President’s Message - Billy Lewis Greetings All,
By the time this reaches you our Spring turkey & bear seasons will be upon as and with any luck at all Spring will have actually arrived by then. Here in the SW portion of the state we have been getting pounded with a flurry of Spring snowfall and our local ski area has 99” of base as of today-April 6th. I don’t expect to see many bears in the usual spots until a bit later in the season, but since your’s truly was lucky enough to draw another turkey permit for our local birds, I should at least be able to get some tension on the string a bit sooner than later. Moving on to more important business, we had our most well attended convention yet this past January at Chico Hot Springs resort, with over 125 folks at the banquet. I want to extend a HUGE thank you to all those who helped in so many ways to make this gathering such a success, especially our donors who continue to be extremely generous despite trying economic times for all of us. Many thanks as well to Marv Clyncke for making the trip from CO to spend the weekend sharing his pictures and adventures with us, and for donating one of his custom scrimshaw buckles to the cause. I also want send an extra special thank you to all of the members who stepped up and helped man the registration table, gather donations, sell tickets, take pictures etc… which allowed me to actually visit with a few folks instead of simply run around like the proverbial headless chicken for the whole weekend. The feedback I received from those who attended Chico was almost entirely positive, and we have reserved the resort for next year’s gathering on Jan 29th & 30th, so mark your calendars now. I would also add that any vendors who are planning to donate and display their wares at the convention need to reserve a vendor space as EARLY as possible (like now would be OK), because our vendor area is pretty limited in size (10 tables ish) and will likely fill up very quickly, so consider yourselves warned. On the TBM business side of things, we have officially received our incorporated status from the state of MT and the non-profit application is in the processing phase at this time. We are still confirming a site for the 2010 North American Longbow Safari, and I expect that I will be asking for input via the email tree in the next month or so to make our final decision on which of the 3 current sites being considered seems the most favorable/practical to all of you. If you have not been receiving regular email updates/requests from myself, Chad Sivertsen, or Yana over the last couple months while the legislature has been in session, then that means we (TBM) do NOT have your email in our list, so please send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org ASAP if you wish to be part of the discussions and receive updates beyond the Bi-annual issues of the Voice. In regards to the Legislative session that is wrapping up as we speak, the TBM has been able to finally have our voice heard both as a group as well as individually on a number of pieces of legislation that came down the pike this year. We all need to extend our sincere gratitude to Chad Sivertsen who pretty much singlehandedly took on the project of organizing all the links, committee & representative info, as well as all the bill status, amendments, and verbage that you have been receiving over the last couple months. Without Chad’s time and dedication to this, we would have had difficult time keeping you so well informed, and give you the opportunity to have your voices heard. I hope that most of you took full advantage of this great opportunity to be part of the legislative process, and took the time to contact your representatives on the bills we have been monitoring. The good news is that through our collective efforts, the crossbow was kept out of our archery season and the FWP commission has now been authorized to establish archery seasons for bears, wolves and lions. The bad news is that the anti harboring, full size license plate requirement for ATV’s, and leashed tracking dog bills did not pass. I’ll leave it to all of you to come up with your own reasons as to why that might be, but suffice it to say that the opposition was pretty well organized and unfortunately included several “bowhunters” who felt these issues were not pertinent enough to either bowhunting specifically or too controversial to even take a position on. I’ve argued til I’m blue in the face with several of them to no avail, and with the session nearing an end and most of the bills status well established at this point, I’m beginning to look forward to the next tentative session agenda which will be here before we know it. We will keep you posted In closing I would remind you that our next gathering & meeting will be the Moose Creek Rendevous taking place June 2628th, South of Bozeman. Look for more info, directions etc… elsewhere in this issue of the Voice. Best of Luck to all of you with the Spring turkeys & bruins, and the Big 3 lottery as well. Hope to see many of you in Moose Creek. Cheers, November 2008 Billy
