My Wyoming High

sf2-2I grew up being very fortunate to hunt my family’s private ranch in the Sandhills of Nebraska. Being a subscriber to the big western magazine company’s like Eastman’s and Western Hunter, where DIY hunts on public land are the main focus. I’ve always loved the mountains and have wanted to hunt them quite a few years. I finally made a few summer sf-6scouting trips out to an area in the Bighorn mountains of Wyoming and found a high country spot I believed would produce some good bucks.

After missing the draw in 2013 I would have another year to plan for the 2014 season starting in September for archery. After securing my tag in the spring I began looking at Google earth and other maps more frequently as well as making a scouting trip in July, where I did see a few bucks that I sf2-1would be happy with. The way Wyoming’s license I really drew was the rifle tag good for October 15-31, but with the purchase of their additional archery tag it let me hunt the entire month of September with my Mathews in hand. My original plan was to reserve the first week of September to begin my hunt, then return on the weekends when possible between school and family obligations, if I wasn’t successful the first week. I never thought I would need to break the rifle out.

Things changed drastically for my fall plans when I accepted a job field producing for Best of the West TV out of Cody, WY. The first two sheep hunts were projected to run the first 10 days of September, with an additional friend’s archery elk hunt the third week of the month, I soon began preparing mentally and strategically for a hunt crunched for time. We ended up spending more time after the sheep than expected, which left me an evening and one full day to sf-2see what I could get done with the stick and string. Now in the mountains, you never know what the weather will be like day-to-day or even hour to hour, and I was depending on good weather for my primary spot between 10 and 11,000 ft. Unfortunately about two days before arriving it had snowed quite a bit and started pushing deer down into the trees at lower elevations. Hoping a bigger buck was still hanging high, and not really knowing what else to do, I stuck to my plan of sitting on a few choice glassing points throughout the day. I really didn’t know what to expect out of the deer as the weather warmed back up throughout the next couple of days.

The day ended just like the evening before. I was only able to turn up a doe, fawn, and a small 2-year-old buck running together. With few deer sightings and very little time the next morning before a 10 hour drive, I decided to pack up camp that evening and head off the mountain for a hot meal, shower, and real bed. While leaving the area I knew I wouldn’t be back again during archery sf-3season, so I hit the maps and the phone once again to gather as much intel as I could about some lower country spots that may have potential for the October rifle season. We had one antelope hunt planned into my season so I broke out my .300 win mag from H-S Precision, hoping to get at least a couple of days in between hunts to try out my luck. When our antelope hunt unexpectedly got cut short, it softened my timeline enough to get about 3-4 days in on the mountain.

I had heard the deer had been migrating down early so I left my original area and headed a lower elevation directed to me by a friend who had hunted there before. The first morning I took a 7 mile hike out of camp and tried to find a good glassing spot but the whipping wind up top made it difficult to glass much so I headed back down to camp. After a sf-1breakfast skillet meal from Mountain House, I decided to jump in my vehicle and cover some ground. After a few hours of glassing and staring at maps I found a really good-looking mountain side covered with aspens and sage brush, divided with small cuts. I decided to sit and glass the hill-side that evening. About 20 minutes before pitch black I picked up the outline of a deer about 3/4 of the way down the mountain and could tell he had descent height but only about as wide as his ears. Having this be the only buck I saw so far and the third deer total for the day I decided I’d be back on him in the morning.

I got up an extra half hour early the next morning to be sitting behind my spotting scope as it got light. Besides a few nice 300″ type bull elk my morning went without a deer. I checked a couple more drainage’s that morning but still no sign of deer. With the weather warming up quick and all animals bedding down I decided to head 30 miles down the mountain to the nearest town to fill up with fuel and use my phone. Playing the wind and thermals I figured I could side hill into the area I had seen him last and be within 500 yasf2-3rds for a shot. I got about 3/4 of a mile across the hill when I heard 3 gun shots on the far side of the hill-side from me. About the time I started thinking how bad the elk hunters had probably blown out the hill-side I caught movement ahead of me behind a tree. I paused, threw my binoculars up in time to see a respectable 3×3 walk out and look in my opposite direction. Immediately after looking at his frame I was almost sure it was the deer I had seen the night before.

I took off my backpack, tossed it over a sage brush plant and rested my gun over that and settled into a rock solid rest. By this time he had calmed down and bedded facing straight away from me. At 200 yards my rifle would be shooting 5″ high, wind was left to right but not enough to make a significant difference. After laying sucked into my rifle and thinking about the approaching shot for 1 1/2 hours he finally stood up after the sun had dropped off the horizon andSF-1 the air started to chill. He was facing straight away from me for probably 5 minutes, scratching his back with his antlers and rubbing his face on his legs. He finally started moving while he fed. He was coming close to moving behind a tree when he turned enough for a quartering away shot. I put my crosshairs for an exit on the opposing shoulder, compensated the 5″, exhaled and squeezed it off. The shot felt great and he fell in his tracks.

