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Montana Antelope Adventure by Paul J. Brown
Tuesday, September 16th, 2008

The Warm-Up

I guess this all starts about 3 years ago when my pals in Colorado and I put in for our first run at the draw for rifle antelope tags.  Not just one state mind you but two, Colorado and Wyoming!  In the same 3 year span our luck at drawing the rifle combo big game tags for elk and mule deer in Montana faired no better.  This year we found out we had once again struck out on the Colorado rifle antelope tags and the Montana combo tag.  I just happened to be reading my current Eastman’s Hunting Journal and there in the MRS section was a listing on the draw odds for Montana archery antelope.  I figured what the heck, I’m decent with a bow and if Cameron Hanes can do it why can’t I?  What’s the big deal anyway, sneak up within 30 yards or so of  probably the sharpest eyed, fastest furbearing critters on the planet, come to full draw without him seeing you and then overcome the adrenaline rush long enough to place an arrow in his pump house, piece of cake.  So I called my old bud Jim Allen in Colorado (who just by chance has a dad who lives in Montana) and gave him the rundown on what I read.  He was game so we both hit the internet and put in our last minute applications for the archery tags.  The wait for draw results seemed like an eternity but both of us scored this time. 

Last spring I had torn some cartilage in my shoulder and had to have my bow backed down to around 50 lbs just so I could attempt any archery hunts that fall.  I had rehabbed my shoulder fairly well this year and felt I could handle more draw weight.  This warranted a trip to my local Mathews dealer for tweaking and cranking that sucker up.  Naturally there was no way I was going to walk out the door without buying something and the new arrows with 2” Blazer vanes were just calling my name.  Well what good are arrows without broadheads and I sure had read a lot of good stuff about the Rage expandables.  The in house pro told me to try the practice tips that were made identical to the real ones to see how they flew (plus they were much cheaper than the real ones).  All I can say is that guy is a good salesman, he sold a pack of practice points that he knew I would like plus he knew I would be back for the real thing.  You can bet your sweet bippy that as soon as I got home that day I had to see how the new arrows and tips flew and I was impressed.  The practice broadheads flew exactly the same as my field points but with the poundage increase I had to do a little pin adjustment.  That’s not really a bad thing because now I can shoot one pin out to 30 yards and it leaves 3 more to play with to extend my range for antelope in that open country.

This will probably be the first DIY western hunt I’ve ever done that comes complete with a little preseason scouting thrown in.  Our scouting reports came courtesy of Jim’s dad and his friends who live there glassing for good bucks and making note of their patterns.  This will be a big leg up compared to our previous draw hunts that only allowed us a day or so prior to the season to locate animals and figure out how to get to them.  Even with this help it’s still up to us to close the deal and do it with a bow.

 Waiting on Deck

Finally came the day that I drive my better half to Oklahoma City to visit her family there while I hunt.  She was crucial in the part where she drops me off at the OKC airport and hopefully picks me back up.  I even packed myself for the trip without her help (although I did forget to pack any long sleeve britches other than camo).  The plane trip went without a hitch for once and good ole Jim was right there at the Denver airport to pick me up.  I may have forgotten to mention that Jim had to change our departure date from Denver to Montana due to the fact that he forgot his grandparent’s 60th wedding anniversary party on Saturday and that he would host a family reunion for the Allen side the following Sunday.  We did find time to hit the local sporting goods store for Jim’s bow tuning and installation of new sights prior to festivity preparation.

Jim and his family had already done most of the setup for the anniversary party so most of what we had left to do was around Jim’s house.  We accomplished most of the cleanup “guy style” by hiding stuff behind other stuff.  I got to meet most of my pals family on his mothers side at the anniversary party and great folks they were.  Everybody made me feel right at home and extremely welcome.  The following day came the reunion where I met a lot more good folks.  Just meeting all these great people and making so many new friends made the 3 day delay more than worth the wait.

Right around daybreak the next morning we meet up with Jim’s mom and dad to fuel up, eat breakfast and begin the 11 hour journey to Dillon, Montana.  The whole trip was spent looking for critters all across Wyoming, the edge of Idaho and into Montana.  After days of preparation we were finally there.  Jim Sr. and mom Linda as well as one of Jim’s buds had hot spots picked out for us.

