Sometimes They Fly More Than True…Photo by Rocky Tschappat.
For Those Who Love to Watch the Arrows Fly
“Nothing clears a troubled mind better than shooting a bow”. – Fred Bear
“Archery is the practice or skill of using a bow to propel arrows. The word comes from the Latin arcus. Historically, archery has been used for hunting and combat. In modern times, it is mainly a competitive sport and recreational activity. A person who participates in archery is typically called an archer or a bowman—and a person who is fond of or an expert at archery is sometimes called a toxophilite”. – Wikipedia
“Archery may not be the Sport of all Kings, but Archery is the King of Sports”. – Howard Hill
The Ultimate Archery Bibliography and Reference
A Bibliography of Archery: An Indexed Catalogue of 5,000 Articles, Films, Manuscripts, Periodicals, and Theses on the Use of the Bow For Hunting, War, and Recreation, From the Earliest Times to the Present Day.
By Fred Lake and Hal Wright. The Simon Archery Foundation, Manchester Museum, England, 1974, 501 pages.
We sometimes have a copy for sale. Please email for quote.
It has been said that hunter’s are born, not made, and perhaps this is true. Far be it for me, to disagree.
Hunter’s eyes are born of blood, and I, like my father, and his father before him, would seem to prove that out. Well-worn deer trails, mist-filled bogs, and oceans of pitch pines and blackjack oaks were always a large part of our daily landscapes. I cannot help but think that we were all so much better off for our youthful visions.
Just below is a long forgotten photo of my Dad’s first white-tailed deer, taken with a hand-me-down shotgun in the Pine Barrens of southern New Jersey. As you can see, it was a good one too. He was sixteen years old.
I never did hear the story of that first buck, but I have no doubt that it was a big adventure of some kind. Or at least I would like to think so, knowing my father’s penchant for getting the job done. South Jersey was still a wild place in the 1930’s, and a boy could really stretch out and do some roaming. I surely would have loved to have explored it all back then.
Below that is a photograph of my first big game kill with a bow & arrow, taken not very far away from where my father stood for his photo. I was also sixteen at the time, and I could not have been more excited, and proud.
The doe may have been small, and the picture is now tattered, and faded, but the memory is not. I remember everything about that hunt as if it was yesterday, and it remains a thrill that has not nearly begun to wear off after all of these many years.
There are far worse things in life, than to be born a hunter…
*My father became an avid bowhunter in the 1950’s, and I am sure that he would have hunted his first deer with archery tackle, if he could have. New Jersey did not hold its first special bow & arrow deer season until 1948, only ten years before I was born.
See Some of the History Of The New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife Here
“A Bowhunter is a Hunter Reborn – Forever…” – Michael Patrick McCarty
“There is much mystic nonsense written about hunting but it is something that is much older than religion. Some are hunters and some are not.”– Ernest Hemingway, An African Journal, 1972
– Bowhunting For Deer by H. R. “Dutch” Wambold, Stackpole, 1964, remains a timeless classic on the subject of hunting for white-tailed deer, and I have always thoroughly enjoyed the read. So did Howard Hill, apparently, judging by the jacket endorsement blurb, and by Fred Bear, who wrote the preface. If it was good enough for them, than it is certainly good enough for me, you might say.
We generally have a copy in our used and rare book inventory, if so interested. Please email us at email@example.com for details.
Photograph By Chris Smith, Found At the Denver Botanic Gardens.
We Can also Recommend: The Witchery Of Archery
Maurice Thompson’s 1879 book “The Witchery of Archery”, was the main inspiration for the increase of interest in archery in the United States at the beginning of the century.
Dr. R. P. Elmer wrote of it “That wonderful little book has had as much effect on archery as Uncle Tom’s Cabin had on the Civil War!”
The Witchery of Archery was the first book in English about hunting with a bow ever published. At the time of its publication the book was well received for its wit and use of common language. (Publisher’s Description)
“Maurice Thompson’s graphic articles will delight the lovers of Archery, which ancient sport finds new life and freshness under the vigorous touches of his pen.”—New York Tribune.
We have some limited copies of Let’s Go Bowhunting by Doug Walker.
Doug is a member of the Bowhunter’s Hall of Fame and was one of the very first regular members of the Pope & Young Club. He was a friend of Glenn St. Charles, Howard Hill, and Fred Bear. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in the history of archery and bowhunting and big game hunting in general.
Doug Walker passed away in 2011.
Cost is $34.95 (plus $4 shipping in U.S.)
Subject to availability.
*Read More about Saxton Pope and The Pope & Young Club Here
Like many things in the world of sporting gear, the choice of a proper fitting bow, arrows to match, and the appropriate accessories to make it all work well together is a highly selective and personal choice.
