Posts Tagged bow and arrow

My Perfect Turkey Hunt (Non-Hunters May Want to Skip This Post Except For The Type In Boldface Below)

The most amusing thing about this hunt was how many things went wrong. When I woke at 3:30, I could hear the raindrops on the roof and down the gutters. I put on a bathrobe and went outside to actually feel how bad it was. Only slight. I would be drenched and cold by the end of the morning. But the season ends on the 30th, so I had run out of time.

Once at the farm where I hunt, I walked through wet grass in the hayfield that was up to my waist. Damp and chilled already in 43 degrees darkness. A quarter mile later I am in the forest at meadow’s edge, decoy set up. I wait an hour for light and the first gobbles. Nothing, but cold.

After another 30 minutes, I give up, assuming there are no turkeys in this roost where they often spend the night. Just as I put my arrows back in the quiver, I hear the cluck of a tom, already on the ground and looking for a hen. I talk to him for 20 minutes, trying to attract him in my direction. I never see him, but do hear a hen come in toward him swooning and then the quick fluttering and clacking as they mate briefly. More silence.

At last I do give up, stand and walk towards a pasture. Shockingly, after I move 25 yards, two birds fly away. One goes southwest and the other northeast. I head toward the bird to the north, laughing at how they laughed at me. Maybe watched me. Usually by this time, they would have been on the ground for over an hour…at some distance if they were nervous at my presence. Bad enough they didn’t make a sound. So much for all my patience. Maybe the drizzle and cloudiness kept them in the trees so much longer.

Anyway I circle around and never spot the bird to the north, even after creeping slowly past the openings to two pastures. Along the way, I almost step into three coyote scat markings. Continuing to the west, I do see the bird who went south. He is three fields away, at least 200 yards, and making a gobble that is more like a baby gurgling. Subdued and as if he has a berry stuck in his throat. Nothing firm and resonant.

I consider circling around through the forest behind me, so that I can move 100 yards closer to him off to the right. But my instinct orders me to just stay put near where I am. So I get into position on the edge of the forest, next to the second pasture, behind a tree but a foot wide. I cut some bushes in front of me with clippers and wait to see what will happen.

Just then a young scrawny deer darts out to my left, pauses, walks about five yards in front of me and heads along a trail to my right. I thought she would smell me and bolt, but she moves easily, and neither starts nor stops. Ahhh, the surprises from Mother Nature.

Meanwhile the turkey has continued moving in my direction and cleared a stone wall. He is about 150 yards away.

Next a real surprise. A coyote comes along, following the deer gradually. Again just five yards away. I am waiting for him to sniff my presence. But I am invisible to him too. Maybe the wind is blowing towards me, so that my scent is behind me. At this point I am a tiny bit nervous. I’d rather not have a hungry coyote face -off and have to pull a knife. The hunter might become the hunted.

coyote

coyote

One time years ago when I was calling toms with the sound of a hen in heat, a coyote stalked me. When I stood up to see what was making the sound on the leaves, I was staring at a coyote three yards away ready to spring. And I had no weapon in hand for defense. We looked in each other’s eyes for what seemed like 10 or 15 seconds. Then he turned and ran off. I didn’t like being so helpless. Though these animals weigh about 40 pounds and look like mangy dogs, I have seen the deer and sheep they have killed with a bite and rip to the throat.

But this time nothing happened. Although I was listening a bit for sounds from behind.
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Two Basic Life Lessons from the Bow and Arrow.

Some more thoughts about the importance of practicing correctly that come to mind when you use the bow and arrow. When you draw the arrow and string back, you should repeatedly place the same part of your hand that is holding the string on the same spot of your cheek. It is called the anchor point. That way for every shot, your eye is always looking at the target when there is a constant relationship among the bow, arrow, and the released arrow’s flight path.

My initial practice each season is out in the open, with nothing between me and the target. I am always kneeling, because that is how I will be positioned on the hunt. Once I am able to hit the target consistently—and I do this by finding the same anchor point for each shot—I change my location. I was smart enough all these years to realize that I had to be behind a tree when drawing the bow on a real turkey—if I drew out in the open, the bird would see the motion. So I’ve practiced shooting from behind a tree. First I draw slowly with maximum concealment. Then I lean over to the right, peering gradually to minimize my movement and still see my prey. And then I often miss the 3-D target and in the field the live bird.

What I noticed three days ago is that as I leaned over, I was not making sure that my hand was connecting with my anchor point. So my alignment was off, and I was shooting high and/or wide. Lots of frustration. But then I figured it out. Lesson to be learned: re-examine what might be going wrong when things aren’t going right. I have “only” been hunting with a bow for maybe eight years. No wonder I have taken just one bird in all that time.

The other technique I learned recently is that when shooting down at the bird from a higher elevation, like a hill, one should NOT aim based on the actual distance between me and the turkey. Pretend it is less, and shoot as if it is less.

I was complaining to an engineer friend of mine who bow hunts how often my arrows went over the bird’s back. Read the rest of this entry »

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What Hunters Like About Hunting

Was determined to reach the gym—need two more visits this month to make eight total. But also wanted to practice archery in preparation for the turkey-hunting season, which starts on May 6th. So at 6:30 pm, I went out to the life-size, three-dimensional rubber turkey target and fired off a few arrows for the first time since last fall.

The first two hit the bird; then I started missing. In the second group of eight arrows, only three hit the target. But by the end, 8/8 were in the turkey. This is really good for me. So I stopped and raced off to the gym, which stays open until 10 pm.

I learned how to hunt in Connecticut (many many men do it here) with a shotgun in the early 90’s. My neighbor used to own a hunting and fishing shop, and he introduced me to this aspect of rural life. I discovered that I loved the outdoors, the silence, the aloneness, the commune with nature, bumping into deer and coyotes and bobcats and many birds singing their different songs. I learned that I loved the taste of wild turkey, which is nothing like a domestically raised bird. I loved the challenge of finding the turkey, calling it in close with a noisemaker that simulates a real bird, hitting it, plucking it, gutting and dressing it and learning the different ways to cook it.

It’s all part of a hunting/gathering tradition that humans have known for thousands of years, and almost all city-folks are totally unaware of. I felt like I was connecting with my roots, my past, unknown ancestors and the present natural world at the same time. I must confess that I was such a city guy, so naive and uninformed about the outdoors, that I did not realize until I was 46 that birds had different sounding songs that could be used to identify them. Can you believe that? I am still astonished that I was so out of touch with Mother Nature. Read the rest of this entry »

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