2009 TBM Legislative Review
If you followed the legislature lately you likely realize anti-hunters are not the only threat to hunting. Some groups seek to gain financially by controlling licenses or access or relegating wildlife to lowest priority status. Often legislation favoring these financial interests has a negative impact on the average hunter. It will take vigilance and effort to ensure bowhunting’s future. Don’t let the self serving financial interests shove bowhunting, quality habitat and wildlife populations aside. Chad Sivertsen During the 2009 Session, the TBM followed 23 bills. Bills that if passed would have impacted bowhunting in Montana in some way. Newsletter space precludes detailed discussion of these bills, but here is a brief review. Passed bills The following bills passed and were supported by TBM. HB74 authorizes archery seasons for bear, lion and wolf. FWP can now create these seasons. SJ15 urges vigorous defense of gray wolf delisting. HB218 clarifying prohibitions on the use of artificial light to hunt and on the waste of fur-bearing animals TBM stance of these bills was neutral. HB137 a bill to revise license benefits for hunter access program passed. TBM stance on this bill was neutral. SB164 would have restricted FWP ability to acquire land for recreation and HB443 have given wildlife low priority against commercial interests. Both bills were heavily amended to alleviate much of the concern and they passed. TBM opposed SB32 over concerns that disability certification can become too easy. This has happened in other states and is used by the crossbow lobby to get crossbows in archery season. The bill did pass. Failed bills We supported SB383 to require full size license plates on ATVs and HB614 to make it a crime to ride illegally on public lands. Many members are concerned about ATV abuse and disruption of their hunts. Unfortunately, both of these bills were tabled. SB336 would have allowed the use of leashed dogs to recover wounded game. We supported this; it passed the Senate by a large majority but stalled in the House. TBM opposed HB434, HB558, HB482, SB183 and SB436 and all were defeated. HB434, the crossbow bill created a lot of interest with many folks against crossbows in archery season for disabled. Montana already has a system to accommodate those with disabilities. This was demonstrated at the hearing and the bill was killed. SB436, a bill to create Outfitter sponsored antelope tags also created considerable interest. It passed the Senate but was fortunately stopped in the House. At this writing it is not completely done but will likely die. There are a great many hunters that are very unhappy with the way outfitters control and dominate so much hunting in Montana, both on public and private land. There is a rising voice of sportsmen that want to see more control of outfitter operations. HB558 would have taken money from Block Management and was tabled in committee. HB482 would have required the state to pay for ranching losses and was tabled. SB183 concerned many that it was unwise to go this route at this point in time. It would have cost FWP federal funds and could have put Montana in a “wolf Iimbo”. While the proposal is good in theory, the reality was too uncertain. It missed transmittal deadline and died. At this time SB31, SB217, and SB402 are either tied or tabled in committee and are probably dead. SB31 would revise FWP Commissioner qualifications to give more control to large landowners. Tie vote in committee. SB217 could have cost FWP millions and also forced low game populations. It was tabled in committee. SB402 is an attempt to circumvent the game farm hunting laws that were passed a few years ago. Game farms are a cancer and the public has paid too much already to clean up thier mess. They are a serious threat to our wild game populations. This bill is tied in the House Judiciary Committee and will hopefully stay there.