I had a few moments to realiSF-3ze what I’d just done, pay my thanks, and figure out how I was going to get him back to camp. Luckily there was a two-track mountain road 1/2 mile or so down the hill I was pretty sure I could get into with my pickup. After punching my tag and a quick gut job with my Saddle Mountain Skinner from Benchmade HUNT, I latched onto his antlers and started dragging him towards the road. I reached a small tree in the bottom near the road with him after dark. After a mile or so pitch black hike back to the pickup I got on the trail and drove down to pick him up. I let him air out overnight back at camp then took pictures and quartered him up the next morning to head back home to western Nebraska.SF-2

I consider myself extremely blessed to have been able to harvest a mule deer and live the experiences in the mountains of Wyoming solo. Hunts never seem to go as planned but I suppose that’s a driving reason we do it year after year. I’m already thinking about next season and the different areas I may get into and deer or elk I might see. I encourage everyone to take a trip to the mountains and experience what it’s like to live near the stars.

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October 11, 2014 – Indiana Doe

Last year, for the first time in over 15 years, I had failed to fill a single deer tag.  A week-long trip to Pike County Illinois as well as several weekend hunts in Ohio and Indiana yielded very few deer sightings.  By the time mid December rolled around, I had lost hope of finding success in the field and was ready to put the season behind me.

As winter gave way to spring and then to summer, trail camera checks were showing a definite increase in deer 10112014_Doe_2numbers.  Almost as if all the deer had simply gone into hiding the previous year, things looked to be back to normal.  In typical fashion, the farm we have hunted the last 18 years was loaded with does.  The bucks typically hang out down in a big creek bottom and call the surrounding agriculture fields their home until the rut rolls around10112014_Doe_Maple_Stand.  Like most other hunters, we have made it a habit of doing our herd management in the early season.  Several of our early season stands have proven to be more productive than others over the years, and one stand in particular is always more productive than the others.  With that in mind, I decided to perch in my favorite maple tree overlooking an old pond and clover plot for my first hunt of the year in Indiana.

When I say “more productive” in regards to this stand, I mean more successful as presenting shot 10112014_Doe_Still_1opportunities.  To date, I have only killed one deer out of this stand, yet as the landowner was kind enough to put it, “I have shot the woods down” when hunting here.  Call it a curse or whatever you want, but I have sent many arrow10112014_Doe_Still_2s out of that single maple tree and each has failed to find anything but dirt.  I was determined to end that streak this year.  No more than 45 minutes into my evening hunt, I had once again sent an arrow sailing over the back of an unsuspected, yet now very cautious doe.  As much as I’d like to pretend it didn’t happen, I had once again missed from the cursed maple tree.  Luckily for me, it was early in the hunt and there was plenty of time to redeem myself.

As the evening wore on, the wind slowly started to die down.  Several times I had does come in sight, 10112014_Doe_SOTChowever this year’s plentiful mast crop kept them just inside the wood line, and just outside of bow range.  I had a few shot opportunities at 40 plus yards, but I knew if I was patient, I was likely to get a good shot opportunity before dark.  As is so often th10112014_Doe_Still_3e case, the woods seemed to come alive as the sun slipped behind the distant hills.  Deer began to materialize as if someone flipped on a switch.  Several deer now fed on the vetch growing on the backside of the old pond.  A few more headed off towards the cornfields to my east.  Finally, I spotted a lone doe making her way down a path that led directly into my food plot.

When she first hit the field, I could tell she was a little wary.  She was directly down wind of me, but the combination of using Carbon Synergy body wash before my hunt and having my 10112014_Doe_Still_4Ozonics in the tree above me, I had plenty of faith I wouldn’t get busted.  After taking a last look around, she slowly began feeding into the field.  She came out into the field perfectly allowing me to get great footage as she crossed the field and made her way into bow range.  I kept ranging her to make certain I was ready to shoot when an opportunity eventually presented itself.  42 yards…37 yards…31 yards…finally, there was no more need for the range finder.  She was now well within 2010112014_Doe_GR yards and I decided it was time to take the shot.  I glanced at the viewfinder on my XA20 a few times to make sure she was in frame.  As she cleared a few limbs, I slowly drew my bow.  I settled the single pin on my Hoggfather just behind her shoulder, but a little high, as 10112014_Doe_4the shot angle was fairly steep. Slowly I began to apply pressure on my Carter release.  At last, I sent the arrow racing forward and the Grim Reaper found its mark.  Immediately she was down.  I had pulled my shot slightly and spined her.  Quickly I nocked another arrow and let it loose to put the finishing touches on her.  Within seconds of its impact, my first deer of the year was down, finito!

I was overcome with joy.  It had been almost 2 years since I had tagged a deer.  All of the time preparing had been well worth the wait.  It may have only been a doe, but I swear to you I was just as happy as I was for my first deer.  I slowly made my way back to the house to get my Dad and the landowner and then the real work began.  It feels good to be on the board for 2014, and Lord willing, we will find more success this fall and put our hands on some antlers before it’s all over.