Unfortunately, Paul did not have a cameraman along on this trip and had to juggle the bow and digital camera simultaneously!

Batter Up

The first day of hunting finally arrives!  We first head for a ranch managed by a friend of Jim’s where he’s been seeing a lot of antelope.  He takes us up a ranch road to a ridge we can glass from and what do you know…we spot a nice buck bedded next to a bluff.  The plan of approach has us driving around behind a big hill so we can put a stalk on.  Well the stalk abruptly ends when we peek over the last hill at him and there is no more cover.  Jim decides he’ll pull back to the truck and drive around to the other side of the bluff to slip in from the other direction.  He then tells me to get in a spot somewhere in the notch we think he’ll come through if the buck spots Jim and maybe he’ll just ease through.  I settle into some tall grass so I can peek over and keep tabs on the buck.  Well Jim cranks the truck up and starts around the bluff but evidently it ain’t this antelope’s first rodeo.  As soon as he hears the truck go around the hill he breaks for the notch.  I’m on one knee, nocked, locked and ready to draw.  I had made up my mind that as soon as I saw horns on the far side of the hill I would draw.  Well the horns appeared much quicker than I expected.  I at least got to full draw before I saw tail hair.  The movement he caught from the corner of his built in periscopes made him stop and I’m thinking “you’re toast”!  I swear the pin was right in the little crease behind his shoulder when I released. He was only about 35 yards but when the arrow arrived he was about 6 feet further forward than he was a nanosecond ago and was doing Mach III.  Strike one!  Jim knew something was amiss when he rounded the far side of the bluff and saw the buck making a vapor trail by the fence ¼ mile away.  By the way carbon arrows and broad heads do not like slamming into rocks.  There I sat totally dejected due to watching a potentially skewered antelope rapidly reach the distant horizon.  Jim reassured me we’d have plenty of chances, after all this was the first morning of a 4 day hunt.  We cruise around spotting lots of antelope but all were bedded or feeding in the wide open with no stalk cover and usually many sets of eyes.  Well Jim’s buddy receives a call from his wife that antelope are everywhere in the alfalfa patch around his house and off we go.  There must have been close to a hundred antelope in that field and 4 were good shooter bucks but the tallest cover we had was ankle high grass.  We put Jim at one of the common exit points and I walked out into the field to get them moving.  The only problem was that when they start moving they MOVE!  Jim then tells me he’s never had this much trouble getting an antelope but then admitted all the other times they had a rifle in his hands. 

With these antelope pretty much spooked we head out for a spot his dad told us about.  This was another private ranch and for you guys that don’t already know Montana has whats called a Block Management program where the ranchers allow hunters onto their property to help reduce overabundant game populations.  Info about this can be found on Montana’s Fish Wildlife and Parks website.  This spot happened to be one of those and we signed in with the rancher while looking out the window at yet another herd bedded in alfalfa.  I was cooking up an approach plan even as I signed the log in sheet.  I sent Jim to the far ranch road and gave him time to get around to set up.  There was a small ditch running through the alfalfa in which I made a long slow tedious crawl knowing once I got close I had some tall grass along a ridge for cover in the last few yards.  Well the plan went well right up to the point where I reached the tall grass and found out 3 of the does had stood up and were feeding.  I was pinned where I was and could see Jims head pop up out of the ditch on the far side of the field occasionally.  Naturally the whole bunch started feeding away from me and into the vast wide open.  Well I figured that if I let them see me they would head for the far fence where Jim was.  I was right they just did it at Mach III again.  After several failed stalk attempts we get a call telling us we had gained permission to go onto a neighboring ranch so again off we go. 