News and Events Traditional Bowhunters of Montana Annual Summer Rendezvous June 26th - 28th -2009 30+ 3-D Targets Bow Birds & Running Deer Location-Moose Creek Meadows Camping Area-S of Bozeman Directions- Take Hwy 191 South from the Belgrade Exit on I-90 Travel South on 191 for 31.7 miles Between mile marker 57& 56 is Moose Creek Rd, #479 Turn Left (East) on Moose Creek Rd for approximately 3 miles, at which point you will have arrived at shoot site Equipment- Longbows and Recurves only, Broadheads Allowed Cost- $10 per day,$15 for weekend-*NON-MEMBERS WELCOME* o o o o
Shoot as much as you like Non-Competitive Format-No Scorecards unless you want ‘em Courses will be open Fri PM, all day Saturday and til 12PM ish on Sunday Primitive Camping is free Friday-Sunday, Porta-Pots will be provided
Food-Free Hog Roast Sat Evening for all registered shooters-Bring a side dish to share & BYOB
For additional information: www.tradbowmt.org or Contact Billy Lewis at 406-220-1837 or via email at email@example.com
20th Annual Western States Traditional Rendezvous 2009
Jim Brackenbury Memorial - Hosted by the Idaho Traditional Bowhunters May 23-25, 2009 Events: Camping: Magic Mountain Ski Area • Multiple 3-D Courses • Primitive Camping Twin Falls, Idaho • Novelty Shoots • You Pack It In You Pack It Out • Room For RV’s And Trailers • Kid’s Range • Food Concession On Site • Practice Area • Dutch Oven Cookoff • Pets Allowed • Money Shoot Sunday Morning • Blanket Shoot Monday For More Information Contact: • And More Blake Fisher - 208-867-2703 or at firstname.lastname@example.org Dake Akenbauer - 208-343-5992 or at email@example.com www.idahotraditionalbowhunters.com
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Supporters of the TBM - 2009 Archery Past 19417 Indian Summer Rd. Bend, OR. 97702 Banovich Art, Inc. 2 Pine Creek Rd. Livingston, MT. 59047 Bear’s Paw Archery 230 Juniper Ln Lakeside, MT. 59922 Big Sky Archery 120 Pollywog Belgrade, MT. 59714 Big Sky Embroidery 1014 W Park St #4 Livingston, MT. 59047 Bill Owens 8408 Little Gully Run Bozeman, MT. 59715 Bob Morgan PO Box 1995 Colstrip, MT. 59323 Brant Oswald 117 S 9th St Livingston, MT. 59047 Braveheart Archery 10708 Hickman Heights Rd Kansas City MO 64137 Camp Chef 675 N. 600 W. Logan, UT. 84321 Centaur Archery 104 Highland Dr Corvallis, MT. 59828 Chad Sivertsen 1091 Blue Slide Rd Thompson Falls, MT. 59873 Chad Yoakam 25 Guthrie Lane Livingston, MT. 59047 Craig Hermance 230 Tower Rd Belgrade, MT. 59714 Don Thomas 1898 Timberline Dr. Lewistown, MT. 59457 Doug Campbell 46 W Boulder Rd McLeod, MT. 59052 Eclipse Broadheads 11067 Red Maple Dr. Boise, ID. 83709 Frontier Anglers 680 N. Montana Dillon, MT. 59725 Full Draw Outfitters 32817 Lake View Rd Trinidad, CO. 81082 MT. 59803 Gary Carvajal 10800 Oral Zumwalt Way Missoula, Gene Wensel PO Box 234 Libertyville, IA. 52567 Headwaters Seat Covers 702 3rd Ave W Three Forks, MT. 59752 Jerry Krauth 26 Washbowl Drive Columbus, MT. 59019 Jim Onderko PO Box 818 Darby, MT. 59829 John McDaniel 14361 Norris Rd. Manhattan, MT. 59741 John Ulberg PO Box 920 E Helena, MT. 59635 Joseph Myers 2224 Hwy 87 E #219 Billings, MT. 59101 Justin Deacon 421 W 5th Ave N Columbus, MT. 59015 Karen campbell 46 W. Boulder Rd McLeod, MT. 59052 Kent & Debbie Brown PO Box 776 Columbus, MT. 59019 Leo Schmaus Box 218 Hardin, MT. 59034 Mark Baker 5046 US 89 South Livingston, MT. 59047 Marv Clynke 7190 S. Boulder Rd. Boulder CO. 80303 Mike Shepard 351 7th Ave. E. N. Columbia Falls MT. 59912 Montana Decoy 2690 Wagoneer Rd Colstrip, MT. 59323 Mountain Top Traditional Arrows 1758 Three Mile Dr. Kalispell, MT. 59901 Nick Siebrasse 4996 Bullhook Rd Havre, MT. 59501 Orion Institute/ Jim Posewitz 219 Vawter Helena, MT. 59604 Pronghorn Bows 2491 W 42nd St Casper, WY 82604 Robertson Stykbow 989 Stykbow Ln Forest Grove, MT. 59441 Rusty Izatt 949 Constitution Ave Billings, MT. 59102 Sapphire Archery 2705 Sage Springs Ct. Billings, MT. 59106 Schafer Bows 312 Helena Flats Rd. Kalispell, MT. 59901 Schnee’s Boots and Shoes 121 W. Main St. Bozeman, MT. 59715 Screaming Eagle PO Box 96 Ovando, MT. 59854 Sportsmans Warehouse 2214 Tschache Ln. Bozeman MT. 59718 Sportsmans Warehouse 3676 Pierce Pkwy Billings, MT. 59106 Todd Alisch 2520 38th St SE Havre, MT. 59501 Toelke Archery 3280 Lost Creek Lane Ronan, MT. 59864 Traditional Bowhunter Magazine PO Box 519 Eagle, ID. 83616 Vikki Robertson 989 Stykbow Ln Forest Grove, MT. 59441 Whispering Wind Arrows 77 Pointe Way Hamilton, MT. 59840 Yellowstone Bows 280 Hwy 14A East Lovell, WY. 82431 Yellowstone Gateway Sports 1106 W. Park Street Livingston, MT. 59047