It can also be a bit intimidating, for the combinations available in today’s bowhunting world are virtually limitless, if not mind-boggling. One person could not possibly try out even a small fraction of the more popular products, though it would surely be a whole lot of fun to try.
So what’s a conscientious and inquisitive bowhunter to do?
Well, my strategy of late has been, in many ways, to return to the archery days of my early youth. Mine was the days of Fred Bear and Frank Pearson, to name just a couple of the more obvious icons. It was long before Mr. Allen, or Mr. Jennings, appeared on the scene.
To be honest, I had already given up on those things with wheels a few years back, along with many other items of the mechanical kind. Not that there is anything wrong with that type of equipment, and power to you if you prefer the compound bow and some miscellaneous gadgets. It’s just no longer my particular cup of tea.
Still, it took me several decades to fully and unapologetically embrace the fact that I simply love the elegance and simplicity of the stick and string. In my view, archery has always been much more about art and intuition than science, or physics. Pull it back and let it go, I say, and watch the arrows fly.
Today’s modern recurves can offer all of that and more, with some remarkable engineering to go along with it. They can also be shot with surprising precision.
Lately, my current setup consists of a 60″ Hoyt Satori Traditional Recurve at 50# draw weight, Easton 340 Axis Traditional carbon shafts (with three pink 4″ parabolic cut left-wing feathers and Fred Eichler Custom Cap Wrap from Three Rivers Archery), and a 200 grain Helix Single Bevel Arrowhead (in left bevel to match the left-wing feathers).
I chose a Selway Archery Quick Detach Quiver to complete the package.
The Satori is available in several riser and limb configurations, and in this case I selected a 17″ riser and a shorter limb package which works very well in the confines of a ground blind or tree stand.
If pressed, I might agree that the 50# draw weight may be a little light for a big game animal like an elk, but then again, perhaps not.
I am a big believer in the use of heavy, weight forward shafts. With that in mind, I have attempted to compensate for any draw weight deficiencies by adding a 75 grain insert up front, with a big chunk of steel on the pointy end. The end result is about 610 grains of quick and unadulterated death.
However, as you might guess, it is pretty slow by compound bow standards, and it is definitely a close range affair. But in the end it is very stable, quiet, and target bow accurate. It also hits very hard, with penetration to spare.
As you can see from the photos below, first hand experience has shown me that the combo is very effective on big game from pronghorn to elk, for example. Both of these animals were literally dead on their feet when the broadhead hit them, and were recovered within one hundred yards of the shot.
“A custom made, traditional bow is like a fine musical instrument in the hand. And no, not all recurve’s are created equal. Targets or game, just ask any Fedora shooter”.
Not all hunting bows are created equal, and that can certainly be said of my 64″ 560 Hunter Takedown Recurve built to order by Mike Fedora more than 20 years ago.
A friend who is a martial artist and fellow archer was duly impressed when I handed it to him last week. He realized immediately that he was holding something special, but what he said was not what I expected. He called it a “bow of war”, which gave me pause since I had never looked at it that way. I tend to evaluate it along more artistic and romantic lines, but I suppose I can see what he means. There is no doubt that this bow means business, and it has the look and feel of a serious broadhead delivery device.
With a draw weight of 73# at 29 1/2″, it is in fact somewhat of a battle to get it back to anchor point. As you may know, recurve’s do not break over to a lesser hold weight as you complete your draw, as do most modern compound bows. What you’ve got is what you get, right to the end, and anything over 70# can really get your attention. I also tend to stay at full draw before releasing much longer than the average bowhunter, an ingrained habit left over from my target shooting days that really does not make shooting it any easier.
So, at the risk of stating the obvious, you might say that I am a bit over-bowed at this time in my archery life. It’s not the bow’s fault, however, because it draws smoothly and doesn’t stack. The real problem lies in the fact that it was built for a much younger, and stronger man – which I no longer am. Still, I can manage to get by if I work my way up to it by staying in shape and shooting some lighter bows during the year.
It’s particularly good at mid-range and longer yardages, and for me it is point on at a more than surprising 70 yards. It casts a heavy arrow too, and very few recurve’s are capable of delivering that kind of punch downrange.
It is a joy to carry in the wide open spaces and rugged terrain of the west, and to be frank, it has become an old and trusted friend. Most importantly, it also tends to hit where you are looking, more often than not.
It just may be the perfect recurve for a mountain goat hunt, or big bears, or moose, or whitetails too.
I can’t wait for my next bowhunting adventure. In the meantime, I think that I will order a second, lighter set of limbs – just in case…
I should also take this time to give credit where credit is due, with heartfelt thanks and some long overdue praise. Mike Fedora has been a master bowyer for more years than most in his stock-in-trade, and I won a lot of tournaments with his target bows in the 1970’s too. I simply can’t say enough about the man and his line of archery products.
If you are looking for a traditional bow of beauty and unparalleled quality that will stand the test of time, than look no further than Fedora Custom Bows. You will be so glad that you did.