We hit the entrance road and just off the edge is a nice buck feeding that paid no attention to us driving by.  The rest of the herd was clear across the field and just by chance there was a fence with some tall grass for cover in that direction.  Jim drives me up the road to the fence and drops me off to slip down the fence.  All was going exactly as planned!  I was able to crouch and move down the fence unnoticed and kneel in perfect position.  Sure enough the buck steadily fed his way towards the rest of the herd right where I wanted him to.  There was only one problem, there was nothing sticking up to pre-range and once he got into bow range the only movement I could risk would be the draw.  I figure “heck I can judge it” when he stopped right in front of me and broadside.  All he did when I drew was look at me and he didn’t stop looking at me until the arrow sailed about 2 inches over his back.  It still amazes me that using a 40 yard pin on an antelope that’s only 30 yards away can make that much difference. This time Jim thought I had pegged the sucker because he saw my arrow fly true and what he thought was through the animal.  Nope another arrow gone but this one lost in the alfalfa.  At least this herd wasn’t real spooky like the others and we had found a make shift blind next to one of the exit gates into another field.  Strike two.

On day two Jim found out archery antelope hunting wasn’t as easy as it looked on TV.  It was tough to get them into range, tough to judge range and impossible to hit a prairie dragster that can go from 0 – 60 in less than 2 seconds.  At least day two only cost Jim 2 arrows. (I won’t count Jim’s strikes)

Day three arrives with us scratching our watches and winding our…well you know… in total consternation of how to outsmart these fleet footed furry rascals.  The pop up blind I had shipped up didn’t even come close to matching the brown grass at the edges of the field and the antelope never left through the gap in the fence that we expected them to.  This day closed with me never drawing and both of us wishing it was rifle season.

The fourth and final day we set up my blind out into the alfalfa a little ways from the fence close to one of the exit points and Jim would take the makeshift blind close to another exit.  With the whole herd milling around towards Jim several times I kept expecting to see them bolt and maybe one stumble but they never got close enough for him to shoot.  He decided to let them see him move slightly so they would use the far exit point where I was stationed or at least head in that direction.  It was a great move and the buck was in the lead.  They were only at a slow trot and approaching my blind, 50, 40, 30 yards and I’m drawn.  Somewhere around twenty yards and following the buck in my peep he turns just a little to examine my blind and stops.  The grin grew to epic proportions as my finger gingerly touched the release trigger with the 20 yard pin right on his pump house.  I hear after that slight twang from the Mathews string, then a ripping sound and antelope hooves pounding the earth.  I had failed to notice that even though my sight pins were seeing clearly through the blind opening, my arrow was looking about two inches lower where there was no opening….but there is now.  Since the antelope bounded around the alfalfa field going ner ner ner for the rest of the day totally unscathed I was fully assured that my arrow found points yet still unknown but more than likely somewhere in the neighbor’s field. Strike three.

Yep this was long winded and probably filled with details that only I would understand but I had to put this full misadventure into words.  The drive back to Jim’s, the flight back to momma and then the drive back to Mississippi carried no depressing thoughts. I had a blast with a pal, made some new friends and that’s all that matters.  The antelope retribution plans have already begun!  Cameron Hanes I take my hat off to you.

*fieldtest footnote* Rage expandables cut the air and blind material wonderfully although they do not hold up well when hitting rocks at 290 fps.

What Makes a Successful Hunt?
Friday, August 29th, 2008

What Makes a Successful Hunt?
By: Paul J. Brown

The definition to success will range as widely as the personality of the individuals you ask that question.  To some it means taking an animal of trophy quality, to others it just means getting game on the ground.  To me it at least means seeing game but mostly the relaxation that comes with being out in the woods away from work, phones, faxes and emails.  On a few occasions I am able to share these experiences with my son and/or friends.  This year for the first time in my life I actually went on some guided hunts for the opportunity to see and do some things I have always only dreamed about.  Lets face it I’m not getting any younger and I don’t want to die wishing I would’ve.

Only one of these trips ended with a downed animal but I enjoyed them all none the less.  I developed a great friendship with the guides and their families, saw some magnificent country and even animals I had never been that close to before in the wild.  Each trip became an adventure into itself, different locations provide unique terrain and different species abundance.  I could never fault the guides for the lack of taking an animal on the last 2 trips, it had nothing to do with their lack of effort to put me on an animal.  It was mostly weather related, or me with an inured shoulder and the fact that a seismograph crew moved in on us didn’t help in keeping the animals in our valley…. For some reason they are shy of helicopters and dynamite charges.  Also prior to scheduling a hunt check local forecasts, rain keeps most animals bedded and deep snow can drive them to lower elevations which are usually inaccessible patches of private land.  Keep in mind guided or not this is still hunting and anything can happen, game activity and availability are never guaranteed.