Fir shafts, Youth Quiver & Armgard, Pro dippers Artist Proof Whitetail Print Flemish String Jig (2) X-Scent Shirts Embroidered Fleece Blanket Longbow Country Book Stone Knife Float Trip for 2 1/2 dz STOS & 1/2 dz tusker broadheads Camp Chef Stove, Dutch Ovens, Cookbooks, Cobbler & Skookie Makers, Candle, Cutting Boards, & Hot Dog Cookers 2 Custom Armguards with Compass Helle Knife Kit, Muzzy Decals, & 2 Hats Full Day Float Trip for 2 Log Coffee Table 4 Autographed Books Custom Knife 1 Dozen Broadheads and Eclipse Hats Yellow Jacket Broadhead Target 10 VHS Tapes and 4 DVDs Game Cart Best of TBM Book & 2 Primal Dreams DVDs Custom Seat Covers- ½ set Decorative Arrow with P&Y Commemorative Head (2) Tanning Kits Books, Wingbone Call & Lessons Framed Watercolor Print 1 Doz Custom Arrows Walrus Ivory and Knapped Stone Knife Gift Basket Calendar, Mug, Wine, & Candles $100 Cash & Broadhead Target Selfbow Scrimshaw beltbuckle and speaking fee 1 Dozen Arrows, 5 Dozen Shafts & King of the Mtn Bowhunters Jacket Antelope Decoy Pair 1 Dozen Arrows 2 Dozen Shafts Autographed 3 Book Set $35 Cash and 3 Books $250 Gift Certificate Custom Hand Tooled Armguard Custom Longbow Kids Longbow Pair of Schnee’s Boots Screaming Eagle Treestand 20% off coupons & (10) $20 Gift Cards 20% off Coupons & (2) $50 Gift Cards 2 Dozen Shafts Custom Recurve & $100 Gift Certificate Books, Stickers, Apparel & License Plate Holders 4 Candle Set 1 Doz Custom Arrows 2 Dozen Fir Shafts Pair of Binoculars
First Elk Hunt of 2008 by Ernie McKenzie
I got to meet a good buddy, Doug, from Washington that drew a Montana tag. He shoots the number 4 Hawk bow, bought it to get my business rolling and get me some material money for building. Then, he loved it enough to drop his compound and commence to killing a moose, big bull elk and two mule deer with his Hawk. So, I was hoping to get him setup with some good hunting, in my main honey hole. When I pulled up Friday, Doug’s truck was the only vehicle at the trailhead. Now, the trailhead provides access to an immense amount of country....so vehicles start pulling in…two with four-wheelers, one with a horse, one with two bikes, one with one bike, six dudes with horses (whom set up a two tent camp in my favorite spot...brutal), then one more with a four wheeler! In the morning, opening day, two more trucks with just walking dudes pull in. Now, the country is BIG…but not THAT big! Before this, I’ve NEVER EVER had to deal with people in this spot, times are changing. Doug and I decide to try a spot out I’d been eyeing on a map, but never been to. Cutting to the chase, there was no fresh sign and no bugling at first light. We set up near a saddle and decide to try calling…stir things up a bit. We spread out 80 yards and cow called some, then Doug chuckled lightly a few times, and continued cow calling. I quickly became bored with the situation (this was within three minutes) took my camera out and proceeded to take pictures of my bow leaning against a tree when I caught movement downhill and to the right. I saw a nice five point bull slowly walking up the trail which went past me about 10 yards out! I gently put the camera down and grabbed my bow, nocked an arrow and began breathing deeply to keep my nerves in check. The bull hung up about 40 yards. There was lots of trees, big and small, so his vitals were only visible for a second or two every now and again, and at 40 yards I wanted a good clean shot at the vitals. He paced back