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Grim Reaper – Mechanical Broadheads

SF_GR1The outdoor industry has grown by leaps and bounds over the past several years.  With growth has come great innovation and newer, more efficient technologies.  Today, more companies than ever are producing a quality broadhead.  The common day archery hunters could lose themselves staring at the broadhead selection at their local archery shop.  And although there are quite a few good choices out there, the fact remains not all broadheads are created equal.

SF_GR5Grim Reaper has long since been one of the leaders in the broadhead world.  Especially when it comes to mechanical heads.  When they revealed the Razortip to the hunting world in 2000, the standard by which all mechanical broadheads are measured was forever changed.  To expand on their already successful broadhead lineup, Grim Reaper introduced the Razorcut SS.  Built on the same frame as the Razortip, the Razorcut SS features a solid stainless steel-cut on contact tip designed for maximum bone splitting potential.  Both heads are available in 1 1/8″, 1 3/8”, and 1 3/4” cutting diameters.  For the times when big enough isn’t big enough, and you want to turbo charge your killing abilities, Grim Reaper also has the Whitetail Special line.  This devastating head give the hunter a 2” cutting diameter with their choice of either a Razortip or Razorcut SS tip.  Expanding again on their mechanical lineup, Grim Reaper released the all new Fatal Steel line of heads featuring a one piece, 100% stainless steel body.

SF_GR2Grim Reaper makes the most reliable and trustworthy blade locking mechanism known to the bow hunting world.  Grim Reaper’s patented high-tension spring system keeps each of the 3 independent blades locked in place until they are supposed to be deployed.  Gone are the days where a hunter needs to check his or her broadhead at the last-minute to make sure blades are properly held in place by an o-ring or clip.  Bump your arrow, shake it, whatever you like, the blades on a Grim Reaper will not fall open.  This feature alone makes the Grim Reaper a strong contender for any hunter when picking a new mechanical head, and paired with the other features they have to offer, it is easy to see why Grim Reaper has become one of the most popular mechanical heads on the market.

But talk is just talk, right?  Anyone can produce a broadhead and write some flattering description on their website to sell a product.  SF_GR3Grim Reaper stands out above the rest because their broadheads function as they are designed.  As much as I hate to admit it, I have made some bad shots on deer in the past.  No matter how hard we try, all it takes is one step or slight turn made by a big game animal and your shot can be off by as much as a foot.   I take comfort in the fact that my Grim Reaper broadhead is capable of still producing a quick kill.

I think back to an early season hunt in Indiana in 2012.  I had a particular stand in mind I had been waiting for the right wind to hunt.  I knew that once I was able to get into that tree, it was sure to be a slam dunk hunt on a doe.  SF_GR4As the evening wore on, the deer started to show up just as I had expected.  With a lot of daylight left, I had a mature doe step into one of my shooting lanes at a mere 16 yards.  I drew back, anchored and slowly released.  Right before my arrow went sailing down-range, the doe took a slight step and turned a little to her right.  As it was, I had a perfect quartering away shot.  But with the extra step, I ended up hitting her in the back left hind quarter.  I remember thinking to myself “I blew my hunt!”  There is no worse feeling than executing a less than perfect shot.  Despite my confidence in Grim Reaper, I had a sinking feeling that a shot that bad was likely to end in disappointment.

Disgusted with myself, I packed up and got out of the tree before any more deer had time to come out.  I went directly past the location the doe had been standing when I shot as I headed back to the house.  SF_GR7To my amazement, my arrow was stuck firmly in the ground with blood everywhere.  Thinking I may have gotten lucky and hit an artery, I took my gear back to the house and waited a short while to go back out looking for her.  I wanted to make sure she had plenty of time  to expire if that was what had indeed happened.  When I returned with my dad and the landowner to look for my doe, it was quickly realized my stress was unwarranted.  A mere 40 yards into our tracking job, and she was bleeding like a stuck hog.  We had just broken the wood line when my dad looked over the hill and said there she is.

Despite what could have been an awful shot, the penetration abilities of the Grim Reaper saved me on this particular hunt.  My arrow had gone from the back of her left hind quarter and drove all the way through her midsection, through her right lung, and came out right in front of her right leg.  Perhaps there was a little luck on my side, but I firmly believe the abilities of the broadhead on the tip of my arrow really saved me.  At the end of the day, penetration ability, big wound channels, and durability of a broadhead are the three most important things on my list when it comes to selecting a hunting head.  Grim Reaper has them all.  If you’re looking for a new broadhead this coming season, I highly recommend giving them a try.  Like many other hunters, it’ll only take one hunt to make you a believer!

http://www.grimreaperbroadheads.com/

SF_GR6

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Luck’s got nothing to do with it: Carter Enterprises

carterlucky1There will always be big debates between archers on which bow and arrow set up is better for what reasons. Everyone has their own favorite combinations of arrows, sights, broadheads and rests, but one critical component that I think often gets overlooked is the release aid, especially at first. I think consistency is one of the most important things to keep in mind as an archer, while setting up and especially while lucky2shooting your bow. Having an unreliable and un-consistent release can make arrow grouping a nightmare and potentially ruin a hunt. I truly believe a good release will improve your groups and overall shooting. I know my Carter Lucky not only improved my archery performance, but also improved my confidence after I started shooting tighter groups at longer ranges.