Which brings me to deer season here at home.  I hunt smaller patches of private land in Southwest Mississippi that have historically yielded taking, shots at or at least sightings of quality bucks along with seeing fairly large quantities of deer.  The season started out normally, fairly cool weather, buck rubbings and deer in view.  As the time for the rut neared you would have sworn somebody dug a hole and hid the deer.  Not withstanding elevated temps that even had the turkeys gobbling on some days but for some reason even rut signs disappeared.  On the few cool weekends and after work hunts that happened along I did spot a few younger bucks that needed to age and even a few does.  Not long ago I watched a Mossy Oak Obsession show in which Ronnie “Cuz” Strickland emphasized patience.  I will be the first to admit mine was wearing thin.

The moral to this story is I’ve spent a lot of time in the field this year and quite a few dollars on guided excursions with little to show for it in the way of game harvest.  But I have a lot to show for it in terms of just being there, making memories, enjoying what life gave me and planting seeds of friendship that will grow for an eternity.  Don’t judge the success of your hunt by the harvest, as I’ve always been told…”A bad day hunting is better than a good day working” enjoy the outdoors and its beauty for what it is.  Make a new friend, take a kid, your dad, wife, uncle, neighbor or the old guy down the road who hauled you around when you were young to take you hunting.  Share the experience.

Dream Hunt
Tuesday, May 27th, 2008

The Dream Hunt

Submitted by Buckshot52

One of my 4 brothers and I were out riding one evening in July, and spotted some bucks out in a field.This one stood out from the others, as he was very wide. I snuck down in the area the next morning, as it was one of my hunting areas, and I knew it well. Not really expecting to see him, I didn’t  take a camera, big mistake!  I was sneaking down towards a swamp, and  I saw him and another buck heading back to their bedding area. I stepped on a twig, and he heard me and he just froze. He stayed in that spot for about an hour!  He only moved his head to try and find what made the noise. Lucky for me the wind was in my favor. He was an awesome site all in velvet. I tried scoring him while I watched him. I figured he would score around the mid 150’s.  Finally his buddy got tired of waiting, so they moved along the edge of the swamp.  I was so excited to see him. I never really thought  I’d actually get him that November!  When November came I had already had my tree stand set up in another area where I had found a set of sheds  off of and seen a Boone and crocket buck. He had the biggest  track I had ever seen. He was in the 300 pound range, and his rack scored 189  # inches(.I found his sheds). Well, from the first day on, a bunch of  guys came in driving that area, ( which is illegal in Maine) and chased him out 3 days in a row, so I said to heck with it. Obviously I wasn’t the only one who had seen him, but I  had his biggest rack!   He went down hill a little the following year, as I found one of his sheds. So anyway, I decided to go after the big 10 pointer. On November 11th  I  woke to the alarm  from a dream, and believe it or not , I dreamed my hunt, And it happened exactly the way I dreamed it!  I got my gear, and snuck down in  near his bedding area before daylight.,but it was light when I got there.  It was a beautiful calm morning, no wind. I faced the swamp, expecting him to come from there if he came at all. Since I didn’t make any noise getting in there, I got on my knees, and started rattling and grunting right away. Well, I did that about 20 seconds or so, and put my antlers down, picked up my gun, and there he was!  I was facing a scrape, (forgot to tell you that).  He came in on a trot from my left heading for the scrape.  When he got behind a small fir tree, I picked up my gun, and when he stepped out from behind it he seemed to realize something wasn’t right and started to turn. I had it on him then, and fired. He disappeared so fast, I thought he ran down into the swamp. I jumped up to go look, and he was on the ground, he dropped right there in a gully.  I didn’t  even know it was him until I walked up to him and saw his wide rack. I was pretty excited . He is not monster 195 pounds, but that was my most exciting and memorable hunt up to this point. I had to leave him to go get my brother to help get him out. I sure hated to leave him, so I covered him up with bushes. He had been a scrapper, his neck was all scared and bruised, and he broke off a lot of his tines.  The scorers said he would have been in the 150’s had he not broken off about 8 inches of  bone. So he ended up  grossing 147 plus, and since he had a forked G-2, and miss-matched tines, he only netted 137 plus. But I didn’t care, I rattled him in , and it was so exciting. I have rattled in a few others, but never got a shot. It’s hard to do where I hunt, it’s pretty thick and  they usually sneak up on you before you know it, then they are gone. Rattling doesn’t work very often, but when it does, It’s awesome! Give it a try.

