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Hunting Illustrated Magazine Volume 12, Number 1 www.huntingillustrated.com Subscriptions and Questions 1-435-287-7368 editor@huntingillustrated.com

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s n m u l o C

Fresh Sign — Editorial Staff News, Facts and Fun

Celebrity Hunter — Team H.I.

Adam LaRoche, Buck Master

Product Review — Steve Alderman First Lite

The Dueling Duo — Grange & Spomer Hold the Book or Toss It

Mule Deer — Steve Alderman

The Allure of Mule Deer Hunting

Elk — Doyle Moss

Off Season Elk Hunting

PHOTO: ROBERT MILLAGE

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38 44 86 88 92

Predators— Les Johnson

When, Where and Why

Big Game — John Mogle Wolves at Our Feet

Just For Fun

Fun For the Whole Family

Braggin’ Board

Bringing Home the Bacon

Mule Deer Watch — Michael Burrell Mule Deer, Predation and Human Influence

96 Nuge Factor

— Ted Nugent

Tres Hombres Triple Header Trifecta


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s e r u t a e F î °

Photo Story — Joe Deml & Matt Behm Alaskan Moose

Nineteen Years Kevin Orton

Stickers

Eva Shockey

Late Season Success Blake Butler

Pursuit for Brown Bear Chad Rhoton

Ultimate Alaskan Adventure Chris Maxwell

Three Brother, Three Bulls In Three Years Richard Peterson

WARNING!

Some of the photos in this magazine portray action performed by professional hunters or riders under controlled circumstances. We encourage safe practices in all outdoor activities. Hunting Illustrated withholds all liability for any damage or injury sustained while duplicating actions in photos.

Cover

Cover photo: Jaime and Lisa Johnson http://jaimejohnson.zenfolio.com

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EDITORIAL Here’s to a New Year

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s 2013 is now upon us, I can say I am more than happy to kiss 2012 goodbye. My 2012 resembled the “Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dickinson and the quote, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” My year seemed to go from the worst of times to the best of times. I am sure many of you can relate as we all battle ups and downs that come our way. My brother Matt and I took the risk of starting our own businesses early in 2012 with Hunting Illustrated and Fierce Products. As with any new business, it was rough at first but nothing that hard work and a little time can’t fix. We have a long way to go to meet our goals, but that is what the New Year is all about. As I look back on my 2012 hunting season it wasn’t my greatest year for big trophies but I did get to spend time on many hunts with my family and in that regard it was possibly the most rewarding hunting year yet for me. I took my wife on her first antelope hunt, my son Gage bagged his first mule deer, my nine-year-old son Creed knocked down his first pheasant, and I had some great hunts with my little brother. Looking back, it was a pretty good year in the field. To top it off I was honored to participate in the third annual “Glendon Johnson Wounded Warrior Event” at Castle Valley Outdoors in Central Utah for the third time. To give instructions on long-range shooting to war veterans makes me feel a little inadequate. I feel like some of those soldiers should be instructing me. We were privileged to have senior Utah Senator Orin Hatch at the event to offer some encouraging words and wisdom to the wounded veterans. As always, it was a great event of bird hunting and target shooting, and was a highlight of my 2012 season. Despite my ups and downs of 2012 I would have to say I am very blessed. I have realized the American dream of having my own business. I have realized that time in the field with family is more important than the size of the rack on the wall. I have realized that giving of ourselves to serve others is what makes this country what it is today. Truly the tale of our city is how we write our personal history books. I hope your book is filled with time in the outdoors with family and friends. I wish the “best of times” for all of you in 2013. Happy Hunting! - John Mogle -

Managing Editor: John Mogle Art Director: Matt Mogle Graphic Designer: Matt Smith Copy Editor: Kirsti Beck Columnists: Steve Alderman,Ted Nugent, Scott Grange, Ron Spomer, Jon Crump, Steve Chappell, Les Johnson, Michael Burrell, Eva Shockey Contributing Writers: Richard Peterson, Chris Maxwell, Chad Rhoton, Kevin Orton, Blake Butler Illustrators: Courtney Bjornn, Richard Stubler Advertising: 435-287-7368 ads@huntingillustrated.com John Mogle Subscriptions / Questions: 435-287-7368 or 801-368-8374 Submissions: Send your hunting stories and photos, Picture of the Week / Braggin’ Board photo contest and parting shots to: Hunting Illustrated PO Box 1045 Gunnison, UT 84634 editor@huntingillustrated.com ©2012 Hunting Illustrated LLC PO Box 1045 Gunnison, UT 84634 Hunting Illustrated is published quarterly with additional bonus issue, $24.95 U.S. /$34.95 Outside U.S. Printed in U.S.A.

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The Latest News and Insights

MidwayUSA Round-Up Contributions Surpass $1 Million for 2012

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or the first time ever, MidwayUSA Customer RoundUp contributions topped $1 million in a single year, the highest amount ever donated by MidwayUSA customers since the program launched in January 1992. In the month of November alone, Customer contributions totaled over $100,000, the most that has ever been collected in a single month - two incredible records! “Brenda and I never dreamed the NRA Round-Up Program would become as successful as it has today,” said Larry Potterfield. “We are so grateful for our Customers and what they have done to help support the Round-Up Program and the Second Amendment!” Every time a Customer places an order with MidwayUSA, they are asked if they want to “RoundUp” their order to the nearest dollar. Each week, and every week since the program began 20 years ago, these donations are sent to the NRA where they are deposited into a special fund called the National Endowment for the Protection of the Second Amendment. “With the reelection of President Obama, America can bank on more attempts to diminish our freedom and constant legal challenges to the Second Amendment,” said Executive Director of the NRA-ILA Chris Cox.

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“This significant support is coming at a time of great need. The Second Amendment has true defenders in the Customers and staff of MidwayUSA. We would like to thank Larry and Brenda Potterfield for their dedication as we confront our challenge to defend America’s First Freedom.” Here’s a recap of Round-Up donations since inception: • Date Started: January 2, 1992 • Amount Collected in Last Month: $ 109,978.41 • Total Year to Date Collections: $1,000,043.72 • Total MidwayUSA Collections Since Inception: $7,615,076.86

• Total Balance in National Account : $9,468,370.68* (*Other shooting industry companies have chosen to embrace the NRA Round-Up Program and ask their Customers to round up as well. This amount represents the total contributions from Customers of all NRA Round-Up companies, not just MidwayUSA) For more information about the NRA Round-Up and Friends of NRA Program, please visit http://www. midwayusa.com/General.mvc/Index/ NRASupport and read about how it all got started.

LARRY POTTERFIELD

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by Editorial Staff

Hounds Banned in California Bear Hunting

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he Associated Press reports that California’s bear season was declared closed on Christmas Day, 2 1/2 weeks early, after hunters reached their limit of 1,700 bears. As in years past, about half of those bears were tracked by hounds, but that opportunity is now closed in California as Sen. Ted Lieu’s SB1221 goes into effect Jan. 1, 2013, outlawing the use of dogs to hunt bobcats and bears. A hunter who traveled across country to participate in the final days of the hunt, Gary Ramey of Gainesville, Ga. said, “When you think about it, hunting with dogs is probably the oldest hunting in history. I’m sorry to see it end.” Seventeen states still permit the use of hounds to hunt bears, while 15 ban the practice. The other 18 do not allow bear hunting at all, according to the Humane Society of the United States, which pushed for California’s law. California still allows the use of hounds to hunt other animals, ranging from birds to feral pigs. Advocates of hound hunting contend that using hounds allows hunters to make more selective decisions, allowing them to choose to pass up on treed bears, not dissimilar catch-and-release fishing, and allowing for humane decision making and nice, clean shots. Many hunt just for the sport of the chase and never actually take a bear. And they counter those that accuse hound-hunters of being lazy by recounting stories of long chases up and down mountainsides, and inviting the accusers along for a hunt to experience for themselves. Hunting with hounds has a long cultural history. Most can easily picture a proverbial fox hunt in England where the hunters and hounds chase fox across the landscape—that practice has been outlawed in the United Kingdom since the early 2000s. Whether joining with hounds in chasing and treeing a predator becomes just a story for the history books and novels or is a practice still carried out in the United States is a question that is likely to be played out in more capitol buildings and court houses in years to come.

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GUN OWNERSHIP IN AMERICA 90 firearms per 100 people.

The U.S. has the highest gun ownership rate in the world

40% higher gun owner rate

than the second leading country of Yemen who has 55 guns per 100 people

63% of Americans have more than one gun

74% own a rifle or shotgun 68% own a handgun 19% own a semi-automatic weapon

8% own other types of firearms GUN OWNERSHIP PURPOSE 67% - Protection from crime 66% - Target shooting 58% - Hunting

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Bobcat Attacks Massachusetts Family The Unexpected Happens, Injuring Two the animal then turn on Mundell for a second time. “The second time he didn’t have a coat on. That’s when it ripped into his arm,” said Mortenson. Mundell and his wife used a crutch to hit the bobcat before he shot and killed it, putting an end to the unnerving attack. “It’s hard to believe,” said Mundell. Mundell and his nephew were taken to the hospital to be treated for their injuries. The animal was taken to a veterinary hospital where they will test it for rabies. Mundell, Roger (January, 2013). Bobcat attacks and injures 2 in Brookfield. Retreived January 2013 from http://www1.whdh.com/ news/articles/local/12009521203932/bobcat-attacks-and-injures-2-inbrookfield

BROOKFIELD, Mass. (WHDH) -- A man, woman and teenager were forced to fight a bobcat when the wild animal attacked them on Sunday. A bobcat sighting is not that unusual for the area, but an attack is extremely rare. Roger Mundell has the battle marks to prove he went face-to-face with an unlikely intruder. It’s a story that has left a Brookfield family with a few scars. “It only took a split second for him to be on me. I didn’t have time to process it,’ said Mundell. When a bobcat found its way into the garage, it would stop at nothing to get out. First, the animal attacked Mundell. “It hit me with it’s face right here. Then it gave me a bear hug,” said Mundell. Then, it turned on his 15-year-old nephew. “I had to get it off my nephew. I was in a t-shirt by then and that’s when it ripped up my arms and stuff like that,” said Mundell. “Just jumped on him, you know. Claws on him. Was just trying to get him,” said Jim Mortenson. Mortenson was in the driveway. He uses a wheel chair and he said he couldn’t help when he saw

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Brought to you by Boone & Crockett’s On-line Trophy Search www.boone-crockett.org Did You Know...the largest stone sheep taken in 2012 scored a whopping 171 3/8 inches, taken by John C. Hover. Even at that size, it ranks only #277 on the B&C rankings. The last stone sheep to enter the top 10 was in 1970.

“Poor little thing! His mother must have deserted him.”

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Staff

GO BALLISTIC

T

.243 Winchester

he .243 Winchester cartridge was first introduced in 1955 for Winchester’s Model 70 bolt-action and Model 88 lever-action sporting rifles and quickly gained popularity among sportsmen worldwide. The .243 is based on a necked down .308 cartridge case and is known for its accuracy, flat trajectory and mild recoil. In 1955 it was considered a groundbreaking cartridge for the day. The idea of shooting a relatively lightweight bullet such as the 70 to 85 grain for ground hogs, prairie dogs and coyotes and 90 to 105 grain bullets for game such as deer and pronghorn antelope was very well received. It is ideal for hunting coyote, blacktail

deer, whitetail deer, mule deer, pronghorn, and wild hogs. It is considered by many as the perfect deer caliber out to 300 yards. In 1955 Remington jumped on the band wagon and came out with their own version of the .243. Remington developed the .244 based on the .257 Roberts necked down to accept .243 bullets up to 90 grain in weight. Because of being overshadowed by the .243 Winchester the cartridge was later renamed to the 6MM Remington. The .243 Winchester remains more popular today. The .243 Winchester produces velocity of 2,960 fps with a 100-grain projectile from a 24� barrel. Factory ammunition is available for the .243 Winchester from 55 grain to up to 115 grain making it a very versatile choice when stocking up your arsenal.

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Jon Crump

HUNT FORECAST

Application Recommendations From the Trailhead Guru

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he 2012 hunting season has all but come to a close and the Christmas gifts have all been opened. We now have 8 months to wait until the next big game hunting seasons begin. However, in some ways the hunting season is beginning right now. Many of the best hunting opportunities each year require that we participate in the annual drawings. In the last issue, I reviewed the requirements to apply in each western state and provided some recommendations for those states with the earliest application periods. Hopefully those of us that apply in those states have done so or will very soon. Hopefully there are some great tags waiting for Hunting Illustrated readers. I wish you all good luck in those drawings. Wyoming With the Alaska deadline passed and the Arizona, Utah, and Wyoming deadlines fast approaching it is a good time to begin thinking about the next round of applications. The next deadline will be the moose,

Casey Carr’s enormous Arizona buck helps keep the reputation of the strip alive and strong

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bighorn sheep, and mountain goat in Wyoming. This deadline is traditionally the end of February. The deer and pronghorn deadline comes quickly after that on the 15th of March. In the last issue of Hunting Illustrated, we discussed the top areas for elk in Wyoming. But for this issue we need to discuss these other species. If you are a bighorn sheep enthusiast or a Shiras moose is something you want to add to your trophy room, Wyoming is a must apply state. There are more non-resident tags for these two species in Wyoming than any other state. The top areas for bighorn are going to be units 1 through 5 located along the eastern and southern border of Yellowstone National Park with unit 5 being the most popular. Most of the sheep in units 1-4 reside in designated wilderness areas and non-resident hunters will be required to hire a guide. However, a sheep hunter can be successful on a “Do It Yourself” hunt in unit 5 without violating the guide requirement. Rams scoring in the 170’s are going to be the top end in most any of the Wyoming units. For you moose hunters, look to the Snowy Mountain range in southeastern Wyoming to produce the biggest moose. Units 38 and 41 are relatively new moose hunting opportunities due to moose crossing over from Colorado transplant efforts. This new habitat is producing some giant bulls, with 50” spreads being a very real possibility. In fact, one biologist I spoke with recently mentioned that if you shoot a 40” moose in these units, you didn’t look very hard. One could also look further north in the Bighorn Mountains for some great moose. Though not routinely as big as the bulls taken in the Snowy Mountains, units 1, 34, 42, and 43 are good options for a second choice. Mule deer are struggling across the western states and Wyoming is no exception. But there are some areas that are still better than others. Look to the famous regions of G and H to be top producers with the limited quota areas of 101, 102, 105, and 128 being some other good choices. Wyoming also holds more pronghorn than most of the other states combined. Many pronghorn units in the eastern quarter of the state offer more tags than there are applicants guaranteeing anyone applying will draw. However, most of the land in this part of the state is privately held. Make sure you have permission to hunt an area before you apply or consider hiring an outfitter that has access to these vast tracts of private land. With that in mind, there are many other units further west that offer ample public land open to hunting these desert speedsters. Look to those units in the Red Desert region just west of Pathfinder reservoir to produce the biggest bucks.