and forth at 4060 yards for about 25 minutes, never making a peep while Doug cow called and bugled the whole time, not even knowing I had a bull in sight! Of course, after about 25 minutes, NO mountain winds are THAT consistent and the inevitable happened….end of story one. We went back to camp, looked at maps and wondered how the crowds were doing in the high country when we decided on an evening hunt. We found some great meadows and wallows but only heard a couple distant bugles, walked out through deadfall and found thick grizzly sign in the dark… pucker factor of 2 million for me!! No problems though, of course. Sunday morning, a day I will not soon forget! We left for another trailhead in the dark, getting off about one minute before another pair of guys (which were very courteous and changed their plans as we were ahead of them). After about 45 minutes hiking in the dark we heard our first bugle; up ahead, in the bottom, not far off the trail! It was just getting light! We hustled and hustled but the bulls were just feeding uphill and easily left us in the dust, regardless of our calling. After a short stop to try and make a new plan, we heard another bugle up the hill a few hundred yards so decided to close the gap by about 2/3rds and see if we could rile him. We stepped into an avalanche chute and there was a rag horn bull feeding about 400 yards up the hill! We froze and he calmly fed into the timber, but only after we heard and noticed him hearing a bull raking a tree off to the north a little bit. Doug not being interested in a raghorn so much he said, “head up after him and I’ll stay back and call.” So off I went. Once I got to about 50 yards from where he went into the thick timber I knocked and arrow and snuck into the brush. Not real brush, but deadfall and some young spruce and fir that basically “act” like brush. There were lanes where I could see 90 yards, but in general I could only see 10-25 yards. I knew that bull had to be close, so I was going REAL slow, and since I was confident he was right there, I started picking grass and flower heads, to sound like an elk grazing. The ground was just too loud to think I could be dead silent. Within a few minutes I saw movement and noticed tan coloring about 25 yards up the hill, very well obscured. However, the “raghorn” with closer scrutiny, transformed into a 280 six point bull! Then more movement and I realized, that’s not the rag horn either, but a good five point! Finally more movement...and yep there’s the raghorn. All bulls within 30 yards of me, but not even a HOPE of a shot! I continue to tell myself, just be patient…it will happen. Within 10 seconds, the six point turns and starts walking slowly, directly toward me. I’m standing next to a bushy little Spruce tree, but if he continues the way he’s coming he’s going to pop out looking directly at me head on! There was nothing I could do, he’s facing me already and if I move to get more obscure, he’ll see my movement. At the LAST second, he cuts to his right (my left), and gets on a trail that pops out four yards away from me. He then steps through
the big tree limbs and is directly behind a bushy Spruce tree, about eight yards from me, but continues walking straight towards me, and the spruce I’m using as a blind. Now, I’ve my bow situated so I’m prepared to shoot to my left, where the best lane is for him to take as he passes my Spruce blind. However, if he chooses to cut to his left, I’ll have to make a big movement in order to shift around to shoot the other direction. That made me nervous. Luckily, the bull walks straight up to the bushy spruce and instead of cutting left or right, simply stops directly behind the tree. The tree is thick and I can barely see the elk through it, but I can hear noises that I have not heard before. Wow, I think some were digestive guttural noises coming from the elk! I was looking, trying to figure out how close he really was, but because he was so obscured, I just couldn’t focus on anything. That’s when I caught movement