gail-smith-buckshot52-entry-2.jpg

Freak Zone Bird
Thursday, May 1st, 2008

The following Hunt of the Month was written by one of our members. It is a look at a special turkey hunt through the eyes of an experienced female hunter and her not-so-experienced friend.  The first account is by Annette Huggins (the experienced hunter) and the second is written through the eyes of her friend Anmarie Defusco (Operating the video camera on her first turkey hunt).  We found this story to be a great example of how our lives, and in this case the lives of others, can be enriched by our hunting experiences.

Flhuntress’ Freak Zone Bird 2008 by Annette Huggins (AKA Flhuntress)

My bestfriend, Anmarie and I went to the Freak Zone opening morining. She was there to video the hunt because there was no way she’d pull the trigger….it took me 5yrs to get her to agree to even go and video.  I was hoping to get one in bow range but if not I had the shotgun. We had a hen fly down not far in front of us so we got to get a lil critter action. Things then slowed down. My boyfriend called to say that he had one down. He suggested that I break out my box call that “firedup” had made for me so I did (thanks guys!!). About 5 minutes later I heard a cluck not too far away. I assumed it was a hen. Next thing you know Anmarie’s eyes are buggin’ out of her head and she’s sayin’ something with a big white softball on it’s neck was staring at her.
I knew instantly that she was talking about a gobbler.
He was behind me but in front of her so I coudln’t see him. By the time I was able to finally see him I was beyond shaking. He wasn’t in bow range so I grabbed the gun, crawled in the mudd, and layed across Anmarie’s lap so i’d have some stability and have a shot. I pulled the trigger when he got past this lil tree…saw wing flappage so I knew he was down. He dropped right in his tracks. 
After we celebrated we grabbed all of our gear and headed out to meet everyone at the check station. My bird lived up to his expectations for being a “Freak Zone” bird. He was missing most of his primary feathers on one wing, had a freakishly skinny beard, one spur, and white legs. Gotta love The Freak Zone! 
If Anmarie hadn’t of seen him or had reacted any differently than she did I would have totally missed the oppurtunity completely. I was so proud of her. We weren’t able to get the actuall shot on video because of the position I was in but she did get all of the after shots. (I got so excited that i started gaggin’…..she didn’t get the money shot but she got that…lol.)
It was soooo cool being able to see her experience all the reasons that I hunt. From the moment the woods wake up to actually being able to get a kill. She got to experience it all. I know she loved every second of it so hopefully I’ll get her to agree to shoot the next one herself.

Flhuntress freak zone bird

In the Forest of Green by Anmarie Defusco (1st time Outdoor Videographer and Annette’s Friend)