PHOTO: VIC SCHENDEL

Nevada As the Wyoming application periods come to a close, our attention needs to turn to Nevada. The main application deadline will be in mid-April. Those of you looking for a guided mule deer hunt should consider applying in the restricted deer drawing where your odds of being selected can be much better. You just need to contract with an outfitter ahead of time and they will make the application under their

outfitter number. When it comes to trophy quality mule deer, Nevada is certainly one of the top states. In Nevada, there is not an overabundance of deer or tags for that matter, but once you have a tag, the chances of taking home something special is very possible. Look for the units along the Utah border south of Great Basin National park to be top quality producers as well as the units just south of the Idaho border in the Humboldt National Forest. Depending on weather, the later seasons could provide a fantastic hunt for big bucks as they are just entering the rut. For an easier draw that still holds the possibility of a big buck, look to the Ruby Mountains south of Elko. These are big mountains and they hold a good number of deer. If you just want to hunt elk and are looking for an easy tag, Nevada is probably not the right state for you. However, for the trophy elk hunter, Nevada is a high priority state. There are not many tags offered from year to year and the odds of drawing are not great, but the quality is very difficult to beat anywhere. Some units are consistently producing bulls in excess of 370. Again, look to the units around Great Basin National Park to be top quality producers but don’t ignore the units in the northeastern corner. Being that Nevada has vast desert type habitat, it shouldn’t be a surprise that there are more

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PHOTO: VIC SCHENDEL

non-residents hunting desert bighorn sheep in Nevada than any other state. Huntable populations of desert bighorn are spread across the state with the highest scoring rams coming from the units around Las Vegas. Units 252, 263, and 253 Bares section have routinely produced rams in excess of 170. Like any sheep tag, the odds of drawing are really steep, but there is not a better option than what Nevada has to offer. New Mexico

As I mentioned in the last issue of Hunting Illustrated, New Mexico has unbelievable hunting opportunities. Nowhere else in the country can you hunt free range Ibex and Oryx. Along with that you’ve got rocky bighorn, desert bighorn, Barbary sheep, mule deer, Coues whitetail, pronghorn and some of the best elk hunting to be had anywhere. New Mexico has not necessarily been a go to state for big mule deer, but unit 2A and 2C do produce some very respectable bucks, and look along the southwestern border with Arizona to produce some of the best Coues deer. Units 23 and 27 are good considerations. What New Mexico is famous for is huge pronghorn and giant elk. Unfortunately, rifle pronghorn hunters will be limited to hunting an assigned ranch and you have no control over which ranch you get. Archery hunters, however, are typically allowed to hunt unit wide. So if you want to hunt pronghorn in New Mexico, I would certainly recommend doing it with archery equipment. Units 18

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12, 16, 17, and 37 have a reasonable amount of public land with decent pronghorn numbers. When it comes to elk hunting, there are almost too many options to consider. Multiple seasons by weapon choice are common on many units. So where applicable, the later archery seasons and earlier rifle seasons are going to be the better choices. Trophy bulls are frequently taken in the famed Gila units of 15, 16A, 16D, and 16E; units 13 and 17 also produce some real trophy quality bulls. Three of these top units (13, 15, & 17) do not offer any rifle hunting so it is clear where the trophy potential comes from. Only hunting a unit with archery equipment or muzzleloaders for many years will certainly allow at least some bulls to grow to their full potential. With that there is one other thing to think about: muzzleloaders with magnifying scopes are legal in New Mexico so you will be able to reach out a bit further with improved accuracy if you are a smokepole shooter. When you hunt New Mexico, if you are going to book with an outfitter anyway, consider applying in the guide sponsored drawing. Here your odds are greatly improved over the standard drawing and in some cases will even guarantee you will draw. The deadline to apply for any New Mexico permit will be in late March. Colorado The last state in our tour of application deadlines this issue will be Colorado. Their deadline will be


K R P T E K

“BATTLEFIELD

TO BACKCOUNTRY” Winter 2012

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PHOTO: VIC SCHENDEL

in early April. Colorado is without a doubt one of the most popular of western states when it comes to hunting. Boasting the largest population of elk with the chance of taking a trophy quality mule deer on any unit in the state make this a top destination. However, with their true preference point system, getting a tag in one of the top elk units can be an exercise in futility. If you are just starting out and have built only a few points in Colorado with the intent of hunting only the best units, you need to plan on at least a 20 year wait before you will see one of these tags. There are some mid-range units where you will be able to draw with 9 to 12 points, but these units are going struggle to produce many bulls over 330. The top end units are going to be in the northwest corner near Utah and Wyoming. Units 1, 2, and 201 are the most popular and do produce some of the best bulls. You can also include unit 61 in this top tier of units. Units 40 and 76 should be considered two of the best mid-range units. The real positive here is that you can purchase over the counter tags until you have built sufficient points to take a tag in one of the higher quality units. 20

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When it comes to mule deer, Colorado has a management system that has made it possible for almost any unit in the state to produce a monster buck. Watch the hunting forums during the hunting season and you will see pictures of huge bucks coming from all over. Overall, the population of mule deer is on the decline, but the big bucks are still out there. Also look to the later seasons to offer the best potential of a trophy class buck. The public land units around the Gunnison basin (53, 66, and 67) are still going to be top producers and unit 44 further north will also be in that top tier. With those units, we can’t overlook some of the hunts over in the plains. There are some enormous mule deer growing on the flat lands to the southeast of Denver. These units are mostly all private land and will require you gain access or book with an outfitter before applying. In my opinion this is one of the best times of the year. Researching my options and applying for tags can be intoxicating and almost as much fun as the hunt itself. Hopefully this has given you some things to think about and some places to begin planning your upcoming hunting season.


Adam LaRoche

(Buck Commander & MLB) and it’s what I do but I love to hunt. I would have to say that I play baseball so I can hunt and it has blessed me with great opportunities in the hunting world. Would you consider your home state of Kansas as the best state for trophy whitetail in the country? LaRoche: There are small pockets inside of Kansas with hot zones that are as good as it gets for trophy whitetail. I would, however, have to say that overall Iowa is the number one State and Kansas number two. How did you get into hunting? LaRoche: My dad was an avid bird hunter and he loved the sport. I spent a lot of time in the hills with him on his hunts. For my 13th birthday he bought me a PSE bow and that was all it took. I shot my first buck when I was fifteen and from that point on I was addicted. My dad only bird hunted so when it came to big game I would hunt with neighbors and friends and that just added to the fun. When your MLB teammates find out you’re an avid hunter what is their reaction?

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dam LaRoche is a Major League Baseball first baseman for the Washington Nationals. He led the majors last season of active first baseman with 33 homeruns and won the “Gold Glove Award” for his phenomenal defense. Adam grew up in Kansas where he developed a love for hunting and the outdoors. He currently resides in Kansas in the off season with his lovely wife. They have a ten year old son and a nine year old daughter. He and his close friend Willie Robertson of the hit Reality TV series Duck Dynasty started the Buck Commander in 2004. Buck Commander is now an award-winning big-game hunting show on the Outdoor Channel. Why do you hunt? LaRoche: That is a good question and I would have to say because it is my absolute passion. I like baseball 22

HUNTING ILLUSTRATED.com

LaRoche: Most of them are interested in learning more about the sport and others think I am crazy for spending so much time sitting in a tree stand. I have an open door policy at my ranch in Kansas for my MLB teammates and friends to come hunting at the ranch. When they do come for a few days and hunt with me they start to get it. They usually enjoy the taste of the hunt and we have converted many into hunters. In my years in the industry I have met many celebrities and I find that the majority of them choose not to be vocal about their passion for hunting in fear of what the public will think. You seem to be the exact opposite why? LaRoche: We have to stand up for what we believe in and stand up for our Second Amendment rights to bear arms. I have two kids that love to spend time in the outdoors with me. I see kids that spend their


on the Outdoor Channel. We want people to feel like they are in hunting camp with us and the best part of our show is the camaraderie of the guys; it’s a blast hunting with people that are your buddies and that you love to be around. My family’s favorite TV show is Duck Dynasty. You’re close with the Robertson’s so I would ask you why do you think Duck Dynasty has become so wildly popular? LaRoche: I think because it’s a feelgood show that the whole family can watch. From grandpa to the kids in the family there’s something for everyone to enjoy. There is no half naked women, no cussing, and there’s a feel-good message of hope and love in every show that you see and feel through the Robertson’s faith. What is your favorite weapon? LaRoche: Obviously archery equipment and despite my first bow being a PSE I now shoot Matthews. What is your favorite species to hunt? LaRoche: Of course the Whitetail deer. Last question, what is your dream hunt?

time in the outdoors and those that spend their time in front of the TV playing video games and there’s a big difference. We need to get our youth outside experiencing God’s creation. It gives us gratitude and makes us all better people.

LaRoche: My dream hunt is grizzly bear with my bow and hopefully to have my son at my side as we stalk the ultimate predator.

Tell me about Buck Commander. LaRoche: Willie Robertson, a few other buddies, and I kicked around the idea of evolving Duck Commander into deer hunting, and of course Buck Commander was the logical name. We started the company in 2006. There are now six owners with me and Willie being the originators and now we have Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean, Ryan Langerhans, and Tom Martin as owners with us. The idea was to make hunting DVDs at first with hopes of paying for a few of our hunts. We didn’t realize it was going to be one of the top rated shows Winter 2013

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PRODUCT REVIEW Back to the Basics

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feel like, the older I get, the smarter I get. I’m sure you can find people that would tell you I’m not getting any smarter, but what do they know? Most of them are still wearing their old, traditional camo clothing made from cotton, polyester, or even denim. Over the last couple years, I have jumped on the band wagon and have been experimenting with some of these new high performance hunting clothing companies. Let me tell you, there is some great high performance clothing for hunting on the market right now. One such company is First Lite, an industry leader out of the Sun Valley, Idaho area. First Lite is one of the pioneers in high performance hunting clothing. It all started with wearing merino wool clothing to give added warmth and freedom of movement on the ski slopes. They soon fell in love with the attributes of merino wool and wanted to use it on their hunting ventures. The problem was that merino wool only came in black, so they were forced into wearing a cotton or polyester camouflage over their wool. They had the same age old problem that most hunters have had. All the warm clothing was big, bulky, heavy, and didn’t breathe very well. There is nothing worse than being sweaty, wet, and cold while skiing and or hunting. It is miserable and can even cause death! The solution? Sstart a company that builds state of the art hunting clothing out of merino wool in camouflage patterns.

‘How many guys you know that will strip down to their undies to show support for a great product? I know at least one! First Lite’s Liano QZ top and their Allegheny bottom”

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“I’m wearing the Llano crew while Cole is sporting the Chama QZ.” I tested the heck out of this clothing and I love it.”

In 2007, Kenton Carruth and Scott Robinson set out on a mission to create clothing that would breath, be light-weight, and not restrict an athlete’s movement. It all started on the ski slopes and moved into the hunting industry. From early archery season to late season, if you are cold weather hunting, they have you covered. First Lite addressed each of these concerns and faced them head on to come up with what I feel are perfect combinations for all your hunting adventures. Let’s talk about the most important part of your clothing—the first layer of clothing next to your skin. Layering your clothing is the most effective way to achieve the perfect body temperature control in any environment. The best material to have next to your body, hands down, is merino wool. Merino wool is a much smoother, finer wool when compared to the wool of an ordinary sheep. Not even all merino sheep have wool that is suitable for clothing, especially if it is next to your body. Only the best merino wool can be used. Traditional wool, as we all know, is very warm and itchy. The finer strands of Merino wool eliminate the nasty itch caused by traditional wool. As a matter of fact, when I received my first order of First Lite I had to check the collar to see what it was made of. It did not feel like any other wool I had tried in the past. It was soft, elastic, and fairly light compared to that of other base layers on the market. The collar, to my surprise, read 100% merino wool. An important attribute of wool is its ability to wick away sweat from your body. It has the ability to disperse sweat into the millions of fibers and rapidly dry your garment. The best part about this for hunting is that you and your garment remain scent free for longer periods of time. Body odor is caused by bacteria growing and feeding off your body sweat. The wool evaporates and dries quickly not giving bacteria time to grow; no sweat, no body odor. I have tested this very extensively! These high performance first layers are not cheap, so the average guy can’t afford to run out and buy one for every day of the week. One base layer is going to have to last you multiple days of wicking away


On this hunt, in Texas, the temperatures ranged from 15 to 70 degrees F . First Lite weathered it all with flying colors.

sweat and staying scent free. Take my word for it, this stuff is amazing and worth every penny. As Jim Shockey would say (I hope he doesn’t have this trademarked yet) “I trust my life to it.” With First Lite’s base layers I can guaranty you that you will have a much better experience surviving a night or two out in the cold. I personally used the heck out of the Llano 170 gram interlocked fabric base layer top and the Allegheny 230 gram mid-weight bottom this year. I tested them from ten degrees to ninety degrees Fahrenheit, and they performed flawlessly. As a base layer or my only layer, First Lite’s merino wool passed everything I could throw at it, including a final test: After three days of climbing hills, sweating, and filming deer in ninety degree plus temperatures, I took the shirt off and asked my wife to smell it and tell me what she thought. After a funny look and cautious smell her response was “What? It doesn’t smell like anything.” I then told her that I just had taken it off after abusing it for three days in the field. Her response was “Wow, we should get you more of this!” Maybe after 12 years of washing my stinky hunting clothes she was ready for a positive change in the smell of my dirty garments. One of my favorite attributes to this base layer is its ability to stretch in all directions and go right back to its original shape. A traditional garment would look like an oversized shirt at the end of four or five days of wear. What else can I say about these undergarments, besides they are the best! If you are not a long bottom kind of guy, you need to try their Red Desert Boxers. They are the bomb! The cut

and seams are placed to prevent chafing and rashes, that you can normally get from traditional underwear. I find myself wearing them even when I’m not hunting. They are comfy! First Lite has all of their clothing in many of the popular camouflage patterns available on the market today. If you are not a fan of camo, they also have them in a number of solid colors. With multiple garment configurations and fabric weights in their first layers there is no reason for your core to ever get cold again. This is not a paid endorsement, just my personal beliefs on how great First Lite’s products are. PROs: The best of the best. Breathable, light weight, wicks away moisture, and helps you remain odorless longer. Their clothing is everything you could possibly need! They have me hooked! CONs: First Lite is a little on the pricey side, but worth every penny. Other under garments that compete with First Lite are similarly priced. PRODUCT: I would like to see them expand their product line! Maybe something that is water proof. If it’s not raining you will need nothing besides what they offer, except for an excuse to get out in the field. COMPANY: These guys are great! I stopped in during an archery deer hunt and they treated me as if they had known me for years. Small company, with small company values. Order your clothes early as they do run out of high demand sizes and colors. They do sell their clothing on the retail market, so it can be readily available in your area. Ask your nearest retailer for First Lite clothing. Winter 2013

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Trophy Rock and Stealth Cam have teamed up to host your amazing trail cam photos! We’re giving away a Stealth Cam trail camera and a gift package from Trophy Rock to the winner of each issue. Send your pics today to: WINNER! Garrett Chavez, New Mexico mytrailcam@huntingillustrated.com. Great pics,readers! Keep ‘em coming! HUNTING ILLUSTRATED.com


Scott Grange

Ron Spomer

THE DUELING DUO Views from both sides of the fence

Hold the Book or Toss It?

PRO?

By Scott Grange

Easy with the Book

I

s it just me or have folks in our society lost all respect for each other, believe the world owes them something and above all don’t want to be held accountable for their own actions? Perhaps I’m getting old, but I believe these conditions worsen with each generation that comes along. I’m sure my parents, who were from the greatest generation, worried about the same things when I was young. Nonetheless, I somehow turned out somewhat okay. I blame this on my parents who stressed the importance of the Golden Rule; “Treat others the way you would like to be treated” and respect authority which brings me to this issues rant… respecting authority. I was asked by a good friend, who had not done much waterfowl hunting, if I would have time to take him and his son out swan hunting. His son, we’ll call him Nathan, at the promptings of his buddies had put in and drawn a tag. Neither he nor his dad knew where to go or how to hunt the giant white migrators of the north so naturally I jumped at the chance and out to the refuge we went. It was a bitter November morning and Nathan’s dad was a diehard pheasant hunter and had just returned from South Dakota with his old Winchester Model 12 shotgun with no three shot adapter (plug) installed. This hunt 28

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with his son for swan was going to be special as the old pump was the gun he himself used to bag his first pheasant back in 1968. Unfortunately, the swans decided to take a different route this day which left the three of us standing in water up to our knees enjoying the beautiful sunrise along with each other’s company and not a shot being fired. Soon we noticed a figure appear out of the fog. “Here comes the warden,” I said softly. “Hope you got you license, swan permit and duck stamp handy.” “Sure do,” Nathan said confidently. After the “good mornings” and small talk, the warden asked Nathan for his license, etc. With a big smile he presented all the documents in good order. Then came the next request. “May I check your gun, please?” “Certainly,” was the reply. One, two then three cartridges were fed into the magazine. “I think we have a problem here.” The tone of the warden’s voice went from friendly to a more stern tone and I knew we were in trouble. Nathan’s dad forgot to replace the plug upon returning from his pheasant hunt and this young man was about to get a dose of the harsh realities life sometimes dishes out. I knew I had to act fast. Certainly if I explained the situation along with the fact that Nathan had not as much as popped a primer, the warden would cut him some slack. When it appeared this was not going to work, I started dropping names in hopes the good warden would know some of the same wildlife management professionals I knew and consider placing his citation book back in his pocket. It didn’t work. When I was a kid, wardens were a lot like the rest of us. Their focus was

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managing wildlife and getting along with the public. Today, it seems these guys work at being difficult and their focus has shifted to law enforcement. I had one DWR officer tell me that he could write every hunter a citation if he looked hard enough. Obviously, PR is not a prerequisite for those in wildlife management positions, especially law enforcement.