up above and I saw that I could have reached out with my longbow and tap him on the antler! My heart starts thumping so loudly that I honestly wonder if he could hear it. I breathe deeply and quietly and start to settle down until he gives a full bugle and chuckled straight into the spruce...straight into MY FACE! Now, I’ve been close to many elk bugling, but within six feet…. that was cool! While Doug keeps calling down from below, I think “c’mon dude [elk], step out and let’s get this deal done!” Then the elk starts to step out, very slightly quartering away, at maybe 3-4 yards. Then, he gives another 7 or 8 note chuckle, WAY COOL! Then, maybe 30 seconds goes by and for no apparent reason he spins and bolts about 10 yards back up the hill to where the other two bulls are standing. I believe he must have picked up a single molecule of my scent, as the wind was stagnant and I think we were just too close to each other for him not to get a whiff. The five point stepped into an opening about 35 yards out for maybe two seconds, not quite enough time for me to react. After that it was just glimpses of them off and on for maybe four or five minutes as they suspiciously trailed away from where I was. As I trailed after them, I never got any good angles or clear shots. After losing, them I decide to find Doug, tell the story, and let them settle down. We never heard or saw them again. Over the next three hours, we worked on two more bull elk bugling, and then about noon things went quiet and we decided to give them a break. We didn’t want to work them too hard and spoil it for Doug on Monday. The weekend started out interesting and a little discouraging, but finished up pretty good.
The first bull was a raghorn 5 x 5, tongue sticking out, mewing like a cow in submission to the much larger 5 x 5. That was in tow at 35 yards, they turned and walked broadside to my position, slightly downhill. Unlike my father, I’ve never been fortunate enough to harvest an animal with my recurve. This distance was too far for me, and I knew it, but a thought ran through my mind – “you’re never going to shoot anything if you don’t try.” The two bulls were in a slow walk, with the smaller bull in the lead. I focused on the raghorn, my desires revolving around the successful harvest of a bull elk with my bow and not the size of the rack on the animal. To stop the bull I attempted to mew like a cow as I drew my bow, but no sound came out of my mouth. Instinctively the shot felt right and so I took it. I’ve heard people talk about how time seems to slow down in those moments following a shot. I remember seeing the arrow in flight as it covered the space between us and believing that the aim was true. The bull did not react to the shot. I can still see him in the shadow of my streaking arrow. But my optimism was shattered as the arrow struck the bull in the side, well to the rear of his vitals. My heart stopped beating. I stood shell-shocked, processing what my eyes saw. The bull ran a short distance, turned and simply stared at the arrow sticking out of his side. The second bull paused, and then bolted towards the area they originally came from. The raghorn spun around and began to follow the larger bull. I did my best to control my disjointed emotions as I watched the bulls run away. Suddenly my brain screamed “Call, call!” Dad was positioned to my right and the thought ran through my mind that if there was going to be any kind of an ending to this story that would let me breathe again, an ending that wouldn’t have me putting away my bow for good, I would have to somehow get dad a shot on that bull. I began to scream through my cow call, incessant, pleading mews. Some higher power was watching over us on that day because both those bulls stopped in their tracks, turned around and walked to within 20 paces of my father. From my vantage point it looked like dad was engulfed in a spruce tree. The only clearly visible sign of him was a bow limb and an arrow sticking out from the tree. All of a sudden all hell