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Hunting Illustrated Magazine Volume 12, Number 4 Subscriptions and Questions 1-435-528-5080

s n m u l Co

10 Fresh Sign 20 The Dueling Duo 22 Product Review 24 Mule Deer 28 Elk 32 Predators

— Editorial Staff

News, Facts and Fun — Grange & Spomer

Cover Scents

— Steve Alderman

Hoyt Spyder 34

— Steve Alderman

Seasons of the Muley — Steve Chappell

Elk Hunting’s Most Common Pitfalls — Les Johnson

Change From the Norm’



78 80 84 90 94

Just For Fun

Fun For the Whole Family

Braggin’ Board

Bringing Home the Bacon

Gear Guide

Lightweight and Archery Gear

Mule Deer Watch — Michael Burrell

Velvet -- A Warm and Fuzzy Addiction

Nuge Factor — Ted Nugent More is Better

s e r u t a Fe î ° 38 42 48 54 60 64 71 74

Photo Story — Devin Jensen

Wolf and Black Bear in BC

That Extra Push Rachelle Hedrick

Roar of the Rusa Eva Shockey

Red Ripper

Jessica Brooks-Stevens


Jared Woolsey

Qamanirjuaq in the Old Keewatin District Adrian Skok

Muzzy Magic Steve Peck


Denny Austad


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 photo: Doyle Moss - Caribour Bull Denny Austad, mule deer

Early Fall 2013




unting season is finally here. I can imagine the smell of the mountain air as I write this from my office and it brings a grin to my face. There is nothing quite as exciting as the anticipation of getting out in the woods in pursuit of wild game. I am even more excited for the hunts this year now that my boys and wife have joined the sport. My fourteen year old son Gage has an archery elk hunt in Colorado that hopefully brings big racks and scrumptious back-straps to our home. This will be his first real elk hunt and he has been shooting his bow religiously to make sure his arrow hits its mark when the opportunity arises. My youngest son that is now 10 years old is hoping to bag a few ducks and geese this upcoming season. It gets me excited just thinking about it--a few mallard ducks coming into the decoys and little Creed pumping a few rounds out of his shotgun, then a splash as ducks hit the water from dropping out of the sky. How sweet it will be. Imagining the memories that will be made this hunting season is what makes our sport so unique, so awesome, and exactly what we hunters live for. This issue of HI is our Elk issue, which is hard to beat. As you read this many of you will have already put in many days hunting the Wapiti and how fortunate you are, along with all hunters that get the opportunity to pursue these magnificent creatures. Watching a mature bull in the rut smashing horns with another mature bull quickly gives the realization of their power but even with all the rage, aggression, and brute strength that come from these beasts, they still are no match for a pack of wolves. Wolves have devastated our North American elk herds. The war of the wolf has been fierce between the hunter and the anti-hunter but it is nearing the end. We need all your help for one last battle. The delisting of wolves from the “endangered species list” is about to be completed, but the antis are not going to rollover and let it happen easily. They have deep pockets and will fight for the delisting to fail. If they are delisted then states will be allowed to mange these ravishing dogs which will once again lead to healthy and growing elk numbers and the antis do not want to see this happen. There will be no greater benefit to the future of elk hunting than allowing states to manage and control wolf numbers. Please let your voice be heard and share this message with your friends to help preserve America’s outdoor heritage.

Managing Editor: John Mogle Art Director: Matt Mogle Field Editors: Courtney Crane, Matt Smith, Matson Tolman Copy Editor: Kirsti Beck Contributing Editors: Kirsti Beck Columnists: Steve Alderman,Ted Nugent, Scott Grange, Ron Spomer, Steve Chappell, Les Johnson, Michael Burrell, Eva Shockey Contributing Writers: Rachelle Hedrick, Jared Woolsey Jessica Brooks-Stevens, Denny Austad, Steve Peck, Adrian Skok Illustrators: Courtney Bjornn, Richard Stubler Advertising: 435-528-5080 John Mogle Courtney Crane Subscriptions / Questions: 435-528-5080 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 ©2013 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.



The Latest News and Insights

Scientists Tell U.S.FWS African Lion Is Not Endangered


xperts on the status of the African lion explained to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) that the African lion is not on the brink of extinction. Their testimony contradicts the claims in a petition filed by several anti-rights groups asking the service to list the African lion as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Safari Club International Foundation (SCI Foundation) participated in an exclusive workshop hosted by the FWS. SCI Foundation Conservation Chair Dr. Al Maki outlined current conservation efforts across the lion’s range and focused on Tanzania’s successful management of the species. “Today’s presenters and scientists agreed with SCI Foundation’s position that the majority of African lion populations are secure,” said SCI Foundation President Joe Hosmer. “We are glad that SCI Foundation’s extensive lion population research could shape today’s important conservation and thus prove the African lion is not on the brink of extinction.” “With years of experience researching lions in southern Africa, I was originally concerned that the FWS’s deliberations would not be based on the best available science,” stated Dr. Paula White. “I was pleased



to see that the overwhelming evidence that was presented today demonstrated that lions are certainly not on the brink of extinction.” “Lions reproduce like rabbits making habitat and prey the primary factor. Habitat and prey are secured for at least 100 years in the world’s largest protected areas,” stated John J. Jackson, President of Conservation Force. “After today’s successful meeting, the FWS will be faced with a decision whether to list the African lion on the U.S. Endangered Species Act. Our expectation is that it will not be necessary as the scientific research demonstrates that there are strong stable lion populations throughout southern and eastern Africa,” said Dr. Al Maki. “The fact is that 70% of all African lions live in strongholds that are large, stable and well-protected.


About SCI Foundation’s Conservation Programs for African Lions: SCI Foundation’s mission is to fund and direct worldwide programs dedicated to wildlife conservation and outdoor education, using its financial resources to support scientific and technical studies that categorically improve management practices for keystone species like African lions. SCI Foundation has provided the majority of financial support for research to be conducted on the conservation status of lions in Tanzania (2010), Mozambique (2009), Malawi (2010), and Zambia (2009) which included conservation strategy and action plan for the country.

by Editorial Staff

ACRU: D.C. Gun Transfer Law Is Unconstitutional


ASHINGTON, D.C. (July 11, 2013) -- The District of Columbia’s law requiring residents who purchase out-of-state guns to go through an expensive middleman to get a transfer permit violates the Second Amendment, according to a brief filed on July 1 at the U.S. Supreme Court by the American Civil Rights Union (ACRU). Although the Court’s 2008 ruling in the Heller case overturned the District’s ban on handgun possession, the city has another law that requires people who want to buy guns out of state to transfer them through a federally licensed firearms dealer (FLFD). Since the District has no retail gun stores, anyone who wants to buy a gun must buy elsewhere and then get a permit through the FLFD, of which the District has only one and who charges $125 per transfer. District resident Michelle Lane had ordered two handguns from a Virginia gun store on April 23, 2011, but before she could take delivery, the District’s sole licensed firearms dealer went out of business temporarily. This effectively barred District residents from exercising their Second Amendment right to purchase firearms, the brief states. The issue before the Court in Michelle Lane, et al v. Eric Holder, Jr., et al is whether Lane and other plaintiffs have standing to sue, which lower courts, including the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, denied. The ACRU brief asks the Court to hear the case. “Regulation can violate the Constitutional rights of consumers by burdening the sale of goods or services that they want to buy, without actually banning such sales,” states the brief, written by ACRU General Counsel Peter Ferrara. “Since Petitioners have the right to possess handguns, they unquestionably have the right to purchase them,” the brief states. “Moreover, when consumers have a right to purchase something, they have a right to challenge unconstitutional government conduct that burdens their freedom to do so.”

NUMBERS 800,000+

Elk hunters in the US

30,000-35,000 Elk population in Arizona


Tule elk population (found only in California)


Elk population in Colorado


Elk population in Arizona


Elk population in New Mexico

70,000-75,000 Elk population in Utah


Elk population in Montana


Elk population in Idaho


Early Fall 2013


Disease Outbreak in Desert Bighorn Sheep


espiratory disease has been detected in bighorn sheep in the area of Old Dad Mountain, 15 miles southwest of Baker, California. Observers have reported sick, dead, and dying bighorn sheep. Laboratory analysis has confirmed that these animals tested positive for pneumonia. Historical perspective Bighorn sheep once roamed nearly every mountain range in Southern California and Nevada, but their numbers began to decline in the mid-1800s, as settlers and prospectors swept into the region. By 1960, a century of impacts including disease, unregulated hunting, and habitat loss had greatly reduced California and Nevada’s bighorn populations. Wildlife officials in both states launched bighorn sheep release programs to rebuild herds, moving animals from healthy herds to mountain ranges within their historic range.



But disease always looms as a threat to those gains. In 2010, pneumonia epidemics spread through bighorn populations in many western states. The disease typically enters into a population that has no resistance, and as a result, animals can become infected and die at a high rate. The few animals that survive are now carriers. New lambs catch the disease within a few months and die, so the population continues to decline. The disease typically effects a population for more than a decade. Scientists believe that pneumonia outbreaks have reduced herds of bighorn sheep in western states by up to 90 percent. Pneumonia outbreak on Old Dad Mountain In mid May, a National Park Service employee who was inspecting wildlife guzzlers found four desert bighorn dead on Old Dad Mountain, 15 miles southeast of Baker, California. The employee also observed other sick animals that appeared to be weak and unsteady with labored breathing. Laboratory analysis of blood and tissue samples indicated they had pneumonia. This disease may enter desert bighorn populations from domestic sheep or goats and is usually fatal to bighorn. Biologists from the National Park Service and California Department of Fish and Wildlife have conducted field surveys to monitor the scope and spread of this wildlife disease outbreak. The terrain is difficult–steep, rugged, and remote. Using volunteers from the Society for the Conservation of Bighorn Sheep and the Sierra Club to expand their capacity, biologists have visited springs and guzzlers where bighorn congregate on Old Dad Mountain and in nearby areas to determine the extent and seriousness of the problem. Scientists are considering what, if anything, they might try experimentally as they continue to monitor the outbreak. There are no good management options. One goal may be to attempt to prevent spread to outlying populations. With the rut beginning in the coming months, biologists believe the disease could spread rapidly as animals mix. To date, approximately 30 sheep carcasses have been identified amongst a population of 200-300 desert bighorn before the outbreak. (California National Park Service,



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GO BALLISTIC .300 Winchester Short Magnum


he .300 Winchester Short Magnum (also known as .300 WSM) is a .30 caliber rebated rim bottlenecked center fire short magnum cartridge that was introduced in 2001 by Winchester. The cartridge overall length is 72.64 mm, cartridge case is 53.34 mm in length and the bullet diameter is .308 in (7.62 mm), which is common to all U.S. .30 caliber cartridges. The principle at work in the short magnum cartridge is the advantage of fitting larger volumes of powder in closer proximity to the primer’s flash hole, resulting in more uniform, consistent ignition. In field use, this round mirrors the performance of its older counterpart, the .300 Winchester Magnum, which is based on a modified .375 H&H belted magnum casing. The advantage to this round is ballistics that are nearly identical to the .300 Winchester Magnum, but in a lighter rifle with a shorter action. A disadvantage of cartridge case designs with relatively large case head diameters lies in relatively high bolt thrust levels exerted on the locking mechanism of the employed firearm. The .300 WSM is used in the Western United States for elk, mule deer, desert bighorn sheep, rocky mountain bighorn sheep, whitetail and on the plains, where long range shooting is almost always a must. With the right bullets, the .300 WSM is a devastating round on medium to heavy North American game animals.

Early Fall 2013



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Scott Grange

Ron Spomer

THE DUELING DUO Mule Deer Transplants Is it a good idea?


By Scott Grange


oo many deer in your neighborhood? Put a bullet in their head. For years, that has been the policy of many western states wildlife agencies. And for years sportsmen suggested relocating troublesome animals and were told transplanted deer would die as soon as the trailer doors opened and hooves touched the ground. Then to the surprise of many, the Utah DWR broke down around 2002 and attempted an ill-fated transplant program on the Henry Mountains. At the time, there were approximately 20 fawns per 100 does and a mere 500 deer total on the unit. I say illfated because in order to truly realize the results of a program like this, there must be a significant amount of pre-transplant work done, which was not the case here. For one, an aggressive predator reduction campaign must be implemented in advance or the ungulates that are dumped into a strange and unfamiliar environment become easy targets for opportunistic carnivores which is pretty much what happened. Later, after the cows got out, so-to-speak, the division hammered the coyotes on the Henry’s and instantly realized



a tremendous increase in the fawn survival rate. And look at the Henry unit today, not only is it producing some of the biggest bucks on the planet, last count was 74 fawns per 100 does and a whopping 2500 total deer on this prime piece of real estate. Although the transplant itself was somewhat of a bust, what was learned about the true effects predation has on a deer herd was an eye opener which ultimately helped usher in the $50 Utah coyote bounty program. In 2011, the group Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife approached the division with a three year plan for a mule deer transplant program that consisted of four elements. ▪▪ An aggressive predator reduction effort. ▪▪ State of the art tracking technology. ▪▪ Expertise from BYU University graduates and DWR biologists. ▪▪ Fully funded ($300,000 over three years) by SFW. The division bought off on the concept and during the winter of 2012 and spring of 2013, 100 deer were captured and transplanted from Cedar City to the Fillmore area. In addition, 50 local or native deer were captured. All were radio collard and released at various times throughout the winter and early spring. Today, it appears as though 5 of the native deer and 30 transplants have died. And it appears the majority


of fatalities are due to predation and highways with two being poached.


By Ron Spomer

ou can transplant daisies and mountain goats and even human hearts, but not mule

deer. Why would anyone want to? If mule deer are missing from a place where they used to live, it’s probably because that environment is no longer suitable for them. Downtown LA, for instance. I’ll bet you dollars to donuts (glazed, please. Please! But don’t tell my wife) you could drop a couple dozen mule deer into downtown L.A. and ten years later the population will not be restored to pre-1800 densities. Heck, move them to New York City’s Central Park, which is surprisingly large and verdant, and they won’t thrive there either. But come to downtown Boise and I’ll show you mule deer dodging traffic on Broadway a block off Main street a half-mile from the capital building. Trust me, the city fathers didn’t transplant them. They migrated in all on their own, probably in a desperate attempt to

More important than transplanting mule deer is securing their habitats and migration corridors and protecting them during their natural perambulations. Highway deaths in many parts of mule deer country are taking a terrific toll that needs to be stopped. Wyoming has erected deer-proof fences along many miles of highway 30 west of Kemmerer with funnels leading into special underpasses to accommodate


migrating deer. These have saved hundreds, probably thousands of mule deer deaths. In 1997 alone, before the fences and tunnels were built, more than 400 deer were flattened on this highway. Utah, Nevada, Idaho and Alberta are building highway overpasses (bridges) complete with dirt and vegetation to entice mule deer to cross there. Again, fences guide and funnel deer toward those crossings and keep lots of them out of grills and radiators. Crews in Utah picked up over 4,000 mule deer road kills in 2008 and estimated there were seven unfound for each recovered. Fortunately, most of these road kills occur on clearly defined, rather narrow migration corridors or wintering grounds. Define these, protect them from habitat destruction, fence off the highway death traps, build the crossings and our mule deer will move where they find the best habitat all on their own. If they can’t, it’s time to concentrate on restoring habitat to fill in the gaps. Lord knows we humans have goofed up more than enough wildlife habitat over the years. We ought to be smart and rich enough to fix some of it. That’s a better longterm use of our dollars than trucking sedated mule deer into pockets of remnant habitat.

Fall 2009


escape wolves in the back country. Come to think of it, lots of critters are moving into suburbs and urban centers where, now that no one’s inviting them home for dinner as the main course, they’re finding food, shelter and safety from predators. A cougar has to be shot in Boise every other year. I live a mile from one of our major hospitals and have foxes, coyotes and mule deer in my backyard. In fact, those blamed mule deer eat my tomatoes before I ever get any. Hey Scott! You want mule deer to transplant? Come get these four bucks and nine does eating me out of better homes and gardens! Missoula has big mule deer wandering city streets and back yards. Ditto Jackson Hole and Denver. I’ll bet Salt Lake has them, too. S o what’s this need for transplants? And what’s it going to cost? Wouldn’t our dollars be better spend on decent habitat? Listen, mule deer are wanderers. They’re not like bighorn sheep, which are pretty much home bodies afraid to explore new terrain. Sheep have been proven to starve on an overused mountain when there’s a perfectly lush mountain standing empty and lonely right across the valley. But mule deer? They’ve wandered as far east as Missouri and Minnesota in search of a better life. I recall hearing about one or two getting into Arkansas. They can move themselves. A lot cheaper than we can.