As if a blanket covered our eyes, we ventured out into silent darkness. Coolness was in the air as we walked through ankle high water surrounded by thick palmetto bush listening for any sound that might come from the forest around us. The walk itself was an adventure, through webs and branches we trudged listening to the sound of a Great Owl who echoed through the trees. I had to ask if I was breathing loud because sometimes the sound of my own heart and breath seemed so loud I thought everyone could hear, it wasn’t fear but anticipation of what was to come.
In a clearing masked by Palm Fronds and fallen branches stood the camouflaged blind where we would sit silent and still for the next three hours. It was dark and smelled of damp leaves. A couple of spiders dropped down on their webs to let us know we had entered their new home. With minimal light from the moon we started to prepare for the hunt, placing the turkey decoys several yards from the blind returning inside to start the wait.
Your senses seem to open and take on a primal memory from somewhere in your mind, as you sit and listen to the forest come alive. Slowly the woods start transforming into shades of bluish gray and the shadows of night start to move and change shape. Cricks and cracks make you want to jump and look but you have to remain still, somehow you manage to remember not to move and fight the natural impulse to quickly turn and look. Birds start to sing their songs and a whippoorwill serenades you. No coffee or bacon and eggs, just the woods and all its wonder, which fills you just as good as any cup of Folgers.
My heart started to quicken with the sound of wings, the cracking of braches in front of us. I strained my eyes to see; there it was a hen, a female turkey. I didn’t know the ins and outs of this adventure I was on, only that I was looking for a turkey when with great excitement I got to whisper I see a turkey. I was expecting her to shoot it; I mean there was a turkey. That’s when I learned that you don’t shoot the hens unless they have a beard, which to me was kind of chauvinistic and a vision of a bird with a beard is funny when you think about it at least for those of us who are not true hunters. The beard is not actually on its face but a prickly patch of bristles that protrude off of the breast. My knees shook as the excitement of seeing the bird grew. My friend got out her turkey call to try and bring in a gobbler. That is what we are waiting for. All this excitement was for the adult male, I guess that is sort of chauvinistic too.
I kept looking out into the thick woods and thought I saw something round and pale, not green like the leaves or brown like the stumps and trunks just something different up ahead. I kept starring waiting for it to move but it seemed to stay still. I thought it must just be a branch or bush of some sort. An hour may have past, the time seems to just go by and it is hard to tell how long you have been sitting except for the occasional ache in your neck that comes from being stuck in one position so long. I stared out into the forest green, closed my eyes and said to myself, when I open my eyes I will see a turkey. Amazingly enough I opened my eyes to see this very tall bird with a white head starring directly at me. I knew I couldn’t move, I had to stay still as me knees shook again and my hands started to shake. I whispered as softly as I could to my friend, there is a huge bird with a white head starring at me, it looks like a freaking ostrich. I seriously could not believe how big this bird was. I have seen turkeys at the zoo, all puffed out with their feathers fanned out but this bird was standing tall and proud. It was completely different then anything you see in captivity. It is so hard to put into words what nature truly is and the appearance of an animal in its natural habitat will put you in unbelievable awe.
My friend hunts with a bow as well as a gun she took a moment to judge whether this would be a good shot to take with her bow. She decided that the shot was not clear enough and picked up her shotgun. The time to think this through is literally seconds. She has to make the right choice or she looses the chance. The quarters were close, there was no where for her to position herself and I soon became a brace for her and the shotgun. There wasn’t time to think about what was happening, not the fact that this shotgun is directly on the side of my face or that this was it, the moment we have been waiting for. It was quick and with the most controlled quickness I have ever seen she fired one shot and took the bird down. I don’t think it was three seconds before we were out of the blind running toward the bird. My friend yelling to me to stay where I am, she did not want me to get upset seeing the bird go through the death process, the nerves twitching and such. I couldn’t think of much else except seeing the bird so I kept yelling to her and running toward the bird saying I would be okay and there it was. Tall and strong with these white and brown feathers that actually had this orange shimmer when the light hit them. His face was white and red with touches of an almost iridescent blue, it was magnificent. His neck was long and I finally saw the beard I heard so much about and spurs that again with my mental images of a turkey walking around with a beard a cowboy hat and spurs gone forever the reality of what this bird truly is will be the only image I see from now on. As the adrenaline started to subside, we began to get our things together.
A few high fives ensued, a lot of laughter and the silence was officially broken. It was time to clean up and start back to take the bird to the check station.
This was an adventure I will never forget, a greater appreciation for nature which I already hold at a high regard and also greater appreciation for a friend who has been my best friend for seventeen years. Who is brave and can do anything she puts her mind to. I hope that through this life if she ever feels down or if she ever feels alone she is able to remember that the strength and courage she has is greater then most.                                   

Trout Fishing in the “Burbs”
Tuesday, April 1st, 2008

Trout Fishing in the Burbs

By Dale Smith

OK so this story isn’t really a “Hunt” but since it is April and Trout Season has just begun in my home State of NY, I thought I’d reminisce a little.

