Bowhunting Western Big Game

Question A friend of mine asked me to go bear hunting with him this upcoming year - Victor Hoke II 05/12/2005, ID=2552
Answer
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Question I bow hunt for elk in Org. what is the best way to set up a tree stand for elk.

- dennis hood 01/13/2005, ID=2446

Answer
Dennis,

Your question is a bit vague -- or maybe a bit broad -- so I will make some assumptions. First, you could be asking about location. I would say a fresh wallow is the best place to place a treestand for elk. Early in the archery season, say from late August to September 10 or so, while the weather remains warm, bulls will be using wallows regularly. In dry areas, which describes a lot of eastern Oregon, waterholes also are key places for treestands. In steep terrain, you most likely will find well-traveled trails leading from one bench or feeding area to another, and if these trails are well defined, they could be good places for treestands. Also, in cattle country with fences, fence crossings are always a good bet. Look for places where the strands are loose or broken. You'll see where elk have jumped the fences at these easier places.

Second, you could be talking about the mechanics of putting up the stand. Above all, you want the stand downwind of the wallow, trail, crossing, etc. that you're hunting. That should go without saying. Then I recommend against placing the stand too high. Twelve to 15 feet should be adequate. Place it in a tree where you have good cover around and behind you. If you place the stand too high, you'll have an acute shot angle down into the elk, and you're liable to hit only one lung. You need more of a broadside shot to assure a double-lung hit.

For elk you'll probably carry in a fixed-position stand (opposed to a climber) and leave it in place for awhile. You're wise to lock it to the tree to prevent theft. Do not use screw-in steps. Use climbing sticks with closed rungs, like the Summit Swiftree, or ladder-style steps, like the Nontraditional Rapid Rails from Ameristep. These are much safer than screw-in steps. And always strap in with a full-body safety harness. In elk hunting you probably will be some distance from help, and if you fall out of the tree, or end up hanging upside down with a simple safety strap, you're as good as dead. Above all, think safety. Use a Seat-o-Pants or similarly high-quality safety harness.

Treestands definitely have a lot to offer in elk hunting. Above all, apply patience. You'll get an elk.

Dwight Schuh, Editor Bowhunter Magazine


Question Dwight, I read an article a couple of years back where you were forced to have shoulder surgery. I have rotator cuff surgery on Monday Dec 13th. My shoulder is really messed up with one tendon completely torn and others messed up.

How bad was your should and do you have any tips to help a man get back to bowhunting?

I know you hunted with a mouth tab for one year.

Any help is appreciated,

Gary

- Gary Carty 12/11/2004, ID=2395

Answer
Gary,

Forgive me for taking so long to respond. Things have been a bit hectic here lately. I wish you all the best with the shoulder, but be prepared for a long haul. Shoulders are notorious for taking a long time to heal and regain strength. You have to be patient.

From what the doctor tells me, my shoulder was in pretty bad shape. Three of the rotator cuff muscles were torn in two, and the gap in the tear was about three centimeters, which is roughly the cutoff point between being reparable and being irreparable.

Fortunately, the rotator cuff was reparable. Unfortunately, it took took three tries. After the first two surgeries, the rotator cuff either did not heal, or I tore it again. At least the hole was getting smaller, and now, finally, after the third surgery, it seems to have healed. However, even after 11 months (since the third surgery) my left shoulder remains very weak, and any excess exertion leaves it pretty sore. However, I diligently do the exercises prescribed by a therapist, and I swim three to four times a week, and the shoulder is making progress. I actually can lift a bow with my left arm now and have been shooting a very light draw weight right-handed -- the first time in three years.

To deal with all of this, I shot left handed with a mouth tab after the first surgery. Then, the past two years, I have shot left-handed. That's because I could not lift a bow with my left arm, but I could pull the bowstring. After three years of shooting left-handed, I'm almost as good on that side as I was shooting right-handed. Still, right-handed is far more natural, so I'm excited about the prospect of switching back to right-handed shooting.

In terms of rehab, here's my advice: Be diligent about physical therapy and exercise, but don't try to progress too fast or you'll only keep hurting yourself. You can progress only as fast as your body will heal. And if your shoulder is anything like mine, that's pretty slow.

Incidentally, if you want to learn more about shooting with one hand and a mouth tab, contact Drew McCartney at (785) 637-5421 or macs@gorhamtel.com. This is no gimmick. It works great and is not hard to learn. Drew has been shooting one-handed this way for many years, and it worked for me to keep me hunting when one of my wings would not flap.

All the best for a complete recovery.

Dwight Schuh, Editor Bowhunter


Question I'm planning a mountain goat hunt this fall. Planning on using the same setup that I use for deer. (70lb Q2 / Epic 340's / 100 grain G5's) Any advice on setup and/or shot placement ?? Aiming High ...

- Trevor Chandler 06/16/2004, ID=2350

Answer
Trevor,

Sounds to me as if your tackle is just right for goats. A big billy might weigh 300 pounds, but goats are not overly thick through the chest, so you should be able to get a pass-through shot with your draw weight and arrow choice.

A main consideration on goats is the thick hair. Early in the season it might not be a concern, but in October the hair gets long and thick and can impede penetration. For that reason I would not be real high on open-on-impact broadheads for goats. Your choice of G5s is a wise one.

You most likely will be shooting downhill, possible at a steep angle as you would on a whitetail from a treestand. In that scenario, you would want to aim a little above the middle of the chest to get both lungs. But you definitely want to wait for a good broadside shot so you can get both lungs or the heart. Goats are pretty tough critters, and if a wounded goat can make any kind of escape, it could get into terrain where you will never recover it. So pick your shots carefully.

Good luck and be careful,

Dwight Schuh


Question My wife and I are going to colorado on september 3-10th ,and I was wondering if a fred bear badge compound bow set at 48lbs with PSE carbon force arrows tipped with 100 grain steel force broadheads is enough for elk? I went last year ,and killed a 5x5 with the same equipment ,but with a PSE Nova set at 72lbs. Thanks

- Jack Forrester 03/30/2004, ID=2334

Answer
Jack,

I'm a little curious as to why you're dropping from 72-pounds draw weight to 48 pounds. But to answer your question, yes, I think the 48-pound bow will do the job. However, it's none too heavy. I recommend that you wait for a perfectly broadside shot. On a quartering shot, the 48-pounder might not have enough oomph to push the arrow all the way through the vitals.

Best of success,

Dwight Schuh


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Dwight Schuh
Be sure to visit Dwight Schuh's Website - Dwight Schuh is perhaps the most respected authority on bowhunting Western big game. The author of numerous books including "Hunting Open Country Mule Deer" and "Bugling for Elk" is here to answer your specific questions on bowhunting Western Big Game.