PRODUCT REVIEW Putting It to the Test


Spyder 34

t’s simple really! Could this be the best compound bow Hoyt has ever made? I have heard from a number of professional archers that the new Spyder 34 could possibly be the best engineered bow Hoyt has ever produced. Yep, and these guys sell bows for a living. They are salesmen, so how much can you really believe? The buzz surrounding this bow was out all over the country, so I decided to take one for a spin and see what the hype was all about. When I write a review, I don’t go down to the pro shop and shoot one and tell you my knee-jerk reaction to it. I put it through its paces for a few months and see what I think as I break one in. With today’s aggressive cams I judge a bow by the number of arrows I loose before hunting season—in other words, the fewer arrows lost the better! Just like you, I have heard it all before. The fastest, lightest, quietest, smoothest, most accurate bow Hoyt has ever made. I hear it every year. Can they really continually improve on what I consider the best bow they have ever made, the Hoyt Ultratec with the cam & ½, which came out ten years ago? Before this new Spyder 34 with the RKT cam & ½, I didn’t believe any of their new bows shot more smoothly than my Ultratec. But, smoothness of the shot and cam system is only one part of the equation that truly makes the best of the best. One would need to look at all of the factors mentioned above; speed, weight, sound, cam smoothness, vibration, and what I believe is one of the most important factors, the back wall of the cam. Let the engineers figure out how to make it shoot, I want to know how it feels when it shoots. This particular bow was set up with completely different accessories than I have shot with the past. It has the Black Gold Ascent sight, a Ripcord S.O.S. fall away arrow rest, TightSpot arrow quiver, and Bee Stinger stabilizer, all courtesy of S&S Archery. Why did I choose these accessories?

Is this the best bow that Hoyt has came out with in the last decade? The author thinks so!



I didn’t. I was trying something new. I let my good friend, Steve Speck, owner at S&S Archery in Boise, do the picking for me. There is nothing wrong with trying a little something out of your comfort zone and I trust Steve. I’ve been using this awesome setup for three months. Let’s take a quick look at some of my findings—let’s start with speed, shall we? SPEED - Speed seems to be the most hyped yet it is probably one of my least important factors when I am looking at a bow, though somewhat important nonetheless. ATA and IBO speeds are all French to me. The speed the bow shoots my hunting arrows at is all I care about. I can never see how most these manufactures come up with the speeds they do. Maybe that’s why they all have some sort of asterisk by the speed saying up to 350 feet per second (fps)—yeah right, maybe with the space shuttle behind it. ATA is the most accurate measurement when looking at bow speed, but in my case it doesn’t fit the bill. Who really has a 30 inch draw length? The average draw length is 28 inches. So determining speed based on a 30 inch draw inflates the speed that the average person is going to be shooting. Let’s get to the nuts and bolts. The listed ATA speed of my Spyder 34 is 330 fps. My bow actually shoots at a blistering 312 fps with my 430 grain FMJ arrow. That’s fast—really fast! For a hunting bow set up, that’s screaming. I was shooting 273 fps with the Ultratec and 291 fps with my Hoyt Maxxis. WEIGHT - The overall the weight of Hoyt bows never fall short of amazing me. The Hoyt Spyder 34 is right at four pounds. When I first grabbed this bow I was blown away, not only with its new features, but also the fact that they shaved a couple ounces off the overall weight! They added Air Shox, a new feature that all but eliminates any vibration from the limbs of the bow. In my eye this had to add weight to the bow, but no, the bow decreased in overall weight. How they did it is one of those mysteries in life, a little Hoyt secret. The bow is perfectly balanced and light as a feather. Their Carbon Element is only 4 ounces lighter! SOUND - The Hoyt Spyder 34 is very quiet. Hoyt has done a fantastic job lowering the decibel level of their bows. The new Air Shox system (shocks) is amazing! When you’re talking about bow noise, inevitably you are talking about vibration. Air Shox all but takes the limb vibration out. When you draw the bow the Air Shox floats in the air above your limb. When you release the arrow, the limb returns to the start position, hitting the air Shox which stops all vibration. There is next to no felt recoil, so little that there is no longer a need for a wrist strap. The sound that is emitted from this bow is a much lower pitch and much shorter in duration than with other bows I have owned in the past, making this the perfect bow for stalking wary game. CAM SMOOTHNESS - For me cam smoothness is the most important aspect when looking at a new bow to buy. I want a

out of my fingers. Lucky for me I always point the bow in the direction of the target when pulling it back. The arrow bounced off the side of the target and flew out of sight, harming only an aspen tree. These bows are made to shoot with a release…don’t try to pull them back with your fingers! BOW VIBRATION - We covered most of this in the section on sound, but I’m so excited to shoot without a wrist strap for the first time in my archery hunting career! It’s strange not to be slipping my hand up and through the strap when I go to grab the bow. It’s almost like the bow is naked, it doesn’t feel right, but it looks good. Bow vibration is almost nonexistent in this bow, and the vibration that is there is much shorter in duration. When I filmed this review for our “On the Road” web-series, I compared the sound wave forms side by side with my three year old Hoyt bow. The sound (vibration) wave form from the Spyder 34 was half as long as the old bow. Meaning it demonstrated approximately half the sound and half the vibration of the bows Hoyt built three years ago. Quite the accomplishment if you ask me.

This is the author’s typical group at 60 yards. Not bad considering he is shooting with a whole new set up.

nice smooth draw and a rock hard back wall to pull to. I don’t like a cam that is jumpy or spongy at the back wall. You need to be able to have a long steady pull with a firm anchor point to lock out your draw. The best draw ever was my Ultratec. Since then, Hoyt has gone to a much more aggressive cam to get the speeds as high as they have been, resulting in an uneven draw and a smaller valley at the end of your pull. This in the past has led to very jumpy bows…if you don’t have the cams set right and your draw length chosen properly you are going to have a bow jump out of your hands. What I mean by jump or jumpy is when you are at full draw or nearly to the point of full draw and the bow string jumps forward or wants to return the cams to their start position. I want the best of both worlds, which until the new RKT cam & ½ was hard to find. A smoother draw all the way to the valley and the back wall are what you get from this new cam. It’s not nearly as jumpy as the previous models. So, earlier when I said I determine how good a bow is by the amount of arrows I loose, this is what I’m talking about. Jumpy bows with little to no valley are prone to misfires. So far, with this new Spyder, I have only lost one arrow to date…and that was because I was acting manly, showing off and pulling it back with my fingers. The anchor point was shorter because the lack of the release, and the bow hit its back wall before I got to my anchor point. I wasn’t ready for the cam to hit its wall and the string jumped

SUMMARY So is this new Hoyt Spyder 34 all it cracked up to be? Yes, with the new RKT cam & ½ and the Air Shox limb vibration dampening system, this bow is the best they have engineered at Hoyt in the last decade. This bow is outstanding in an already powerful line up of compound bows. Add these new features to the 34 inch axle to axle and the 6 ¾ inch base height and this bow is perfectly made for the average size hunter. As a matter of fact, I was asked to fill out a questionnaire for Hoyt three years ago and this is exactly what I said the perfect bow for me would be. Hoyt nailed it! Looks like the rest is up to me. PRODUCT - Gets better every year! I don’t know how they do it, but the do! PROS - This bow has everything you will ever need to take down the smallest of game to the largest of game. I love the new RKT cam & ½ and the new Air Shox. This is the best Hoyt bow since the Ultratec and Protec. CONS - I couldn’t get it in all black…they were sold out! Bummer. COMPANY - Great people, awesome product, and you get it all without any attitude.

The author’s favorite practice distance is at 60 to 80 yards. Winter 2013


Steve Alderman

MULE DEER Seasons of the Muley A break down from August to October


ou can know your bow inside and out and know the drop and speed of your arrow at 50 yards, and your rifle’s drop at 400 yards. You can have the best hunting clothes money can buy. Perhaps you spent three months of your salary on glass, and the best boots in the world are on your feet. But when you stand on top of the highest mountain and see nothing but the sun rise and set, you may ask yourself: was it all worth it? Do I need ten thousand dollars’ worth of hunting clothes and gear just to watch the sun rise and set every day, when most of us can do that from our porch? Yeah, you look like you know what you are doing in your Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter pictures, but having

2,000+ friends doesn’t mean you know about mule deer or hunting them. I would personally rather show you a mature buck on my wall than the clothes hanging in the closet or my expensive glass sitting in the safe. Trust me, your fancy clothes look great on Facebook, but they aren’t going to help you bag that trophy muley of your dreams. It seems these days that anybody can be an expert. You shoot one mature buck or bull and you’re instantly an expert and are thrust into your own little spotlight on the internet. I see people writing articles and doing reviews that haven’t even harvested a mature animal. Do they even know how to hunt or have they just promoted themselves to the point they think they are a mighty hunter? The internet is a

Want to sound like you know what you’re talking about? Do the time! The editor points out the keys to being a good mule deer hunter is to study, scout and hunt mule deer as much as possible.





great tool to use to find all sorts of information on hunting, but there are also things you need to take with a grain of salt. The funny thing is, people soak it up— well, some people soak it up. When I go to that fuzzy white place I don’t want to be known as a self-promoter. I want to be remembered as the one of the guys that truly knew what he was doing, and a guy that was as successful at teaching his art as he was at mastering the art. The art I’m referring to is mule deer hunting— mature mule deer hunting. In this article, we are going to take a look at a mule deer behavior during the early hunting season, specifically August fifteenth through October fifteenth. Why


why this time of year is the best time to scout, but let’s take a look at the best times of year to hunt them. August 15 through August 31

The author’s favorite time to hunt mule deer is in the later days of August before their pattern changes and while they are still in velvet. If you like hunting with a bow and can fight the summer heat, this hunt is for you.

are only a few hunters continually successful, while others have a hard time staying on the board or even getting on the board? Contrary to most mule deer hunter’s thoughts, the rut is not the best time to hunt and kill a mature mule deer. Hunting during the rut is great but you never know when that big boy will show up, or if he even will. I would rather hunt in August and September, find that trophy deer, and harvest him before he leaves his summer hang out. Why August through September? Read on and you will learn the reasoning behind much of my success as a trophy mule deer hunter. The main reason I am successful year in and year out is the amount of scouting I do. This cannot be hammered home hard or long

enough. This is the number one reason the same few hunters and guides are consistently successful. The best time to scout is obviously before your hunt, but the best answer would be July and August. Mule deer bucks are usually bachelored up this time of year, and are also usually hanging out with other bucks of the same age range. Young bucks can either be with the does or with a group of adolescent bucks while the mature bucks seem to hang in their own group or even by themselves. Their antlers are growing and are somewhat delicate, which again is to our advantage—the bucks stay out of the heavy cover to help them protect their antlers during growth. Their fat bodies stick out like sore thumbs this time of year, with coats in summer mode of red/orange color. For these obvious reasons you can see


This is the best time you could possibly hunt mule deer. You can scout all summer, find that group or that one mature buck that would make you happy and you would have weeks and even months to hunt him before his summer pattern changes. There are a few downfalls to hunting this time of year. The biggest is getting a tag…. unless you’re an archer this is going to be the biggest hurdle for you to overcome as these hunts are very limited for the rifle hunter. The second, and equally as important reason, is the heat. You need to be able to get a deer off the mountain when you harvest it. Third, and only a factor to a few, is the fact that antler will still be in velvet. They will be mostly hardened but will be fully encased in that beautiful gold fuzz. Early season scouting and hunting is the best time to use your glass, as deer are more apt to stand up and switch their beds during the heat of the day. These wandering deer in summer red make for easy glassing. This is by far the best opportunity to harvest a mature mule deer. Bachelor groups, red coats, patternable, and few hunters make this a recipe for success. September 1st through September 15th September is when a few more hunts start to open up across the country. It is still a great time to harvest that buck of your dreams, but now a few things are starting to change. The reddish orange coats are changing to the grey & brown coats of fall and winter. Their antler pedicals are drying up, the blood is finishing the calcification process and by the end of this period most have stripped their golden fuzz for the more popular brown hard horn. This time of year signals a transition for the bucks. They are stripping their velvet, sparring, and strengthening their necks for the upcoming rut. They are still somewhat patternable, as they are sticking to their summer patterns of the last couple months. But it is harder to spot them this time of year for a number of reasons; the color of their coats helps them blend into

Early Fall 2013



The author suggests getting away from your computer and spending time in the early months on the hills in an effort to spot big muleys. Don’t just camp, but scout and get behind the glass to cover more ground.

the background and they are starting to venture into thicker cover to bed. It’s best to have found your buck before the coat changing and the shedding of the velvet. The bucks are still spending time on their feet during daylight hours but that time is lessoning as the days get shorter. September 16th though September 30th It is to be hoped that you have found your buck by now and have been following him for weeks or longer. Scouting is at its hardest now as the bucks are very nocturnal and their coats are in full fall & winter mode, making it difficult to spot them. They are still in their summer range but may have moved from one basin to another in search of the most palatable or high in protein foliage they can find. Mature bucks know what it takes to survive and are constantly looking for the most nutritious food to carry them through the winter; as one basin or foliage dries up they head off to the next food source. This is a battle you will fight the entire scouting season.



They usually don’t move far after about the middle of July. Their summer range is typically within a two mile radius of water, feed, and bed. On many occasions, in the high country, it can even be a smaller radius. Hunting a mature buck this time of the year is the second hardest two week period, especially if you haven’t already found your buck. The up side to this time of year is the coats are, in my opinion, the prettiest. Full winter colors with a thin under coat make for some of the most beautiful mounts. October 1st through October 15th If you haven’t scouted by now, you must really enjoy camping and hiking. This is by far the most difficult time to harvest a mature mule deer. If you don’t have one patterned you are almost shooting in the dark. You will need to catch your deer in the first 30 minutes of legal light. If you’re lucky the last thirty minutes of legal shooting light can be done, but more often than not the deer won’t get up until dark to feed out of the bedding area. This two week period is by far the hardest time to find and harvest a mature mule deer. Fortunately for me, I have harvested three 200” deer during


this period. The secret to my success was the scouting and patterning. If it wasn’t for scouting, I might have shot one of these bucks, but definitely not the other two. Two were harvested on the first day in which I hunted and the other was on the eleventh day of the hunt and was a back-up buck. Bucks are very nocturnal this time of year and seem to bury themselves in the thickest brush they can inhabit. If you are continually harvesting great bucks this time of year, my hat is off to you, because I know the dedication it takes. Perhaps you’ve been wondering why the biggest names in mule deer hunting are archers. It’s because of the reasons I listed above. Randy Ulmer has the largest collection of trophy mule deer of any archer, and most other hunters. David Long switched from hunting with a rifle to archery hunting to take total advantage of scouting and scouting early. Most people think later is better and if they didn’t read this article that is their misfortune. It will be our little secret. Good thing is, if it doesn’t get out maybe the price of the early season hunts will stay cheaper and the odds to draw these tags we stay easier than the late season hunts. If you’re an early season hunter, I apologize for letting out the secret. Please forgive me. By the way, I’m writing this, the second week in July, from my camper in one of the West’s hottest spots for mule deer. No internet. Just me, an awesome sunrise, and my big glass filled with lots of mule deer. As for you Facebook and twitter folk, I tend to laugh when I get a request from someone to join their fan page. If you are popular enough to start a public figure page, then I highly doubt that you need to ask people to join it. What makes someone a public figure? What, you are a guide, or the host of some unheard of TV show? I know the internet can be a very powerful marketing tool, but my suggestion is when you are just marketing yourself, make sure you can back it up. Go scouting and kill something worth marketing, improve your skill or art. Get out from in front of your computer and hit the hills. Scouting will pay off; don’t overlook starting out in July and good luck! Hope to see you in a month or two with your own buck on your own homepage.


Early Fall 2013


Steve Chappell


Elk Hunting’s Most Common Pitfalls And What You Can Do to Avoid Them


n one of my recent Hunting Illustrated pieces I wrote about 10 things that we can do in the off season to become better elk hunters. My hope is that we all used the off season to hone our skills to be better prepared for elk season since it is now upon us. A couple of days ago (July 17th) a friend and I were enjoying glassing a small herd of elk from over 800 yards away when all at once they

became alerted and spooked never to be seen again. Initially I was confused as to why, but then I realized that we had not really paid attention to the wind since we were so far away from the elk and slightly above them. While I was glad that it was July and not September, I was still disappointed that we had made this critical mistake of not heeding the wind! With this recent blunder fresh on my mind, I have been pondering, what

are some of the most common pitfalls in elk hunting and how we can avoid making them. Here we go‌ 1. Not obeying the wind and planning hunts accordingly- I listed this first because it is on the front of my mind! But also because an elk’s nose is his best defense and the sense he relies on the most to detect and avoid danger. It is pretty common knowledge that

The author poses with his giant Arizona bull.




an elk’s nose is as sensitive as a hound’s and about 1,000 times better than ours. I was reminded the other day that not carrying a wind checker is a sure fire way to get busted when you are in the elk woods! I will never, ever hunt without one. In addition to that, as you plan your hunts this fall take into consideration the predominant wind directions/currents at various times of the day. In flatter elk country I have observed that in the mornings the wind is most often out of the north or the east and then switches out of the southwest as the morning heats up. I use this knowledge as I plan each morning’s hunt. In the afternoons the wind is usually still out of the southwest, but then switches at sundown when the temperature drops and typically comes out of the north. In mountain country the wind will be going down the mountain early in the morning and then switching and pulling uphill as the temperature rises. Pay attention to when this switch occurs as you hunt because elk ALWAYS use the wind to their advantage and travel up hill in the mornings to their bedding areas and downhill in the evenings before the thermals switch. When hunting in the mountains it is also to your advantage to do your best to setup on the same level as a bull when trying to call him in. The reason being is that if the wind switches, it is most often an uphill or downhill switch rather than a side-hill switch. So remember to get on the level with a bull before calling to him. 2. Underestimating how physical Elk and Elk Hunting can be- With all of the elk hunting that I have done over the years, I have come to believe that other than an elk’s nose, its’ other best defense is its’ incredible strength and stamina. Elk can effortlessly negotiate the terrain that they inhabit seemingly floating up a steep mountain side hill, leaving an out of shape hunter in the dust.