I have a great memory involving Trout fishing (April 1996).  I was newly married and my wife and I were living in an apartment in the “burbs” outside of Utica, NY.  I needed a break from my work schedule at the time so I called my father and asked if he’d like to try out the stream in back of the apartment complex on the April 1st, Trout opener.  Being retired, he jumped at the chance.  After work, I met him out in the parking lot and we walked to the back of the apartment complex.  I remember thinking that something was askew with this scene as two grown men traipsed across the pavement with hip waders and fishing poles.  My experiences with Trout Fishing growing up had always
found us in some secluded stream where the only noises were produced from wildlife or the brook itself.  Although skeptical about our chances on this outing, my thoughts turned to the old adage “A bad day fishing is better than a good day at work!”  After all, I was sharing yet another outdoor experience with Dad and at that point, catching fish didn’t really matter.
The stream was of the type where you look at it and say to yourself “Is there going to be fish in here?”  We eventually found a decent sized pool and sat there trying 2 different style lures.  Dad was using a worm and I tried a silver phoebe. We sat there as we tossed our first casts into the pool with the not too faint sounds of the highway drowning out any
whispered conversations we might have considered having.  About the time we threw out our 3rd cast, a young kid slid over the bank and positioned himself on the opposite side of the pool.  Dad and I looked at each other thinking, “Hey, maybe this kid knows something we don’t about this pool”. My next cast produced a hit on the phoebe that sent my drag screaming.  After what seemed like a 5 minute battle with my ultralite, I finally got
my hands on a huge Brook Trout.  Dad and I looked at each other in amazement as this dude must have topped the scales at over 2 lbs.  Dad promptly switched to a bronze phoebe and threw back in.  As it turned out, the kid on the other side of the stream had seen the local hatchery truck dump these Brookies over the bridge a few days ago.  Dad and I ended up catching 3 more out of that hole and if memory serves, the boy caught a few as well.  I would have felt bad if he hadn’t since we unknowingly had commandeered
his “honey hole”.
I ended up going back the following weekend and walking much further down the steam, crossing under the highway and trying out pools behind several car dealerships.  That experience produced my limit but was not quite as enjoyable as the time spent with Dad a few short days before.  In fact, my recollection about the day I fished alone are not nearly as clear.   I learned two lessons from this experience.  One is not to overlook any pool of water just because it’s not “out in the country” (the same can be related to deer hunting by the way, but that’s a story for another time) and the other is that my outdoor memories seem to be more vivid when shared with loved ones or friends.
With my schedule these days, I don’t hit the streams as much as I’d like.
If any of you make it out to do some trout fishing this April, snap a few
pictures of your experience (and your fish) and post them on our forum.  We’d love to see
them and hear how you’re making out with the Brookies!

A Birthday Hunt To Remember
Wednesday, March 12th, 2008

Written By Dale Smith (HH Staff)

It was a Friday night when I came up with the plan.  Dan and I had been burning the candle at both ends trying to come up with good footage all bowseason and I was feeling like a change of pace.  I called up my old man on the eve of his birthday and invited him on a bowhunt.  I said “Hey, It’ll be like old times.  We’ll go to two separate stands and see if we can get old mossy horns to come by!”  I pretty much knew he’d say yes since my mother clued me in a few days before that he’d like to go with me “If I wasn’t too busy filming”.  Yeah, I admit I often get a little too wrapped up in doing the filming thing and need to take more time to smell the fresh earth wafers!
 My Dad was having a tough season and he hadn’t really been seeing any deer.  He went to a stand that had been productive in past years and I sat on the other side of the road hoping like Hell he’d at least see something.  Don’t get me wrong, he hasn’t been cheated in his hunting career.  He’s shot some dandies but not many with the bow.  I looked at my watch about 8:43am and thought to myself, “Man I just hope Dad’s seeing something”.  The irony in this statement is that I’m sure he was thinking the same thing for me. Just then this 200lb-plus bruiser comes trotting out of the dingweeds looking for a fight.  His neck was puffed up and when I stopped him with a mouth bleat, he turned slightly quartering to me.  I picked a spot and drove the arrow from the top of his right shoulder down through his off left hind quarter with no exit that I could see. He ran off into the hardwoods but the blood trail wasn’t very good.  He was filling up inside but the arrow was plugging the exit hole.  I waited an hour, backed out and got Dad.  I told him I needed his help tracking a deer that I had shot.  I mentioned nothing about this deer’s size at the time.  This is where that mystical time came into play where we’ll both remember every step for a long time.  Here we had the hunter who passed down the heritage to the guy who helped start “Heritage Hunters”.  Very cool for me indeed!