sf logo-5I choose to use the Lucky index finger release from Carter Enterprises. What drew me to the Lucky was the new M.A.T.S trigger tension system that uses absolutely zero springs. The Magnetic Attraction Trigger System is super easy to customize the trigger pull as you see fit, just by adding or removing the trigger magnets. Like I said before everyone has their own likings and fittings, this Lucky release fits me great and satisfies all my needs on my set up. The shorter head resulting in overall body size reduction is low profile so never gets hung up on anything while I’m setting up for a shot. The open hook design makes grabbing the string much easier as the adrenaline starts flowing.20140519_SFOhioGobbler2

For me this Lucky is just what the doctor ordered, giving me durability and forgiveness while still achieving deadly accuracy. Carter Enterprises designs multiple styles of releases including back tension, index, thumb, and resistance activated to suite your custom needs. I encourage everyone to check out their website at www.carterenterprises.com and find the release that works best for you to put that next trophy in the dirt!

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2014 Nebraska Merriam’s – Rich Peace

As winter gives way to spring, I always grow antsy, waiting for the chance to sit in a ground blind.  The high hopes and anticipation of arrowing a good long beard are nearly enough to keep me awake at night.  This year was no exception, and after a slow start to the Ohio turkey season, I once again found myself travelling out to the Pine Ridge area in Nebraska with the Bueltel Clan on our annual Merriam’s hunt.  In addition to the usual crew, SELFILMED founder Forrest Breedlove also made the journey west in what wouMerriams-Over-Hoytld prove to be a most entertaining and pleasant addition to group.  There were plenty of laughs and stories to be shared on the drive.  Telling tales of old hunts always keeps the mood light and helps pass the time, but once we stepped foot on Nebraska soil, the tone changed…it was time to get down to business, we had Turkeys to kill!

Even before we arrived, we knew that we were going to have some rough weather conditions to deal with.  The Monday of our arrival as well as Tuesday morning were forecasted to be great weather.  Unfortunately, Tuesday evening leading into Wednesday morning we were expecting snow.  In the past, this has typically shut the birds down, so we hoped toMerriams Shoulder View get at least one bird on the ground the first day we hunted. We used Monday, like usual, as a day to gain permission to hunt properties and attempt to locate and/or roost birds.  Fortunately for Calvin and I, we were able to acquire permission on several pieces of property, one of them being the same ranch I had killed my Merriam’s on in 2012.  We knew the property well, and because of that, we elected to make our start there.

The property looked much the same as it has in the past, but one thing we quickly noted was the lack of turkey sign.  No feathers, no droppings, and no tracks in the dirt road that splits the property.  It dampened our mood slightly, but we knew there had to be birds.  There had been too many in the past aMerriams Spot-Hoggnd we assumed, or hoped at least, that the storm that had struck the previous October had not completely wiped out the birds.  We scouted the entire western side of the property, but by the time dusk came, we were at a loss.  We decided it would be best to pack our gear out and come back in the morning and simply wait to hear a gobble.  We were a little discouraged, but not for long.  No sooner than we turned to leave, a single bird sounded off to the South.  We both spun quickly, trying our best to pinpoint the location the gobble had come from.  Without knowing for sure, we dared not move in too close, but we were 90% sure it had come from the Southern end of a long draw we were standing near.  Quickly we made our way to a spot we had called birds into in the past and set up the blind beneath a Pine.  After putting out the decoys, we stowed our remaining gear away into the blind and silently slipped away.  3:30 AM would come sooner than we would like, but it couldn’t come soon enough.

Merriams-Still-4When the alarm woke us the next morning, we were able to stave off the fatigue we felt.  The excitement of knowing we were set up on a bird was enough to drive us out of our blankets and back to the blind.  Thanks to setting up the night before, we had very little gear to carry in and we were able to get set up quickly and quietly.  Not long after we were settled in the birds started hammering.  What we had initially thought to be only one bird turned out to be at least two, and we believed there was a third bird as well.  Slowly the sun climbed higher towards the horizon, and the gobbles slowed, but at last, we could tell the birds were on the ground.

No too much later, Calvin tapped me on the knee and told me he had spotted a bird on the hill in front of us at the Eastern edge of the field we were hunting.  As I pulled up my binos, sure enough, there was a bird strutting right on top of the hill.  He gobbled several times, and after 3 or 4 gobbles, he sounded off once more…except this time I did not see his neck extend.  Sure enough, just a moment later another strutter crested the hilltop and from the side came 3 hens.