CON?

By Ron Spomer

Throw the Book at ‘Em! The way Grange coddles wildlife law breakers, you’d suspect he’s one of them. Geez, ignorance of the law is no excuse. Neither is blatant disregard for it – or even a cavalier attitude. Listen, hunting isn’t guaranteed in the Bill of Rights (probably should be, but isn’t.) When you indulge in the privilege of hunting our native wildlife, you agree to abide by a certain set of laws, rules and regulations. It is your responsibility to know, understand and obey those. I’ll admit some of the laws are vague, some difficult to comprehend and some downright stupid (like you can’t shoot a goose with a big, efficient 8-ga. shotgun but you’re welcomed to cripple one with a puny little 28 ga.,) but they’re laws nonetheless and our hunting license fees each year pay for the printing


technique. Most of you blatant cheaters already know. The point is, once this was leaked, everyone and his dog was buying that particular brand and model of gun so they could all put one over on Mr. Warden and abuse the system. Har har har. Excess ducks and geese died by the millions. Same thing happens when Mom, Grandma and the family labrador apply for limited deer tags in trophy units. “No officer, Grandma’s the one hunting trophy mule deer back there by the truck. I’m just out here shooting jackrabbits and hoping to scare a buck her way!” Some grandkids are loving and selflessly helpful like that. Break out the Eagle Scout badges. Then there’s the trespass issue. We had this excuse nailed as kids. “The Johnson farm? What? No, we talked to a farmer back there in a cornfield and he gave us permission. Which field? I’m not real sure anymore. They all kinda

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look alike. But it was just an hour or two ago and he said sure, go ahead. Hunt all you want. We didn’t have any idea this was the Johnson farm.” That approach was usually good enough to skate. Sometimes, usually, we got a good butt chewing, but never a ticket, and that encouraged us to continue the ruse. And that’s my point. You let people slip by on sympathy or technicalities – you try to be understanding and give them the benefit of the doubt – and they’ll walk all over you. Next thing you know they’re killing an over-limit of ducks with six-shot 12 gauges, dropping elk at 2-miles with 50 BMGs, filling a dozen elk tags for the neighbors and poaching on a Hollywood mogul’s dude ranch. On last thing. Some years ago I entered a Fish & Game office and asked them to sell me the requisite licenses, permits and tags to hunt turkeys in Can’tmiss County. They printed out the tags, I forked over the money and ahuntin’ I did go. The day after, I got a call from the game warden. “Heard you were hunting in Can’tmiss Country yestiddy. That right?” “Yessir yer honor sir.” “D’ja git one?” “No sir yer honor sir.” “That’s good ‘cause the season’s closed in Can’tmiss County.” I was confused, if not dumbfounded. “Then why’d the people at your Fish & Game headquarters sell me license and tags for Can’tmiss County? I told them I wanted to buy whatever I legally needed to hunt turkeys yesterday in Can’tmiss County!” “Those people? You can’t trust those city slickers to know the game laws and seasons. You gotta read the regulations. Ignorance of the law is no excuse.” At least not for us, anyway. Book ‘em, Dan’l. Book ‘em.

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ILLUSTRATION: COURTNEY BJORNN

of the annual hunting regulations, volumes one through ten. All applicable laws, rules, subsets, interpretations and hints are located therein, all 1,376 of them. Plain as day. Black on white. And there’s a different Regulation Book for each state. Read ‘em and weep. So okay, maybe it’s a bit much when Mr. Macho Game Warden slaps the cuffs on poor Little Nathan for forgetting the plug in his shotgun, but life’s tough and the sooner Little Nathan learns to play by the rules, the easier life will be for him. Besides, if we let Nathan off for youthful inexperience, we could let his Uncle Jake off for partying too late the night before. We could let Grandpa slip through because he’s getting old and forgetful and we could let Grange float because he magnanimously loaned his gun to Nathan’s sister and borrowed his brother’s unplugged gun at the last second. And he was so busy running the boat and setting the decoys and instructing Nathan in safe gun handling and the basics of telling a mallard from a pintail at 100 yards that his brain was too preoccupied to think about checking for a danged plug in his own gun, even if he never took it out of its case. Cut him some slack, Mr. Warden! It’s not like he was filling the boat with quadruple limits of whooping cranes. Well, maybe I’m exaggerating a trifle. But you get my point, eh? Game laws are on the books for a reason. As soon as we start fudging them, the moment we begin winking and letting certain things slip, someone discovers it’s open season on the rules. It’s like that old cartoon showing the two guys fishing from a rowboat with a mushroom cloud rising on the horizon: “You know what this means, Ralph? No closed season and screw the limit!” I remember some years back when waterfowlers discovered a certain shotgun could be loaded with four shells even though the magazine was plugged to hold just two. I won’t describe the gun or

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Steve Alderman

MULE DEER The Allure of Mule Deer Hunting What Feeds Our Addiction

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s a child, I remember flipping through the pages of the Field and Stream and Outdoor Life magazines with wide, dark antlered, mule deer adorning the cover. These were the only western outdoor magazines that I remember seeing on the newsstands when I would venture to the store to grab a Snickers bar. Mule deer were and still are the icon of the west! They have been featured on more

magazine covers than any other big game species out West. I mean come on! Is there any other species that is as majestic as a mule deer? What is it that makes the Odocoileus hemionus so sought after? What makes it the most sought after trophy in the West? What warrants one individual to donate $250,000 just to have the chance to harvest such an awesome creature? Is it their cunning ability to hide where there is nothing to

hide in? Or maybe it’s their solitary nature? More often than not, the main reason so many people hunt this majestic creature is hunting tags are plentiful and easy to acquire. In many states, mule deer tags more than double the amount of elk tags sold each year. Secondly, in most states the cost of the tag is less than half that of its counterpart, the elk tag, making it much easier for the

“More often than not, the main reason so many people hunt this majestic creature is hunting tags are plentiful and easy to acquire. In many states, mule deer tags more than double the amount of elk tags sold each year.”

PHOTO: DOYLE MOSS

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PHOTO: AUTHOR

The petroglyphs showing the map, hunters, and a herd of antelope.

whole family to enjoy time in the field at a portion of the cost. Lastly, the Idaho Fish and Game News (Feb 2012) reports that the number of mule deer in the field and harvested each year is more than double that of the elk. Making it a more successful and enjoyable hunt. If you ask any hunter that has lived and hunted out west, they will inevitably tell you that the hardest big game animal to harvest west of the Mississippi is mature mule deer. When we are talking mature, we are referring to four and half years old or better; a buck that

has been around the block a time or two, and has outsmarted many rifle toting marksmen. In my opinion, though I’m sure you will find a number of people to argue these facts, the solitary nature of a mature mule deer makes it the hardest challenge in the woods. Heck, elk have tendencies that herd them up most of the year, but mature mule deer only gather during the rut. In most states you can hunt elk during the rut with an over the counter tag. Yes, it might be with a bow, but you can still pursue them during the easiest time to find and harvest one. Mule deer for the most part have very few if any over the counter rut hunts.

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So if it is so tough to hunt this grand creature, why would anyone take to the field in pursuit of the grey ghost? One of the reasons is if you can dream it, you can hunt it. Out west mule deer can live in the backcountry at 12,000 plus feet in elevation. The only other big game animal that lives in the thin air regions is the mountain goat. If you don’t want to hike in and hunt out of a tent for days you can always hunt the deserts regions. If you don’t like the dry arid region of the desert you can hunt the agriculture areas. If you can dream it, mule deer probably inhabit it. That is one of the great aspects of hunting mule deer. You can hunt them in the most beautiful places on earth, you just have to choose the high mountain peaks or the canyons of the scorching desert. Most hunters that take to the field have visions of mule deer just like the ones we grew up seeing on the covers of those magazines so many years ago. The unfortunate part is most of them come home empty-handed or with a deer that is three and half years of age or younger. Only a rare few will bring home a mature buck that has antlers worthy of a cover. Mule deer entries into the record books have the lowest percentage of entries when compared to the number of hunters that take to the field to pursue them every year. It takes a lot for a mule deer to reach maturity and have the genetics to grow a set of antlers worthy of the wall. By the time they have reached this age they are smart and you can’t just venture out into the woods and blow on a call and get one to respond. You can’t go out and see a herd of deer with a monster buck courting the does. You have to be lucky, persistent, and good to outsmart a nasty old buck. For many people, including myself, it’s the challenge, the challenge of pitting yourself one-on-one against an animal that has every advantage to escape your approach. Age and the solitary

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The petroglyph of a dandy mule deer all by himself! This petroglyph depicts the solitary nature of the mature mule deer.

nature of a mature mule deer make him a wise old creature that knows his surroundings. He knows how and when to maneuver to remain unseen by the untrained eye. He chooses to bed away from the does and younger bucks and most the time, except during the rut, chooses not to mingle amongst them. I remember one such buck that I pursued and filmed for four years. He was completely nocturnal; he would, on many occasions, not even stand during daylight hours to reposition himself. He had evaded many hunters, including myself, for years until he was eventually shot at the age of 8. I mean to say poached by a lowlife that hunts at night with the use of a spot light. This smart old buck could have lived his life out, outsmarting one hunter after another, if it wasn’t for one guy that had to cheat to fill his tag and brag. 32

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Heck, even the Native American hunters of yesteryear wrote about the solitary nature of the mature mule deer as depicted in these next two photos. The first photo (page 31) shows what I believe is a map, a couple hunters, one with a bow in hand, and a herd of antelope in the bottom left hand corner. There are many other symbols that I don’t recognize. The second photo (left) is a drawing of a mule deer buck on the other side of the rock all by his lonesome. No hunters, maps, or other animals share in his area on the rock. Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but it’s pretty self-explanatory to me—a perfect example of the solitary nature of a mule deer, preserved in stone, dating back hundreds of years. Many hunters take to the field year-in and year-out trying to notch their tag on these grey ghosts of the West. It could be a family outing or a

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hunt with a buddy or two, but the thought of that mature, wide, mule deer standing in their sites keeps them motivated and coming back for more. The smell of the wet morning sage, the reds, oranges, and yellows of the quaking aspens, the granite rock slides, and your toes and fingers burning from the cold are each part of the experience we cherish while hunting mule deer. There are many reasons why we pursue these amazing animals, but for me it’s the time spent in the great outdoors, close to nature, and sharing those experiences with friends and family that gets me out of bed every morning…and the fact I have to let the dog out! Whatever your reason for getting out of bed each morning, hopefully each night is filled with dreams of monster mule deer. If not, maybe you’re playing the wrong game.


PHOTO: DOYLE MOSS

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Winter 2013

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Steve Chappell

ELK Off Season Elk Hunting 10 Things You Can Do To Become a Better Elk Hunter

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lk season just ended for me as a guide a couple of days ago. Now as I put gear away, I can’t help but start thinking about 2013, the draws, and of course September! Each hunting season brings with it unique encounters and challenges and with that, the opportunity to learn and become a better elk hunter. So now that it is the “off season,” what are some things we can do as elk hunters to be more skilled before next season? During this year’s elk hunts I kept a notebook handy, and anytime I thought of something, I would jot it down. No doubt, many of you will have other thoughts and ideas, but for me, this list is what has benefitted me the most over the years. So here we go with my “Top 10” Off Season Tips… 1. Learn to call – If you are an archery hunter I can’t stress this tip enough. As archers our biggest challenge is getting within effective bow range of a cagey wild animal with incredible senses. During the rut, a bull elk’s biggest weakness is his hormones (don’t we know that guys!), so why not capitalize on it? Learning to call well will tremendously improve your success and enjoyment on your future elk hunts. I promise that you don’t need 20 different elk calls to be a great caller, just a couple of good ones. Check out http://chappellguideservice. com/elk_calls___products for some calling instruction and to learn more. 2. Watch elk hunting DVDs – I started elk hunting in my early teens but it wasn’t until my early twenties that elk videos started hitting the market. I can’t tell you how much I learned about calling and hunting elk by watching these videos as a student and 34

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Want to get elk in effective range? Learn to call! This is rule #1 in the author’s top 10 line up of elk hunting tips

not just a spectator. Watching videos not only motivated me to learn to call, but I also learned how to setup, when to call, what calls to blow, etc. If you are not watching elk hunting videos, you are missing out on a gold mine of elk hunting knowledge and expertise that could be yours! I believe that you can learn as much or more from “hunting” videos versus “how to” videos. With hunting videos you get to actually see what works rather than just someone telling you about it. With “how to” videos, unless they actually show the calling techniques working in the field on live animals, I don’t take it very seriously! 3. Learn to read maps & learn Google Earth – Forest Service maps will give you a good overview of your hunting area, but learning to use topographical maps will give you much more detail of specific areas. I like to have my topo map out while I look at the same area on Google Earth. This way I can get a real feel for the topography and lay of the

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land. Google earth has many great features, my favorite is that I can get GPS coordinates to a place that I have never been! 4. Learn to use your GPS – I am always amazed at how many people I guide that either don’t own a GPS or have one, but have never used it! A GPS loaded with mapping software is incredibly crucial to my elk hunting success. GPS represents ‘technology’ to some people and that may be what intimidates them from learning to use one. Believe me, learning to use a GPS is easier than mastering your smart phone! And when all else fails, read the owner’s manual! A GPS will make you a better hunter, period. The off season is the perfect time to get yours out of the closet and learn to use it. While hunting, always carry spare batteries and a compass along to back up your GPS. My Garmin GPS units have never let me down and are simple to use.


The author recommends joining a gun or archery club. If you want to shoot well, you have got to pratice. That’s one of the biggest recommendations of increasing your odds in hunting

5. Join the Archery Club or Gun Range – Over the years I have guided some great shooters and some not so great shooters. One thing always holds true—the good shooters practice a lot in the off season. Truth is, practice does make perfect. Practice results in success, and success breeds confidence. Confidence carries over into hunting situations, resulting in trophies on the wall and meat in the freezer! Shooting in winter archery leagues or at your local gun range is not expensive and is a great opportunity to rid yourself of cabin fever. If you prefer to practice on your own, that is fine too, just make a schedule and stick to it. I can think of one particular rifle hunter that I have guided several times. In the beginning his shooting was marginal. Since that time he has committed to reloading his own ammunition with strict attention to every detail, truly understanding ballistics, and constantly practicing at his 250 yard range. The improvement in his shooting in hunting situations is astounding! Now when we see a bull elk I know that animal is in serious trouble!