Chasing bulls is a challenge and stopping to call on the spot requires the hunter to be in good physical shape. The author uses endurance and stamina training 4-5 times a week to stay in shape.

I’m not going to write this article on a fitness regimen since there are plenty of them out there to read, but I will say that my off season training includesweight lifting (3 to 4 days a week, geared toward endurance & stamina), cardio training (20-30 minutes, 4 to 5 days a week), and brisk hiking (any chance I get). I truly believe that the one biggest factor in your elk hunting success is your conditioning level- especially if you hunt mountain country! Take improving your conditioning level seriously and your elk hunts will be much more enjoyable and successful. 3. Carrying too much extra junk in your pack- Closely related to point #2 and very often overlooked. First, you need to ask yourself what kind of hunt you will be going on? For the early seasons in Arizona, I can most times just wear my very well designed Cabela’s Bowhunter’s vest which will easily carry everything I need for a day’s hunt. What I like about the vest is that all of my essential items (calls, wind checker, range finder, GPS) are right at my fingertips so I don’t have to remove a backpack to get to them. For late season hunting I carry a backpack since I need a few more items, like a tripod and spotting scope, but I still keep the contents to a bare minimum. Well before each season I will empty out my pack, review what is there, and


then restock it being sure that only the essentials are there. That way I don’t wear down when climbing to glassing points because I am carrying a pack full of extra gadgets that I will never use! 4. Not shooting your broad heads before the hunt- It never ceases to amaze me how many archery hunters will wait until they arrive at elk camp to screw on their broad heads and start practicing! This is a recipe for disaster because if your bow is not properly tuned, the broad heads will group differently than your field points, causing you to have to completely re-sight your bow. Worse yet, an un-tuned bow will spit out arrows that “porpoise” or swing side to side in flight which could result in lack of penetration when you hit an elk. Practicing in the off season with your field points is fine, but be sure to paper tune your bow (for proper arrow flight) and start shooting broad heads well before your hunt. An archery pro shop can assist you if you need help with tuning. That way you will avoid the sick feeling of a miss on a big bull, or worse yet, wounding that bull of a lifetime because you didn’t get your broad heads dialed in. Early Fall 2013


5. Not understanding ballistics & sighting in too high- It’s a fact that most missed shots with a rifle on elk are over the back rather than low. I like for my hunters to be sighted in dead on at 200 yards. This means that at 100 yards, they will be approximately 1.5” high for most calibers. Most of the shots that I have seen miss high are due to the rifle being sighted in 3 to 4 inches high at 100 yards. What most hunters don’t take into account is that their rifle will be shooting even higher at 150 yards due to the arc of the bullet and still be 3 to 4 inches high even at 200 yards. Our natural tendency is to hold a little high on shots that “look” far to us. So even though I may tell a hunter, “He’s 200 yards, hold dead on”, many will still fudge the crosshairs up and shoot over the back. Because of this, I would way rather have my hunter be “dead on at 100” rather than sighted in excessively high. 6. Waiting until elk season to practice your calls (on the elk)- Besides being in your best physical condition, I can’t stress enough how good calling can create opportunities that otherwise would never occur. If you are a bow hunter and don’t think that calling is important, you by default,

are relegated to stalking and ambush hunting only. Some so called experts and “hunting celebrities” say that you can’t call in big bulls because they are too savvy. When I hear them attempt to call occasionally on their TV Shows, I can see why they have this opinion! I want to tell the truth in the most humble way that I can and that is this; I have hundreds of call ins on video to disprove the notion that big bulls can’t be called in! And this includes herd bulls as well as big, mature satellite bulls. I believe the key to calling in lots of bulls is your tonal quality and emotion when you blow a call. Being an exceptional caller doesn’t just happen by accident- it comes with lots of purposeful practice! Calling is like physical conditioning and shooting- being great at it comes with a price. Just like we can tell the difference when a practiced musician like Keith Urban plays his guitar, I believe from experience that a mature bull can tell the difference and reacts differently to an exceptional caller versus a sour sounding amateur. So if you are an “all in” sold out bow hunter, you aren’t just shooting thousands of arrows, and working out like a mad man to “Eye of the Tiger”. You are also mastering the art of calling and spending 300 days a year practicing to make yourself the most well rounded hunter/predator possible. It’s up to you-

The author guided Danny Loyd into this very large Arizona bull. According to the author, bulls are keen to sound and will respond better to a call with “tonal quality and emotion.”




You can be a “slogan of the month” bow hunter and spend the month of September “crawling” around on your hands and knees, or a “caller” and get them to come to you- it’s your choice! 7. Not adapting your hunting tactics to the situation at hand- I have often heard it said that the definition of insanity is, “Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result!” I have to agree, especially when it comes to elk hunting. In order to succeed on hunts I have often had to rethink the tactics I am using and make adjustments. On post rut hunts if I have been glassing my eyes out and not finding anything, I may try still hunting in areas likely to contain elk, such as a burn. More importantly though, is adapting your tactics to the terrain you are hunting. If your hunting unit is thick and flat, then glassing is not going to be your best option. By contrast if you are hunting country with lots of topography then you should be taking advantage of it by using your optics on a tripod to find a bull and then planning a stalk. Amazingly, I see hunters every year on late hunts carrying a rifle and no binoculars! In Conclusion: The overall odds of success for most archery hunters on public land here in the west is somewhere between 10 and 30% depending on the state and hunt unit. And for rifle hunters it is 20 to 30% for most post rut hunts. Are those numbers good enough for you? I hope not! Leave as little to chance as is humanly possible and your success will elevate dramatically. Hunt hard, but hunt “smarter” and a punched tag will likely be in your destiny this fall. I hope you avoid these 7 common pitfalls and wish you the very best on your hunts! For more information on calling big bulls, log on to www. and click on Elk Calls.

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Early Fall 2013


Les Johnson

PREDATORS Changing From the Norm’ A shift in motion can change everything


hen I was young and began to experience the outdoors for myself I became infatuated with it. On a subconscious level, I knew that my life was going to evolve in and around the outdoors. I loved anything outdoors—mainly hunting, fishing, and exploring the creeks and rivers for animals and the like. Back when I was growing up the populations of deer were not at the levels that they are today. One time while I was riding a school bus to a sports function about 40 miles

south of my high school the bus driver actually stopped the bus and told us to look at the five deer moving out across the pasture. If you stopped every time you saw whitetail in Nebraska these days you would not be on time very often. Back then I would spend any moment that I could trying to get out hunting or fishing, fitting it around sporting events or school functions. It was hard to get out at that age without having someone scorn or chastise me for what I loved the most. One year during the Nebraska rifle deer season in November

The author states “my dad used to tell my older brother and myself that there is more to life than hunting and fishing!” To Les, nothing could be further from the truth and he has built his career around the outdoors and hunting.




I was about 25 minutes late to my first period class, which was band. I remember walking into band and having the instructor stop everything and just glare at me because I was late. You see, I was never late, and I was one of the better saxophone players… but the norm was not to ever be late or miss anything (especially if it was because you were hunting!), period. I had shot a buck that morning and was so happy about it, but my teacher couldn’t have been more upset with me over missing a few minutes of his

class. Do you think it was my ventures into the outdoors or band practice that ultimately shaped my life into what it is today? My dad used to tell my older brother and myself that there is more to life than hunting and fishing! Really? I would definitely disagree with that. I’ve been very torn over the fact that children in this day and age basically start sporting events in the fall when school starts and do not finish the cycle until the next fall. Football, basketball, wrestling, track, golf, baseball, soccer… and the list goes on. When is there ever enough time for a child to learn about the outdoors? It is almost as if we are pushed away from the serenity, beauty, and calming aspects that nature holds, only to give it up for the hustle, bustle, and crazy lifestyle of possibly becoming a 40 million dollar a year pitcher for the Atlanta Braves! I feel like we are teaching children that they need to be somebody that they are not and that they need to participate in as many

things as they can, and then look down on them if they don’t do what others consider to be the norm. In high school I was an accomplished wrestler and track star. I actually still have one or more of the wrestling records in my high school to this day, some 25 years later— whenever I did something, I wanted to give it my best and my all. But I did so many school functions that I hardly got to do the things that I loved the most in the outdoors, and that was hunt! When time did permit me the opportunity to bow hunt deer, I was fanatical about how I tried to keep my clothes scent free as I am today. I usually took plastic garbage bags and filled them with the leaves and debris from the woods that I was bow hunting and put my clothes, boots, and all in with the debris so that I would smell like the woods. One fall Saturday morning that I didn’t have any school related functions and no early work on the farm I was in my tree stand. All morning I never saw a deer, but as the time neared 9:30 am when I would need to leave so that I could rush home to help harvest crops

I heard some leaves rustling. It had sounded like a deer walking, but the longer I sat, the more the pause on the leaves, so I finally wrote it off to a squirrel looking for nuts. I waited a short time more just to make sure that the noises I was hearing were not those of a deer coming down the trail towards my stand. My visibility up in my tree stand was not very far due to the density of the tree’s branches and limbs. 9:30 arrived and I slowly began to leave my tree stand. I let my bow down to the ground and then proceeded to quietly and slowly get down out of the tree. As soon as I was out of the tree and reaching for my bow I heard a deer snort and stomp its foot straight down the trail and right where I had been hearing the leaves rustling. I looked up and locked eyes with a very nice buck. The buck looked at me for a bit then turned and bounded off. Between 30 and 35 years ago this happened and it still takes full shape in my thoughts today. It was a learning experience and I would’ve never known the buck

The author spent countless hours in the treestand as a youth. A valuable lesson of patience was learned while deciding to hold out for just a few minutes more before aborting early hunting efforts one morning.


Early Fall 2013


was alive had I not stayed in the tree stand as long as I did. I’ve lost a lot of sleep just thinking about that deer and the mistake I made, not being a little more patient and sitting in the stand a little longer. The buck was only about 50 yards down the trail and he was coming right toward my stand. Not having the opportunity to pull my bow back on this buck only fueled the fire deep down inside of me for later in life. As I got older and headed off to college, I found out that I now had bills to pay. College tuition, vehicle payments, insurance, and all of the other bills associated with growing up started to show up along with my maturity. My brothers and I owned our own business and we were always very busy and worked a lot of hours each week. It was becoming very apparent to me that no matter when I spent time hunting, I would get the guilty feeling that I should be working. My school, teachers, and parents didn’t understand the love that I had for the outdoors, so they wanted to push me in a direction other than the outdoors. No matter how hard I worked in school and out, there was never enough justification to make the outdoors worthy of my time. Life changed drastically for me, especially since I was a fairly shy introvert in my younger years. So much so that Speech 209 at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln was the toughest class of my life, even with just seven other students attending it (I had signed up for the night class just because I knew most students wanted daytime classes). It was after college and once I began competing in coyote calling competitions that I started on the path that felt chiseled out for me. I had won all of the major western coyote calling competitions and after several years of more wins I wanted to lay down my hat and move on to something else, or at least try to channel my energy towards a possible change of directions. I loved competing and the lifelong friendships that I had made, but there was something else calling for my time. A friend of mine from the competition arena was always pushing me to have a television show.

The author finds himself drawn more to big game hunting lately, particularly whitetail. He utilizes a filming rig to film his solo hunts while stationed in a treestand.

He, too, was one of the thousands that watched outdoor programming and felt that someone from the predator world should be out teaching and showing people how to become better predator callers. I resisted for as long as I could, but he is a pretty good salesman. First it was, “I will help you film a pilot,” and then once my pilot was accepted by three outdoor networks he disappeared. Not really, but he had not been prepared for the amount of work that goes into filming 26 episodes, editing, traveling to sports shows, working to get sponsors, and so on! After my television show was accepted for the air, I remember my dad asking me what I was planning on doing with all of the filming that I was doing. I told him that I was filming for my show. He said, “Oh Les, I just don’t think that it is going to work!” One of the sad factors to all of this is that my dad never saw an episode of Predator Quest until my 6th year on the television. I was happy, but very sad as well—it’s almost as if my dad did not want to believe that I was on television. A lot of my dad’s friends would mention my show and I am sure that my dad never quite knew


how to handle it. After seeing his first episode he came up to me smiling and said, “I watched your show last night and I cannot believe how good a show you have. The footage is so good. I just don’t know how you do it.” My dad was raised just like myself. We knew how to work, and work hard—six or seven days a week, year round. I didn’t say we were the brightest as you should work less and get paid more, but I am a workaholic due to the way that I was raised. I have begun to take a step back and have started to focus more on slowing my lifestyle down a little instead of trying to keep up with everything. Just lately I told my dad that I may stop filming and airing Predator Quest, he said “you can’t quit now!” This is all to illustrate that from the time we are young and into adulthood we are living in the “norm” by doing what others think we should be doing—when we pursue a different path others often believe we are destined to fail. Some of my strategies for hunting resemble the conclusion to this line of thought: Early Fall 2013


Breaking from the norm’ (predators) gave the author a harvest with a different weapon (bow) and species (whitetail). How sweet it is!

sometimes you just have to do what others don’t think you should do in order to be successful with a hunt. This leads me to a whitetail that I shot with my bow a few years ago. We were hunting pheasants in Nebraska when my brother spotted a bedded buck. We could see that it was a good buck but we didn’t know how we would sneak up on it. Jeff was going to film me, and after some deliberation on how I was going to proceed with the stalk, I just decided that I needed to make a move and would have to shoot at the buck while he was bedded, shooting through the tall weeds/grass. I was shooting a Montec G5 fixed blade broad head—over the years I have shot many Pope & Young animals with this broad head. Everything that I did had to be quick and smooth because if the buck jumped up out of

his bed, there was no getting him. I crept forward while keeping my profile low, and when I was within about 20 yards I drew back, took a few more steps, and straightened up for the shot. As quickly as I could make out the buck lying there, I settled my pin and released the arrow. The arrow flew right through all of the grass and I could hear the smack of it hitting the buck. The buck jumped up and ran out into my dad’s picked cornfield and I could tell it was running strangely—its opposite shoulder had been broken by the arrow so running was a little more difficult. After about 80 yards the buck collapsed. I cannot even begin to say how excited and happy I was. This buck was absolutely amazing for this part of Nebraska, and I had taken him with a bow. The one thing that I really had put on hold growing up was pursuing deer, with a bow and arrow and even a rifle. This was definitely not the norm for me, but I have been gravitating more and more towards big game hunting the past five years or so. Whitetails especially have begun to intrigue me, as I work to figure out their movements, their travel corridors, and so on. The large and small of it all comes down to spending time out there with them, watching them, and taking more notice of what they are doing. I won’t ever give up predator calling and hunting, but a different kind of fire has been lit inside of me that is a long ways from the normal Les Johnson. Even though I have a little twang in my talk and perhaps I’m not the best writer in the world, I’m happy for the experiences that have come my way. The education that I have received in the outdoors has far exceeded anything that I could have gotten under a rooftop. God Bless and I’m Gonna Get to CALLIN!!!! LJ

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Photo Story





Devin Jensen won the lottery taking this majestic wolf during the Spring months in BC

Early Fall 2013


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Matt Mogle shows off his 6’ 8” black bore he harvested while hunting with BC Guided Hunting Do you have a Photo Story to share? Submissions can be sent to: Hunting Illustrated PO Box 1045 • Gunnison, UT 84634

Early Fall 2013



y husband, Josh, is the owner of Smoke Hole Outfitters, located in the heart of his family-owned business, Smoke Hole Caverns and Log Cabin Resort in Cabins, West Virginia. He has been passionately hunting and fishing since he could walk. Since our second date, he put a bow in my one hand and a fly rod in the other, and we’ve been hunting and fishing together ever since. Now we’ve been married for four years and together for six, and we have had some pretty amazing big game hunting experiences together. Trips to New Zealand (our



“Huntingmoon”) for world record archery red stag, Alberta for whitetail and wolf, and New Mexico for archery elk are just a few of our favorite hunting experiences together. While hunting mountain lion a couple years ago, we learned that our guide not only had a magnificent trophy room, but he also had a Grand Slam for sheep. The questions started flowing and the stories were flying. Well, the bug was in the air and it was too late…we had caught it…the “sheep fever!”


