Friday, August 24, 2012

TOBP: D-Day (Deer Day)

 The previous entry in The Old Bow Project was an account of my last scouting trip where I found a place to hunt and saw a legal buck, all of which gave me encouragement and spurred me on to get ready for opening day 2012. Life experience has proved that no matter when I begin preparation for an anticipated event with a specific date in time, when the date comes I wished I had more time, August 18 2012 was no exception. My biggest concern was arrow groups. What I mean by arrow groups is how close together a dozen arrows are, when shot from a specific yardage. I mentioned in one of my earlier articles that dad used a pie plate or a paper plate as a reference point. I think the reason he used this as a gauge is because the vital organs of a deer fit in about the same area.

For example, the goal is to fire 5 groups of 12 arrows at twenty yards and place them all within the size of a paper plate. However that rarely happens, at least to an average archer like me. If I have 10 out of 12 arrows in the first three groups and say 6 out of 12 arrows in the last two groups I am very happy and would consider myself ready to hunt. By practicing in this manner it is easy to gauge if you are ready to hunt. There are many other factors that you have no control over in the field, so it is important to gain as much control as possible; accuracy in practice sessions is the one thing you can control about bow hunting.

This is where my anxiety entered. One week before opening day, my group accuracy was less than forty percent, and many of the arrows that missed were way off target. I thought I narrowed down the problem to my release. I worked very carefully on a smooth release with no jerking motions, and then I started having problems with left and right. I worked on narrowing the size of my groups until the day before it was time to leave. I could not get my groups to where I felt comfortable hunting with the bow. The day I was supposed to leave I was faced with a decision, hunt with the old bow or not. I stared at the old bow long and hard, wanting to hunt with it, but in the end common sense won out and I chose not to hunt with it. Fortunately while I had been preparing to hunt with the recurve, I had also been shooting my compound bow. My accuracy with it is better than eighty percent, with no arrows missing much more than a few inches.

I agonized over not hunting with dads recurve, since the whole reason for the TOBP was to remember dad by using his bow. In the end I think my decision to not use his bow would make him happy mainly because of the risk of wounding an animal and not being able to find it. This happens much more than it should, and it is one of the things I remember dad talking about frequently. He taught all of us boys to take responsibility for our actions and not hunting with his bow this year is one way of doing just that. Not using the bow this year also opens up the opportunity for next year and TOBP 2. I did go hunting and had a great time. In a few days I will gather some pictures together and write down some of the things that happened.

Until then God bless and thanks for coming by.


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

TOBP: Productive Trip

TOBP: Productive Trip

This project has been an adventure in preparation and a journey back in time as I remember my father and his love for the outdoors. Driving up the winding, tree covered highway 4, with Sadie my mini Schnauzer, I spent some time talking with my Heavenly Father. In first Peter we are exhorted to humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God. Humble is exactly what I felt driving under the canopy of huge pine trees. And humble is the only way to describe the feeling of going into a new area to hunt deer. I believe that God cares about me and the things that are important to me, and that I am encouraged to cast all of my cares upon him, so I did. I asked God for his blessings and the chance to see legal deer. Within minutes of praying I saw a forest road that looked like a possible place to hunt. I turned off at the next turn out to write the number down. Putting the truck in park I grabbed my note book and jotted down the number. Preparing to leave I looked across the road and this is what I saw.

Two bucks, the closest one is a forked horn and the one with his back to the camera is a spike. I know they are small, but that was a very encouraging thing to happen, and made the woods seem just a little smaller. I took a couple more snap shots of them and headed up for Mosquito Lake.

Stopping off at the ranger station I got a fire permit and talked a little with the ranger on duty. She gave me some good information about the Forrest roads and camping out side of camp grounds. I told her that I was planning on staying at mosquito lake; she said well no I probably won’t because it fills up very quickly. I should have listened; it would have saved me close to a half hour drive. Mosquito Lake camp ground was full and there were twenty cars parked along side of the road. Carefully making my way out of the busy area, I headed back down the mountain. The Forrest Ranger I spoke with told me about a couple of Forrest roads that cover a lot of area and are passable with a two wheel drive vehicle.

Turning off onto the Forrest Road I drove for about 6 miles. Just before the road made a hair pin, left hand turn there was a small dirt road to the right. I took it and followed it back for about two hundred yards where it turned into a wide cleared area with a fire ring. I thought the fire ring had been made by some industrious camper, but later found out that the Forrest service prepares these places for free camping. Sadie and I had a bite to eat and then headed up the hill to find a place to sit and glass. Sadie was very reluctant to follow and I did not know why until later. When I looked at her closely she was covered from head to toe in cockle burs. An hour later we had most of them out. I apologized to her and promised I would not make her go through that again. She accepted my apology and thanked me for getting the burs out. I wandered around for awhile trying to get the lay of the land it was covered with Christmas trees, and brush. The brush is what the deer are grassing on. I will have to find out what it is called.

After an hour or two we head further up the Forrest road. We ran across a herd of cows a few miles up. We heard them before we saw them. They all had cow bells on and what a racket they made, it sounded like pots and pans banging together. We found a place to make camp and had dinner. Sadie enjoyed hers very much. Mine was okay; I had an MRE and thought about my little brother in Afghanistan.

After supper Sadie and took off exploring on foot. We found a 4x4 road and followed it for a few miles, all up hill. We sat on the side of the road for a half an hour or so and saw deer cross about one hundred yards in front of us. We walked up where they crossed and I found a place to set up my blind. That was a relief. I feel like I have two places that I can set up on opening morning, where animals are. Sadie and headed back to camp and retired early. We had thunder and lightning for an hour and then about nine pm it started to rain and rained until eleven pm. It was cold and I did not sleep very well, which was actually a good thing. I know now that I need to bring more warm clothes and blankets. So all in all it was a productive trip. Here is a short video of Sadie and I on our way down from our last hike.

Next entry will be a little closer to D-Day. I still have much work to do on getting my groups of arrows smaller. Until next time,

God Bless