broke loose. The raghorn spun around, crashed through a small tree and took off to our right, while the larger bull went off down the hill. After a few minutes passed, dad began to wave me over. I am not certain how many deer my father has harvested in his life with compound, recurve and longbow. I would guess 35, give or take, yet he’d never been fortunate enough to take an elk with a bow. When I got over to him the light in his eye was as bright as it was the day I shot my first buck. He told me his version of what just happened, ending with that he’d gotten an arrow off on one of the bulls. I then relayed my story. He had no idea that I had even shot, as he couldn’t see me or the bulls from where he stood when they initially came up the hill. We walked over to where the bull was standing when dad shot him. There, lying side by side, were both our arrows. My arrow was intact, with half the shaft covered in blood, whereas dad’s arrow was broken in half with both pieces covered in blood. It now became clear that dad had indeed shot the same bull as I did. The only uncertainty was where dad’s arrow struck the elk. He said that the arrow caught a branch in flight and was deflected downward and that contact had come as the bull had begun to spin. After only about a half hour had passed we were forced to begin blood trailing as dark rain clouds loomed overhead. The bull had taken off through thick downfall, and although the going was slow as we picked our way along, the blood trail was fairly easy to follow. But as the distance continued to grow, the blood trail became more and more sparse, eventually almost ceasing. All of my dad’s blood trailing experience was heavily relied upon as we found ourselves following a bull that was quickly drying up. As minutes turned into hours and the distance grew to nearly a half mile, the inevitable doubt began to creep into my mind. The bull had come to a clearing with a creek crossing and after 40 minutes searching at this spot we could find no blood and no evidence of which way he’d gone. But my dad kept preaching patience and thoroughness. We kept scouring the earth for any hint of the bull. I was on hands and knees, trying to smell the bull, when I spotted a pin-sized drop of blood on a blade of grass. This gave us a general direction and step by step we advanced. The terrain gradually began to climb until we were at the base of a steep hillside. As the bull began to climb the hill, the blood began to flow more readily and soon the trail was once again clearly laid out before us. Before I realized
it, we were standing over the dead bull. He had bedded down just beneath the crest of the hill and when he rose the tracks indicated he lost balance and came crashing back down the hill, sliding to his death underneath some downfall. As we began to field dress this wonderful animal we were like two kids at Christmas. Happy, joyous, and so terribly relieved that Santa had finally decided to come. It does seem as though the heavens blessed us that day. Despite facing a very difficult blood trail, one that dad said was the most challenging of his life, we managed to find the one clue left for us that sent us in the right direction at the most critical time. What’s even more remarkable is that it began to rain within minutes of us finding the bull. We were able to salvage all the meat, despite the warm temperatures and the nearly 2.5 hours it took us to find the bull. In examining the elk, we discovered that when deflected, dad’s arrow had cut the bull’s femoral artery in his hindquarter. It wasn’t the ideal scenario but given the circumstances laid out before us, we both felt extremely fortunate it turned out the way it did. Looking back, I wouldn’t change one aspect of that day. My father was there to help correct my wrong, just as he has done on so many other occasions. We came together to harvest a bull elk on public land in one of the most beautiful places in this great state of ours. Maybe someday we will have the opportunity to do it again.