“The bug was in the air and it was too late…we had caught it…the ‘sheep fever!’ The next thing we knew we were booking our first Dall sheep hunt.” The next thing we knew we were booking our first Dall sheep hunt. August 2012 was a year and a half away… plenty of time to prepare our selves. Even though I am a natural bow hunter by heart, we decided we’d have a better chance at this hunt if we took our rifles. I had never really ever shot any animals with a rifle, except for a couple of whitetail. And I especially have never shot anything at over 200 yards. Josh and I trained for this hunt by hiking the steep mountains of West Virginia. We’d get a little higher each day and I physically felt like I was ready. As far as shooting a rifle, that was another story. Josh had taken me out several times to practice shooting at different yardages. Did I know what I was doing? Absolutely not! There were so many lines on that scope and I wasn’t hitting the targets I was aiming for. The wind, ballistics…it was all very confusing to me, and my confidence level had quickly sunk through the floor. I started to become very panicked and even thought about ditching the rifle and taking my bow along. Knowing how much we were spending on this hunt, I certainly didn’t want to blow it. Luckily, a couple weeks before our hunt, we were approached with the opportunity to attend The Best of the West Long Range Shooting School and I quickly jumped on board. I truly feel that Phil Conklin and Latt Durrance taught

me everything I needed to know for that specific rifle hunt within a short two days. In the classroom we learned about doping (reading) the wind and ballistic coefficients. I traded in my current scope for a Huskemaw Blue Diamond with an easy to use turret, and was shooting dead on bulls eyes at 950 yards. Everyone else in the class was shooting bulls eyes, too. AMAZING!! Needless to say, my confidence was back on track and I never felt more ready for a hunt. In mid-August 2012, we landed at the McKinnon & Co. base camp at Copper Point in the middle of the Yukon along side of the Bonnet Plume River. We threw our gun cases and extra luggage in our wall tent, lined in our guns one last time, and grabbed a quick bite to eat before Josh headed a half hour south on a jet boat, and I headed a half hour north in a Super Cub. I’d never been in a plane that small before. I felt like I was sitting on 2 AA batteries and should be looking for whoever was standing below us with a remote control. After landing next to a very small, two-person tent, I jumped out, said hello to my guide, Leland, and the plane took off again. Here I stood in the middle of the Yukon with only my backpack of necessities, my gun, and my guide. Leland had gotten there a day before and already had four rams spotted about seven miles away. We decided it was Early Fall 2013


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

Pictures don’t do justice to the epic scenery that’s found in the Yukon. The view is part of the reward for ascending high altitudes here.

too late in the day to hike that far, so instead, we hiked in the opposite direction just to see if we could find any other sheep in that area. After spotting only one ram, we decided to head back to camp and hit the sleeping bags at 8:00pm. The sun was still shining and I think I only slept for about an hour that night. I kept dreaming about Dall sheep and caribou—my excitement level was through the roof. Early that next morning, I looked over at Leland. He was as snug as a bug in a rug, still sawing logs with his hat pulled down over his eyes. I kept rolling around in my sleeping bag, trying to make a lot of noise so he would wake up and look at me. Finally, his tired head tilted my way and he opened one eye to peak at me. Like a five year old on Christmas morning I asked, “Is it time to get up yet?” He grumbled, “I guess we’re not sleeping in.” So we got up and made breakfast, looked for the four sheep we spotted the day earlier, and we were on our way! When you’re in the Yukon, surrounded by the tall, gorgeous mountains, it seems like everything is so close. But you can walk for hours, and nothing seems to get any closer than what it was when you first started out. About half way to our destination, Leland stops dead in his tracks. He does a fast back peddle towards me while pushing me back a few feet, and with the most frightening look on his face he says, “Give me your gun and stay behind me!” Then next few minutes were a blur, but of course I throw my pack to the ground, unsnapped what seemed like hundreds of clasps holding my gun onto my pack, and handed it to him. He had this completely freaked out look on his face and he says to me, “There’s a huge grizzly about 20 yards down. Let’s walk back up towards the hill and go around him.” At this point I’m shaking, only because I’m thinking if a professional guide is this scared, then I should be scared too! Just then, a small caribou spotted us and bounced about 40 yards away from us, curiously checking us out. He held our attention for a short while until we saw the seven-foot grizzly take off in the opposite direction. Leland admitted he should have had me shoot the grizzly, but being caught off guard, totally unprepared at only 20 yards away, it just didn’t feel right not knowing if it was a sow with cubs or not. 44


Onward we hiked, and hiked… and hiked. We finally got close to where we thought the sheep were. Of course we couldn’t take the easy way around the mountain (not that there are any “easy” ways in the Yukon) because “if” they were there, they would spot us for sure. So straight up was the only way to go—straight up we went. Having such a heavy pack on my back, there were times that I felt it was pulling me backward, so I clenched to the rock for dear life. Rocks were flying at my head from Leland climbing above me, and at that very moment I realized, this is why you purchase extensive trip insurance, for these extreme kinds of hunts. My dad was an avid hunter who passed away from cancer when I was only seven. One of the last things Josh said to me before we left base camp was, “When you’re climbing that mountain and you feel like you can’t go one more step, just picture your dad giving you that extra push you need to make it.” And there I found myself in that exact position, where I was straight up and down, holding on to the loose gravel on the side of the mountain. The weight of my pack had pulled me backward and I almost fell. My heart was racing and I was scared to death, but I knew my dad had his hand on my back. Praying small prayers all the way up, I could finally see the top. Leland was waiting for me with the camera rolling and I said, “Yep, it’s as hard as everyone says it is!” Luckily, he was waiting there with good news for me. The four sheep were still there. We sat and ate lunch as we waited for them to graze towards us. I kept trying to range them but my range finder wouldn’t go above 560 yards for some reason. I took an educated guess and told Leland I thought they were at 700 yards. He looks at me and says, “Yeah, but can you shoot that far?” I just grinned at him and said, “Sure. I’ve been practicing at 950 yards.” He quickly made the decision to let me try and tells me to set my turret for 650 yards. He told me I would most likely miss the first time, but since we didn’t have an accurate range on them, he wanted to see where the bullet would hit so we could adjust from there. I settled in my 300 WSM and slowly squeezed the trigger. Total miss and we had no idea where the bullet hit. The four rams ran into some cliffs but I still had full visibility of the one I was after. Leland tells me it’s okay to set my turret to 700 yards now. I held behind the shoulder and slowly pulled the trigger again. A huge puff of smoke blew up where I had hit a chunk of rock that was just in front of the sheep blocking its vitals. You couldn’t really see the rock through the binos, but I just happened to hit the tip of it. The sheep ran a few more feet forward. Leland told me to aim and shoot again. Third time was a charm! The sheep went down and my fist went up. “YES!” 700 yards! I knew the guys at The Best of the West would be so proud of me, and I was so grateful to them for teaching me what I needed to know to make this hunt successful. Leland and I started our rocky hike to where the sheep was lying. He was such an amazing guide, taking care of me along the way and being a fantastic narrator while filming the entire time. When I saw the sheep for the first

Early Fall 2013


After training with the Best of the West, the author was comfortable taking this beautiful ram at 700-yards. Great shot!


time, I tried to choke back the tears. It was so beautiful with its thick white coat and the full curl I had hoped for! First I thanked Jesus, then Josh and Leland, then The Best of the West. It was like I was in a dream! I don’t think I could fully grasp what had happened. After we caped out the ram and put all the meat and horns in our packs, we headed off the mountain. My pack was so heavy and tight that I literally couldn’t take a full breath of air in. Being a girl, I try to be as tough as I can, waiting as long as possible before I complain at all so I don’t look like a wimp. But after about 200 yards into the hike, I had to stop and re-adjust everything. I unhooked my pack and…GASP…I could breathe again. Leland readjusted also and we both hiked on. Down, up, across…through rivers, through

46 46


bog, through rock…back the way we came. It was extremely difficult carrying over 100 lbs. of meat and hunting equipment on my back, all while trying to keep my balance hiking through the tough steep terrain. Several miles in, I asked Leland if I could just lie down on the plushy bog and sleep until morning. “Look, my camo matches exactly. I’ll blend right in. I’ll be fine.” He assured me I would certainly be eaten by a bear and we had to keep going. Not sure if he was kidding or not, I slowly rolled to my knees, stood up, and put one foot in front of the other. I know Leland told me it was seven miles, but it felt like 30. When we got about 200 yards from the tent, it was just getting to be after midnight and the sun was fading. We had one more river to cross. I got half way down the bank and collapsed with exhaustion. Leland looks back and yells, “No more breaks! We’re almost there. Get up! Let’s go!” He waited for me to catch up to him, and with a quivering bottom lip I whispered, “I think I might cry.” He yelled, “There’s no crying in hunting, now let’s go!!” After we got to the tent, I collapsed in my sleeping bag, refused dinner, and I’m pretty sure I passed out a few seconds after that. We both laughed at the situation that next morning, but at the time, it was literally the hardest thing I had ever done. Was it worth it? Absolutely. Would I do it again? Probably. Haha!! Josh and I are still in draws for other sheep, but next time I will train a little harder. No matter how physically fit you think you are, sheep hunting is an extremely challenging hunt. But now I can say I did it. I learned a lot, I have an amazing trophy, and unforgettable memories. And I guess I was pretty lucky that I harvested on the second day. Once we returned to base camp, I was told that my husband Josh was still out hunting. He shot his sheep on the fourth day and I got to go along on the boat ride to pick him up. You would have thought we were separated for a month by the way we greeted each other. We were both just so happy for one another and felt so blessed that we were both still alive and smiling with two amazing trophies. And just to add this in…Dall sheep is the BEST meat you will ever taste!! It’s hard to find the right words when describing the beauty of the Yukon. It makes you want to say, “Thank you, Lord” over and over and over again…Our God is an awesome God! We are so blessed to be able to experience all He has created. The author reunites with her husband back at camp with their great trophies. The “huntingmoon” continues!

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ooooaarrrreeeaooogghhhhhurrrrrooaarrr I’ve heard of Thunder Down Under but this noise is totally outside the realm of anything but outer worldly sounds. Rooaaarrrooguuuuuuhhhhhehehghhh!! It was as if someone had taken an elk bugle, injected it with steroids, run it through a music synthesizer, added reverb and then moved the whole thing to the southern hemisphere in the South Pacific on the east coast of Australia and called it the Roar of the Rusa. Gronk. Reeooaarrr. Mew. The sounds got closer. Mew. Mew. Females all around us. We are completely surrounded by Rusa. My father, close behind me, touched my shoulder and whispered the words into my ear that I had hoped not to hear. “Too young. We can find an older one”


The author with her parents, Louise and Jim Shockey



BY EVA SHOCKEY The author’s parents, Louise and Jim Shockey, trail behind her as they push into the early dusk in pursuit of the mighty Rusa!

As if in jest, the young stag lifted his nose 30 yards in front of me and bellowed one more time rooooarruughhhhrrr - sending chills and vibrations through my body, through the soles of my feet standing in the red soil in the Australian outback, home of the Aboriginals, land of the kangaroo, wallaby and one of the greatest big game species in the world, the Elk Down Under... the Rusa Deer. I’m not so sure what I was happier about. Sharing quality time with my dad and mom in this sun-burnt country, or hunting the miniature elk-ish looking stags from the Land Down Under, or the fact that I was finally returning to my alma mater, my university roots that I’d spent so many great times at five years prior in Queensland. After I graduated high school, my father says that I simply looked on the globe and picked the opposite side of the world from where he lived and then googled “most expensive university in Australia”, thus deciding on my school of choice - Bond University. Smack in the middle of the 365-days-of-sun-filled Gold Coast, my new-found

life as a college kid quickly led my list of life priorities askew. High up on the list came beaches, blonde surfer boys, hippy vans, dorm-room parties, friends, food, the dreaded Freshman 15, and then somewhere way, way far down the list came classes, studying and flossing my teeth. I assured my mom, back in Canada, that my sights were still set on Honor Roll grades and my part-time job, but, in fact, my sights were too busy catching the next wave down at Surfer’s Paradise to focus on much more. We walked to class in bare feet, surfboards in hand, bathing suits still damp from the early morning sea. My life was a scene from a movie, but unfortunately, somewhere amongst the haze of salt water and sunshine, I didn’t realize that I was spending the entire duration of my university degree living in the same exact state as one of the South Pacific’s most spectacular deer species. I was practically neighboring some of the best hunting land south of the equator, and it took me too many years to realize it. Javan Rusa Like many of the wild animals living Down Under, the Rusa Timorensis, or Javan Rusa as it has come to be called, isn’t native to Australia at all. Although originally introduced from the tropical climates of Indonesia, the dry Australian bush seems to be a suitable habitat for these Rusa to thrive. Hearing a Rusa stag roar for the first time is easily comparable to the hearty bugle of a rutting bull elk. It breeds immediate shock and amazement from deep within, at the first sound of the chesty roar coming from a nearby stag. Immediately I’m brought back to the same eerie Jurassic Park feeling from my first elk hunt a few years earlier as the surrounding herd shrieks, squeals and roars at the exact pitch and tone that sends chills down my spine. In unison with the cacophonous

Early Fall 2013


Grandpa Len shares a moment with everyone in Jim’s truck while keeping an eye out for black bears during the Spring.

The beautiful blades of this Rusa stag are draped in fresh-thrashed grass during the rut. The author and team draw closer for the kill.

mews and roars from the surrounding herd, make my jaw drop and head turn towards the moonlit field in the direction of the primal outcry. Here I am. Surrounded by Rusa well before dawn, in the pitch-black Australian Outback. This is the Australia that I’ve been missing. Let the Hunt Begin… The damp morning dew has softened the sun-scorched hay beneath our feet as we walk in an alert row of camouflaged soldiers. The guide in the lead, followed closely by me, my dad and trailing right behind, our cameraman, Todd. Not exactly the scene for a stealth-mode blitz, but the common practice when it comes to our hunting style these days. As quiet as can be, we close the distance. Every inch of progress we make is answered by a flick of an ear or a lift of a head from the herd of does, cautiously protecting their mewing young. Our Mossy Oak battalion, now dangerously approaching hundreds of dark eyeballs scanning the suspicious field ahead of them, might be busted. Noses up, desperately trying to catch a scent to confirm their suspicions, a few hooves nearby beat the ground anxiously to call for backup. July mornings in Queensland are crisp. Short exhales looming in mid-air before being met by the next billowing breath. Clouds of frost broken only by the roar of stags in full rut, and the quiet mew of the calling hines. We bow to the ground and move forward in quiet determination headed on a vectoring angle to intercept the herd leaving their nightly rutting grounds on the way to their bedding 50


area. Rusa deer have keen senses, and without any trees to use as cover, the wind is our only defense this morning. Slowly, slowly, step by step, we march in unison, lifting each knee higher than the last and pausing, mid-air, as if Simon Says to stop. The roars and mews tell me that we’re close, but it’s still too dark to see which stags are near. Roarrrrrrruuuughhh. Far across the dim horizon comes the first glint of sunlight from behind the distant hill. Silhouetted in the early morning dawn, the tops of two dozen antlerless heads slowly come into focus above the tall grass. The author and her father post up safari style while they keep a look out for prey as they head into the Australian outback.

Early Fall 2013


Grandpa Len (left) next to his great bear, alongside his sonin-law, Jim Shockey and Jim’s father. This would be one of their last hunts together before Len’s passing.

The author and her father kneel next to her harvest which is an exceptional representation of the Rusa deer species.

My eyes, still unsure if they heads are real, or the same illusions as I’d been imagining earlier in the morning darkness, squinting to interpret the uncertain scene. I see antlers now. Big, heavy, I’m-the-boss, antlers. This is no hallucination. This is happening. Quiet. Slow. Stop. Watch. Move. Quiet. Slower again. They’re coming towards us. The distance is closing. The first hine has us pegged but no, she’s looking beyond us. Another stag from behind, roaring. We’re surrounded. We freeze. The morning light is enough to see clearly now. Swiftly, the largest of the stags is moving toward the calling stag on the far side of us. I poke my head out of our lineup to watch the as the first sunlight flashes off the heavy, pearled antlers of the impressive stag ahead. It is brilliant and commanding, with long Outers and three extraordinary points on each side. No need to move, the dye has been caste, fate determined. My stag is coming closer. My father sets the trigger sticks. Adjusts them for my height. And without conscious thought, the gun is already resting in the steady V, the safety off, the whisper of my father beside me. “Ready. Ready. Now. Take him. Take him Eve.” In that moment the ice time between the decision to shoot and the actual squeeze of the trigger and the report is the moment of truth for any hunter. The moment when all time stops, when the past meets the future; it’s the result of all the actions to that exact instant. In that moment, it 52


brings two of nature’s children, the predator and the prey together. At that intersection of time, to have come from 6000 miles away to be there at that exact instance, crossing paths with this magnificent stag who has lived wild and free for 6, 7, or 8 years in the outback of Australia. To have crossed paths so definitely and so finally, is the essence of hunting. Boom. I didn’t feel the shock to my shoulder. I didn’t see the gun barrel. The crosshairs contained the entirety of my thoughts. For me, time ceased to exist. I was with my father, I was hunting, and the shot was perfect. Before my first intake of breath, time suddenly sped up. A freight train headed out of control. “What happened??” “You hit him! Perfect shot Eve, you got him. He’s down.” The emotions flooded over me. This stag was now my stag. Magnificent, beautiful and sad at the same time and yet exhilarated by the overflow of emotions. I smiled. My dad smiled. The guide smiled. And in that magic moment when the soft morning sunlight transforms living things into a halo cloud of soft-lit figures, my hunt was over. After all my time at university in Australia, I finally returned to live-out the dream that I missed out on five years earlier. All that remained was the final completion of the act of hunting - bringing the stag home.