6. Give your gear the quiet test – You would think that this would be obvious, but most of us have some item in our gear that we just don’t want to give up despite it constantly making noise. First and foremost, think about your gun or bow sling, your scope caps/covers, and even your backpack that sounds like a tarp in the wind! Besides scent, nothing

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gets an elk’s attention more than ‘unnatural’ sounds. Think about it this way; do you think a bull is more likely to come in to your calls if he first hears you noisily pulling your bow sling off of the cams as you set up? The bow sling I use is simple, totally silent, and can be removed in a single second. I can also shoot my

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Rule #8 - Find vantage points for glassing and use good optics. “Good glassing requires lots of practice, patience and persistence.”

bow with it still attached to the bow if necessary. Your hunting clothes should also pass the quiet test. I have recently been around hunters wearing some of the most expensive and ‘high tech’ clothing on the market today and there is one constant—it is noisy. Try out your clothing by wearing it outside somewhere that it is dead quiet. Brush your hand across the fabric, draw your bow back in it, and walk through brush, etc. Does it make noise? If so, elk will hear it and it has to go! Sheep may not be afraid of how it sounds but elk will. 7. Learn to walk like a predator – I was once around a guide who turned to his hunter and said, “You walk like a man.” At first I thought he was complimenting the hunter, but I quickly realized that he wasn’t. Walking softly is a skill and technique that not many possess. The quieter you walk, the more elk you will be able to sneak in on without them even knowing you are there. While deer are more sensitive to foot noise than elk, I still like to stealth in without them knowing I am there. That way the first thing they hear is either my call, or my arrow being released! Learn to walk like a predator by practicing a soft foot fall, with a heel to toe motion. Paying attention to where you step and feeling the ground beneath

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your feet will further aid in your stealth. Picking a shoe or boot with a soft sole is your first step to being a quiet walker. As a guide, I can honestly say that there are not many hunters who walk quietly. I am always pleasantly surprised when I share the woods with a hunter who walks like a predator! 8. Get out and use your optics – Using high quality optics can significantly improve your success and enjoyment while elk hunting. Glassing from high points can reveal bulls that you may have never seen, otherwise. Good glassing requires lots of practice, patience, and persistence. I find that the more I glass during the year, the better I get at it. It is as if your eyes and mind sharpen the more you glass. You will start to notice that you begin to pick out very small details like a bull’s ear flicker or the glint of an antler amongst heavy foliage. The number one rule when glassing is to use a tripod. You will see over 90% more game and enjoy your glassing that much more if you mount your binoculars to a tripod! There is lots of opportunity to glass bulls during the dead of winter or during the summer months when they are sporting velvet antlers. If there aren’t elk where you live, glass up deer, or predators. Don’t miss out on the fun and opportunity to improve your glassing skills! 9. Take up Predator or Turkey Hunting – The more you are in the woods and

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around game with keen senses, the better your hunting skills will become. I really enjoy any kind of hunting where calling is involved. For me it’s not so much about just killing an animal, but about tricking it with a call and then killing it! For many of us there is lots of opportunity to predator or turkey hunt very near home since these animals are so widespread. In the off-season it is nice for me to be able to hit the field for a quick morning or evening hunt and then be back home to relax by the fire and sleep in my own bed! If the opportunity is there for you to predator or turkey hunt, take advantage of it. Hunting near home is relatively inexpensive and will keep your hunting skills sharp. 10. Subscribe to a magazine so that you can learn from experts – Obviously if you are reading this, you most likely have already taken this advice. Over my career of hunting I have learned much from others. Some of it from being in the field, but much of it from reading. If you want to become a better predator hunter, what better way to get started than reading Les Johnson’s articles? If big muley bucks are your dream, then I suggest reading Steve Alderman’s articles and digesting everything that he has to say. The cost of a Hunting Illustrated subscription is nothing compared to the money you could potentially waste, and more importantly, the frustration you will endure, by not being educated and informed on the animal you love to hunt. Hunting is hard enough as it is. You owe it to yourself to take advantage of gleaning valuable information from the experts! In case you didn’t notice, I didn’t mention becoming a super human, mountain conquering, mega athlete. There are plenty of others who can talk about that better than me so I will leave that to them! I hope that these 10 tips will help you become a better elk hunter during this off-season and many more to come. All the best on your 2013 elk hunts and God Bless.


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Les Johnson

PREDATORS When, Where and Why? Understanding the Decision Making of a Professional Caller

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ack in the mid 80’s when I was traveling across the Midwest in the summer months harvesting wheat for farmers I first started to notice the huge expanses of unique coyote calling opportunities. My mind was always thinking about the “what if I was sitting right over there on the side of that hill and calling that drainage” types of scenarios. From the southern to the northern Midwestern region the terrain varies

greatly, but I saw all of the different opportunities that existed in each area that I traveled through. Obsession with the endless opportunities for calling predators is what I had at that time. I can honestly say that was the time when my Predator Quest really began. How do we get to be an accomplished predator caller and what really defines that? Is it the number of coyotes that we have called and taken over the years or is it the fact that we can average 1 coyote called out of 3

Les covers several key factors in his article that make a professional predator caller. Something to consider - never stay in the same place, especially if you’re not seeing any predators.

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stands made? Possibly the fact that even in the toughest of conditions, we can go out and get a crafty canine to respond to our calling? Perhaps it is as simple as just being able to go out into the outdoors and enjoy ourselves and the company of others. If you do not know now, and you haven’t noticed it from watching Predator Quest, I’m a very analytical thinker and I will drive right by areas and potential stands that look great to other callers and I


The author will sometimes pass up on areas that look good to most hunters and try areas that may not look as good. Some of these spots can be the best for drawing in coyotes.

tend to call areas that might not look very good, at best, to most callers. I consider the breakdown of when, where, why, etc. in a calling spot. My analytical thought processes for calling coyotes really started when I began to enter coyote calling competitions back in the late 80’s and early 90’s. In these competitions you were given a time period for seeing who could call in and harvest the most coyotes during daylight hours, with most competitions being 1 ½ days long. My grandfather always told me to consider something whenever fishing: fish usually travel in schools or they tend to be around other fish, so he told me to think that quite possibly 90% of all of the fish could be in 10% of the water. I treat this as likely true about coyotes that respond to calls as well. Whenever I was calling in competitions, I always had backup plans. Nothing was ever set in stone as to where I would start calling and stop calling for the day. Many, many times my brother and I would be waiting for it to get light out so that we could make our first stand and notice that the wind was blowing so hard that we needed to go to lower ground, or even that the wind was blowing out of the wrong direction, so we needed to drastically approach the areas in a different manner so that our success would be higher. I often spoke with other teams during pre-meetings that

told me things like, “we are going to hunt over there for the first day and then another spot on the short day.” I never planned on hunting just one spot, or one drainage, or one rim, etc. If I made three stands one morning and never saw or called a coyote, I moved to a whole different area because I didn’t feel that there were 90% of the coyotes in 10% of the area, so to speak, that wanted to respond to my calling. There might be coyotes out there, but they are not responding to my sounds, so I am going to try and find coyotes that will respond to my sounds. Once I would call a coyote, I would then try to call areas around that spot in hopes of calling other coyotes as well. Sometimes in my travel across the country both in my vehicle and/or a jet, I cannot quit looking at the terrain of the land. I’m always looking at the country as if I were going to be calling it. Perhaps I am obsessed with the beauty of the differences in the states/ regions. Sometimes I feel like my brain is a computer that is taking everything in through my eyesight and then it spits out a “This is where you should make a stand” type of thought process. I’ve been this way most all of my life. I tend to “over think” the situation, but that is only because I am already thinking about the outcome, which is a dead coyote at the end of the stand. In the mid to late 90’s, I had become friends with another coyote caller who was constantly pressuring

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me to take him calling. I had always told him that I didn’t have anything to show, nor was there any witchcraft in what I was doing to have success with calling. Finally, when he offered to buy and lay new carpet on my entire living/family room of my house, I agreed. Sounded like a pretty sweet deal to me! The weather in Wyoming is hardly ever perfect, meaning that it is usually very windy. This day was exactly that. Probably gusting to at least 40, but I managed to kill three coyotes while Success can be had in any conditions. Whether rain, snow, wind or extreme cold, the author has succeeded against the elements

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According to the author, reading a coyote’s body language helps calcualate when to prepare for a shot

he watched/filmed me. The coyote that he learned the most from was the last coyote of the day, right at sundown. The terrain was very open with a few small drainages leading towards a large river drainage, and there was a heard of antelope out in the wide open feeding. I knew that a coyote was within earshot and eyesight of those antelope and it was a good bet with sundown near, a coyote would be working its way towards the antelope. My buddy told me that we should get over to the river drainage which was about 1.5 miles away. I love the open country and places that make people think that there is no way a coyote would be out there. This was one of those spots. The wind was letting up, and with darkness approaching I knew the coyotes that heard me could easily approach before it was too dark to see. This friend of mine had been calling a few years and definitely wanted to offer insight on where we “should” set up, but I had a plan and got us set up. With the herd of antelope out in front of us a half mile, I waited

about 5-10 minutes before I made a peep on my call; I wanted to watch the goats and inspect the landscape for possible coyote activity. Seeing nothing unusual, I began with some antelope distress. After that first series, a coyote gave a long, lone howl on the side of a ridge that was about ¾ of a mile away. After the coyote was done howling, I waited a bit, then began to kiyi and led back into the antelope distress. About two minutes later, there were antelope out in front of us running from left to right. I turned around to my friend and told him to get ready and watch the hill top straight in front of us. Like clockwork, about 300 yards straight in front of us, a coyote came up and stood on the ridge peering our way. As the coyote stood there just looking our way, my friend was whispering, “shoot him, shoot him!” I was in the mood to teach, and obviously I like to call coyotes in close; in judging this coyote’s body language, I could tell that he was going to come in closer. I just kept quiet because I wanted to make my friend learn some patience after he was telling me to shoot him, so I didn’t make a peep. I knew with the way that the wind was blowing, and the way

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that a slight drainage ran in which we were set by, the incoming coyote would try to use this drainage to get downwind of our location. After a little while, I let out a little lip squeak as the coyote’s head was turned away from us. As I lip squeaked, the coyote snapped his head our way, which told me that this coyote heard me and showed more interest. The coyote then began to sneak our way and he was working right down the little drainage that would put him downwind of our location, but there was only one catch, he would have to expose himself in the wide open 50 yards before he could get to our wind. I was positioned by a sagebrush on a little ridge that ran down to that clearing where the coyote would expose itself. As the coyote disappeared into the draw, I slowly began to position my rifle and myself so that I was facing the opening. As the coyote worked its way down the draw I would catch sightings of its ears and portions of the top of its head, so I knew he was working my way, but he was just being very cautious and Winter 2013

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The key to brining in coyotes? Answer: Location, volume of calling and their “want” to come to the sound.

kind of sneaky. It wasn’t long before the coyote came into view in the opening where my rifle was facing. It acted like it wasn’t going to stop because it wanted to get to our wind, but I woofed and it immediately stopped, followed by a bang and the tell-tale “whop” of a direct hit. It was so cold out at that time that I couldn’t even do a closing narration for the video clip because I was frozen. This was our third coyote of the day, with each of them being adult males. On our way back to my house, I asked my friend if he had learned anything while spending one day out hunting with me. He said ‘ya’ so I asked “What do you think the most important thing was that you learned today?” and he said, “Without a doubt it’s the fact that you call in stuff that I would never even think about calling in. I drive right by the stuff that you’re calling and killing your coyotes in.” Many times over the years, I have been hunting with another buddy of mine and he would always joke about my stand picking ability. He would say, “Here we are driving down the road and Johnson hits the brakes. I would be like: Who? What? Did you see one? Or did something blow out of the pickup? Why are we stopping and turning around? And he says, ‘We are going right back there and going to call and kill a coyote.’ And we do, more times than not.” I’d love to think that I have been able to pick stands due to some sort of special power, but I think that 42

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it has come with the years and miles that I have logged in the coyote calling books. Getting the opportunity early on in my life to travel through some of the most impressive calling country that holds a lot of coyotes definitely started my thought processes in the right direction. Over the years, I find a lot of people think that there is some special sound or some special power to bringing in coyotes consistently. I have always said and will say again, 1. A coyote has got to be out there whenever you’re calling a spot (location), 2. Whenever you call this spot, they have got to be able to hear you (volume of calling), 3. If and when a coyote hears your calling, they then need to “want” to come to the sound, and 4. Your setup needs to offer the coyote an opportunity to come investigate the sound and feel safe in doing so (location). I feel that the location you pick for calling can have a very positive or negative effect on your success before you even call, and this is why I have always been so analytical about where I am going to call from. Many, many times, before I ever walk into a stand, I have already played the “When, Where, and Why” through my thought process! The next time that you venture out into the field on a coyote calling trip, try some spots that don’t necessarily look like they would hold a coyote, or something that you feel you should never call, but use the lay of the land to your advantage and give the coyote a path to you. Good luck on your Quest and Let’s Get To CALLIN’!!!

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John Mogle

BIG GAME Wolves at Our Feet Brown Bear Hunt Shifts to Wolves

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id you hear that?” my hunting partner asked, wide-eyed, as we sat around the camp fire eating some of the best steak and potatoes that have ever hit my taste buds. “There it is again,” he said, this time I heard it too. The howl of a wolf made my senses tingle and

goose bumps broke out down my arms. It happened again and again, closer and closer—there was more than one wolf. We were surrounded by a pack and I thought they could jump out of the trees at any moment and pounce on us. I was ready to trade my steak and potatoes for gunpowder and lead.

Wolves work in packs, causing devastation to anything that gets in their path.

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I had this first encounter with wolves while hunting mountain goats deep in the backcountry of southeastern British Columbia. That night in our tent I didn’t get much sleep. The sound of several wolves howling relatively nearby was somewhat mesmerizing, but it


still freaked me out to the point of no sleep. Two years ago I was hunting in Tanzania for dangerous game and our hunting party was camped along a hippopotamus infested river. The hippo is thousands of pounds heavier than a wolf, and far more people are killed by hippos than wolves, but still, listening to the hippos sing a mere forty yards from my tent was actually calming. The hippo lullaby had me sleeping like a baby, but that night in my tent in British Colombia I was like a six year old with monsters under his bed. Wolves give me the heebie-jeebies. The next morning we found tracks within 200 yards of camp. My hunt partner and I were getting a little excited but at that point the guide informed us that despite having wolf tags in our pockets the odds would be slim to see the wolves in daylight, let alone harvest one. They’d only killed two wolves in 20 years of mountain goat hunting in that area. After that experience the wolf went from off my radar to the top of my trophy list. Fast-forward several years later and I was off to Alaska for my second round at a try for brown bear. As is custom when meeting with the outfitter before the hunt, he asked if I wanted a wolf tag and, as always, then recommended it and informed me there would be no charge if I got lucky enough to harvest one. I have

The author watched the pack get close and knew an opportunity was drawing near to take a shot.

not met an outfitter yet that did not have the philosophy that the only good wolf is a dead wolf. I paid what I figured was a donation to the Alaska Fish and Game Department and put the metal tag in my backpack. The outfitter then went on to tell me of a giant bear they had seen the week before that he thought was pushing 11 feet squared. I was just hoping for a good nine-foot

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John poses with his friend Verge. This large wolf ended up being a great substitute for a brown bear.

bear but I bought into the story and agreed to go after him. It was a late spring in May and very cold near Lake Illiamna. Every morning my guide would warm me up by hiking me to the top of a high ridge where we could see for miles below us. The bear activity was about nil but the wolf activity was hot. On the second day of the hunt we watched a pack of five wolves work the valley floor below us in search of anything they could get their paws on. This was my first wolf sighting and my adrenaline was pumping as I watched and listened to the pack. Two of the five wolves were huge. They appeared twice the size of the others. I told my guide I wanted to get closer and he said we should stay put and keep looking for the big bear. He howled a couple times and, believe it or not, it worked and the wolves came right towards us; but still the guide was reluctant to go after them. He didn’t want the sound of gunfire to scare off any bears in the area. After watching these wolves for three days I couldn’t take it anymore and I told my guide that I wanted one of those big wolves more than an 11-foot ghost bear. Reluctantly he gave in and the hunt was on. We quickly devised a plan. For the past few days we had watched one of the big wolves peel off from the pack and work the edge of a small pond for mice. We thought he would 46

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do it again. We saw the pack and knew if we were to get a good crack at him we would have to move fast. We headed quickly to a small knob near the pond that we figured would be a good intercepting point and set up. I had my trusty .300 ultra mag resting in the crook of my shooting sticks, waiting. I was just settled into my set up when the grey beast appeared—he came along the edge of the pond right towards us. I hit the button on my Swarovski rangefinder and the reading came back at 420 yards. The excitement of this moment has not been equaled on any hunt for me. Not even a Cape buffalo stalk rivaled this moment, though it was very close. I tried to calm my breathing as I slightly put pressure on my Jewell trigger. I focused on my proper ballistic reticle for the yardage and prayed my Barnes Triple-Shock bullet would fly true. “You smoked him!” my guide yelled, as I gathered myself from the recoil just in time to see the big Alpha dog drop in his tracks. We yelled and screamed and I even rolled around on the ground in celebration. What a moment. These moments are why I hunt. To this day the elusive wolf is still my favorite animal in my trophy room. I admire his hair, his size, his claws, and I take pride in knowing that we had outsmarted one of the craftiest, most devastating, and destructive predators on the planet. Big wolf down!