You can contact them by clicking on the link here.
My Colorado Pronghorn hunt this year was quite successful, and I could not have done it without my Club XXL. It may have been my most important piece of gear for that particular trip.
Ground blinds can be an important component of any bowhunting strategy. They are particularly useful when conditions are not well suited for tree stands, or when any other hunting method would simply not be effective. They can be absolutely essential when hunting antelope on a waterhole or at a well used fence crossing, for example.
There are, of course, a great many designs and options on the market offered by a variety of manufacturers. Choosing the best blind depends on the kind of game that you will be hunting, and in the type of terrain you will be hunting it in.
Perhaps you are looking for a certain type of camo pattern to blend in with the background vegetation common to your hunting area. Or maybe carry weight is your most important consideration. Some pop-ups are much easier to set-up and take down than others (and for those of you that have been there – you know exactly what I mean, all cursing aside).
I am a rather large guy to begin with, so inside dimensions are of primary importance to me. I like to be comfortable, and I have found many pop-up blinds to be simply too small for my 6 foot 1″ frame. A dawn to dusk sit can grow uncomfortable under the best conditions. It can become torturous in the wrong blind.
For that reason I prefer to keep a fair amount of gear and incidentals with me, particularly when I can drive up to, or fairly close to the blind. There is nothing like an ice-cold drink from the cooler when it is 95 degrees outside, and even hotter inside. A full size chair of some kind can really make the difference too, though it tends to use up quite a bit of floor space in most ground blinds.
I found the Club XXL’s 58″ x 58″ base width to be adequate for one bowhunter, at least after some trial and error and rearranging. A few inches more would have been O.K. too.
The type of bow you are shooting may be the most important consideration. Like most of today’s archer’s, I shoot my bow without any cant, even though I do carry a recurve. I also most often shoot while sitting on a five gallon bucket, so the relationship between the window height and the height of the blind is critical. At 77″, it is tall enough to shoot my 62″ recurve.
But for me, it really is all about the windows…and to put it bluntly – they just ain’t right…
I much prefer a square or rectangular opening, and as you can see these windows are more triangular-shaped. At first use, they are confusing…at least based on other ground blinds that I have used.
As most of you know it is extremely important to work out the shot routine and possible shot locations long before the animal ever arrives. Everything needs to be right the first time too, because that may be your only opportunity for success. These windows had me baffled, and it wasn’t until several animals had come and gone and I had tried several combinations that I felt comfortable with the location and size of the shooting window.
It wasn’t my first choice for the blind location either. At first I had tried to stake it on top of a small dam, since it was obvious that several trails intersected on that end of the pond. It was not that high of an embankment, but when I tried to take a practice shot I quickly found out that the bottom of the window was too high to clear an arrow pointed at a slightly downward angle. There was no amount of shooting gymnastics that would make it work either, and my only option was to move the blind. Fortunately, I was able to work that part out a week before the season.
I found the shape of the windows to be distracting too. As we know it is critical to pick a spot on the animal’s vitals, and I found it difficult to do that when I was constantly wondering if the arrow would or would not miss the changing angle of the window.
And last, but not least, I was not impressed with the ability to change the size of the window openings. When fully open they were simply too large, and it was not easy to make them smaller and still be able to shoot.
I generally like to have at least two windows open for shooting, but with this blind that did not seem possible. I had to pick one and leave everything else closed, and then close that one down a bit more too in order to limit the amount of light coming into the blind. At that point it was dark enough inside to prevent those sharp-eyed pronghorns from spotting my movement, but they had to be in exactly the right place for me to make a shot.
So, with all of that being said, the Club XXL does have several good points. And after all, I was able to harvest one heck of a pronghorn buck in the end, so I can’t be too hard on it.
The blind is well made, and it is easy to put up and take down. It holds up well in the wind, and it blends into the surroundings fairly well without any tell-tale shine.
It would probably work better in the timber or brush country too, rather than in the sage and wide open hills of the antelope lands. In that kind of vegetation zone it would be possible to add some branches and other concealment and control the size of the shooting windows much more easily.
All things considered, it is a good blind for the money.
I do recommend it for many hunting situations, particularly for those who prefer the gun. I recommend it for the bowhunter too, – with reservations…
But then again, we all need more than one blind anyway, right?
*In the last two years I have used the The Double Bull Deluxe Ground Blind, alo mde by Primos, and I have come to really like it. It does have a double wide, zipperless door for much easier access, and the window design is much more compatible for a bowhunter. It is just tall enough for me to be able to use my 60″ recurve bow when shooting from my knees, which I prefer to sitting on a bucket, stool, or chair. To be honest, I still have some trouble when setting it up, but perhaps that is more my problem than a design issue. After all, I just have never been that mechanically inclined, and I am not so good at puzzles. You…?