Early Fall 2013



The new #1 World Record free range red stag


y husband, Thad, and I had the opportunity to hunt New Zealand in April of this year. We have known Gus Bisset and his girlfriend, Carla Lucas, of New Zealand Trophy Hunting for many years and have looked forward to the opportunity to hunt with him on the south island under one condition: all free range animals, with red stag at the top of our list. Gus has been a fan of Barnes for many years which made it all the more exciting for us to hunt together. Carla runs the show in the office and is great about communicating needs, conditions, and instructions to clients. They make a great team. John and Matt Mogle accompanied us to film the action for the Hunting Illustrated TV show and do some hunting as well. Johnny is also founder and president of Fierce Firearms. He outfitted us right with a pair of rifles to shoot our Barnes products. With over 15 years in the custom firearms industry, he brings his expertise and know-how to Fierce with the introduction of the new Fierce Fury rifle series. I carried a Fury XR in 270 WSM. The XR, built on the sturdy Remington 700 action, was topped with a Swarovski Z5 5-25×52. This rifle produces five-shot sub-MOA groups with 140 grain Barnes VOR-TX ammunition. Thad carried 54


an Extreme Range model in 7mm Rem Mag with a carbon barrel that carried a Swarovski Z5 3.5-18×44. For the most part, Thad and I have not been impressed with carbon barrel accuracy, but Fierce has it figured out. This rifle puts five 145 grain LRX’s into threequarters of an inch all day long. Interestingly enough, the series of events that our trip began with had an important impact on the final outcome of the hunt. The serendipities, or fortunate accidents, probably set in stone the opportunity for me to take the new world record free range red stag. I have traveled enough internationally to know there are a few basic rules that help make the trip go smoothly. One of those is to carry on plenty of extra doses of daily medications in the event baggage is lost. I take vitamins regularly, and one prescription for the treatment of vertigo. I had enough with me to last through our arrival in New Zealand, barring any issues with flights. Unfortunately, we experienced issues in Sydney. A morning connection was booked too tight, and we became separated from our bags. We immediately phoned Gus. Johnny and Matt would be there shortly, so it was decided that they would head out immediately for stag camp to get a jump on scouting the area with Gus


while his assistant guide, Andy Taylor, would delay his departure and wait for us to sort out the baggage situation. We were optimistic, of course, that everything would work out. Well, kind of. We arrived in Christchurch via Auckland late that evening with three of our bags arriving shortly thereafter. The fourth bag, which contained my medication, did not. We were hopeful it would arrive the following day, so we stayed the night in a comfortable hotel next to the airport. By mid-afternoon of the next day however, the bag had still not arrived. Discussions with the airline ironed out how to get it to camp and we headed out. We arrived at camp well after dark with already one day of hunting lost. My husband is a real gentleman about what I call our “hunting pecking order.” After a bit of banter, he always insists that I have first opportunity to shoot. However, this time I was unable to go out that first morning due to a severe onset of vertigo. I lay flat all day and Thad hunted while the property owners, Jeremy & Haley Pitts, worked frantically to locate my bag and get it to camp. That evening Thad was successful and took a phenomenal gold medal 310-inch free range brute. Everyone celebrated that night, except me. I felt completely awful until Jeremy burst into the middle of their party at midnight with my

prized possession. I downed the much-needed medication, and at 5 am the next morning I was ready to hunt. My first glimpse of red deer was two mature Stags crossing in front of us just a few hundred yards away. I watched in awe as they climbed a side hill, roaring the entire time. Hearing a stag roar in the wild is really something. I personally feel it sounds a lot like a deep, bellowing roar of a lion. It is nothing less than incredible to hear up close. We set up and glassed from a ridge into a large drainage. Numerous Stags were roaring everywhere around us. We heard a lot of activity, but didn’t see anything I wanted to shoot. We then drove to another large drainage and hiked up the bottom, glassing the side hills and draws as we walked. A fairly nice stag worth pursuing was spotted near the top of a large basin. We decided to make the climb for a closer look. We finished the hike into the basin and glassed, but found he had gone over the top and given us the slip. Negotiating our way back down to the bottom, we heard another stag roaring around the bend of the main canyon. A light rain fell as we moved in to check things out. We hiked up the adjacent side hill and found Early Fall 2013


The author, along with her guide and husband, takes a good look at several red deer on a distant hillside. The stag she was hoping for faded out of sight near day’s end.

The author (right) poses with Greg during a mountain goat hunting adventure in British Colombia. This is the last hunt they would share together before Greg’s passing away.

the source of the ruckus. Matt decided this was the stag for him, and anchored him with a great 330 yard shot with the 270 WSM from a prone position. The 140 grain TSX impacted squarely in the brisket and the stag dropped in its tracks. We took photos, headed back to camp for lunch, and got ready for the evening hunt. Refreshed and ready for more, the group glassed a slope across an enormous glacial drainage with a number of draws and canyons cut through the slope on the far side. It seemed that each one of these contained at least one stag with a number of hinds. A true giant was spotted about thirty minutes before dark. We knew there was no way we could cover the ground necessary to get on him in time, so we headed back to camp and made a game plan for the next morning. We began early and scrambled our way up two draws below where the stag was spotted, working through thick brush, briars, and grass slopes across the basins in order to drop in on top of him. We spotted three very mature stags and a large “blue” hog. When we arrived at the spot we thought the monster would surely be, he was nowhere to be found. We spent the next few days pounding the area in pursuit of the big stag, but never did get another look at him. Knowing the following day would be our last day of hunting Gus suggested we backtrack to an area where the group had failed to close the deal on a very large stag the first day when I was laid up in camp. 56


Thad spotted him within a few minutes. There was no mistaking that he was the behemoth they saw that first day. A plan came together quickly for a stalk and we headed off. He was rutting hard and chasing hinds like there was no tomorrow. My heart sank into my gut as he moved away from us faster than we could close the gap and escaped into the oncoming night. Gus read my disappointment, and was quick to react and lift my hopes. He was certain this “scorcher” would be in that general area tomorrow as we were careful not to spook him and he was sticking close to this large band of hinds. I felt my confidence soar. First thing the following morning we spotted him less than 300 yards from where he was the night before. He was once again chasing hinds and roaring as the group snaked up the ridge. Gus, Thad, and I moved rapidly on a path behind him, hoping he wasn’t moving too quickly away from us and down the other side. It was a tough belly-crawl up the knoll to the top of the ridge as there were red deer everywhere. Thad peaked over his side to find a hind was staring right back at him from just ten yards away! He gently backed down, keeping low, hoping she wouldn’t spook. Luckily, she didn’t. We moved carefully as two hinds stared us down from a not-too-distant slope. Again, all we could do was hope they would not react and scare the

Early Fall 2013


Thanks to Gus’s exceptional quiding experience, he was able to get the author into a perfect shot opportunity to take down this “ripper”, as he called it. It would officially score 359 6/8-inches SCI, placing it as the new World Record red stag.

herd we knew the stag was in. Thad kept his eye on the stag from behind, while Gus sneaked up to make sure all was good. To his surprise, the big stag and six hinds were just 80 yards away from us on a slight downhill. Gus’ reaction instantly told me I better get into position fast, so I moved as quietly and efficiently as I could to set up for a shot. The entire herd was staring directly at us – they knew we were there. Suddenly, the hinds bolted on a dead run away from us with the monster in tow. I wasn’t comfortable taking the shot, but I followed him through the scope with my finger positioned gently on the trigger at the ready. He stopped, turning broadside, and the shot broke. The 140 grain TSX plowed through his right front shoulder at 350 yards and he was done. I dropped my head next to the rifle to breathe for a few moments, emotionally exhausted and stunned at what had just happened. I then gathered myself and jumped up with tears in my eyes. It was all so overwhelming: the stalk, closing in and watching him almost get away, and finally the shot. I was overcome with emotion, as were Gus and Thad. My husband wrapped his arms around me and yanked me off the ground. We laughed, yelled, back-slapped and reminisced. We began to settle down when Gus said “Well Jess, I believe this to be the largest free range

stag we have ever taken so let’s get over there and take a look at him! He’s a stonker!” I was ready to meet up with the most magnificent animal I’ve ever taken in my life. Sure enough, after the mandatory drying time it was confirmed that I had taken the new SCI Free Range World Record red stag, officially scoring 359 6/8: an absolute trophy of a lifetime. Special thanks to Gus Bisset & Carla Lucas, Andy Taylor (guide), and Jeremy & Haley Pitts (property owners) for making my first New Zealand adventure as memorable as ever could be dreamed. I anxiously await our next trip with Gus in 2014 for free range Tahr on the south island. The author and the rest of the team share a smile with their New Zealand monster free range stags.

Early Fall 2013



I am fortunate to have grown up in a small town that is situated in a perfect area for hunting with my family year in and out. As a child, my dad and papa (granddad) always took my brothers and me hunting with them—of course that’s when buck tags were sold over the counter. Growing up, it was never about trophy hunting, we were on cloud nine if dad or papa harvested a spike or two-point because that meant jerky and buckskin gravy for us. To this day I still crave these childhood treats. One of the first lessons I learned quickly was that the old timers did not judge a buck on the size of his antlers, but how big the body was. My papa to this day still says, “You can’t eat the horns!” He just can’t understand my generations’ fascination with the antlers instead of the meat. I first became intrigued by antler size when my dad and my brother, Mike, drew their first limited entry elk tags. Mike is the oldest and was 14 the first time he drew. We did not own an elk bugle or cow call or have any chance of using them well if we had, but 60


we somehow managed to fill those tags. After that year, we spent every September chasing and calling in elk, and every spring hunting their horns and tracking their patterns, honing our skills in hope of drawing another elk tag. Eighteen years later I finally received the blessing of the DWR to attempt to harvest a bull elk. I started scouting areas that I had hunted the previous year on Mike’s second elk hunt—we had spotted good bulls in the areas in the years past. Frustrated about only spotting a decent bull here and there, I had to remind myself that 400” was a dream, 380” was possible, and in reality a 330” was practical. It’s just hard to believe here in Utah that the trophy mark has jumped from 330” to 400” and everybody expects the tag to be filled by a 380” plus bull. The pressure was on! In late July, I was checking my trail cams and found I had captured pictures of a rather large and unique bull on two separate cameras. Finally I had found a worthy bull! But now I had to keep track of him. Knowing he would move when the rut came on, I placed several more cameras in the surrounding areas. My cameras


The author’s trailcam revealed what a giant Waldo had become. It’s a bull that has everything--every hunter’s dream.

kept track of him until the middle of August when he began looking elsewhere to rid himself of his velvet. I spent countless hours trying to locate him with no luck. During this frustrating time, my two year old boy Dylan’s book, “Where’s Waldo,” caught my attention. I thought to myself that this was the perfect name for this bull—if I could only find “Waldo!” I still couldn’t find him by the start of September and so I located another worthy bull that was happily surrounded by his cows and content enough not to leave his current area. Opening morning I found myself, with my brothers and dad, sitting and listening for my second choice bull. With no luck yet on finding him, we started searching in a broader pattern. We came upon a herd of elk, but with the wind in the wrong direction we managed to stir up the herd. We pulled back and waited for the thermals to change so we could get a good look at the herd bull that afternoon, but the bull managed to outsmart us the entire afternoon, always staying just out of sight. The second morning, we were still struggling

to get a good look at the same herd bull. We decided to pull out of the area and re-strategize at camp. My brothers and I decided to check out another promising area that evening, while my dad went scouting on the off chance he might find something. He came upon a spike bull and moved to leave the area, when a lone bugle sounded. Just for the hell of it, he decided to respond with a couple quick cow chirps. Within seconds, a bull and cow appeared within 50 yards of my dad. He instantly recognized my bull, Waldo, and quickly retreated from the area. He tracked us down and let loose with “I saw your bull, the one with a big brow tine and wide as hell. I can’t remember what you call him, but that’s the bull!” He was so excited that he was shaking as he yelled at us for not being with him. It was too late to head out that night, so we settled in to make a game plan. Sleep came relatively easy to me as I was not actually expecting to ever see Waldo again. The next morning, my dad and brother Shane staked out the area my dad had last seen Waldo at, thinking this was where Waldo was bedding down. My

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brother Mike and family friend “Tiny” went to stake out the area we believed Waldo was watering at, while my little brother Derek and I planted ourselves in between, on the off chance we could intercept Waldo going to or returning from his watering hole. We made our way to a large flat, but were getting discouraged as our scent was being carried in the direction we needed to travel. While following an old logging road onto the flat we needed to be in, bugles started to ring out in the cold and crisp morning air. We made a quick adjustment and traveled as quickly and quietly (as two big boys can) to the opposite side of the flat to keep our scent from reaching the bugling elk. As we made our way, Derek sprayed elk estrous in the air to help mask our scent, which caught the elk’s attention. We still hadn’t seen the bull by this time and as he began bugling at us in earnest, we both thought he sounded more and more like a small satellite bull—we assumed we had stumbled onto a “rat bull.” All of a sudden, the so called “rat bull” stepped out into the flat about 300 yards from us taking us by surprise. I hurriedly chambered a round into my ultra mag, placed the safety on and hit the ground for a prone shot on the off chance it was a good bull. As the bull moved his head in the shadows, Derek recognized his distinct brow tine and kept saying “That’s Waldo, shoot him! Shoot him!” As Waldo made a move to return to the shadowed timbers, I placed the cross hairs on his shoulder, squeezed the trigger… and my stomach sank as the gun did not go off and Waldo disappeared once again. In my nervousness, I had forgotten to take the safety off! I had waited 16 years for this opportunity to come, and now I was mad, discouraged, and disappointed. We decided to go for it and chase him. As we tracked Waldo, we jumped three smaller bulls, the biggest being a 350” bull. Waldo led



us into the nastiest patch of timber on the mountain, always staying just out of eye sight about 200 yards ahead of us, and I began questioning passing on the 350” bull for the ever more elusive Waldo. I tried to talk Derek into pulling off until the evening and he insisted that we follow just a little bit more. I gave in, not realizing that Waldo was leading us right to Shane and dad. But I soon caught on that the large flat 75 yards to the south of us was the same flat my dad spotted him in the night before. We quickly made our way south at a fast pace to try to cut Waldo off. The hunt was back on, my adrenaline pumping now as we approached the end of the flat ahead of Waldo! I could hear my dad cow calling to bring him out of the trees. Knowing Waldo would be distracted for a moment, I left Derek in the flat and made my way into the timbers for a better look. Recognizing Waldo’s bugle from about 100 yards away, I moved until I was close to 75 yards from him. The 350” bull that I had stumbled upon earlier was making his way to Waldo also to see if he could steal a cow or two. I either needed to side step ten yards around a blow down or crawl under it for a good shot at Waldo. I decided to hold my line and crawl under the tree on my hands and knees, knowing I needed to make it happen fast. Still on my knees I looked up and less than 50 yards away Waldo stood like a stone statue staring straight at me. Raising my rifle, I could clearly see his brow tine but the timber was too thick for a good shot. I quickly shuffled a shell into the ultra mag, made sure I took the safety off this time, stood up and took one side step for a clear shot and the ultra mag barked. Waldo dropped instantly! In shock, I made my way to him, whooping and hollering, letting my dad and brothers know that Waldo had fallen. In less than a minute, I was surrounded by my family, all of us celebrating, not quite believing we actually had Waldo. I could not believe my good luck after losing track of him earlier this year and thinking I would never see him again. Later I would realize we were within one hundred yards of where my dad had happened on him the night before! One of the greatest results of my hunt was watching my 2 1/2 year old boy, Dylan, constantly going out to the shed where the antlers are and telling everyone that stops by for a look, “Dad shot big elk!” He always has a stick gun and walks around shooting elk in the most damndest places. While his mom just rolls her eyes and prays for patience, I see many hunting trips in the future with him, teaching him all I have learned, carrying on the family tradition. I owe great thanks to so many friends and family members for helping me finally achieve one of my dreams. You know who you are from all the scouting tips, trail cams, valuable time, hunting partners, and last but not least to my wife Tara. Love you babe.