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Photo Story

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MOOSE IN THE ALASKAN BUSH


A PRIMOS BLIND IS AWARDED TO EACH PHOTO STORY AUTHOR. SUBMIT YOUR PHOTO STORY TO: EDITOR@HUNTINGILLUSTRATED.COM

Joe Deml and Matt Behm scout the Alaskan wild in hopes of a great hunt

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Photo Story

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MOOSE IN THE ALASKAN BUSH


A PRIMOS BLIND IS AWARDED TO EACH PHOTO STORY AUTHOR. SUBMIT YOUR PHOTO STORY TO: EDITOR@HUNTINGILLUSTRATED.COM

Matt Behm put down this huge bull moose after 10 days in the bush Do you have a Photo Story to share? Submissions can be sent to: Hunting Illustrated PO Box 1045 • Gunnison, UT 84634 editor@huntingillustrated.com

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PHOTO: VIC SCHENDEL | RECREATION: MATT MOGLE PHOTOS: AUTHOR

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ineteen years! You heard me right; it took me 19 years to draw a premium deer tag in Utah. But after all these years, I finally had the tag in hand and I was ready to spend significant time on a mountain that may be considered the very best mule deer haven in the world. I would be hunting in late September during the muzzleloader season. That would give me a chance to hunt before any rifle hunters did. My father had drawn the rifle tag three seasons earlier and I spent a significant amount of time scouting with him that season. I absolutely fell in love with the mountain and spending time surrounded by big mule deer was very cool. I don’t know why it is that when

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you have an awesome tag, the summers seem to drag on, but they do. Luckily I got to spend some time on the mountain doing a little scouting for myself. When you are scouting with a tag in your pocket it is a lot more intense than when you are looking at deer for someone else. This year things truly were magical. For two years in a row we had significant water at the right time and the deer’s antlers were showing it. It honestly seemed like around every corner I spotted another 180” to 190” deer and only a little hiking in every canyon showed a deer or two pushing the 200” mark. It was absolutely unbelievable. Over the summer, with the help of some great friends, I had located six to eight bucks that I felt were ‘Day 1’ opening

morning shooters. I couldn’t wait for the season to start. The last two weeks before opening day were especially tough, so I spent as much time as I could shooting my muzzleloader to pass the time. I had a new CVA Acurra that I got at Sportsman’s Warehouse in a 50 caliber. I tried every bullet in multiple different grains, every powder, every pellet, and every primer that I could get my hands on— in every combination. I tried cleaning my gun after every 10 shots, every five shots, every three shots, and every single shot to see if it would make any difference to the accuracy of my new CVA. During those two weeks I fired well over 200 shots at targets from 50 yards out to 300 yards.


BY KEVIN ORTON The author and his crew head into prime buck territory inside the Henry mountains

The Bergara Barrel is everything CVA says it is and then some. I don’t know if I was “driving tacks” as the old cliché goes, but at 100 and 150 yards I had multiple bullet holes that would touch. Out to 250 yards I could hold a consistent six inch pattern. I am sure that it didn’t hurt that I had topped my muzzleloader with the new Aimpoint Hunter 34S scope. In Utah, we cannot use magnification scopes over 1X. The last time I had tried one the day had ended with me ripping it off of my gun, punting it down the road, and finishing it off with some well-placed, very large rocks. I had used open sights since then and I was a bit skeptical when I put the Aimpoint Red Dot on the gun. But WOW, was this combination deadly. I have never had a scope that adjusted so easily and or was easier to shoot with. The technology in this scope is second to none. I especially loved the automatic parallax adjustment making it so that I did not have to worry about where the dot was in my scope. All I had to do was make sure the dot was on the animal and pull the trigger. It was simple. I can honestly say I have never felt more comfortable with a muzzleloader. I knew if I could get to within 250 yards, with a solid dead rest, I could make the shot 10 out of 10 times. I was ready. I went to the mountain four days before the opener in hopes that I would relocate some of my biggest bucks. Those were very frustrating days. In all of the spots where we had previously seen these giant deer we found exactly ZERO of them during four days of scouting. Nor could we find them anywhere else. It seemed a bit bizarre to me that they were easy to see all summer, and now they had rubbed the velvet off of their horns and apparently become allergic to the sun. I will admit, with opening day upon me, I was more than a little anxious. We were up long before light on opening morning and positioned in one of our favorite spots. It looked like a commercial for high end optics with all the glass we had lined up and pointed at the canyon. We spotted a couple of bucks we had seen and videoed during the summer. They were big framed, cool looking 200” type bucks, but had only made the title of back-up bucks to the back-up bucks as they got to the 200” mark in some very funky ways. At about 8:30 am we got a call saying one of our guys was pretty sure

he had seen my #1 buck and that he was with my #2 buck. We packed up and headed to the new location as quick as possible. When we got there we could see my #2 buck from the road, bedded in the thick oak. We designed a quick plan and then began our assent up the mountain. Once we were in position, we could still see him bedded. That #2 buck was a buck called Bruno. Bruno was quite famous on the mountain. He had been discovered the previous year and even been blogged about on the Monster Muleys website. A lot of different hunters had tried to kill this buck, but for one reason or another he was still roaming around on the mountain. He appeared to be a very old buck. Along with this age came experience. He rarely, if ever, seemed to make mistakes that would put him in danger. On top of that, he truly possessed some kind of world class, Olympic quality 6th sense, and if that wasn’t enough, I believe he even carried around his lucky horse shoe that had been blessed by the deer gods. I say this because he had been hunted by multiple hunters last season as well as this one and it always ended in his favor, even when it just simply should not have. There is not space here to tell all, but he had been shot at by many hunters with gun and bow. One bow hunter had him at 25 yards for 45 minutes and Bruno never once walked the necessary two steps that would have allowed a shot. The Sportsman’s Tag holder had him in her scope last year at 325 yards. He was bedded and had no idea of the danger he was in. Literally, he was “dead deer bedded”. But he had broken one of his longest cheaters and she passed on the shot. On top of being cagey and old and big, it was the many, many stories like that, always with Bruno walking away to strut the mountain a little longer, that had literally turned him into a legend. So here I was opening morning with Bruno bedded at about 160 yards from me and he had no idea I was there. We sat there for eight hours that day until dark. Bruno got up to feed about six times and I had multiple opportunities to shoot him. During this time I got the best look from the closest distance I had ever had on this huge deer. He was mesmerizing to watch as he fed on acorns, swinging his huge rack back and forth in Winter 2013

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PHOTOS: AUTHOR

The author passed on some great bucks but held out for something bigger. Their scouting efforts continued in hopes a trophy buck was around the corner

the oak. His body looked to be as big as a mule and on top of that his horns still looked gigantic. I decided to pass on him. I did that for one reason only and it is called GREED. Some of you reading this may choose the word stupidity. I accept. I was positive that there was a buck bedded somewhere close that would score just a little bit higher. Either way, that buck never showed himself and Bruno had done it again…this time employing the rarely used Jedi Mind Trick, causing me to “think” I was after a different deer. This deer was gooooooood. That night I was very tired, but sleep seemed to avoid me. When my alarm went off it felt like I had gotten a solid 15 minutes of sleep. But excitement and adrenaline took over and we were all off again long before light. Because we knew there were two or three big deer in the area we headed right back to our lookout point on top of the mountain. It was a clear, beautiful morning producing a spectacular sunrise. Unfortunately, by noon, the sunrise was the most exciting thing we had seen all day. We made the decision to hike off of the mountain and get lunch at camp, grab a nap, and be back on top of the mountain at witching hour. The nap felt good, the hike back to the top did not. At this point we had all had a lot

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of time to think and talk about Bruno. We looked at the video tape from the previous day on a TV we had in camp. I had decided that if I could get within range and get great video footage that I would try to harvest Bruno. Now there were two bucks in my general area that I would try to shoot if given the opportunity. For the most part, the evening was uneventful like the rest of the day had been. Then, about an hour before last light, we got our first glimpse of Bruno. He was again in the thick oak brush quite a ways below our position. We had to move quickly to try to get into a shooting position before dark. When Bruno disappeared into the twisted tangle he was calling home, we made our move. We got into position, somewhat guessing where we thought he might appear again. And then it happened. Bruno suddenly appeared broadside at 238 yards with no idea we were there. This was a shot I knew I could make as I had done so over a 100 times while practicing. I got a solid dead rest in a sitting position, put my binoculars on him, ranged him one more time, made sure the video was rolling and then put my gun up to find him in the scope. The words, “You’ve got to be kidding me,” escaped from my mouth as I tried to find him in my scope.

In the excitement I hadn’t realized that the light was fading rather quickly. Although I could see Bruno clearly in my binos, my rangefinder, and the video camera, I could barely make him out in my zero power red dot. I then realized that since I couldn’t really see him with my naked eye it made sense that I also couldn’t see him through my red dot scope. Dang it! Bruno was starting to make a believer out of me too. Maybe this deer just couldn’t be killed. At a minimum he had nine lives and I wondered how many of them he had used so far! Back at camp I was so exhausted that I could barely chew my food. Sleep came easily that night, but again when the alarm sounded it felt like I had just nodded off. Again in the dark, we made our way to our favorite look-out spot at the top of the canyon. Another beautiful sunrise colored the horizon and from our vantage point we had front row seats. From this point we could glass for miles in all directions and at about 9 am we had only seen about four bucks and certainly nothing of interest. It was about this time that Bruno was betrayed. My cameraman, Eric, saw a small buck get up and start to feed down below us. Luckily, Eric was bored enough to follow this buck for a couple of minutes in his binoculars because when he settled


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PHOTOS: AUTHOR

The risk of holding out for a bigger buck paid off. This giant scored 206-inches, with a 32-inch outside spread and 41-inches of mass!

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back down, he did so right next to some giant antlers sticking up in the oak. It was Bruno. Our plan came together rather quickly this time; we had made this same plan several times now. We needed to move about 200 yards, but we had to be careful because of the terrain. We were about 10 yards from being able to set up and wait for the deer to stand when all of a sudden deer came busting over the top, running down into our canyon. Most of the deer stayed high, but a couple of them broke off from the group, and wouldn’t you know it, ran right down to Bruno and busted him out of his bed. Bruno was up and running to the top of the bowl where we had just came from. I don’t believe I said ‘you’ve got to be kidding me’ this time. It was more like “I can’t believe this! That ^#%@ deer is really starting to %#$@ me off!” Our only hope was to run strait up the mountain as far as we could and hope the deer stopped. About 15 seconds into that idea, I realized my fat was killing me. This had to end soon or I was going to be the one that was dead. About 50 yards from the top Bruno stopped and still had no idea we were there. We threw the shooting sticks down and I again got set up with a solid dead rest. The buck was 268 yards from me facing strait away. I knew I could make this shot if I had to, but he was stopped and I was hoping we could figure out how to get closer. We watched the big deer and he looked as if he was thinking, like he was weighing his options in his mind as to what would be best for him to do at this exact moment. He hadn’t seen the danger the other deer were running from and he looked like he knew he was now exposed in the wide open in the sun light. At about the four minute mark of him standing strait away from me, Bruno turned and walked back down the exact trail he had just come up. After a couple more


minutes he bedded again, this time higher on the trail and in a better vantage point. This new bed made it more difficult for us to get into a shooting position. We only needed to go about 100 yards, but we would mostly be in the wide open or the thick oak and quakies where it was very noisy. The wind was in our favor with it gusting quite hard about every 30 seconds. Our plan was that every time the wind started blowing hard, we would push our way quickly through the noisy stuff towards Bruno. We sounded like a herd of buffalo, but the deer couldn’t hear us with the wind masking our march. It took about 45 minutes for us to make our final surge to our shooting position. This time I knew destiny was on my side—just as we stepped into the spot we were pushing for, Bruno stood up out of his new bed and started feeding. Eric got the camera on him immediately and I scrambled to find the best spot to set up for the shot. My final reading on my range finder said 169 yards. I knew my gun was dead on at 150. I placed the red dot on Bruno’s left front shoulder and I remember thinking “how can I miss that body?” Normally I rush my shooting; as soon as I get on an animal, I can’t wait to pull the trigger. Sometimes I even fire a warning shot. But this time, for some reason, I felt very calm and I slowly started to apply pressure on the trigger. Through the scope I could only see a cloud of smoke, but I could tell from the sound that Bruno was hit. The bullet entered just forward in his front shoulder and

then took a turn up and broke his spine. He was dead before his body hit the ground. At a minimum, this great buck deserved a humane death and I was glad I had practiced so much and was able to make that kind of a shot. Bruno was dead and he was mine! A flood of emotion came over me that I have never felt before while hunting. I think I had so much of my heart and soul invested in this hunt, it all came to a head and overwhelmed me. Bruno was a giant buck. Although there was no way to weigh him, his body looked like he weighed over 300 lbs. He had an outside spread of 32”, 41” of mass, and a gross score of 206”. I know there may have been a few bucks that would score more, but the truth is none were actually bigger than Bruno. Not only was he truly a giant buck, but his legend was larger than life. I can assure you that legend will live on as I re-tell his story over and over and over again.

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HUNTING WITH FAMILY AND A 3-YEAR PURSUIT FOR A BIG 5X5 SASKATCHEWAN WHITETAIL BUCK

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ve, just a little bit longer.” I was pretty sure sunset was well on its way but a “little bit” could mean a lot of things when coming from my dad. I was hoping he meant 45 more seconds, but I had a feeling it was more like a “lotta bit” longer. If my eyelids weren’t frozen shut I would have checked my watch. “How little?” “Less than two hours. It’s prime time!” “Two whole hours?!” Two hours with my eyelids frozen shut and foot-long icicle daggers protruding from each nostril didn’t seem survivable. Even if a deer walked out in front of our ground blind at 10 yards, the last time I could feel my fingers was 10 hours ago when I left my warm bed, so there was no way I would be able to grab my muzzleloader, let alone pull the trigger.

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BY EVA SHOCKEY

Jim Shockey explains to Eva, “After you live like a bush pig for a couple weeks in the Yukon, you come out looking like a wolf.”

That’s the great thing about Saskatchewan though, even on the coldest day, huddled into a ball and shivering, there’s a good chance that a buck is going to show up. After the rutted-up buck made one final scrape and chased the does back into the woods, I realized that as exciting as the deer were, I was definitely underprepared in the clothing department and that there was only one thing that could possibly save my life at this point: a trip to Cabela’s. CABELA’S SHOPPING SPREE

The Shockey family @ 6am--the perfect time to pose for a family photo! After coffee it’s time to get dressed and head to the stands to hunt monster whitetails.

SOUND THE ALARM! Don’t get me wrong, hunting whitetails with my dad is one of the highlights of my entire year and I look forward to it for months leading up to hunting season. But year after year I sit in a stand and wonder, “What the heck am I thinking out here in the cold?” That first afternoon just before prime time as I waited for never-o-clock to come, and just as I was coming to terms with the fact that frostbite was getting the best of my baby toes, the XXXL Heater Body Suit beside me started shuffling and a pair of Leupold binos emerged from the enormous cocoon of camo. Following the direction of my dad’s binos, I instantly saw two does followed closely by the glint of an antler coming through the brush. My hypothermia immediately dissolved into exhilaration as I watched the antlers make their way to the edge of the opening, but before they had fully emerged from the tree line, my heart began to sink as I realized that he wasn’t a shooter. Unfortunately for me but fortunately for the buck, he just wasn’t big enough to pull the trigger on.