Montana Spring Turkey I could feel cold air breach each layer of my insulated camos, The frost was light, the air was crisp, it burned inside my nose. Spring Turkey Season is being born, as Sol melts darkness from the sky, Anticipation welling up, I feel the mountain’s morning sigh. A jack pine pressed against my back; bluebirds amorously sing, I’m liv’n free when I stalk the tom, with arrow, stick and string. Reaction to a raven’s caw, gobbling ignites the crystalline air, I think this one’s too easy; I think this won’t be fair! An apparition before my eyes? A tom appears just to my right, I haven’t even scratched my slate, this season’s done … it’s barely light. I draw my bow, I pick my mark, the cedar yearns to fly, When suddenly there’s an awful sound, buzzing splits the cloudless sky! In a wink the tom is gone, as is my new self bow, Why is it dark, what is that sound, what’s that numeric glow? My clock’s alarm … it’s 4 AM … the time set to rise and shine, Three hours to get in the hills, before it’s shooting time! The eve before the opening morn, employed mystic powers it seems, Immersing this old hunter, into techno-colored dreams. I climb into my hunting clothes, grab my gear, head to the truck, I’ll be in place before it’s light, to replay that vision’s luck! I could feel cold air breach each layer of my insulated camos, The frost was light, the air was crisp, it burned inside my nose. Spring Turkey Season is being born, as Sol melts darkness from the sky, Anticipation welling up, I feel the mountain’s morning sigh. -JarMarch 30, 2009 © J. R. Strand, Cottonwood Creek Productions
Under the Fence, Antelope Do! by Bob Morgan
I went to my water hole corral blind later that morning than normal. I noticed a buck headed that way as I neared the blind. A few days earlier I’d been in the blind. There was barbed wire on the north and east sides and on the south and west sides were 2 x 12 boards with about two inch spaces between each board. The corral was over and around a water tank that had been buried and had a small portion of it sticking out. Making it accessible to the cows for drinking with the over flow pond twenty yards to the south. There had been a fire there the year before. The fire was caused by a meadowlark, somehow shorting out the electrical wiring and then falling onto a bunch of big round bales. The wood on the side of the corrals was burnt in some places and I had cut out a somewhat small shooting hole with my leatherman in one of the burnt spots. While waiting, I also had cut long stalks of grass and bent them over the wire that was strung along the top of the corral blind and tied them with another piece of grass to hold them from falling off. There were some small chokecherry trees growing in the southeast corner on the bank of dirt sloping downhill. I noticed the cows had eaten the grass I had tied to fence as I neared the blind. I put my pack, bow and quiver through the fence and entered the corral blind through the hole under the fence and between the chokecherry trees. I was looking west when I saw an antelope running my way and disappearing into a draw between us. Time passes…waiting, and waiting still no antelope, hmm! Then, all of a sudden there he was, walking hurriedly to my right headed north. I had my bow lying on the ground with arrow knocked. He is walking slowly to my left looking and feeding south. A small amount of time passes and now he is running to the over flow water. As he drinks I reach for my bow and try to position myself for a shot through one of my shooting holes that I had made by putting a few old boards on top of the existing ones to cover any movement. Moving slowly since my back drop grass is now gone, I wait for the shot. The antelope buck is quartering too much to me. Then he blows out of there and is now standing on top of a little knoll. Leaving me confused I think, “man, why wasn’t I ready?” I’m still looking at him standing there and wondering what happened when I look down and see a bigger buck standing where he was standing. Big daddy is quartering too much also, so I wait. Then he turns a little, and I shoot. The shot looks good. He busts out of there and stops on top of the knoll a little further east of where the smaller buck had stopped. Looking like nothing had happened he then lays down. Then gets up, traveling he goes a ways to the west and lays down again. There are two other smaller bucks watching the one I shot when he gets up and starts coming back towards me, lays down again and dies. I had seen the arrow come after the buck turned and started up the hill. When I got to the arrow it was broke in half so the broad head was still in him. I followed the blood trail from the arrow, not much blood but a little where he laid down. The two other bucks were still watching. I took a few pictures and then tagged and dressed the buck out. The hit was through one lung, the liver and lower stomach before exiting out and hitting his back leg. Later, I found the very tip of the Zwickey head sticking into his knee bone joint when I skinned the buck. “So that’s why the shaft broke,” I think to myself. I drag him into a low spot and went to get my photographer, Mrs. Morgan. Jan took the picture; she had a hard time with the fence between her and the antelope. In order to get the shot she had to crawl under the fence, like antelope do!