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Qamanirjuaq in the Old Keewatin District The Caribou of Manitoba- through the eyes of a Biologist, Hunter & Guide Intro – with Jim’s stalk

Caribou in Manitoba

Jim, my Minnesota hunter, and I quietly slid into position atop a small knob for a better view, being careful not to disturb the dozen or so cows and calves grazing less than 75 yards away. His wife Michele hung back a moment. Focusing my binoculars, they settled on what I soon realized was the best caribou bull I’d come across that season! He was bedded on the edge of a sedge filled wetland in a cluster of bright yellow tamaracks. We had to remain motionless and wait while the small herd filtered past us before we could commence our stalk. Until then all we could do was stare at him and drool, double and triple checking that those huge massive bez belonged to a giant caribou bull and not a young moose. It was indeed caribou and we held those priceless tags in our pockets. The way was now clear to try and creep into bow-range…game on.

Manitoba, one of Canada’s sleeper province’s when compared to Alberta and Saskatchewan, is a largely unfragmented wilderness realm, teeming with wildlife and hunting opportunities. Manitoba is also home to several barren-ground and woodland caribou herds, which have migrated and roamed across the northern portion of the province for thousands of years. They have sustained and been an integral component of Cree, Dene, and Inuit cultures whose relationship with caribou lives on and is traditionally practised to this very day. Unlike other caribou populations across the north, some of Manitoba’s herds are healthy enough to offer various open seasons to residents and foreign residents alike, in addition to aboriginal subsistence hunters. Today, the barren-ground Qamanirjuaq (Ka-min-uri-ak) herd specifically might be one of Canada’s most sustainable and huntable herds. I



have been fortunate enough to have moved to Manitoba several years ago for a position that has allowed me to help study these majestic animals, as well as hunt and guide others to them in the beautiful and mysterious old Keewatin district of north central Canada. A year in the life of a Manitoba caribou Inhabiting tundra and boreal forest regions of Manitoba, caribou are social animals living in herds which are defined by the repeated use of their calving grounds. Pregnant cows lead the migration in the spring and usually only give birth to a single calf in late May and early June. This time of year caribou typically feed on newly sprouted grasses, sedges and willows. In mid-summer, relentless biting insects force some herds to windy areas near the Hudson Bay coastline seeking relief.


August or early September finds the herds assembling and preparing to commence their migration south towards traditional wintering areas. Caribou bulls begin to enter the rut during migration, from later in September and into October. Environmental factors such as food availability, fire and weather can greatly influence the specific routes taken and the timing of migration. Caribou are also known to shift their overwintering areas from time to time, which helps minimize overgrazing. Specialized hooves, coat, diet, and metabolism make caribou well adapted to harsh winter conditions, when lichens are the most vital food source. Deep snow and ice makes digging for food difficult and less efficient, which is why mature boreal forests are so important during the winter months. Lichens are found growing on the stunted trees and can be easily eaten, while snow depths and biting winds are often reduced in the dense cover. Woodland and barren-ground caribou differ is several ways, mostly with calving and migratory behaviour as well as group size. Woodland caribou form much smaller groups, and travel much shorter distances between summer and winter ranges, which can even overlap. They also demonstrate solitary calving behaviour, each animal finding their own island or isolated bog complex to give birth and raise their young. Barren-ground caribou on the other hand calve together, form and travel in much larger groups, and migrate hundreds

of kilometers annually between their summer and winter ranges. Woodland - (see appending map) Let’s go through the numbers. As many as ten woodland Caribou herds call Manitoba home, spanning across the province on a diagonal plane, northwest to southeast along the boreal fringe. Woodland caribou herds dot this landscape from the Saskatchewan border, across the north interlake region and along the eastern shores of Lake Winnipeg. Individual population sizes range from dozens to several hundred animals amongst these woodland herds, and aside from specific provisions given to Treaty Aboriginal resource users, no open season, draws, or hunting opportunities exist for these caribou, even to licensed resident Manitoba hunters. Some of the more notable woodland caribou populations include the AtikakiBerrens, Waboden and William Lake herds, which number

approximately, 400, 215 and 40 animals respectively. Barren-ground (See appending map) Qamanirjuaq (ka-min-YOO-ree-ak) Named by the location of their calving grounds in the vicinity of southeastern Nunavut’s Qamanirjuaq Lake, population

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estimates place the herd at roughly 400,000 animals. Researchers feel the herd peaked in the late 90’s and may be slowly beginning to decline, but excellent numbers of cows and calves are encountered during the fall migration. Animals from this herd are typically lighter in color, smaller in size, and said to have the widest antler configurations of Manitoba’s various caribou. Early in the fall they migrate south seeking mature boreal forests of northern Manitoba. Typically overwintering near the mighty Churchill River, they will move as far south as needed, depending on winter severity. At times this herd is joined by members of the Beverly herd, who are known to migrate together and mix occasionally on the wintering grounds. Beverly caribou are ultimately identified by the location of their calving grounds further northwest in the Nunavut territory. Overall, the Qamanirjuaq herd is Manitoba’s largest and most sustainable, offering both local and foreign residents the best hunting opportunities. Pen Island Again named for the islands in Hudson’s bay on which they traditionally calve, these Barrenground caribou are commonly referred to as ‘coastal caribou’ by locals. Recent population estimates



suggest the herd may be growing, currently numbering approximately 10,000-20,000 animals which calve in extreme northwestern Ontario. The herd migrates through the vast and pristine Shamattawa region of northeastern Manitoba, crossing lower reaches of the heritage steeped God’s and Hayes Rivers, traditionally wintering in the dense boreal forests east of Thompson, south of the Nelson River. Penn Island caribou have always had strong cultural relationships with the Cree inhabiting this area. Aside from Aboriginal subsistence hunters, only residents are able to pursue this herd in a DIY fashion with seasons from September to February. No outfitters hold any Pen Island tag allocations for non-residents. Cape Churchill Also commonly referred to as ‘coastal caribou’, this small herd of barren-ground caribou calves along the cape in the recently established Wapusk National Park along the Hudson bay coast south of Churchill, Manitoba, polar bear capital of the world! Wapusk in fact translates to ‘polar bear’ in the local Cree dialect. Stable population estimates place this herd at roughly 3,000+ animals, whose winter ranges typically overlap those with both Qamanirjuaq and Pen Island caribou. Veteran eyes from local hunters and biologists are somewhat

able to differentiate these ‘coastal caribou’ from the more traditional Beverly-Qamanirjuaq barren-ground caribou varieties by slightly darker coats, a larger and more robust build, and supposedly a narrower antler configuration. Cape Churchill caribou are most often pursued during the winter season with snowmobiles across frozen lakes, rivers and bogs, but hunting opportunities are limited to subsistence aboriginals and local residents only. Getting Started Chances are, if you are not aboriginal or a local resident in a remote northern community such as Gillam or Churchill, you are hunting Qamanirjuaq caribou. Only about 500 non-resident, and less than 1000 resident license are annually made available by the provincial government, a very sustainable allocation promoting world class hunting opportunities! In Manitoba, licensed caribou hunting only occurs in Game Hunting Areas (GHA’s) 1, 2, and 3, which together occupy the northern quarter of the province. Non-resident (Canadians from outside Manitoba) and foreign resident caribou hunters (those outside of Canada) must book their hunt through the services of a

The author points to a heard of caribou found in the distance.

registered lodge or outfitter and be accompanied by a licensed guide. Only a select handful of outfitters cater to non- and foreign resident caribou hunters, each with vast, exclusive territories in GHA 1 along the Nunavut border. Caribou hunting in GHA’s 2 and 3 is exclusive to licensed Manitoba residents. Two licenses allow hunters to ‘best their first bull’ with a conservative 90% success rate. Lake trout, arctic grayling, ptarmigan, and snow goose are often plentiful in these hunting areas if you successfully tag out early. Wolves may also be hunted under the authority of any unused big game licence provided it is valid for that area, species, and season you are hunting in. Many outfitters also offer combo-hunt packages enabling you to add black bear and moose to your Manitoba adventure should you wish. Outfitters offer hunts in September, which is likely the best time to look for a trophy, complimented by a beautiful tundra setting of orange willow leaves and carpets of red tundra heath underfoot. Best of all, there are typically no biting insects and hospitable, almost pleasant, temperatures during this time of year. Winter caribou seasons from November into February exist for residents who face frigid temperatures and potentially drop antler bulls. The winter hunt is more of a harvest, however, in practice with the relationship that caribou have had with people in northern Canada

for many generations, associated with their migratory movements. Close of Jim’s stalk Stalking the big Qamanirjuaq bull, we reached the edge of the wetland he was bedded against without incident. My two hunters, Jim and Michele Leqve were an avid bow-hunting husband and wife team (Michele is in fact the first woman in the world to take polar bear with a bow!). But with the stakes so high and a recent shoulder injury, Jim was willing to take a worthy bull with my rifle should the situation dictate. Judging this bedded bull, I warned Jim that for this one, “the situation might dictate”. On our first attempt we got to a brushy 40 yards with archery tackle, until the wind swirled and the

mighty bull was made wise and fled the scene. We did what we could to catch up with him, and found a high point on a big pile of boulders to get a look. Our hearts began to sink, frustrated at how the big caribou gave us the slip so quickly. Moments later he just appeared in the little clearing we were looking over, like a phantom materialized, and began on a bearing offering no chance for a bow shot. We couldn’t simply let a bull like that walk away on us so Jim made the decision to harvest him with a rifle, anchoring him with a single, well placed .308 round. High fives all around were followed by photos, capeing, and packing the bull back to camp across the scenic tundra landscape. All memorable components of a successful barrenground caribou hunt one can expect in northern Canada’s old Keewatin district. What to Expect Hunting caribou in Manitoba’s subarctic is done in the traditional spot and stalk method, finding vantage points to spot migrating groups of caribou and pinpoint key terrain features in which to best intercept them. In this part of the world it is also not uncommon to encounter black, polar, and eastern barren-ground grizzlies, not to mention grey and arctic wolves as well as wolverine. Adventure is part of the allure of caribou hunting, and the land in which they are pursued certainly offers plenty of that. Simply witnessing the caribou migration is a beautiful, emotional experience in itself. They are a conservation flagship species, culturally steeped in rich aboriginal traditions and Canadian heritage, mystical by migrations, and adorned with a regal crowns of antlers—it’s no wonder caribou have such a hold on the those that really admire them. Come experience a hunt and tell me otherwise... Gearing up for Barren-ground Caribou in Manitoba’s Sub-arctic Conditions ranging from bugs to blizzards can be expected in caribou country. Being prepared for whatever the weather throws at you is likely the first consideration. You have

Early Fall 2013


to spend time afield, cover many square miles of terrain, not become lost, and transport your harvest back to the boat or camp. When looking at my own caribou equipment list when preparing for a month of guiding and hunting in Manitoba’s subarctic, it goes as follows; Footwear: There are no fallen barbwire fences hidden by grass to trip over, nor the relentless thorns encountered in various African or Texas scrub, which in my opinion give Muck Boots a big thumbs-up. Ideal for all the terrain types you can expect, (which range from swampy boot-sucking mud, to steep rocky outcrops of Canadian pre-Cambrian shield), Muck Boots will have you covered. Clothing: Intelligent layers that offer protection from high winds and rain, giving you all day comfort and mobility, is fundamental. I usually start with poly-propylene or merino wool next-to-skins, followed by fleece under layers topped off with a protective gortex shell, and rain pants as needed. I’m also a fan of the sealskin brand of tight, waterproof gloves, keeping hands warm and dry but not hindering or rendering them useless in any way. Gun and archery hunters alike are required to wear a blaze orange vest and hat. Optics: Spotting scopes are handy, but not necessarily required. I have managed with a quality set of x8 binoculars, but a good set of x10 would be ideal. Remaining highly mobile is an asset, but long periods will be spent glassing so quality crystal will help with eye-strain, contrast, and a bright field of view. I

would certainly put emphasis on your rifle scope, and bring something in the x3-9 range that’s worked for you in the past. I have been using a Zeiss Conquest with the rapid Z ballistic reticles, much to my satisfaction. Weaponry: As in any such situation, shot placement wins over caliber and bullet choice. You will see many .300’s and .338’s lining camp gun racks, but I don’t feel they are quite necessary. Having guided and hunted enough I would say anything in the .270 to .30-06 realm is ideal, and expect a typical shot to be between 100-200 yards. I can’t help but be happy with results brought on by my model 16 Savage in .308, both in my hands or those of my clients. Crowned with quality optics and fed bonded

Hornady bullets, one shot is often all that’s needed. My advice is to bring your favorite, most seasoned deer rifle from home. Confidence is everything when chasing big Qamanirjuaq bulls. Electronics: A good rangefinder, GPS unit with downloaded high quality topomaps, and your own personal digital camera are all vital pieces of gear to pack along. Typically your guide will be manning the GPS and rangefinder, but back-up units can be worth more than gold in such remote areas. A small video camera is also worth consideration. I enjoy filming my own hunts, or those of my clients, and relive those key moments on film years later, helping those memories stay fresh. Other: Some of the pieces of equipment that I have found useful over the years include shooting sticks with various head attachments, enabling you to use it as a camera or optics tripod, while also serving as a walking stick, and of course, a shooting rest. I also pack three different knives in my frame-pack for the dirty work, these being a small capeing knife, a larger fixed blade skinning and gutting knife, and my personal favorite, a good fillet knife for deboning and trimming. Not just for fishing!

Early Fall 2013



Muzzy Magic Giving the muzzleloader one more try converts to a new world record muzzleloader non-typical bull


decided to give muzzleloader hunting a try in 2005— I was ready to try something different. It has been a learning process ever since. I have had my struggles with it for sure, but in the end it’s been worth it. My last muzzleloader hunt was in 2010, and ended with great frustration with my gun. When it came time to put in for elk in 2012, I was hesitant to try another muzzleloader hunt. My wife convinced me to give it another try and after some thought I decided she was right. I got the news I was hoping for when I drew an early muzzle loader elk tag in my home state of Arizona; a tag with draw odds at less than 5%! I had so many emotions running through me at that time. I knew my hunting buddy, my wife Kristie, would not be at my side during this hunt as we had just had our third child. I was also scheduled for major shoulder surgery on my

right shoulder and my gun had not been shooting accurately on my last hunt. I had my work cut out for me this time! I got started right away researching and found that my problem with my gun lay in the loads I was using. I decided to start over by picking new powder and projectiles. After multiple trips to Cabela’s, Bass Pro Shops, and the range with family, I finally found the combination that worked perfectly with my gun. I couldn’t shoot yet due to surgery and my father in-law Monty helped me out with hours at the range getting the gun just right. My gun could hold a good group at 350 yards and I felt comfortable with that. I spent weekend after weekend up in the unit, I met with different friends who have hunted that unit before and even spent some time talking with the Game Warden for that unit. We all knew there was a really, and I mean really big boy out there. He was a bull that haunted many

hunters’ dreams. I hadn’t seen him but had seen numerous other bull elk, which would be considered trophies in anyone’s book. My hunt was closing in and my shoulder had begun to heal. I was finally able to take trips to the range to verify the accuracy of my gun and it was spot on. I headed up to my unit three days before opening day with my good buddy Chris who had only been on one hunt prior to this one. All of my hunting buddies were working or on other hunts and were unable to go. My brother Rick pulled up his camper up for us, but he would not be joining us until Friday afternoon, along with my longtime friend J.C.—I was very nervous since opening day would be just Chris and I. Opening morning rolled around after a long night of tossing and turning. When my alarm went off at 3:30 a.m., I felt excited and sick; you all know that opening Early Fall 2013


morning feeling. We packed up all my gear and hit the road at about 5 a.m. It was still really dark out when we left camp in my rhino. We parked about five miles from camp as planned and, as we had hoped, the elk had not moved off the ridge from the night before. I decided to get a closer look and pray that the monster bull was still there after the archery hunt, which had ended a couple days before the rifle hunt. We had not been able to find the bull the night before, but I was hopeful he had survived the archery hunt as we hadn’t heard otherwise. My buddy Chris stayed about 100 yards behind me due to the large amount of elk that were out. We followed the elk for about a mile with the herd surrounding us. It was amazing— you could not imagine all the bugling and fighting that was happening amongst the elk! It was the perfect elk hunting scenario. I spotted six bulls off the bat. One was a six by six that was broken and had only a brow tine and main beam on one side, with a brow tine, main beam, and sword on the other. All the bulls I could see were broken. I was feeling a little discouraged but I decided to keep following the herd. I heard some ruckus to my right and out stepped a five by five only 30 yards away from me. I guessed he was a



300 bull. He was the only one I had spotted that was not broken but he wasn’t an opening morning bull so I passed him up. I was hoping to get a 350 or better bull. I continued spotting bull after bull but their antlers were all broken, and some of them badly! I kept crawling & following the herd. I must have followed them for half of a mile. I finally spotted a good six point, but then he turned and guess what? He was broken. Not a shooter. But from behind him out stepped the monster bull—he had survived the archery hunt! Without my binoculars I could tell he was the one. I knew I needed to get closer, but I was still surrounded by the herd and had the five point 27 yards to my right. So I had to slide under a juniper tree to my left to get a better look. I pulled up my binos and noticed that the monster bull was broken too, but I didn’t care. He was a fighter; he broke his sword and a brow tine. Although broken, he was still a bull of a life time. I watched him and a broken


After waiting for what seemed like an eternity, the giant bull finally stepped out. The author states, “He stopped for a moment and I took my shot. He lunged forward and as the smoke cleared I was reloading in case I needed to take another shot.”

six point walk into a small grove of trees. The only way the bull could get away without me seeing him was if he walked directly away from me. I started getting ranges at every possible location where the bull might walk out. I had the time, so I set myself up with a good shooting position. I used the rock pile I was laying in to support my gun. In that time, I also took out reloading supplies for two followup shots if need be and had them close to my side. I waited for what seemed like an eternity, but it was more like five minutes for the bulls to make their way out of the thicket of trees. The six point walked out and I was anticipating that the big bull would follow shortly after. I set up to take a shot. As I laid there in a rock pile it seemed like the minutes were hours. I started to doubt my decision to stay put, maybe the bull wasn’t following and slipped out the back of the juniper grove.