Carter-Insatiable-3For the next 40 minutes, the birds strutted back and forth on the hilltop without showing any intention of coming our way.  Impatient and wanting to make something happen, I decided to let out a few yelps.  Another bird behind them hammered in response to my call!  Both of the birds in the field began acting a little strange, and a few moments later the third bird materialized from the South.  None of them were apt to simply running into our decoy spread, but you could definitely see a change in their posture at the arrival of this new, and from the looks of things, more dominant gobbler.  After a few tense moments, the birds all settled down and began to work back the way the last bird had come.  Fearing they were leaving Calvin struck a few purrs on his slate.  That did the trick!  All three birds went mad with gobbling, it was obvious they liked what they heard…so Calvin kept it up.  All three gobblers and both hens began working towards us.  One bird in particular really began quickening his pace.  After crossing a barbed wire fence in the field, he began to sprint our direction.  Going about 20 yards at a time, he kept stopping to strut and gobble.  Closing distance all the way to 40 yards, I readied myself, as I knew I was about to get a shot.  I then noticed the hens, sMerriams-Still-5till at the top of the field, began working southward again.  The dominant bird in the field started to follow them, followed closely by the other bird now at about 100 yards, and of course, the closest bird turned and went with them.  I couldn’t believe it.  We had just called these birds approximately 300 yards, and after coming all that way, he decided he was not taking another step towards our DSD’s without his friends.  Dejected, we watching him and the other birds walk away from our setup to the south.

For almost two hours, we caught periodic glances of the same group of birds through the trees to the southwest.  They all appeared to be basking in the sun and looked like they were settling in for the morning.  We did notice however that the strutter closest to us kept looking back our way and gobbling on occasion.   Though we didn’t expect him to come in right that minute, we hoped he would make his way back to us later in the day.

A short while later, a fourth bird gobbled behind us to the north.  Assuming he was alone, as it was nearly 10 AM, I decided to do some excited yelps and see if we could get him started our way.  I was barely able to finish my calls before he answered back.  I decided to let out a few more about 2 minutes later just to make sure he knew exactly where to find us.  Suddenly, in the direction the three strutters had gone earlier, came a gobble…and it was close!  I looked up and quickly noticed the tom standing at the edge of the woods only 80 yards away.  I turned on the camera and got him in focus just in time for him to rip out one last gobble and start out way.

Merriams-Still-1As he approached, he kept going into full strut, spitting and drumming the whole way.  He got to the point he had turned around earlier, but this time, he kept coming.  His head had been a pale w
hite the whole approach, but as he neared the 30 yard mark, like someone splashed him with paint, it became a brilliant red.  We knew this time we were going to get a shot as he made his way inside of my effective range with a bow.  He was planning to come have a talk with my DSD Jake that I had turned into a small Tom, and ask him why he was keeping all the hens to himself.  As he approached my DSD at the 8 yard mark, he pushed up against the decoy and began to smack it with his wings and assert his dominance.  I let him do his thing for a minute, capturing some great footage, but as he turned the decoy and faced away, it was time to let him know who was really boss.  I slowly drew back my Hoyt…took one quick look to make sure he was in frame, settled my pin, and let my Grim Reaper tipped arrow fly.  He took it no better than expected.  The Grim Reaper made a mess of his right wing and took out his vitals.  He jumped in the air, only to spin like a tornado 3 or 4 times Merriams-Still-3and then he lay still in the field still touching my DSD.  I was pumped!  Our plan had worked out perfectly.  But I must admit, despite our careful planning, it seemed a little unreal that not 24 hours after arriving, we had a bird on the ground already.  Unsuccessfully, we spend a little time trying to call in the other two birds, but after a short period, I had to get out and put my hands on my second Merriam’s.  We took a lot of pictures and shared a lot of high fives.  I was on top of the world at that moment and nothing could bring me down.

2 years in a row I had ventured to Nebraska and been successful on harvesting a Merriam’s.  This has definitely become a trip I will enjoy many times over, and with luck, we’ll have a chance to harvest many more of those beautiful Nebraska Merriam’s in the future.  In fact, not a few hours after I shot my bird, another fell victim to the SELFILMED crew.

MerriamsBe sure to check back on the SELFILMED Blog later to see who else had success while we were in camp.

Bird Stats:

  • 20 lbs.
  • 7 1/2″ beard
  • 5/8″ and 3/4″ spurs


Rich’s Gear:

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2014 Turkey Season Recap – Brett Bueltel

You know what they say, “all good things must come to an end.”  As spring turns into the beginnings of summer I sit back and reflect on what a great turkey season I had again this year.  Did I kill a record turkey this year?  No.  Was I able to complete a Grand Slam?  No.  I was, however, able to SELFILM and tag a couple of birds with my bow and make lasting memories along the way.

The season started off for me in Ohio with high expectations of having another good season.  Bird numbers seemed to be pretty good considering the terribly long and brutally cold winter we had endured for months on end.  By the time the snow finally started melting away and temps began to rise, I eagerly set out scouting the property I hunt here in Ohio.  In addition to walking the property, I threw up a few trailcams to try to pin down the bird movement in the area.  A couple of weeks went by and I headed back out to check my cameras.  I was delighted in what I saw.  A total of 5 strutters working the bottom field where I have had success in the past.