“Eh-eh-eh-eh-ex-ca-ca-ca-uuse-muhmmuh-mmee?” The solid blocks of flesh covering my teeth began to soften in consistency just enough st-st-st-stutter out my request. “Iiiiiiiiiiii ca-ca-ca-ca-colllddddd”. The warmth of the store was melting my nose icicles into a puddle on the floor. An embarrassing preschool flashback immediately popped into my head. To my knowledge, this particular Cabela’s in sub-zero Saskatchewan is the only Canadian outlet where employees are fluent in English, French, and Popcicle. Thank goodness this salesgirl spoke my language, because I needed some warm clothes, and I needed them fast! Say goodbye to my entire month’s paycheck and skip ahead to the next morning and I was back in stand, snug as a bug in a rug in my brand new 70-below-extreme-weather-arctic-goosedown-fleece-lined-Pillsbury-dough-girl-parka from Cabela’s, followed by the final (and most important) layer, which was my very own Heater Body Suit. Thank goodness for Cabela’s, because as it happened, we sat on various stands for the next three days straight without seeing a “shooter” buck. All of our clients who were hunting at our outfitting area two hours north were tagging out on monster bucks, but luck didn’t seem to be in my favor. Even though I had my heart set on one specific buck that I had been seeing on Stealth Cam for the past few years, by day four, the standard of a “shooter” buck dwindled into any mature buck that might happen to walk by our stand in the daylight hours, no longer just the specific buck I was chasing. PREPARING FOR THE HUNT Being outdoors for any amount of time in subzero Saskatchewan is not for the faint of heart, but when you’re in Camp Shockey, you better be extra prepared. My dad has been outfitting in Saskatchewan for nearly 20 years and vows that the best time of the year to hunt big whitetails is in November during the peak of the rut. Hunting during this part of the season is great on one hand, because the deer move at all times of the day, but on the other less-enthusiastic hand, the surest way to kill a particular buck, is to wait, all day long, dark to Winter 2013

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Eva on her round 2 Yukon expedition in hopes of finally down a bull The Shockeys’ love toputting hunt together as a moose. family. Eva and her grandfather Hal wait patiently for a buck to come into range. For the author, it doesn’t get any better than this.

dark, day after day. So, before you book a hunt in Saskatchewan, you might want to prepare. WARNING: Children, do not try this at home. May result in serious hypothermic sensations or death, especially if you’re not cold blooded, or Canadian. TRAINING REGIMEN The best way to practice is to go to your Deepfreeze where you keep all of your deer meat and start by taking all of the meat out. Now, take a bucket full of ice cubes and stuff them down your long-johns, in your socks, in between your toes, down your back, in your pockets, in your mouth, on your head, in your hands and on any other piece of available skin that you can find. Dump another bucket of cold water over your head until you’re completely saturated, now, jump into the deep freeze and sit completely still and silent for 12 62

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hours. And the next day, do the same Hanson Buck, whitetail bucks killed thing, and the day after that and the day in Saskatchewan have literally after that. rewritten the B&C record book and After reading this strongly it’s claimed that Saskatchewan has suggested training regimen and mildly more entries in the record book for Tom Arthurwarning helps Evanotice, become familiar concerning some ofwith whitetails than any other state or “Chicken Creek Ranch” you may be thinking, “why bother province. So when you calculate the going through all of this just to hunt in odds per hunter, that’s a pretty good Saskatchewan?” This response makes chance of getting a big whitetail! sense in a normal situation, but when Sitting in a Deepfreeze for 12 hours you know how big the deer get in doesn’t seem so bad anymore, does Saskatchewan, I can assure you that it? this training schedule is well worth the misery. STUDY THOSE STEALTH CAMS! SASKATCHEWAN – THE MECCA OF MONSTER WHITETAIL In Camp Shockey, before the whitetail season even opens, we’ve Anyone who’s been to Saskatchewan already begun the hunt for this to hunt whitetails knows that it’s the season’s biggest and best whitetail. In Mecca for monster bucks. The world the fall, Stealth Cams at the Shockey record typical buck, scoring 213 5/8, house are more cherished than the was taken by Milo Hanson less than clothes on our backs because it’s 20 miles from where my stand sits these cameras that tell us the story today, as well as a handful of the top of the elusive whitetails year after scoring bucks to date. Since the 1993 year. We will often watch a whitetail


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appearance during daylight hours. Everyday we drove the truck around to each of our 10+ stands to pick up the memory cards from every camera and then we would rush back to the house to see what came through the night before. Bucks, bucks and more bucks–but it was Stickers that caught my attention. DAY FIVE: THE STARS ARE ALIGNING My dad has always said that wind is the deer hunter’s best friend. It effectively neutralizes one of the deer’s strongest defensive senses, hearing, and severely inhibits two others, the deer’s ability to see and smell any danger that may be looming. So on the morning of Day 5, I was ecstatic to wake up to the ‘perfect’ conditions–wind. Walking two miles in the pitch black at 6am to get to stand, carrying a Heater Body Suit, a puffy jacket, a stool, my gun, a seat cushion, moon boots, a tripod, trigger sticks, and my own body weight is not an ideal situation no matter how you slice or dice it. But this particular morning, the wind was blowing perfectly from the south east, the air was crisp, there was fresh snow on the ground, and the two mile hike ended up at the exact stand that we had been watching Stickers frequent over the past few weeks. The two mile hike was a precaution I was willing to take in order to control as many variables as possible on this rare opportunity of perfect hunting weather. DOES ON THE LEFT The author’s father, Jim Shockey, put down this great nontypical whitetail during a family hunt at Camp Shockey.

grow from season to season on our trail cams until the year comes when he officially becomes a mature buck, at which point it’s every (wo)man for him or herself, or as my dad always says to me when he sees a buck that he wants to personally hunt, “you’re somebody I used to know”. For the last three years, I have had my sights set on one buck, who has grown into a wide 5x5 with a bunch of stickers on his bases in the last year. He was a monster and we had many Stealth Cam photos of him coming in to various stands, but only the odd

It was 8:35am before we saw any action. It was colder than usual and both of us sat dead still for two hours and were starting to lose confidence in our morning hunt. Just as I began dozing off, my dad stiffened up and motioned to the left where a doe was approaching. Seconds after noticing the doe, a flash caught my eye from the right hand side of the trees. It’s amazing how five seconds can make such a difference to a deer hunter. “Dad... Psst.. Dad....Seriously Dad!” I whispered urgently. “Shhh!” His eyes were fixated on the does to the left as he put up his hand to silence me. “Dad! Buck!” My internal heater kicked into full blast and my chill was gone instantly. “Does. Eve, I know. I see them.” In the moment of excitement I almost forgot how deaf my dad has become. Does on the left wasn’t what I was looking at. I was staring at a huge buck coming in from the trees on the right but my dad was too focused (and hearing impaired) to notice where I was pointing and the buck was too close to whisper any louder. BUCK ON THE RIGHT!

A young E

va holding

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shed.

“Buck! BIG buck!” I whispered even more urgently at my dad, followed by a sharp prod in the ribs. That did the trick. Finally he interpreted my game of charades and we


were both locked-on to the same direction at the incoming buck, eyeballs peeled as wide as they could get. It was magnificent, beautiful, and absolutely massive! It looked like the same buck from the Stealth Cams with the wide 5x5 rack and stickers at the bases, but it was still out at 100 yards and too far to tell for sure…90 yards, 80 yards, 70 yards away and closing. Neither of us moved a muscle, but as the buck approached, he must’ve known something was up. He stood at 60 yards, faced directly towards me, stomping it’s foot and snorting. He came into sight so quickly, my gun was still resting on my lap with no way to move enough to grab it without spooking the buck. The standoff lasted nearly 90 seconds, a test of will. Finally the buck turned his attention away from me, just enough for me to raise my T/C muzzleloader and fire. BOOM! At 60 yards, the big Nosler slug got to him so fast that the buck didn’t know what hit him. “You got him Eve! You got him!!! It’s Stickers! He’s a monster!!!” It turned out Stickers was in fact the same buck that just walked in, a massive 5x5 old, old buck scoring 155+. As we approached the massive bodied buck, I paid my respects to the elusive deer that I had followed year after year, season after season. Thankful and blessed to share this opportunity with my dad, the long preparation seemed insignificant compared to the thrill and excitement I had at that exact moment. As my dad has always said, Saskatchewan has GIANT WHITETAILS and GREAT PEOPLE. Amen to that.

After three years of chasing “Stickers,” this beautiful 5x5 finally came out into an open where Eva was able to get a good shot. This 155+-inch buck was well worth the wait.

He’s still got it! Grandpa Hal shows Jim and Eva where they get their skills for hunting after he put down this great buck on a cold but perfect Saskatchewan morning.

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PHOTO: VIC SCHENDEL

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The Second Chance of a Lifetime

here are several places in North America where one can hunt mule deer late in the rut. Incredible locations like Old Mexico and the Jicarilla Reservation come to mind. However, I can think of only a handful of destinations where it can be done without winning a lottery permit or without taking a second mortgage out on your home. I feel blessed to live next to one of these little gems. It is extreme public land do-it-yourself bow hunting at its best! On Thanksgiving weekend we found two giant bucks. They

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were both rutting the same group of does. One of the bucks had super deep tines; the other was wide and heavy. My brother Jared was the first to get within bow range but the oak was too thick for a shot. Later that afternoon, we both got within 30-40 yards of the wide buck, but neither of us could seal the deal. The following Monday I hunted with my good friend Russell. We spotted both bucks standing five yards apart from each other. They were with several does and another mid-170" buck. Every so often both

big bucks would raise their heads, lay their ears back, and show off their impressive racks to each other. The wide buck was lip curling. It was an awesome sight! We spent the entire morning hunting the wide buck. He was in a better location for a stalk. He was also hot on a doe that was circling in the oak. There was one time that I was so close that I could see his eye blink and watch his wet nose flare as he was sniffing the cold air. We played cat and mouse until I finally caught him in a small opening. I


BY BLAKE BUTLER

The author spotted a big, wide buck in the distance and knew he had to move in closer. It was one of the two big bucks he had been keeping his eye on.

grunted and it stopped him. He was quartering away, looking back at me. I didn’t have time to range him. I settled my 60 yard pin on his chest and let an arrow fly. The buck busted up through the oak and stopped, only 20 yards from where I had shot at him. I could see bits and pieces of his head and antlers as he stood there. Then he whirled around like a tornado and came crashing back down through the oak, stumbling along the way. I watched him smash into an oak tree and fall—he didn’t get back up. I honestly thought that I just killed a buck of a lifetime!

I ran up to my where the deer had been standing and couldn't see my arrow. “It must be in him still,” I thought. I got on his trail and soon found bright red blood, and tons of it. I was on cloud nine! Even though I watched him fall, I decided to give things a minute. That's when another hunter came out of the oak and walked right up to me. He said that he had just hit a big buck and ran down this way. “What?!” The hunter’s name was Matt. We decided we both must have taken shots at the buck, merely seconds apart from each other. I said to Matt, "I think this buck has two arrows in

him, which explains why he died so fast." We took up the blood trail and it didn't take long to find him. I could clearly see Matt's arrow sticking out of the front of the buck's chest. I flipped over his body expecting to see another arrow…but found my shot had been a clean miss. I was crushed. I learned it was Matt's very first deer harvest! Since he was on the mountain alone and seemed like a good dude, we helped him with photos and caped out his buck. We put a tape to his rack; 31" 5/8 wide and a score just under 180" P & Y. He truly is a buck of a lifetime! While hiking off the mountain empty handed that night I thought, “I can't let this hunt end this way!” With only two days left before the season ended, I made a solo trip. I was the only one that could go. I knew it was going to be tough alone, but I had to get that bad taste out of my mouth. I knew the Deep Tine Buck was still alive and I was determined, now more than ever, to get an arrow in him. At about 2 p.m., while perched high on a steep snow covered peak, I finally turned him up. He was with two does and they were working

Blake chased after the buck after taking a shot. Unfortunately, it was another hunter that shot and killed it. The author’s shot missed.

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my way. They hooked underneath me and I lost them in the spruce and oak below. I carefully work my way down in the crusted snow, relocating one of the does. I knew I couldn't get any closer without her busting me. I assumed the buck and the other doe were both behind her. I ranged her at 82 yards. “That is a very long shot,” I told myself. This is where the

right equipment, tons of practice and having good shooting form all come together. I calculated in my head all the little things I needed to do for a good 80 yard downhill shot as I was waiting for the buck to appear. The buck finally walked into view and stopped in a great position for me to take a shot from this distance. He

stood broadside as I slowly came to full draw. I made a quick yardage adjustment, deciding to use my 70 yard pin. I held the pin barely above his shoulders and back…and the arrow was on its way! To be honest, I wasn't sure of my shot. It felt good, but it didn't sound like a hit at all. The buck lunged forward and was out of sight before I could tell if he was hit or not. I held my position as I watched one of his does cut out to my left, while the other doe circled back up to my right. I figured he must still be below me, held up waiting to see where the danger was coming from. I waited five minutes and then eased to my right to get a better view. That is when I saw red blood in the snow below; I rushed down and found my arrow totally covered in blood and stuck in the snow. I collapsed to my knees in unbelief. After a brief wait, I followed up an easy blood trail. One hundred yards later, I found him dead in his tracks. It was truly a humbling experience. I was both super happy and kind of sad all at the same time. As I picked up his head, a great sense of joy and satisfaction came over me. My buck is 28" wide and gross scores 189" P&Y. It really was late season success at its best!

After the misfortune of missing the first buck, the author was able to close in on the other big buck he had found and made a well-placed 82 yard shot

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BY CHAD RHOTON

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am blessed to have a brother that not only lives in Alaska, but one who enjoys the outdoors as much as anyone I have ever met. To say he is a fanatic is an understatement. To say he is generous with not only his finances, but also his time and resources is also an understatement. He is always putting together the next big adventure, wherever it may be. Some time ago, he mentioned to me that we need to go shoot a big brown bear. He had taken a great bear a few years ago, but when he saw the beast that went to feed on the carcass of his bear, any old sub 9’ bear just wouldn’t do. To be completely honest, I always wanted to kill a brown bear, but I never really thought of how amazing a trophy these animals really are. Many months ago, my brother Shane began the year long process of making sure everything on this hunt would be a success. He plans every meal, provides any needed gear, and does more research than anyone I know. I had drawn a coveted Kodiak Island brown bear tag for the spring. However, we wanted my other brother to be able to hunt as well and after lots of research, Shane had

determined that we could hunt big bears together on the Alaskan Peninsula. As the hunt got closer, flights were booked, rifles were tested, and gear piled up. We carefully watched the weather and it appeared that it never wanted to warm up. Record snowfall with low temperatures was not a good

recipe for a spring brown bear hunt, but we were going regardless of the circumstances. As the hunt got closer, the reports did not get any better; bears still denned up, lots of snow on the landing strips, etc. It did not look good. We flew up with my brother Brian, and good friend Joe G. Joe is always good for a crazy adventure, whether he has a tag or not, he will be there and go all out, that is the kind of guy he is. He is an amazing person and friend. We knew the conditions were tough from the reports we were getting. We had reports of 20+ guided hunters and not a single bear sighting! Record snowfall not only limited the areas to hunt, but also required additional planning. I think we finally ended up on our plan E or F spot. We landed at our destination and decided to make the most of it. We were at sea level, with a view over a large flat with some rolling alder hills, which kept most of the bears hidden during the middle of the day. It wasn’t where we wanted to be, but with limited areas we decided to make the best of it. It didn’t take long and we began to see bears. They were a very long ways off, making

Flying in, the auhtor and his crew get a reality check of the terrain they’ll be dealing with on the hunt. Alask bear hunting isn’t no walk in the park.

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After more than 50 miles of trekking in the Alaska wild, the author and his crew were finally getting setup for a shot on this huge brown bear.

it difficult to tell exactly what we were looking at other than a dark blob rolling through the alders. This went on morning and evening and finally we decided to get a closer look. I really wanted my brother to kill this black blob that was doing the same thing morning and evening. The winds were horrible, and it was a 5-7 mile hike to the bear, but we were ready to do it. Little did we know what we were getting into; none of us had ever walked across such boggy, unforgiving country! It didn’t just last a short while either; it was like this the entire way! One day while making our way out to chase the big dark bear we had been watching every day, we saw a bear just around a rise by camp. We decided not to shoot this bear, as we felt there were better bears around and it was still early in the hunt. We also saw another great bear being harassed by wolves that we decided to let go. We made it out several more times, setting up on the bear just perfectly, but he always outsmarted us. He would either come out after dark, or he would mix up his routine just enough to not allow the time to get to him. This bear was a monster! He measured 28 10/16” on the skull and was 10’ squared

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This game was getting very frustrating and after 50+ miles logged on the GPS trying to get Brian a shot on this thing, we were just about spent! I decided to give it one last shot, so we left at 3 AM again on the hike in hopes that we could intercept this thing before he made it back to his safe haven. Luck was on our side, and as it got light, we saw the blob coming our way. The only problem was the winds were getting crazy again. We decided to make a gamble and try something we had not done. This bear followed our plan, and I knew he was good enough for me. As he closed the gap from 800, 600, 400, and then 200 yards my heart was racing. I was going to shoot him at 200 yards but I never got the shot I wanted. The bear turned towards us and followed a small cut that would lead him into our laps. I could never get a shot as I was laying prone on the muskeg and all I could see was his back. I knew that when he popped up he would be in close! As he closed to 100, then 75, then 50, he popped up out of the cut and looked our way.