I ranged the broken six point and about ten minutes later the monster bull stepped out into the exact spot I ranged and I was ready. I had practiced this in my mind over and over as I was waiting for him. He stopped for a moment and I took my shot. He lunged forward and as the smoke cleared I was reloading in case I needed to take another shot. I lay there shaking with excitement. I hit him; I knew I had hit him. I have always shared these moments with my wife so I decided to text her and let her know I just shot at a bull of a lifetime. I waited a few minutes for my friend Chris to come up to where I was, and he stayed there to guide me to where the bull was when I shot. When I got to the spot where the bull was standing when I shot, I was amazed to see that the bull had only walked five yards from where I shot him. As soon as I saw him I couldn’t stop shouting, hooting, and hollering. Chris said I sounded like I just won the Super Bowl. I told him I felt like I did one better than that. I called my wife, my buddies-everyone in my phone book. I

needed help getting him packed out. No one could make it due to work other than my brother Rick. Chris and I had him cleaned and quartered by the time my brother made it to us. We packed him out and headed into town to show my wife, my kids, family, and friends. My family and Chris’s family decided to come to camp for the night and share the experience with us. We left the meat at the processing company and brought the head back with us to camp—I wasn’t letting him out of my sight! The word got around quickly that I had harvested the monster bull. We had a lot of visitors at camp that night and the next morning. We headed out Saturday morning and met the local rancher on the road; he had made a trip up to see the bull. He and his ranch hands have been after this bull for years, as had many other hunters. He congratulated me and we headed on home. I was way too nervous to score him myself, so Monty met us at our house. He thought that with all the mass my elk had that he had to go at least 400 inches. I was full of excitement. Monty brought out

his tape and we sat on the porch with some celebration beverages and measured my elk. He easily cleared 400 inches. Now I had to wait for an official score and the sixty day waiting period felt like forever. The official score came in at 414 3/8 SCI, placing him as the current SCI #1 for NonTypical Muzzleloader Bull Elk!! He is a massive bull; he has 67 inches of mass and has 58-inch main beams. I know every hunter has his what-ifs, but man if this bull wasn’t broken he would have scored mid 430’s. I just want to take a minute to thank my wife for being so supportive with hunting. She, too, is an avid hunter. I think it’s important to have your family at your side and involved in this sport, women and kids alike. I also want to thank everyone who helped with everything along the way and those who sent me pictures of the elk over the past few years before his antlers were broken; he is a beauty. I was able harvest the elk of a lifetime on public land on a DIY hunt; it just can’t get any better than that!

The bull ended up only being 5-yards from where he was shot. Even with 15-20 inches broke off, this bull scored in at 414 3/8-inches SCI. That’s a new #1 non-typical world record with a muzzleloader! Early Fall 2013



t the 2012 Hunting Expo in Salt Lake City I was fortunate enough to get the special deer tag for Antelope Island. I was as excited as a teenager. During the following winter and spring I worked on a custom rifle that I had built several years earlier and have used to harvest almost all of the great animals that I’ve killed over the years. It’s based on a wildcat of a 404

Jeffrey and 15 years of development. It came out special and pushes 168 TTSX Barnes bullets 3,707 ft/sec. I had it going as fast as 3,900 ft/sec but the present loads shot 5 shots .2”-.3” at 100 yards. My last two shot practice rounds before hunting season were 1” apart at 500 yards. For my hunt I booked with Doyle Moss at MossBack Guides & Outfitters. Doyle had a couple of bucks

Denny takes down an Antelope Island Giant! 272-inches



in mind and sent pictures two bucks: Splitter and G-2. The first pictures sent to me in June were in velvet and looked great. Doyle had pictures of both deer going back several years. Doyle is the only one I know who can keep track of thousands of animals over several years by their rack. He knows them all by the genetic finger print on the head gear! In July I went to Antelope Island for the first time to scout. The island is impressive—

BY DENNY AUSTAD 44 square miles rising some 3,300 feet out of the Great Salt Lake. It looks more like a mountain growing out of the water than an island. It is bigger than many counties or game units. I was amazed to see around 30 coyote. There are also buffalo, antelope, big horn sheep, and deer. We located Splitter later in the morning on the back side of the mountain at around one mile away. He looked great even at that distance. We made no attempt to close the distance so as not to spook him from his natural routine. It was a great July of scouting followed by more trips in August and October. Doyle got some great pictures of both Splitter and G-2 in August, still in velvet but close to full growth. I had a great time analyzing the pictures and scaling the horns using a digital caliper. I would scale off the inside of the eye to horns, scale outside the eyes to horns, and then spread of the ears to horns. I came up with an algebraic system to keep all the points. I used pictures of known deer to calibrate the system. The most accurate was the eyes and the least accurate was the ears. I got

Splitter was found this day pushing does. Look at that giant!

a score of 260 to 270 and spreads of 36 to 38 inches. Doyle got concerned because he was worried that I might be disappointed if the real score was less. I told Doyle to relax, “I am having fun and am excited to hunt.” I have never hunted deer in the middle of the rut when they were really “hot”! I went a couple of days before the hunt to scout and try to calm down and we were able to locate Splitter the night before the hunt. I got maybe an hour or so of sleep. We got up a couple

hours before daylight, went to the island, and waited. As soon as we could see we started hunting. We spotted Splitter in the scope; he’d moved less than a mile from where we had spotted him the night before. He was with a lot of does and was very active. We put a stalk on him and got within 200 to 300 yards. I set up for a shot and as I was about to take the safety off when he started jumping and running around chasing does. He moved off a quarter of a

PHOTO: DOYLE MOSS Early Fall 2013



-law, Jeff Pond, Doyle Moss’s brother-in This photo was taken by nt through in we k buc ch growth this in 2010. Look at how mu rs! yea just a couple

Splitter’s Evolution: PHOTOS: DOYLE MOSS



mile. We waited for his harem to look the other way and did another stalk and set up to shoot. Again, just as I was about to take the safety off, he was off running and chasing does. This happened two more times. This, on top of my lack of sleep and the adrenaline, was driving me crazy. The fifth time was the charm. We spotted him again in the distance and when his harem was not eyeing us we put a stalk on him to 280 yards and put my rifle over a trigger stick supplied by Tory Brock. Doyle reported Splitter was off to the right. I took the safety off and when Splitter turned broadside, I torched off the round. I lost the sight picture when my rifle recoiled. I excitedly asked, “Is he down?” No reply. “Did I miss?!” No reply. Finally, yes he went Doyle kept a close eye on this buck for a couple years and used his camera to create possibly the greatest growth document of a mule deer this size. His signature trait was the tear in his left ear.

straight down. Later I saw the video and had gone straight down with a quarter lung shot. Tory reported what a difficult shot it was because Splitter offered such a small quartering away shot at 280 yards. In the adrenaline-charged moment I had thought he was broadside. In a moment of jest I said, “Tory, I really never saw the deer; I just shot in the direction Doyle pointed.” We all laughed and took time to reflect about the last six months of scouting and the final hunt. I was still behaving like an excited teenager. We were excited and talked about the hunt for an hour or two. We finally took pictures and scored the deer. WOW! 272 gross, 37” wide, and 21 scorable points. I have the island tag again for 2013 and I am, again, excited as a teenager preparing for the hunt. Thank you to Antelope Island, Jeremy Shaw, Steve Bates, Jace Taylor, and the Mule Deer Foundation for your part in this story. And a special thanks to Tory Brock and Doyle and the Team MossBack Guides, Cameron Gillman, and Wayne Brown, as well as Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife. Note: For those people who would also like to join the “Doyle Moss Fan Club,” simply go to Mossback website and sign up. Be sure to vote for Denny for President. I hope everyone has a great and fun hunt this fall.

Guide, Doyle Moss and hunter, DennyAustad, display this 272-inch Antelope Island giant. This buck has everything--width, length, extras and mass.

Early Fall 2013



5. A bolt action rifle has one, but a double rifle does not 6. A load designed to test the integrity of a firearm 8. Target shooting disciplines that involve shooting at metal cutouts representing game animals at varying distances 11. This lion hound’s ideal coat should be tri-colored – white, black and tan 12. Loud, rapid gurgling sound made by male turkeys 13. This agile and quick deer is known for its heavily palmated antlers 14. Utah state county where largest bear skull on record was found 15. It is commonly mistaken for a pig, but it is actually a peccary 17. Unethically traded bear organ


1. American bison are commonly mistaken as members of this species 2. This infectious disease found in rabbits and other rodents is also known as Pahvant Valley plague 3. This popular varmint/predator cartridge is based on the 6mm Lee Navy 4. This deer feeds under water 6. 1873 Colt 7. Scopes with this focal plane allow shooters to accurately determine distance at any power 9. The 1937 Pittman-Robertson act was designed to help fund U.S. conservation efforts through this tax 10. Reloading press used to increase the output of cartridges per hour 16. This pioneer in wildcatting designed his Improved cartridges to fire safely in standard factory chambers




By Courtney Bjornn

Just For Laughs

Early Fall 2013


k Bear den • Blac Paddy Whid 12 20 • BC

Tina Harrison • Eastern Cape Kudu South Africa • 2013

“This issu e’s winner ” Winner: Hayden Nels on

Matt Ashley • Elk 2012

n • Pronghor Matt Ward Utah • 2013

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. Justin Davi s • Elk Utah • 2013


Troy Link • Tule Elk California • 2013

Tucker Wait man • Whit etail Oklahoma • 2012

Tony De Bonis • Black Bear British Colombia • 2013

ghorn ith • Pron Jennifer Sm 13 20 Wyoming •

etail man • Whit Tyler Wait 13 20 • Oklahoma

Jack Link • Tule Elk California • 2013

Tausha Bent z • Prongh orn Utah • 2012

Braggin’ Board Submission

Send Photos To:

Chad Wools • Mule Deer 2013

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. Kayla Hall • Pronghorn Utah • 2011

Early Fall 2013


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Early Fall 2013


LIGHTWEIGHT GEAR GUIDE MYSTERY RANCH METCALF WITH NICE FRAME We wanted to find a pack that would handle backpack hunting and allow the hunter to get his gear and animal out of the backcountry. The Mystery Ranch Metcalf with NICE frame is certainly that pack. When you first handle the pack you instantly feel the quality in the strap and frame system. The pack is easy to size and is a great option that would outlast most hunters and offer enough room for packing just about anything on your hunt. We loaded the back and the ability to handle extreme weight is very evident in this pack. I would not hesitate or question what this pack could handle. The pack has a capacity range of 3600 -4500 cubic inches and weights in at just under 6 lbs. The side zipper allows for quick gear access and the outer straps create the ability to keep the pack tight to the frame. The pack also has the ability to use the lid as a day pack once you have reach the destination. This a very capable and comfortable pack for anything a hunter could throw at it! BIG AGNES FLY CREEK UL2 In search for ultralight hunting one of the items that typically takes a toll on the back is a tent. Not the case with the Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2. I could not believe the weight of this tent! For 2 lbs 2 oz you get a 3 season, free standing, one man tent that is waterproof and has a comfortable vestibule. This Tent uses featherlight TH72N aluminum poles with solid connectors. The taped seams and silicone coated ripstop create an ultralight bombproof tent that sets up in seconds. We loved this tent for the backcounty and were more than impressed with the quality and total weight!



OREGON PACKS - THE WHOLESHABANG In the attempt to find the perfect pack for a backcountry bivy hunt we found a pack that we were more than surprised with. Oregon Pack Works has something that we were blown away by. The WholeShabang is without question 6 packs in 1. With one suspension or frame system you have the Greengate Pack, the Lumbar body, the Hydration body, Overflow pack pairs and Meatshelf. With waterproof and burr resistant fabric each pack compartment can be left at camp regardless of weather. This pack gives the total capacity of 6000 cubic inches and weights 9.4 lbs. Everything about this pack system was designed to incorporate the other packs into one system. For a hunting trip in the backcoutry the Wholeshabang would be my personal choice.

WARBONNET HAMMOCK (ULTRALIGHT HAMMOCK/QUILT SYSTEM) In an attempt to find an easy light and comfortable sleeping system we looked closely into ultralight hammocks with a quilt system for warmth. I found the perfect ultralight sleeping system with Warbonnet and Enlightened Equipment. We tested the Warbonnet Blackbird XLC Hammock and Rain Tarp with the Enlightened Equipment top and bottom quilt. I was blown away by the ease of use, the comfort and the total weight. Not to mention the fact that level ground is no longer a concern. I slept very comfortably. The hammock features a gear shelf and roomy foot box. The Blackbird XLC hammock with the rain tarp over the top. We had some rain come through in our testing and I felt that the rain fly shape was perfect to keep me and my gear dry. The hammock weights in at 36 ounces and is complete with a bug net to opens the options to sleep in a wide range of climates especially when used with the 20 degree quilts from Enlightened Equipment. The RevelationX/RevoltX quilts are very well made with incredibly packable down filling. I felt zero back chill with the bottom quilt and top quilt system. I personally felt this is an incredibly versatile and useful system from car camping to ultralight backpack hunting and everything in between!



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FALL 2013 MSR HUBBA HUBBA - EDITORS CHOICE Our Editors Choice Award winner, the Hubba Hubba 2-person tent had room to spare on our adventures into the backcountry and with a weight just under 4 lbs was a backpackers dream. Super fast setup and a rugged build make for the perfect ultralight hunting tent.

VASQUE The Vasque Breeze 2 GTX boots are a great early season boot for hunting and hiking. The boot features partial leather/mesh breathable uppers are require a very short break in period. They feel comfortable like a solid running shoe with ankle support. Very light weight but could handle a heavy pack. These boots have a Gortex membrane to help keep you dry with hiking in rain and crossing streams in the wilderness. They are a light enough boot perfect for archery season. We hiked some steep terrain and was impressed both ascending and descending comfort and support.

SCARPA WRANGELL GTX An awesome boot from a company known for top of the line footwear, the Wrangell GTX is one of the most comfortable out of the box puts we’ve tried. A little stiff in the beginning, but the extra support and light weight feel made for long hikes without any foot fatigue. Awesome boot for long hikes and hauling heavy loads in and out of the backcountry.

ENLIGHTENED EQUIPMENT - FEATHERED FRIENDS - HUMMINGBIRD UL 20 When one thinks about quality down bags for the backcountry one of the brands that always comes to mind is Feather Friends. We tested the Hummingbird UL 20. This bag is quality! It features a narrow mummy shape but is still roomy. The soft down and continuous baffles in the bag combined with the Flite ripstop interior make the bag a joy to sleep in. We tested the bag on several mountain trips and fell in love with it! It is very light weight at 1 lb 9 ounces and is rated to 20 degrees. This bag is the ideal backpack/hunting bag.

JET BOIL Our favorite stove on the Mountain is without question the Jet Boil. We used it in everything from car camping trips with the family to boiling water for hot cocoa while ice fishing. The jet boil is very easy to use and incredibly simple to operate. The fuel mixture that is made by JetBoil is an isotane/ butane combination. This allows you to use one fuel source for all weather types and temperatures. We tested the stove in temps below zero to 90 degrees at high elevations and saw no differences in performance. The system is compact and light weight and boils water at incredible speeds. This is a highly recommended gear item for all outdoor and survival situations.

MSR MICRO ROCKET The hands down winner when it comes to saving space without limiting performance! At just 2.6 oz. the MSR Micro rocket boiled a liter of water for us in 3:45 seconds at 7,500 ft elevation. Simple to setup and to operate, the Micro Rocket allows for a fully adjustable flame and with serrated supports our pots held steady and firm despite its small size. Can’t say enough good things about this little guy. It works awesome!