It seemed like the next few weeks flew past as I started to prepare for the upcoming season.  Getting my bow tuned up, sighted in, arranging all of my gear, and buying my tags prior to season opener on April 21st.  As I had done in prior years, I took off work for the Monday opener, woke up bright and early and headed out to the property to get ready for the morning hunt.  I sat up just across the bottoms from where I had shot my buck the previous fall, in fact I could see my treestand from the blind.  20140512-Brett-OHJake14After getting the blind set up, DSD decoys positioned, and external GoPro cameras setup, I crawled into the blind and began getting everything setup.  Much to my surprise, I didn’t hear a single gobble that morning.

My next opportunity to hunt came the following weekend.  I sat up in the same spot as I did opening day just knowing the birds had to be working the large bottom field as they had in years past.  This time, at the crack of daylight, I was startled by a gobble breaking the morning silence only 80-100 yards behind my setup.  That got me excited!  Other gobblers fired off along the bottoms on the neighboring property with almost every gobble the nearby bird let out.  Shortly thereafter, a bird appears off to the south of my setup and silently works west to east to the wood-line.  The morning was silent until I saw a strutting Jake in the field edge followed by two other Jakes.  They saw the DSD decoy setup and came right in to investigate.  20140512-Brett-OHJake16I decided to pass on the shot opportunity as it was only the first weekend of season and I wanted to save my tags for a mature Tom.  The strutting Jake made his way to the DSD Leading Hen decoy that I had set up only 6 yards from the blind, and proceeded to try to breed her.  After several attempts, they finally walked off in the opposite direction.  Noon came and again it was the end of a hunting day.  Sunday proved to be a bust as not a single gobble was heard, nor did I see a single bird.

Along came the first weekend in May.  20140512-Brett-OHJake15We would be taking off to go on our annual turkey hunting trip in Nebraska on Sunday, so my time was getting limited here in Ohio.  I set out and again setup on the south end of the large bottoms were I had killed my bird on opening weekend last year.  6:00 AM rolled around as I heard my first gobble of the day.  Again it was 80-100 yards behind my setup.  Like the week before, several birds fired off along the bottoms and I just knew I was in for some action.  Shortly after fly down, I saw the group of three Jakes that I had watched the weekend before.
20140512-Brett-OHJake12I wasn’t too eager to put an arrow in one as I really wanted to hold off for a Gobbler.  They made their way slowly to my setup, but none of them presented a good shot opportunity.  They worked their way off in the opposite direction again, and a short while later I look up to see a line of 6 more Jakes make their way my direction from the north.  After seeing a total of 9 Jakes this morning, I then decided I wasn’t going to be picky anymore.  They made it all the way into the decoy spread as I filmed and waited for them to interact with the decoys.  20140512-Brett-OHJake11After cautiously approaching and leaving the DSD Jake, they worked their way towards the DSD Leading Hen I had set up 15 yards away.  The dominant Jake in the group slowly approached her, and as he turned broadside, I let my arrow tipped with the new Grim Reaper Fatal Steel head fly.  It hit its mark and the bird struggled to make it about 50 yards before expiring.  With that, tag number 1 was finally punched and it was time to take some pictures!  After watching the footage back home, I realized I had successfully captured the kill shot on all 5 of the camera angles I was using.  Should turn out to be a great Hunt Vid next spring, so keep an eye out on the website!

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20140601_SF_NE03The next day we headed out to NW Nebraska to chase the Merriam’s subspecies for the 4th year in a row now.  My Dad, Brother, friends Rich Peace and Forrest Breedlove and I made the 1200 mile drive west to the Pine Ridge area of Nebraska.  I don’t want to spoil it, but a couple of us were able to put a tag on a bird out there, so keep your eye out for the blog article!  20140601_SF_NE02I had my opportunity, but failed to complete my end of the deal and came back empty-handed.  It was a great week spent with some family and a couple great friends, and I can’t wait to go out again next year.

By the time we got back into Ohio after the week-long trip, I had exactly one week left to hunt before season ended.  My first opportunity to hit the woods was on Saturday (May 17th).  It was forecasted to rain later that morning, and with the crop fields planted in corn already about 4″-5″ high, I decided to try to set up off the field edge a little to avoid messing up the corn plants.  It was windy, cold, rainy, and yet the birds were still active.  20140519_SFOhioGobbler2Shortly after fly down, the bird I had heard gobbling almost 500 yards away to my south was making his way my direction.  I peaked out of the back of my blind and could see him standing in the field to my east gobbling and blowing up in full strut before pacing back and forth for what seemed like eternity.  He never broke the 200 yard mark before working off out of sight.  A couple of hours later, a couple more Gobblers, two Jakes and a hen worked from the north to the south about 250 yards away with no interest in coming my direction.  Dejected, I sat trying to stay dry as the rain now began to seep through the seams on the Double Bull Darkhorse blind.