When he took his look at us, he knew something didn’t look right and he had no problem coming right at us. We were in his house, and knowing that he was aggressive (he ran a bear out the night before), I was going to shoot him as soon as possible. My heart was coming out of my chest and it took everything I had to keep my cool. When he hit the 32 yard

mark I let him have it with the 375. The 300 grain bullet hit him hard and rolled him. I racked in another bullet and for whatever reason, could not get it to fire! So I racked round number three and hit him again as he moved off, dropping him. I immediately put another one in for insurance. I cannot explain the adrenaline rush that I had! I almost passed out from it. Emotions ran high as we walked up to the bear

and looked at the sheer size of this thing. I didn’t care if he was an 8’ bear, or a 12’ bear, he was big to me and awesome. We all took a guess and figured he was a 9-9.5’ bear, but once we pulled the skin we realized just how much bigger he really was. We squared him well over the 10’ mark. I figured we were doing something wrong! His skull was huge as well. We were coming up with 28.5”! Well to make a long story short, he was sealed and scored at 28’ 10/16” and stretched 10’ 10.5” on his skin. The packout was extremely heavy, and we swapped packs as we all hiked out the 6 miles back to camp. Again, I am forever indebted to my hunting buddies for their help and sacrifice. Thank you to Shane, Brian, and Joe for all of their help; this hunt never would have happened without them. And thank you to my lovely wife for letting me go on these adventures. She is the real trooper!

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he day had finally come! Months of planning, organizing, and building excitement were finally behind us. The cool Alaskan morning met me at the cabin’s threshold as we prepared to depart into the wilderness, leaving the warmth of our outfitter’s cabin and embarking on what would be the most gruelling fifteen days of hunting I have ever experienced. Joining me on this hunt would be my co-worker Brad Kile. Few people have the passion for hunting like Brad and I do and I couldn’t have found a better hunting partner for the trip. Moose, caribou, and grizzly were first up on our schedule. After landing on a remote gravel bar that was questionable at best we quickly set up camp with rain on its way. Our guide in the field was Doug Powers, a lifetime Alaskan that can only be

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described as the “MacGyver of the North,” and a true mountain man in every sense of the word. Also known as “The Moose Killer,” Doug had 90 moose to his credit and I was hoping to tag the 91st. The first few days in the field proved to be exciting. Although it had rained, every day we were seeing moose. Several of the bulls were legal, however, our guide wanted to get us something that was not only respectable but enviable by Alaskan standards. We finally managed to locate two bulls that would have stretched sixty inches but we were not able to get a shot. What people don’t realize about Alaska is that the bush will swallow you. The bush in the Alaska Range was thick, tall, and spread from one side of the mountain range to the next. I have seen photos in magazines and assumed the bush might be waist high but this is not the case. We

did not get the shot, but finding those moose was a memorable experience, none the less. One afternoon while glassing for moose we spotted a caribou. We had seen a couple other caribou previously but this one had nice tops and was in an area we could do a viable spot and stalk. After crossing nearly two miles of brushfilled valley we got to a vantage point above where the caribou was feeding and Brad was able to anchor the bull. By the end of day six we were thoroughly soaked and unable to dry out. Going back to the outfitters cabin for a day to get dry cloths and dry our gear turned into a five-day layover as the Super Cub could not fly in to pick us up due to the weather. So far it had rained every day with the exception of the day we flew into base camp.

ultimate alaskan the Alaskan Wild adventure Into for Dall Sheep

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BY CHRIS MAXWELL We were able to relocate to sheep country after finally getting a break in the weather. Glassing the surrounding mountains we immediately located several sheep, most were ewes and lambs but we could see the occasional ram. Although none of them were legal, seeing the rams had our excitement building! Hiking further back into the drainage was wearing us down. The brush was relentless. Every movement faced resistance from the willows pressing back on us and our gear. Overgrown game trails did little to make traveling easy but it was the only option; travel above the bush meant we would be visible to every sheep in the drainage. Four miles into our journey we finally made it to where we would drop camp. After a well-earned break we were now lighter and ready to travel even further into sheep country. Climbing into a shale crevice that extended high into the mountain we got to a vantage point that allowed us to glass into a connecting valley.

The author connected with this bull caribou after five days of scouting for large moose.

We peered over the edge, and there they were! A band of seven rams was within our grasp; however, we still needed to be vigilant as there were also ewes and lambs in the surrounding mountains watching for any sign of danger. Glassing the rams we ranged them at

over 800 yards. With three legal rams and two definite shooters in the group, we could make a double header on the rams a reality! Then it happened, the largest ram caught a glimpse of our spotting scope and was now staring directly at us. Carefully backing off the mountain, we made our way deep into the shale crevice. Our guide immediately knew what we needed to do and formulated a plan. We would climb down our side of the mountain into the bottom of the drainage out of site of the rams, then cross over to the back side of the mountain behind the rams and climb over the top to get on top of them, hopefully close enough for a shot. The look on Brad’s face when he realized we would lose all of our elevation only to have to gain it back on the other side of the range had me wondering if he would make it or not. At the final ascent of the last peak Brad didn’t think he could go any further but I knew we had gone too far to stop at this point; it was only another 300 yards until we would be in position to shoot. After some coaxing and a short break we made the final push and got into position. Our guide located the rams in the spotting scope andthewe Doyle Moss captured this picture of 38 Special during rut.identified which rams we were going to shoot. Brad had won an earlier coin toss and was going to Winter 2013

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The author with his beautiful dall sheep.

shoot first. I knew if we stayed hidden the remaining rams would stand and I would have a shot at the ram I had picked out. The rams now ranged at 391 yards and the shot was doable for both of us. The largest ram was bedded down, still staring at the original spot we had first seen the rams from. Brad’s first shot missed high, but the follow up shot was a direct hit and a third anchored the ram for good. The ram I had chosen now stood as I had expected and offered a perfect shot. I pulled the trigger and watched as the shot missed just high of the ram. Reloading, I got back on the ram and waited for another clear shot. Beads of sweat were now

trickling down my face; the pressure to make the next shot count felt like the weight of the world on my shoulders. The sheep were now starting to move away from us. I controlled my breathing and squeezed the trigger once again…a direct hit! The ram made its way across a shale slide and into a dip in the mountain, so the guide and I side-hilled across the mountain to get into position for a finishing shot. Having lost site of the ram, we set up where we could see all of the plausible escape routes. I assumed that if he was going to leave he would go over the top of the mountain which would pose a major problem for us. What seemed like an eternity but in reality was likely only a few minutes later, the ram once again appeared just above us on a jagged bench extruding from the mountain. Quickly I found the ram in my cross hairs and squeezed the trigger—a heart shot finished the ram for good. I had just secured our double header! Since booking the hunt Brad and I had talked about a lot of different scenarios for getting our sheep. I had always maintained that it would be the ultimate ending to our time in the field if we could secure a double header on the sheep. Little did I know how difficult it would be, and even the bush pilot had commented that it was extremely unlikely that we would be able to pull it off. The only reason we did was because of our guide and a little luck finding two great rams in the same band. The double header on our rams made every rainsoaked day worthwhile, and only elevated the status of our trophies. This was not only a hunt of a lifetime; it was the Ultimate Alaskan Adventure!

Brad, the other hunter along with the author, made a great shot at over 380 Here he stands flawless. Unfortunately, 38 ended up breaking off a big portion of his G4 the yards on this great ram. day before the hunt. You can see the difference on the opposite page (hero shot). He is still a legendary trophy. He would have scored about 245 if not broke.

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3 in

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re

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brothers bulls years

BY RICHARD PETERSON

he passion, or as our wives put it “obsession”, of hunting and enjoying the outdoors as brothers is nothing new to us. We grew up hunting spike elk and chasing dreams of monster muleys on public land. The thrill of the hunt and the love of the outdoors was something we learned from our mom, dad, and grandpas. It is bitter-sweet each year when hunting season rolls around and we are once again taken back to the days when our grandpas were there to share their wisdom while bouncing down dirt roads covered in yellow quaky leaves in rattley old jeeps. The story of how three brothers killed three bulls in three years began with this heritage of hunting. In 2010, we were all green with envy as Ross, the youngest brother, drew the first limited entry elk tag in the family. His archery tag was for a steep rugged area in central Utah that had great bulls. The excitement of finally having the opportunity to hunt a monster bull was contagious and the Peterson hunting team was ready to go. The team consisted of Kurt, my oldest brother, the second youngest brother Lonnie,

T

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my little brother Ross, brother-in-law Cameron, mom, dad, and I. We built anticipation by scouting and seeing beautiful bulls day after day. Once the hunt started we worked hard, hiking mile after mile to dig deep into the steep pine and quaky covered mountains. After three weeks of intense hunting, Ross and I were alone as the rest of the team had other obligations. September 5th was the day when all our scouting and hard work was to pay off. We started the day early and hiked fast to get deep in the thick pines before sunup. We were about mile away from the closest road. The smell of elk blew in the crisp morning air when we decided to bugle. I took out my trusty Berry’s Thunder Bugle and blew a timid satellite bull imitation. Immediately a bull screamed back. It sounded like he was about 200 yards out, we waited a little and he bugled again. He was moving our direction; we scrambled to get into position. Ross hunkered down under the lower braches of a pine and I set up 50 yards behind, in an attempt to pull the bull


The author’s youngest brother Ross connected on this nice bull.

Glassing was a key part in the success of all three brothers’ hunts.

past him. We worked the call sparingly and got the bull to come about 100 yards from Ross, but he stopped and wouldn’t come any closer. With a heavy wind in our face and having good cover, I moved to Ross. We decided to have Ross try to close the distance to the bull. He slowly moved into only 20 yards, undetected. Due to the thick cover this was the first Ross was able to get a clear look at his beautiful 6X6 rack. Ross looked back at me and gave me thumbs up “game on”. He knocked an arrow, drew his bow, and let it fly. The bull was taken totally by surprise, having no clue Ross was there. The shot was a perfect heart shot that did the job in less than 50 yards. Perhaps the most memorable part of this hunt was the five hour pack-out to get such a large animal back to the truck with only two guys. What a blast it was to share in Ross’s success. May of 2011 came with great excitement as Kurt, my older brother, drew an archery elk tag for one of the top areas in Utah. The Peterson team was assembled again. We put in a lot of pre-season scouting. One thing was sure; there would be plenty of bulls to tempt us. After twelve years of applying for this opportunity, Kurt was dedicated to hold out for a true wall hanger. He had multiple close encounters with bulls that just weren’t quit big enough. We found a large drainage that held three great bulls. This drainage was crazy steep and super thick with scrub oak and quakys. I personally thought Kurt was insane for thinking he could successfully hunt the rugged terrain. Monday of the last week of the hunt came with Kurt, Carson (Kurt’s nine year old son), and myself trying to fulfill Kurt’s dreams of arrowing a monster. Carson and I sat watching from across the canyon through spotting scopes as Kurt snuck through

the thick undergrowth of the quaky covered face. We watched as bulls would appear and then disappear in the thick cover. It was getting late in the morning when we saw Kurt step out into a small clearing on the face, waving his arms in celebration. He had just shot one of the big bulls we had been watching as it walked only 10 yards from where he sat waiting. Carson and I hustled back to our four-wheeler, grabbed the meat packs, and raced to where we had last seen Kurt. He waited for us to start tracking the bull. He attempted to fill the time as he thumbed through the pages of an old Louis L’Amour book that he got from Grandpa Peterson. Filled with too much excitement he was unable to take anything from the pages as his mind raced with what had just happened. Once Carson and I found Kurt we followed the short blood trail to Kurt’s trophy. What a beautiful sight this monster 5x6 was, with long tines and great mass. The thirds on this bull were both just over an impressive 20 inches long. This was the one day Carson got to play hooky from school, and what great timing. I think Carson was the good luck charm we needed to get it done.

The author’s oldest brother Kurtley took this nice 5x6 in 2011.

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The author was the last brother to draw his long awaited archery Utah elk tag. His hunt ended with a giant 385+ bull.

After hunting two great units with my brothers, I decided to put in for the same unit Kurt had hunted. In May 2012 I was ecstatic when I got my e-mail from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources showing a successful draw. Now it was my turn to be the man behind the bow with the chance at monster bulls. I had dreamt of this day all my life. But the odds were stacked against me with archery success rates at less than 31% in Utah. We had already beaten the odds by killing two great bulls in two years, but would we be able to pull it off again and go three for three? Scouting through the summer we deepened our knowledge of the huge area. When August 18th opening day finally came we found ourselves hunting at the far north end of the unit surrounded by pines and quakys. This was the opposite of last year’s hunt where we were well over twenty miles south hunting the scrub oaks and occasional quaky patches. We hunted hard and had a blast, but eventually we decided to head south to where we saw so many great bulls last year. With only five days left of a twenty eight day hunt, we spotted a new bull that was a definite shooter. He was an incredibly wide 6x8 that had fifteen cows held up in a rocky canyon sprinkled with cedars and sagebrush. This was definitely not the pines and quakys I was accustomed to. Over the next two days I tried three different stalks and had him at 60 yards, then 74 yards, and then again at a painful 20 yards with no shot opportunities. But persistence is one of my strong suits that paid off with a fourth opportunity at 40 yards. This was finally the time and place, September 11th 2012, with a half hour until sunset. A light rain was falling and the wind was blowing in my face as I watched this massive bull taking out aggression as he raked two cedar trees. As I looked down the steep mountain side through the scrub oaks, the bull looked my direction and then downhill toward his cows giving me the perfect opportunity. All my pre-season shooting came into play as I instinctively drew my bow, anchored, centered my peep, centered my sights and released. I was elated when I saw my arrow slam through the bull that had eluded me so many times before. Ross was on a nearby ridge and watched as my arrow flew through the bull. I was surprisingly calm until after the shot, but then started to shake uncontrollably and began to doubt if I had hit him well. Ross got with Kurt and they both

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rushed to me to help in the tracking job. I was relieved to find a solid blood trail that looked to be lung blood. We found this monster bull in about 150 yards. We were amazed at the size of what we had just killed. No ground shrinkage on this guy—he was a wide 6x8 with a 10 inch hook and a 2 inch devil tine on his right side. He has a 60 inch outside spread and a 52 inch inside spread, 61 inches of mass, and 53+ main beams—a trophy in my book for sure. We did it. Three brothers, three bulls, in three years, and in only three shots. I feel fortunate to have been a part of my brother’s hunts and want to thank them for their time in helping me; I could not have done it without them. I am thankful for the passion of hunting and the bonding moments we get to share with family and friends. I am forever grateful for the memories made in the beauties of God’s high country. The hike back to the truck was definitely a wide-load.


Staff

CORP. INTERVIEW Jack Links

www.jacklinks.com Jack Link’s isn’t made up of a bunch of button-up, corporate types. Like their beef jerky, Jack Link’s believes in being authentic and genuine. In their own words, “Life’s too short to be artificial”. It seems they’ve never done things the way everyone else has. Over the years, it’s always been more than just a way of doing business. It’s become a way of life for this down to Earth company. They push hard and take risks – with the unwavering passion to get done what they set out to do. All backed up by an unflinching eye on quality. So when you picture the people who make North America’s best-selling brand of beef jerky, you’ll find they’re just a bunch of regular folks, inspired to make the finest beef jerky possible, every single day. They’re just lucky enough to have the w h o l e w o r l d asking for a taste.

