it again…..One of these days, the deer will make a mistake and we will be enjoying liver and onions!

October 23, 2020

Bears Butt

Written on October 23rd, 2020 , Uncategorized
By: Bears Butt

As in all sports, archery has its rules and names, just like baseball has bases, innings, outs etc., in archery, when you shoot an arrow at a target it is called an “end”, and ends can be one arrow or a thousand or more. There is no limit to the total number of arrows you shoot before you go down range and collect them, but there is a minimum….one.

A one arrow end is not a bad way to practice shooting. Some say it’s the only way to practice to become proficient, because you must concentrate on that ONE arrow to make it hit where you wish it to hit. After the shot, you have to walk down range to retrieve your arrow, which give you time to think about the shot you just made and how to adjust to improve it, or to congratulate yourself on how well you shot.

Well, Weasel and I shoot 6 arrow ends in our practice sessions and we practice nearly every day, shooting anywhere from 10 to 20 ends. The arrows we shoot are heavy in today’s standards, his are upwards of 700 grains, while mine are nearly 600 grains. Both of us have most of the weight in the front of the arrow, which is coined “Front of Center”, or FOC for short. Both of our arrow setups are over 30% FOC. The reasoning is that the heavy weight up front pulls the arrow through the air as is flys toward the target, it also helps in penetration once it hits the target, an added benefit is it makes the bow quieter when it is shot.

Weasel shoots a long bow he made, I shoot a recurve bow. Neither of our bows have sights in which to aim the arrow, but we both have developed our way of getting the arrow to the desired target without much problem. We just have to be fairly close to the target to get it done. We practice at 20 yards. Do we always hit the target or where we desire to hit? Hardly. But we keep trying and that is what is most important.

The goal here is to be able to put the arrow where we want when we are hunting big game. A properly placed arrow will humanely kill a big game animal in less than 30 seconds. To some this doesn’t seem like a humane thing at all, but trust me, the animal does not know it’s dying until it’s dead.

Practice, practice and more practice, leads the shooter’s muscles to consistently follow a given pattern in the process of drawing, aiming (if you will), releasing and follow through. The more consistent the shooter is in this process, the more the arrows go where they are intended. Sometimes, a follow up arrow will hit exactly where the preceding arrow hit and will bury itself inside the preceding arrow, when this happens it’s called a “Robin Hood”. We both have a few of those behind us over the years. To avoid this from happening, I have converted to what is called “Pin nocks”, which tend to deflect the second arrow from punching into the preceding one.

Thousands of arrows have been shot by the two of us over the course of several years, maybe even approaching a million. An onlooker, would most likely expect us to hit what we intended every time, but they would be sadly mistaken. We do take our sport seriously, but we keep it fun at the same time, often betting beers on a shot’s outcome. Archery IS fun, unless you are a pro trying to eak out a living, then it’s a job.

When we are after a big game animal, like we are at this time of the year, we practice about an hour just before we head to our blinds on the Wasatch Extended Archery season boundary. The practice gives our muscles a bit of a warm up workout and tells our brains, “You’ve got this”. Last night was no different and we ended our last end with all 12 arrows in the “kill zone”.

Sitting in the blind just before dark, the sun just having gone out of sight behind the Promontory mountain to the West, I caught motion to my far left side. An antler tip! I raised slightly to verify what I saw and sure enough a two point buck was standing on the edge of the field. It stood there long enough for me to text Weasel, “deer”….My heart began to pound harder and harder in my chest as the buck began to walk in my direction. I had some decisions to make. I was sitting and would have to stand in order to shoot. My timing had to be perfect or the deer would see me and bolt. As the buck came on the other side of a cottonwood tree, I stood and turned slightly to give me a ninety degree shot toward the deer when the time came. My bow was raised slightly, but not in shooting position, that move would have to be one at the same time as I drew back the string.

Movement and smell will give a hunter away quicker than anything and this buck was on high alert as it walked slowly in my direction. The light breeze that was blowing was more from him toward me which gave me a lot of confidence, as long as I didn’t move he should continue his course and offer me a good broadside shot. My standing silhouette was up and down like the tree trunks that surrounded me and my leafy suit camouflage would keep me from being detected. The sun had gone down and I was not concerned with any glare that might otherwise occur off the limbs of my bow or the sharpened broadhead at the tip of the arrow. The stage was set perfectly for liver and onions at supper tomorrow night.

The buck continued to close the distance toward me and was nearly perfectly broadside at 10 yards when it turned it head and focus away from me and out into the field to its left. In one movement, I lifted the bow and drew the string back to “full draw”, the arrow tip settled on the shoulder of the buck and the string left the tab of my drawing fingers like always at practice.

Anytime I have shot an animal, target or whatever, when shooting a bow or a rifle, I always remember my sight picture. With a rifle or pistol, it’s rear sight, front sight, placement on the target, squeeze, boom, dead! With the bow, it’s full draw, draw hand against my lower jaw, string against the end of my nose, arrow tip placement, smooth release, boom, dead.

Last night, as the arrow left the bow, the nock was lighted a pretty green as it hurled its way toward the buck, and landed underneath its belly safely in the grass of the field. My mind raced as I watched the buck turn and run off away through the field and then stopped and started to come back toward the glowing green of the arrow nock laying there. It had a curious sense about it and for a moment I thought I might get a second chance at this buck. I pulled another arrow from my quiver and readied myself to round two. That didn’t happen however and the buck ran off never to be seen again.

Back to what I remembered of my shot, Yes I drew the string back, but I did not anchor with my drawing hand under my jaw, I did not bring the string to the tip of my nose. I accomplished what is commonly called, “a short draw”. And as the sunset was at its peak of beauty, I had tears in my eyes as I sat back down on my seat and recounted the beautiful buck and what had just transpired. The buck is the 4th I have seen since hunting this years extended archery season, he is a unique two point with a club like antler protruding from the base of his right side antler. Maybe I’ll get to show you a picture of him later in the season with me and my bow holding him up.

Until then, more practice is needed, including some mental practice. Trust me when I say, “The rush is real, and in the moment of truth, the shooter must have all his faculties together”.

October 15, 2020

Bears Butt

EDIT: Weasel has a trail camera set up right where the action took place the night of this event: He reviewed the video of the event and this is how things played out: Background: His video recorder takes a recording at 30 frames per second. In the video you see the buck come into view and look away from me. At that moment is when I drew my bow back, then the buck looks at me again, by this moment I have released the string. The lighted nock comes into the view heading for the buck. The buck drops nearly to the ground and spins to his left and runs off, my lighted nock is laying on the ground as it bounds away.

Now, slowing the video down and playing it one frame at a time. From the moment the buck turns to look back at me, he is on high alert. He begins to drop down, from frame one to frame 13 the buck turns 90 degrees and is about to take its first bound away. You see the lighted nock and arrow as it bounces off the right side shoulder of the buck and falls to the ground.

13 / 30’s of one second for the buck to turn 90 degrees to get out of Dodge! That’s less than 1/2 second. Amazing animals, but you see, my confidence level is much greater knowing that I did all I could do to tag him and because of his lightning fast reaction, he saved his own skin!

Bears Butt

Written on October 15th, 2020 , Uncategorized | Stories, Ramblings & Random Stuff From an Old Mountain Man is proudly powered by WordPress and the Theme Adventure by Eric Schwarz
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Just some of my old stories, new stories, and in general what is going on in my life.