20140519_SFOhioGobbler5It was again down to the final day of the season, and I had yet to fill my second tag in Ohio.  After speaking with the land owner after the previous days hunt, I found out that the birds were typically working the field near the south wood lot.  Knowing this information, I setup next to an old fallen down building along the field edge that had excellent cover to help break up the outline of my ground blind.  Just like clockwork, the first bird fired off at 6:00AM about 250-300 yards directly in front of my hide.  Gobble after gobble erupted from the tree-line until shortly after 6:15AM when I saw a bird pop out of the tree-line directly to my south.  20140519_SFOhioGobbler27I pulled up my binos and flipped on the camera to realize it was a lone hen.  Hoping a gobbler would be following her, I watched for several minutes until she moved off to the north of me.

The morning was quiet as a dense fog rolled in.  I waited and waited for the sun to peak up over the horizon and help burn off the fog which had now blanketed my entire viewing area.  20140519_SFOhioGobbler28It was almost an hour before I could see the tree-line again, so I gave a few yelps and clucks on my glass call and waited.  It was about 10 minutes before 9 when I looked up from my phone and saw a bird rounding the corner of the south block of woods I was facing.  I flipped on the camera and looked through my binos to realize it was a long beard making his way my direction.  He was determined to come into my decoy spread as he would take about 10 steps, blow up in full strut and immediately deflate and make his way even closer.  20140519_SFOhioGobbler26The 250 yards he had to cover to get to my setup seemed like it took forever as I watched him cross the wide open corn field.  He blew up in full strut one more time only steps away from my DSD Leading Hen when I decided it was time to shoot.  As he turned, I pulled up my Hoyt and drew back waiting for him to turn.  I settled the pin on my Spot Hogg Hunter sight and released…20140519_SFOhioGobbler6the arrow hit its mark again and the bird struggled to make it 5 yards before piling up.  After retrieving my arrow and the bird, I realized this was one of the best birds I had killed with a bow, even with a half-broken spur.

 

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20140519_SFOhioGobbler17So that was my season in a nutshell.  Like most seasons, it was full of both ups and downs, and fortunately for me it was full of more ups as I was able to make the most of my chances here in Ohio and filled both of my tags.  Next year I vow that I will not come back empty-handed in Nebraska!

 

Bird Stats #1:

  • 17 lbs., 10 ounces
  • 5 1/16″ beard
  • 7/16″ nubs for spurs

Bird Stats #2:

  • 22 lbs., 8 ounces
  • 10 1/4″ beard
  • 1 3/16″ and 9/16″ spurs


Brett’s Gear:

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Extreme Outdoors P.O.V. Camera Mount

no vinThere is no question as to if adding a second or third camera angle to your set up will increase your ability to tell your story. Being able to capture the most emotional moments gopro mount 2of hunting through multiple angles can engage the audience as if they were there with you.

With point of view cameras such as the GoPro, multiple angles are now much easier to capture. One of my favorite second angle shots is the GoPro mounted on my bow looking back at me. With this angle I am almost always in the frame and it is catching my every move leading up to and after the

View from the GoPro mounted high looking back.

View from the GoPro mounted high looking back.

shot, capturing pure emotion at its finest. The camera can also easily be turned the opposite direction facing the action for another angle and even be used as a primary. Although relying on this for a primary camera set up is not ideal in my opinion, it will still capture the shot.

Achieving these bow angles used to be difficult because of mounting limitations until Extreme Outdoors engineered the GoPro mount specifically designed for a bow.

View from GoPro mounted high looking forward at 15 yards.

View from GoPro mounted high looking forward at 15 yards.

Made from 6061 aircraft grade aluminum, this small lightweight mount makes it simple to get the angle desired. This mount is universal to nearly all bows, as long as there are holes in the riser. To top this product off it is 100% American made.

My personal favorite location for the mount.

My personal favorite location for the mount.

In my experience using this mount I have not felt any significant weight difference, vibrations, or extra noises leading up to and during the shot. This low profile mount is just the ticket for capturing additional angles on your next hunt. This Extreme Outdoors mount retails for $34.95 and can be purchased on their website at www.reengineeringthehunt.com.

 

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Dave Smith Decoys: Jake

 

As winter fades and temperature begin to climb, cabin fever hits an all time high waiting for that first morning back in the woods chasing long beards. And my number one key to success for the past few years has come from my DSD Jake.2014.04.08DSDJake1

If you are looking for that one special item to give you an edge up on a ol’tom this spring, I would recommend looking into the DSD Jake decoy.

DSD’s attention to detail is what sets this decoy apart from anything else on the market. 2014.0408DSDVertJakeThe paint scheme from the head to the body and realistic feather sculpting brings this decoy to life.

This decoy alone has increased my chances twenty fold with bringing those wise toms into bow range. DSD Jake is portrayed to resemble an adolescent jake postured for breeding, which in turns sparks jealously and territorial toms to rush in and show their dominance.

Once I became an avid bowhunter and set out to take make my first bow bird, I knew that my decoy setup was needing to change to help get the birds in closer.  So after a little research on the web looking for the best success stories for taking birds with a bow, DSD Decoys were the recurring key to success. So, I turned to DSD and asked for their assistance in helping achieve my goals of taking my first bow bird.  524325_339928179462855_1454684601_nThey instantly suggested that if I was just going to get one decoy…make it the JAKE! So, that is exactly what I did. Well…not exactly I went ahead and bought the breeding pair (Jake & Submissive Hen).