Master bowhunter Rocky Tschappat with another beautiful bull in a long line of Colorado public land, elk hunting trophies.
The “Bull Of The Woods” has stumbled and fallen, but maybe, just maybe, there is another out there just like him, waiting for us.
You do make it look easy, even though we all know, it is not…
“Few indeed seem fitted for archery or care for it. But that rare soul who finds in its appeal something that satisfies his desire for fair play, historic sentiment, and the call of the open world, will be happy” – Saxton Pope, Hunting With The Bow and Arrow, 1923
“Fresh king size elk burger for a starving elk hunter” – Rocky Tschappat.
And might I add, that’s gonna be a lot of burger…
For an elk hunter’s taste treat sensation, try:
Venison (Elk) Patties Oregon
It is a particularly good recipe for that big old bull that passed the tender stage some years ago.
2 pounds of venison (or elk)
1/2 pound of salt pork
1/8 pound of butter
2 cups of finely chopped scallions
3 teaspoons prepared horseradish
1 Dash of Tabasco Sauce
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon of dry mustard
Put venison and salt pork through a meat grinder twice. Blend thoroughly and add salt and pepper. Shape into patties 1/2 inch thick and 4 inches in diameter and place on waxed paper. In a skillet melt butter, add scallions, horseradish, Tabasco Sauce, dry mustard, and Worcestershire. Blend ingredients, and cook until onions are tender. Spread this mixture over every other meat patty, then cover with adjoining patty and press together. Place the pressed patties on a shallow roasting pan and slide under a preheated broiler. Broil for about six minutes on each side and serve on toasted buttered rolls.
* This recipe is taken from Game Cookery In America and Europe by Raymond R. Camp. It is my go-to wild game cookbook, and I highly recommend it for hunter’s and fishermen everywhere.
We generally have a copy for sale in our bookstore stock, if so interested.
And, as you can see, Rocky can be tough on cow elk too, and he took this one just a few days later.
A fine pair of Mule Deer bookends, taken near my ground blind while on a bowhunt for Pronghorn Antelope in Northern Colorado.
“From that day on I have been a lover of mule deer…They were my first love and still remain my strongest…Somehow he sight of an old mule deer buck, head high, antlers lying along his broad back, returns me definitely to my childhood and the day I first felt the mystery of wild game and wild country”.
Jack O’Connor, Game in the Desert, Revisited, 1977
For the last several years I have been fortunate enough to figure out how to hunt a pronghorn, somewhere, to start off my annual bow season. It’s a fabulous way to warm up for elk, or mule deer, or whatever else that you may be after.
They are one of my very favorite animals to bowhunt, for a variety of reasons. For one thing, if you hunt them over the right waterhole, under the right conditions, you can just about be assured that you will have a fine old-time.
Set up correctly, and it is generally not a question as to whether you will have a shot, or not, but more of a question, as to when. It will probably be a chip shot too.
I have spent a considerable amount of time in my bowhunting career looking over many a good buck, looking for just the right one. There have been years when I have been mighty particular, and that mostly means that one will be spending a lot of time in a very hot, uncomfortable blind.
I’ve learned a lot about them, up close and personal, and I never grow tired of watching them. They are a magnificent creature, and for them I have nothing but great respect.
With that in mind, I can tell you that my opinion as to what qualifies as a great buck has come a long way too. For now, I can make a case that any buck’s a good buck, in my humble opinion.
Why do I say that, you might ask?
Well, the answer is quite easy on that one – and I’ll come right to the point. Just stick a fork in one sometime and you’ll know all about it too!
It is my very favorite of all big game meats, and I can almost never wait to get some tenderloin spattering in a hot, heavy pan.
“Long ago I learned that my hunting is not just for meat, or horns, or recognition. It is a search for what hunting can give me, an effort to win once again that flash of insight that I have had a few times: That swift, sure intuition of how ancient hunters felt and what real hunting – honest-to-God real hunting – is all about. It is a timeless effort to close that magic circle of man, wildness and animal”.
Once I was a kid set loose to stalk about the northeastern deer woods, and I learned very early on that one did not even think of hunting up a whitetail without first finding a proper tree overlooking a well used trail.
I miss those days completely.
Lately, I have been spending some quality time on a comfortable cedar limb within a few downward yards of freshly laid elk tracks.
With luck, I will find an elk standing in a print of its own making very, very soon.
It has reminded me just how much I enjoy communing with the birds, and it definitely opens up some new challenges in my elk hunting world.
Can treestand hunting for elk be effective?
You bet, under the right set of conditions.
And one thing is for certain when all things come together. You can rest assured that you will have a shot, and it will be a good one. After all, it’s where you place the broadhead that counts the most, and anything that you can do to make that happen is a good thing.
I have not been able to unleash an arrow just yet – but I will certainly keep ya posted when I do!