Now I pretty much knew this deer was in trouble but the lack of blood concerned me.  Dad was cool and collected. He took notice of hair, scuff marks, and the little blood we had.  We took it easy and finally came upon him.  It was quite comical because I saw the deer first and kind of whispered to Dad but his old ears couldn’t hear me, even though he was about 5 steps away.  Finally I said rather loudly, “Dad!” and he looked up.  We went up to the beast and just hugged each other.  He was beaming with pride and we both took a knee giving thanks and praise.  Even though the only deer Dad saw that morning was the one I had shot, it sure was enough to make this particular birthday one for the memory banks! On a side note, he also learned a little about the whole process Dan and I go through with the video/still picture side of things after the deer is recovered.  I had the old guy snapping pictures right and left and running the camera. He’s got a greater appreciation for that stuff now.  He even hauled the tripod up in the woods for the picture you see here.

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 Dan and I are often asked why we started “Heritage Hunters”.  I think this story pretty much sums it up!

Hunt of the Month
Monday, January 21st, 2008

Who doesn’t love a good hunting story?  Whether it’s about the one that got away or the one you filled the freezer with, this is the place to share the story! Our intention with this area of the site is to convey the hunter’s experience as accurately as possible for the preservation of the hunt.  Sometimes the story will be written by the hunter and sometimes the Heritage Hunters Staff will recount the story for you.  Just click on Hunt of the Month at the right to read our latest tale!
 

If you’ve got a hunting story you’d like to share.  Submit it to: info@theheritagehunters.com  along with a photograph.  By sending us your story and photo, you are giving Heritage Hunters LLC permission to use it on the site.

Hunt of the Month – January 2008
Sunday, January 13th, 2008

This Month’s Hunt features Brad Smith from Edmeston NY.  Brad was hunting the edge of a well known bedding area perched in a Pine Tree on November 11th, 2008.  As with most afternoon hunts, Brad knew he probably wouldn’t have much action until the last hour of daylight when he planned to make use of his grunt tube.  The action that took place around 3:30pm was not exactly what Brad was hoping for.  A group of ATV’s out on a “Joy Ride” came within 50 yards of his stand not once, but twice!  Needless to say, there was no “Joy” for Brad in regards to this situation.  Thinking his hunt was done, Brad continued to sit there hoping the ATV’s would not come back.  Brad hunt Jan picAt about 4:30pm, Brad heard what he thought was a soft grunt in the pie shaped thicket in front of him.  After firing a grunt sequence back at the unknown buck, Brad heard something busting through the brush.  Finally, the buck showed himself and came to within 12 steps broadside.  After stopping the buck with a mouth grunt, Brad sent his Grim Reaper tipped carbon on its way to a pass-through.  The buck kicked slightly and ran about 50 yards.  He stood there for a few seconds and then appeared to hunch his back and slink off into the golden-rod field.  Brad was taking no chances on this deer.  He made up his mind when he saw the buck “hunch” that he probably clipped guts and he was backing out until morning.  After climbing down and inspecting his arrow, Brad’s initial diagnosis was confirmed.  There was, what looked like, intestinal contents on the leaves and the arrow had that all too familiar smell to it.  One sleepless night later, Brad went to where he saw the buck enter the golden-rod.  He found a spot of blood in the field and looked up to find the buck lying within 10 steps of where he had last seen the buck.  A back-track of the blood trail revealed that the deer was bleeding good and an examination of the entrance / exit wound found that the arrow passed through one lung, liver and guts. When asked about his decision to wait until morning for the recovery when the buck was clearly done before climbing out of the tree, Brad had this to say: “I’d make the same decision again.  Sure that buck was dead before I got out of the tree, but he was just as dead the next morning.  He was locked up tighter than a Brinks Truck though!”

 A Special Note on this hunt:  A member of Heritage Hunters Staff was actually in the tree with Brad when he made this shot.  With light fading fast, the camera was able to capture the impact.  Look for this hunt on a future episode of FieldTrips coming soon!

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