LIGHTWEIGHT GEAR GUIDE MINIWORKS EX WATER FILTER The Compact MSR Miniworks EX is the perfect balance of weight (16 oz) performance (1 liter per minute) and durability for the back country hunter on the go. Outperformed all other filters in its category by our field team. msr/water-treatment-andhydration/category

PACK TOWEL ULTRA LITE TOWEL Super absorbent, soft to the touch and light as a feather at just over 3 oz for the large towel, a welcome addition to any week long back country camp. No more air drying after jumping in the creek for an ice cold bath!. www.cascadedesigns. com/packtowl/category


The Elite Answer is the biggest surprise we’ve had come through our door in a long time. With its silky smooth draw, butter soft release, and arrow speeds in excess of 300 fps, the Elite Answer became the bow that never got put down by our field staff. Very little tuning was required to get this bow driving tacks at a multitude of distances. All-around performance including accuracy, stability, smoothness of shot, and quietness of release made this bow very deserving of our “Editors Choice.”

PRIME IMPACT Although the “Prime” name is gaining in popularity and the Impact is becoming a well know setup around the woods, we feel it still doesn’t have the recognition it deserves. One of the smoothest and most accurate bows on the market, the Impact offers a stability and comfort of grip that is hard to challenge. One of the highlights in shooting this bow was its low noise and non-existent vibration upon release. Truly a pleasure to shoot that should continue to find its way into many a hunters hands this Fall.



QUEST DRIVE - ECONOMY PICK The Quest Drive was a smooth fast shooting bow at a very reasonable price. The draw was sleek straight into the wall with a nice valley, while let down was a breeze. The bow was dead still in the hand during shots with an accuracy that paralleled bows with a much higher price tag.

FALL 2013

NEWCOMER - SCHAFFER OPPOSITION REST Many quality products are coming out of the Schaffer Archery camp and this one is no different. With a unique full arrow containment at rest and full draw, this rest will maximize accuracy while almost eliminating the chance for arrow noise.

TRIED AND TRUE- QUALITY ARCHERY ULTRA REST HDX The only drop away rest with a patented feature that allows the rest to fall away only when the bow is fired, the Ultra Rest HDX is easy to set up and functions flawlessly.

SPOTT HOGG HUNTER This fully equipped hard-mounted site fits directly to any bow with ease. With 2nd and 3rd axis leveling, this is one of the top multipin sites on the market. The sight is extremely durable and unlike some sites we’ve used in the past, it is easy to adjust and maintain settings. Icing on the cake is the wrapped pins which are easily visible in low light conditions.

KTECH DESIGNS - KB411 HARMONIC STABILIZER The KB411 Harmonic Stabilizer features a four-rod configuration utilizing Mathews Harmonic Stabilizer & Harmonic Damper Technology with CNC Machined 6061-T6 Aluminum and high performance carbon fiber shafts and a tunable, efficient dampening system with Harmonic Damper housings.

WISE GUY RELEASE The Wiseguy™ incorporates the lightest trigger of any hunting release ever created with features including micro-adjustable length, fail safe trigger with no trigger travel, rigid body for comfort and speed, magnetic wrist strap, and a quick loading jaw that creates a torque free release when using a D-Loop.

Michael Burrell

Once Upon a Time “W

with dry noisy sticks & pine needles underfoot. ell, no deer in this valley, it’s almost noon Slowly…quietly. Two hours found me barely 1/2 mile and my old army canteen was dry. I headed back to from camp, but I was confident that any animals camp for a pop and to regroup my thoughts. I walked directly ahead had no clue that I was coming as long miles and miles…should have seen a lot of bucks… as the little breeze kept up…just a matter of time. If hmmmm…maybe I’d been doing it wrong. I found a I broke a stick underfoot, I held motionless for a full can of black cherry pop and punched two holes in minute or so in case something heard… then forget the top with my hunting knife. Flopped back on my it heard me… this was my notion. I was sure that the sleeping bag in the laws of nature would noon warmth of the bless me soon…keep tent and it felt good. I going…quiet…into the dozed off…how lucky breeze…slowly.” I felt to go hunting. “I was in a forest None of my buddies of buck brush that got to go. Soon I was populated the ravine. wide awake again…I I felt like another big had dreamed a animal was near me… new plan, a new almost too close for approach…maybe comfort, so I stopped, the oldest approach looking closely all in the world. Stealth around me…sniffing would be the key. I and listening. Was would hunt like my that a kind of snort I ancestors hunted: (1) heard straight ahead? sneak…never make Close…very close… Many hunting events have been retold around the campfire. The a sound, (2) step toe author’s father shares the story of his first successful deer hunt maybe on the other first in gravel & rocks, side of this large heel first in soft dirt, (3) always walk into the breeze— bush in front of me. I looked into the bush trying to no exceptions…this so the deer would not smell me penetrate to the other side with my gaze. I stood a and the harder to hear me, and (4) try to listen to my full minute…waiting for the feeling to go away…but it intuition…feel nature.” didn’t. I moved slowly, each boot step carefully being “I excitedly stuck a can of sardines in my placed as I shifted my weight ever so gently from one pocket, grabbed my gun & ammo, and felt the breeze. foot to the other. I was breathing through my mouth to It was coming directly from the south, so that’s where be more quiet…something was about to happen!” I headed…slowly…quietly…observing…listening… “My gun was off my shoulder and I stepped feeling. I was hardly moving as the brush was thick quietly, rotated the safety lever on my trusty 6.5x55




“When you hear a mule deer story that comes from someone lucky enough to hunt in the 50’s and 60’s you sit down and listen because it’s usually a good one.”

military rifle. My field of view changed ever so slowly as I inched forward around the bush. Suddenly, two bedded deer leaped up right in front of me, wild eyed with nostrils flaring…and a huge buck and I were facing each other not 20 feet apart. I was so nervously fumbling that I put the safety switch back on and took it off again as the doe bounded directly away from me up the steep slope with the buck directly right behind her. What I remembered most was the massive 6x6 non-typical rack outlined in the blue eastern afternoon sky above with a big white butt right below it…so I did the only thing I could at the moment…” This is my dad’s first buck story, experienced as a young boy in New Mexico, and I love hearing it. It’s usually told while sitting alongside a warm fire. Story-telling is as old as mankind. I picture the first of our species expressing their hunt stories around a fire using more of a prehistoric version of charades and some grunts while chewing on a rib—not a whole lot has really changed. Stories have always been the force that have educated, entertained, and inspired human-kind from generation to generation. I know that if history were taught in the form of story-telling, I wouldn’t have forgotten most of it. Although our world’s mode of story-telling is changing, the idea will always be around in one form or another. Whether it’s around the campfire, a movie, photo albums, or this magazine, we as hunters always

like a good story to help fuel our passion and to teach us valuable lessons. When you hear a mule deer story that comes from someone lucky enough to hunt in the 50’s and 60’s you sit down and listen because it’s usually a good one. Today, we hunters are in more perilous times. Our stories may be a bit more uneventful. In the face of continued mule deer declines, we’ve spun wheels looking ahead for solutions to bring deer numbers back. Although it makes more sense that we learn from our past identifying those fundamental factors that produced strong mule deer populations in the 50’s, sadly those elements that were once strong on the western landscape have taken a turn for the worse with virtually irreversible consequences. Without having these key components needed to build a strong deer herd, one’s expectations on deer numbers needs to be realistic. It’s like trying to build a home without having the necessary tools to build it correctly. It’s a sad story in itself. Although I failed statistics miserably, even I can forecast by looking at the deer trends that times might get even tougher for both the mule deer and those that love to hunt them. This trend of less hunting opportunity is difficult to cope with. I’ve read the words “unsuccessful” so many times after the draw results that I force myself to stand in front of the mirror and repeat “I am successful, I’m not a failure,” just to avoid a major personality complex.


Early Fall 2013


These heiroglyphs appear to tell a deer hunt story from hundreds of years ago.

Will this downward trend stop? How many generations are we away from mule deer hunting going the way of the Irish elk? The idea is more than I can bear, but if hunting as we know it were to disappear, what would you like your children’s children to know about your hunting heritage? What would you like them to know about your adventures knowing they may never catch buck-fever or set the crosshairs on their first buck? You need to tell your story. No matter how ordinary your 21st century hunting adventures may seem to you now, today’s hunting opportunities will someday be rich history that will be appreciated—even if it’s appreciated just by you further down the road. I showed a picture to a dear friend of mine, who is in his nineties and suffers from memory loss—a picture of himself proudly holding up one heck of a buck. Not having had the chance to hunt for years, he held his own photo with an excited smile and shook his head, “Man, that guy killed a buck of a lifetime. Who is that?” It wasn’t long ago that our country’s most priceless writings on hunting conservation were recorded by pioneers like Aldo Leopold and Theodore Roosevelt. Their writings helped define hunting as an “expression of love for the natural world.” But you don’t have to be a Patrick McManus to write a great story or a Marty Stauffer to capture your hunt with awardwinning photography, you just need the passion and eagerness to spread that fervor to future generations. Do you enjoy writing? Writing lets you express your own interpretation of your adventures. It allows you to contemplate and tweak your thoughts before jotting them down. Keep a hunting diary or even more, start an on-line blog. Once you’ve compiled a collection of your stories and pictures on a blog, there are websites that’ll bind these memories into a tightly-bound book—a



collection that will be treasured by future generations. Would you prefer catching your adventures on video? Videography is the rawest form of documenting the hunt allowing the viewer to experience the colors, the sounds, and your unrehearsed character on the fly. GoPro style cameras have become popular with their wide-angle lens, mounting-capabilities, and durability. You can strap one on your head, turn it on, and forget you’re recording. Use a still camera to create a photo story of your hunts. A still camera has the ability to stop time in real life. Unlike video, a photograph can be held in the hand and the moment captured immediately explodes onto the viewer’s consciousness, still leaving a little for the viewers own imagination. Whatever your style may be, make it this year’s priorities to tell your stories. Well, the story goes that my dad killed that buck and it pushed 40” wide! Sadly, there aren’t pictures or evidence that the tremendous buck even existed besides the exhilaration in his voice while telling his story…“I shot it squarely in the butt.” My dad always stops his story here giving an explanation that it was his only shot. He then tells about how proud he was when his older brother and hunting mentor arrived to help haul out the buck: “Richard had a hard time holding back his emotions, with a blushed faced and a tear on his cheek as he imagined what must have happened. ‘I’ve never killed a buck like this, I’ve never even seen a buck like this!’ he said. He surveyed the thick quarters in the brush and asked how I got so close. ‘I snuck up on it,’ I answered. He laughed out, ‘Yeah right!’ and something about beginners luck. We just left it at that. Yep, times were different back then…the antlers kicked around our old farm a few years and then disappeared forever.”


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uch to my utter joy, and dare I say utter surprise, my arrow once again sailed squarely into the lovely crease on the unsuspecting herbivore yonder for yet another perfect kill on another perfect hunt for another perfect load of perfect venison. Don’t think for one minute I will ever take such luck for granted, and this killing spree stuff could become addictive if this keeps up. I’m sure gonna try with all I’ve got, that’s for sure. I have spent my entire 64 years busting my ass in a relentless pursuit to be the best marksman I can be. Like every shooter and every hunter I know, it is our deep, heart and soul desire and dream to be a killer “aim small miss” small sniper with guns, bows, slingshots,



spears, knives, tomahawks, daggers, balls, spitballs, dirtballs, peashooters, rubberbands, rocks and every other imaginable projectile we can fling, whip, shoot, throw, toss, blow, lob or sail yonder. Projectile management is clearly in our manly DNA. These glorious good old days of big game hunting around the world provide more killing opportunities than ever since the slaughter of 60 million buffalo and a few trillion passenger pigeons. Good God that must have been fun. Really stupid and irresponsible, but insane fun I bet. Now, mind you, there is proof positive that we learned our painful and embarrassing lessons well from the unregulated commercial slaughter of game back in the 1800s, and with strong “err of the side of caution”

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Supportive Performance Insoles in every boot High traction lightweight K-TalonTM outsoles Waterproof, breathable Windtex membranes Various insulation levels to choose from Narrow, Medium, and Wide Widths

HUNTING SOCKS The fit of every boot can be enhanced by the use of high quality socks. Constructed with the perfect blending of fine natural and synthetic fibers, the new Kenetrek Hunting Socks are form fitting with reinforced padding at the toes, heels, and under the ball of the foot to dramatically increase comfort and durability.


This last summer, a couple of your competitors sent me boots to try out, and I must admit, one of them (like my Kenetreks) felt very comfortable right out of the box. I was lucky enough to draw a rare mountain goat tag this year, and as I prepared for my hunt, I tested these other boots in some aggressive terrain. Well, it didn’t take long to discover that they didn’t hold a candle to your boots. After an afternoon of climbing through shale up above timberline, I couldn’t wait to get them off. Your boots are absolutely the most comfortable I’ve ever worn, and I don’t just wear them on hunts - I wear them to do everything! When I finally went on my goat hunt, I covered some of the most aggressive terrain I’ve ever seen, and not once were my feet uncomfortable. I was blown away… For two years now I’ve worn these Mountain Extremes, and they look like they have at least that long left in them before they “might” need to have the soles replaced. What a pair of boots! Danny Farris, Peyton CO

Call today for a free catalog or the location of a dealer near you.

1-800-232-6064 Early Fall 2013 95


dLL ndLR on bo cc bon ccu m Acc m/A m/Accu om/ co e ler N lle Nos

01 3701 .3701 5.37 85 285 02 00. 800

ps 3200 ffpps 3200 320

fpss 33000 fps 230 23

ps ps 300 ffps 300 1130 13

self-imposed modern hunting restrictions based on sustain yield science, there is no danger of that crazy decimation ever happening again. We will make damn sure of that. For many, many years now, our annual game harvest approach of erring on the side of caution has paid off bigtime, with most states offering increased bag limits and expanded seasons over the years, so those of us who really like to hunt a lot can really have the time of our lives each fall and winter. Growing up as a gungho hunter in the 1950s and 60s, we were allowed to only kill one deer a year. I admit I rarely did, but after that one kill and a long season ahead of us, what the heck were die hard deer hunters supposed to do then? Go shopping? I don’t think so. I always dreamed of hunting those states with liberal bag limits in hopes of extending my intense love of the hunt. Bought a lot of chicken and beef in those days and it wasn’t much fun. So now days as I gear up for the fall, my mind races with gleeful visions of hundreds of days hunting with a serious flow of backstraps pretty much a sure thing. I cannot begin to adequately express how incredibly happy that makes this old deer hunter. So with stacks of tags and long seasons to enjoy, we literally whack em and stack em, maximizing the sheer joys of hunting with the rewards of balanced herds and tons of pure protein for our families, friends, neighbors and charities galore where the gift of pure venison is appreciated beyond belief. Of course with the ever present lunatic fringe of ignorant people out there, (they have a president for not so goodness sakes) there will always be the squawkers and denial goons complaining of “game hogs” and “serial animal killers”. You know; hippies and dopers on parade, clueless to the reality of game populations and the responsible and intelligent harvest necessary to bring about balance every natural season of harvest. Little things like that. I suppose you don’t have to smoke dope to be a dope, but it sure helps. It’s actually fun to fan the flames of ignorance, as it brings a little humor and extra joy to the whole hunting, killing, sharing procedure. If you’re not

upsetting goofballs, you are probably a goofball. I can close my eyes anytime and relive each and every arrow, each and every encounter, each and every critter, each and every challenge of getting to full draw, each and every arrow, and each and every smiles for a job well done. A glowing Lumenok disappearing into that sweet spot is without a doubt one of life’s greatest joys. More greatest joys are better than fewer greatest joys, and I’m going all out to smile myself to death someday. Now that’s life! Less is not more. Don’t kid yourself. All that nonstop hardcore practice is truly paying off for this old killer and I’m keeping it up. Arrow after arrow is finding its way home more and more often these days, and I am so very happy to report that the cleansing rages on, the balancing is damn near perfect, the bloodtrails short, the happiness thick, the backstraps ultra yummy and the Nugent’s and many hungry Americans are dining on God’s finest nutrition. Thank You Lord. I truly love Your renewable resource thing. Godbless renewable resources and lots of them.

Early Fall 2013


TZ CH-Illustrated-1-2pg-Tenzing Ad_5-6.pdf



2:28 PM










Parting Shot 98


Stopping to listen to the Rusa roar!


Z3 & Z5

THE PERFECT COMPLEMENT TO YOUR HUNTING FIREARM Total concentration and accuracy are what count when you’re hunting. This is why you need a rifle scope that is in perfect harmony with your hunting firearm: slim design, powerful optics, and reliability in the face of any challenge. You can choose from two types of rifle scope: the rugged yet slim Z3 scopes, or the versatile Z5 scopes that offer high magnification and a large field of view. Both deliver optimum performance even in poor light conditions. You can decide on the type of rifle scope you want, according to your personal hunting requirements. When seconds are crucial – SWAROVSKI OPTIK.


Hunting Illustrated Early Fall 2013, Big Elk Issue  

Monster bulls inside! Also, see Denny Austad's 272-inch monster muley, along with great stories and articles from Eva Shockey, Ted Nugent,...