The story of Jack Link’s ® Beef Jerky is a story of family traditions. It began with treasured family recipes that were passed from generation to generation, ultimately transforming a small North Woods business into one of the fastestgrowing meat snack manufacturers in the world. The foundation was laid in the 1880s, when Jack Link’s greatgrandfather, Chris, came to America from the Old Country and settled in the wilderness of northern Wisconsin. Tucked away in his belongings were some of his most prized possessions - his sausage recipes. From the first day Chris staked his claim in Minong, Wis., a new American tradition was born. Chris Link’s sausages and smoked meats became legendary among the lumberjacks and pioneer farmers of Wisconsin’s great North Woods. Years later, Chris’ son Earl opened Minong’s very first general store and butcher shop. He sold everything from horseshoes and nails to pickles and sausages. Earl continued the family’s tradition of making the best jerky and sausages folks had ever tasted. Earl’s son - Wilfred “Wolf” Link - was born in 1916. Wolf accompanied his father everywhere and practically grew up in the general store. He learned early on what it took to be the best in the meat business. Wolf grew up and followed in the family’s footsteps, making a name for himself in the cattle business. Years later, Wolf married and before too long, had a son named Jack. As a young boy, Jack followed Wolf everywhere, learning all about cattle, the meat business and how to make the best meat products possible. Over time, Jack married Mary Jo and they had two sons. Jack honored his heritage and carved out a healthy business, for his own family, by supplying topquality beef to stores and restaurants throughout the Northland. Jack Link: “So, how did a guy from Minong, Wisconsin start making beef jerky? Well, it came to me one day when my boys and I were headed out for an afternoon hunt. We stopped at a local store and bought some jerky out of the glass jar on the counter. Turned out to be about as tough as our hunting boots. corporate

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5INTERVIEW5

The boys and I went home and found my great-grandfather’s original recipes. The paper was yellowed, but the recipes were as good as the day they were written. We decided to try our hand at making jerky the genuine, authentic way. It turned out even better than we could have hoped for. It didn’t take long for us to decide to share our jerky with the rest of the folks in the area. We started selling our Jack Link’s Jerky out of the back of my truck from one momand-pop store to the next. Pretty soon, it was nearly impossible to keep up. Folks just couldn’t get enough of our jerky. Years later, here we are still making jerky -- now, it just happens to be for folks all around the world. Even with all the changes over the years, the important things have stayed the same. We’re still making jerky from our own time-tested recipes - the kind of jerky my father, grandfather and great-grandfather would be proud to claim as their own”. The Links’ reputation for quality grew throughout the region and a business was born. Over the years, as consumer demand for convenient, high-quality snack foods increased, so did the company’s product offerings and distribution network. Today Jack Link’s is the fastest-growing meat snack manufacturer in the world, and sells more than 100 different meat snack products in more than 40 countries. More than a century has passed, but the Link family principles and traditions remain the same: hard work, integrity and a commitment to earn consumer respect by delivering the best-tasting meat snacks in the world. It’s no surprise that Jack Link’s® Beef Jerky is the leader in the nearly $2 billion meat snack category. Jack Link’s produces more than 100 premium meat snack items using only the finest cuts of meat, savory seasonings and an exacting attention to detail. From traditional jerky to Big Dippers, Jack Link’s has a flavor and texture to satisfy even the most discerning palate.


Across

1. OTM (acronym for a specific bullet design) 5. Case for a rifle that hangs from a saddle 8. Old bachelor Cape buffalo AKA 9. Supreme law of the USA 10. Finger-pulled lever that drives the firing pin forward and fires the gun 12. A deer in the first year of its life 13. Cavalry sword 14. Trained hunting guide in North America 15. Designer and manufacturer of high powered magnum cartridges

Down

2. Elevation at which trees no longer grow 3. A heavy-caliber double-barrel handgun used in India by tiger hunters 4. Short-barreled rifle 6. Lexington and Concord fighters 7. A loaded round AKA 11. Parallel grooves cut into the bore of a firearm causing the bullet to spin in flight 13. Yearling bull elk with antlers that have no tines

CROSSWORD BY JESSICA BROOKS-STEVENS | PHOTO: VIC SCHENDEL

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By Courtney Bjornn

Just For Laughs

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at wson • Bobc Marilou Ra 2012

Ryan Bankhead • DIY Muley 215” • Utah • 2012

“This issu e’s winner ” Winner: Kyle Southg ate, Britis h Columbia

Brad Reid • 406” Elk 2012

er • Age 13 Jordan Gind n • 2012 or gh on Pr

Win Vortex Binos!

Each issue of Hunting Illustrated we will be giving away a pair of Vortex binos to the Braggin’ Board photo winner. We would love to see your photo in the mag. All you need to do is send it to us! We select our favorites to show in each issue. editor@huntingillustrated.com Kent Crawfo rd • Moose 2012

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Bill Scott • Elk New Mexico • 2012


Joel Nicol • Black Be ar Idaho • 20 12

Geoff Walker • Elk 2012

le Deer child • Mu Casey Fair 12 Idaho • 20

nsen • Elk Bruce Joha 2012 Colorado •

Tony Cawall a • Mule De er Nevada • 20 12

Aubree Olms tead • Mule Deer Oregon • 20 12

Braggin’ Board Submission

Send Photos To: editor@huntingillustrated.com

Ethan Bail ey • Mule Deer Montana • 2012

Each issue’s photo selected as the Braggin’ Board photo winner will be selected by the Hunting Illustrated team. Send in your entry today. Please use high resolution images. www.HuntingIllustrated.com Trustyn Lance • Coyote 2012

Winter 2013

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Michael Burrell

Mule Deer, Predation, and Human Influence

A

ny mule deer enthusiast in the twenty-first century knows deer numbers continue to dwindle due to more reasons than I care to mention. Although biologists and mule deer aficionados alike have pinpointed the major factors hurting the deer population, many are beyond human control to fix, such as: severe winters, drought, and the loss of habitat. Predation is a factor limiting mule deer and is more realistically managed; however, differing opinions by the public and wildlife agencies have made conducting sound predation management a challenge. Compensatory vs. Additive Mortality The question isn’t whether predation affects mule deer, the question is how much? The effect predation has on mule deer depends on the health of the mule deer herd. If a deer population is healthy with numbers hovering around carrying capacity of the habitat, predation may not necessarily have a negative impact on the deer population. When predation, or any other type of mortality for that matter, causes no reduction to the overall deer 92

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population because naturally another factor would have killed that deer anyway (lack of forage, disease, etc.) it is known as a compensatory mortality. Compensatory mortality does not affect the long-term stability of a population. Unfortunately, most deer populations aren’t anywhere near carrying capacity

biologists understand this predator/ prey relationship; however there is an alarming trend in today’s biological academia and the public disregarding the correlation between predators and mule deer. Meanwhile, deer numbers continue to diminish. Some hunters might blame local biologists for the lack of predation management on resident deer herds; sometimes rightfully so if the biologist disregards predation as an additive mortality when in fact it is. But more often than not, these biologists are in a pickle trying to find the balance between two conflicting values from the general public on predation management. Many “The question isn’t whether predation affects mule deer. The question is how much? wildlife management decisions are voted on by the public and levels and the further the deer are predator management is one of from healthy levels, the more impact the most controversial issues in each deer killed can have on the total wildlife today, so it’s not surprising population. If the death of an individual in present society that the public deer causes an immediate reduction to acceptance of predator reduction the total population, this is known as an has changed significantly in the additive mortality and can affect long- last few decades. This nationwide movement towards greater value term stability of the population. Predator removal is effective on predators has made predator in protecting deer herds when predators hunting and trapping progressively are an additive mortality. Many more unpopular.

5MULE DEER WATCH5


Comparison of predation management then and now Muleys enjoyed low predator densities during the heydays; unfortunately since then, predator management has become more and more restrictive. Let’s compare predation management from decades ago to today and it shouldn’t be a bombshell that predator numbers have increased steadily and deer numbers struggle to recover. Historically, three control methods have been used to manage predators: toxicants, hunting, and trapping. Toxicants Toxicants such as Compound 1080 and strychnine were once broadcast across the west to protect both livestock and game. These poisons indiscriminately killed predators (or any animal for that matter) that scavenged up the meat baits. Was it productive at removing predators? Absolutely, poisons played a major role in keeping their numbers low before Nixon banned their use in 1972. As we know, broadcasting predator poison indiscriminately

is not a legal practice today with justifiable reason. Toxicants were once the most common, cost-effective method to rid an area of predators, but times have changed. Today, the only predator toxicants used are the M-44 sodium cyanide device and the LPC collar which is a neck collar worn by sheep containing a minute amount of compound 1080. These target coyotes and are restrictively used mostly by government trappers. Hunting Hunting of predators is under-fire by the opposition. The discussion of which predator hunting techniques are considered ethical has ignited ugly battles across the west and hunters have been losing ground. Hunting over bait is one of the most effective methods to hunt black bear, but across the West, baiting bears is illegal in Oregon, California, Washington, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Colorado, and Montana. The use of hounds is the primary technique for hunting and managing mountain lion populations (if not the only effective way), but opposition claims dog-hunting is cruel and not under the ethics of fair chase.

5MULE DEER WATCH5

The public has agreed in many cases and the pursuit of lions with sport dogs has already been banned in Washington, Oregon, and California. The pursuit of bears with dogs has suffered an ugly trend as well, and is unlawful in Montana, Washington, Oregon, Wyoming, Colorado, and now California (a ban passed this year). Recently, there was a petition submitted to ban hound-hunting of bears in Nevada. Hunting predators through the use of calling and shooting has increased in recent years and has replaced some of the more traditional methods of predator reduction (trapping and dog-use) either due to interest from hunters or added restrictions or bans on other methods. The impacts from calling and shooting predators on total predator populations are minimal. The aerial hunting of predators (mostly coyotes and wolves) is the most effective method of hunting and reducing large quantities of predators; but the expense is also the highest and social acceptance is much lower than it was 4 decades ago. Winter 2013

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Trapping If Jedidiah Smith could see the trapping restrictions that are in place in his old trappin’ grounds today, he’d roll over in his grave. In the right hands, traps and snares may be the most effective tools available to the public to harvest large quantities of coyotes, as well as other furbearing mammals; however, trapping is growing more unpopular with the public (and even with a number of sportsmen) because of its perceived cruelty. Today, the majority of the public still envisions the old grizzly bear trap, an over-sized, rusty steeltoothed trap big enough to take a man’s foot off his ankle. This perception is far from the truth. Trapping today takes place in a society that is much different than it was a few decades ago and both the trappers and their equipment have had to evolve with the times. Trappers have learned to work around other human outdoor recreations and traps are more humane and effective as ever. Still, states have banned trapping in Arizona, California, Colorado, and Washington. Meanwhile, Oregon has a proposed initiative in 2014 to attempt banning the use 94

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of traps and snares statewide. Which state is next? Still, wildlife managers (whether they’ll admit it or not) rely on trapping when dealing with mid-sized carnivores that are in need of control, even in states where traps are banned. There are usually exemptions to trap bans and traps are the #1 tool in most circumstances because…well, they’ve worked well for hundreds of years. To successfully curtail mule deer predation; first, predation should be identified as an additive mortality. Second, predator reduction needs to be effective enough to feasibly accomplish the objective and yield results on the deer population. It would take another article to touch on how to effectively conduct predator management. To meet the criteria above, there needs to be an incentive to hunt/trap enough predators to yield results. Where hounds are legal, mountain lions tend to have more hunters interested in hunting them than there are permits or quotas available so the incentive is in the trophy itself. In states where houndhunting is legal, lion populations could easily be reduced to lower levels but wildlife managers maintain

5MULE DEER WATCH5

healthier lion populations today than they did a few decades ago. There is a dilemma finding enough incentive to effectively manage coyotes for mule deer protection. The coyote is the most numerous of the mule deer predators and is the top predator limiting fawn recruitment. Decades ago, the coyote was less numerous because it was targeted more frequently by trappers, the federal government, and hunters because of higher fur prices and there were more livestock to protect on public ground. Back then, folks didn’t think twice about shooting a coyote no matter where it was, it was accepted. Predation reduction has always been a huge undertaking, even in the heydays when more control tools and incentives existed. Today, as we look for ways to turn our mule deer herds around, we need to promote effective predation management, before our tools and techniques head the way of the dodo bird in a society where the general public votes more out of emotion rather than biology. Meanwhile, mule deer numbers will continue to diminish.

PHOTO: LES JOHNSON

“Hunting predators through the use of calling and shooting has increased in recent years and has replaced some of the more traditional methods of predator reduction.”


I

t must be known by now that it is the ever mystical flight of the arrow that turns me on the most. It doesn’t even really matter what I am shooting at, a trophy stag, a little doe, groundhog, squirrel or clump of dirt, I just love a pretty arrow hitting what I’m aiming at. Loud grinding soulful guitarnoize, tight bands, Mrs. Nugent in the gyro-fest of Zumba bombast, happy children and grandchildren, confused liberals, over the top horsepower, victory over evil and a good BBQ campfire all

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qualify as major turn-ons for my ultimate quality of life for sure. But here and now in the dynamic throngs of The Hunting Season, I am astounded that I can even type these words I am so over-arrowed at this point. With sixty plus seasons under my well notched belt, 2012/13 will go down as a


total backstrap orgy of unprecedented joy and celebration for me. And as I shall write about and share with you all in the upcoming months, some mighty beasts have been felled with some mighty pretty arrows in the last 90 days, so far. September, October and November have been a nonstop predatory party at both my Texas and Michigan deercamps. I missed only two days of hunting, one due to torrential downpours and the other to a very special day dedicated to raise money for a young gal with terminal cancer. Not much else could pull me away from my treestands. But it was a cold dank morning when VidCamDude Kris Helms and I decided to take advantage of the strong south wind by rowing across Lake Nuge for a whitetail ambush try on the big ridge. The quiet row across the foggy, still waters already had us going and would substantially add to the completeness of this late October bowhunt. It was in the air! A virtual silent approach to our double treestand further increased our dreamy expectations that this hunch was right on the money. We fastened our Safety System harnesses, fired up the SpiritWild vidcam, nocked an arrow, and slightly squirmed so as to get our bodies in the perfect comfortable position for the patient waiting game. A dog barked and a train whistled off in the distance. The yelping, honking geese could be heard before shooting light. It took my entire wherewithal to remain

somewhat calm for the umpteenth time with my bow in hand. I mean, come on. I’ve been doing this my whole life, hundreds of days a year, every year forever. Relax already Mr. WhackMaster! Not a prayer. Then it happened. Shapes materialized in the forested bowl to the southwest as a trio of deer emerged from the shadows below our foodplot. Kris and I snapped to attention, bow and camera lifted into readiness. The three does made their way to a huge old choke cherry tree and began to eat the tiny purple berries and spit out the pits. I had never seen this happen before and learned yet another lesson in unpredictable deer habits. The lead doe now stepped into range when she abruptly pivoted as she approached the trailcam we had strapped to the tree days before. The camera must have made some kind of noise causing her to abandon the main trail and skirt the edge of the marshgrass. Now all three deer were on alert and the shot would be over 30 yards instead of 20. As the biggest doe entered a window in the brush, I came to fulldraw, let out a quiet bleat and sent my arrow when the 30 yard pin touched her chest.

ILLUSTRATIONS: COURTNEY BJORNN

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PHOTO: RICHARD PETERSON

At the THWACK I knew I had drilled her nicely and the other two deer jumped and stopped to watch the hit doe scramble into the thicket. In under two seconds, I had another arrow on the string ad as the second doe tiptoed to look at the bloody arrow I repeated the same move and drilled her nicely as well. Doe number two exploded into the same puckerbrush as doe number one and now doe number three jumped back another 30 yards to our right, head bobbing, trying to figure the whole deal out. Between her head bobs I was able to extract arrow number three from my quiver, nock it, and as she slowly sauntered back toward the woods from which she originally came,

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I again let out a slight bleat, causing her to turn, and at 35 yards my third arrow in less than a minute caught her right in the crease for a lovely heart shot. She bolted 20 yards, looked around for a second or two, then tipped over, stone dead like her other two pals. I looked at Kris and he at me, with smiles as broad as the Grand Canyon. The most exciting moment in a long bowhunting life had just taken place, and we both knew it. The season was already three weeks old, no one had hunted this area yet, and with everything else in our favor, like our silent approach and setup, my dead silent Martin bow, the nonpressured deer were in a rare state of vulnerability, their guard temporarily down. We tracked, filmed, photographed, loaded, gutted,

Father and son, on the lookout!

skinned and hung each deer to complete the greatest, most fulfilling morning of deerhunting in my life. Three for three pretty much as fast as a guy can load and shoot a bow, aiming small and missing small for a trifecta of bowhunting heaven.


Hunting Illustrated Winter 2013  

This predator edition issue on wolves, coyotes, bears and more. Great articles and stories from Ted Nugent, Eva Shockey, interview with Ada...

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