My normal setup for the majority of spring turkey season, is to place the Posturing Jake directly to the side of a submissive hen and out in an open ag field so it can be seen from many directions and from a distance. 2014.04.08DSDpairIn the past I had used other decoys from lone feeding hens, up right hens and strutting toms with many of the same results, having to shot toms at longer ranges with my shotgun. Not to say these other decoys did not work, but at times a lot of the birds were spooked or uneasy about closing the distance to extremely close range.

If you have never seen the DSD Jake in person, find out where your closest retailer is and go check this bad boy out…or just go ahead and order yours today www.davesmithdecoys.com , because you will not regret it.

 

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2014 DSD Decoy Giveaway!

Stop by our Facebook page and check out the latest promotion.  We are giving away a new DSD Strutter decoy and a DSD Leading Hen decoy to 1 lucky winner on Facebook!

Click the image below for more details!

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2014 NWTF Convention Highlights

The National Wild Turkey Federation, commonly referred to as the NWTF, is an organization that needs no introduction.   Founded in 1973, they have been one of the single greatest factors in the constant battle to preserve our nation’s hunting rights, NWTF_Hazel_Creekwildlife, and the natural habitat required for our wildlife to thrive.  It is through the help of the many sponsors and members of the NWTF that the organization’s dreams are able to become reality.  And each year, the NWTF hosts it’s annual Convention and Sports show where the tens of thousands of like-minded outdoorsman and women can come together for a weekend of fun and education, all the while helping to support on of the greatest conservation groups this country has ever seen.

So for those of you who already know about the annual NWTF Convention, it is certain that this article will have you wishing for hunting seasons to come and go so we can all get back to Nashville in February, but for those of you who don’t, let me tell you what the NWTF_AtriumNWTF is all about.  To sum up the convention in one word, FUN!  There really is no better way to put it.  In recent years, the NWTF has held it’s convention at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee.  The Gaylord itself is an experience on person should miss out on.  However, when you add the fun of the NWTF into the mix, the few short days in February every year that bring us all together simply don’t seem to be enough.

This years 38th annual NWTF Convention was one of the most successful yet.  The convention boasted attendance at a staggering number of 48,530.  Also drawing a record NWTF_Huntmorenumber of exhibitors at 420, it is easy to see that this annual convention is no small deal.  Featuring a massive exhibition hall that showcases many of the newest products available to turkey hunters, celebrity autograph meet and greets, national turkey calling competitions, it is hard to pick a favorite activity when enjoying the show.

The exhibition hall itself is the top draw for visitors.  Inside, a person can get lost in the constant sounds of game calls, especially the thunderous gobbles let loose by the many makers of modern gobble calls.  The sounds leave many hunters longing for the time NWTF_Huntbetween hunting seasons to pass quickly.  Perhaps that is by design, it certainly makes it hard to pass by your favorite decoy manufacturer or call maker without pulling out the pocket-book and spending a few dollars.  I myself am usually guilty of lingering around the Dave Smith Decoys booth, always caving to the self-induced peer pressure of buying the newest decoys available.  But calls and decoys aren’t the only goods to be purchased at the NWTF Convention.  NWTF_DSD_BuckChances are, if there is a new product you’ve been dying to put your hands on, it can be found while walking the many aisles at the show.

For those of us who also seek to take home a little knowledge to help improve our hunting capabilities, there are many great seminars hosted by the country’s top turkey experts.  Everything from calling techniques to decoy placement recommendations, there is usually something to fit the needs of the most advanced to amateur hunters.  NWTF_Tom_TeasersThere are always a lot of good stories and hard lessons to be shared.  Also, Q&A sessions allow you to get answers to questions that may have gone unanswered to you for years.  Granted, sometimes there is perfect answer to a certain situation, but the advice from someone such as Preston Pittman or Will Primos is hard to ignore.

NWTF_LionOne of the other activities I’ve greatly enjoyed at the convention is the national turkey calling competitions.  It is something else to hear what can be done with a turkey call when the proper time is put in to practice.  I’m sure I’m not the only one who walks out feeling a little down about my calling, but to be fair, many of the competitors could teach a real hen a thing or two about calling.  Regardless, the calling competitions always give me the kick in the butt I need to break out my calls and start practicing for the upcoming season.

NWTF_USAAll in all, the NWTF Convention is a great source of fun.  Not once have I departed from Nashville regretting my decision to attend.  Every year, I find myself going home with more of an appreciation to the many great things the NWTF provides to it’s members, not to mention the wildlife it serves.  Each trip has provided me the chance to meet new people and form new relationships.  If you have not yet had the privilege of enjoying the NWTF Convention, I strongly suggest you look into attending in 2015.  It is great experience, and a great opportunity to give back to a group that has given so much to the country and it’s wildlife.

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