/    /  April

Like most others who have drawn once-in-a-lifetime type tags, the notification of my Mountain Goat drawing success struck me as a surprise after many years applying.  This was it! --The final “difficult” species to draw in my Colorado Archery Big 8 quest. The dominant terrain feature within the unit is Mt. Antero, a peak reaching the heavens above 14,000 feet.   All my research, training, scouting, and preparation for the hunt were certainly worthwhile, but none of it prepared me for the mental and physical challenges I would find on the lofty granite peaks if the Colorado high country.  Mountain Goats are tough animals for good reason; they live in the most inhospitable places in North America.  The places they call home are like a nightmare for us two-legged, non-wild creatures.

The last day of deer or elk season is usually a day that most hunters dread, often trying to squeeze in as much time afield before that final minute of legal shooting light fades away.  After all, the last day typically symbolizes the beginning of an impatient and difficult layoff that makes even the casual hunter long for hunting season to return.  I suppose a few embrace the last day, especially after a three to four month season that usually warrants some much needed rest and relaxation.  However for those of us who live, eat, and breathe bowhunting, I’ve learned the last day of the big game season can open up a totally new hunting opportunity.  With just a little bit of additional equipment, some scouting, and the ability to operate a call, you can extend your bow season throughout the spring and into the summer, creating a year round bowhunting adventure.

To this day I’m amazed that our local town sheriff did not get a call about some “weirdo” at our little post office. After opening my mailbox I pulled out a little yellow card that read: “Montana Bighorn Sheep; Paradise Unit……. Successful.” The only words that could escape my slack-jawed, drooling mouth where,” Oh my God! Oh my God!” A complete stranger walked in the door. I looked wild eyed at her and proclaimed, “ I drew a Montana bighorn sheep tag!”  She lowered her chin towards the floor to cut off eye contact and veered around me. Then the other two people that I don’t know in our tiny town walked in, and I gave them the great news as well. I must have looked like a complete idiot! Next, the thought occurred to me that one of my cruel friends was pulling a prank. I scanned the parking lot for someone laughing holding his or her sides. No jokesters there.  And, that was the beginning of my Montana sheep hunt.

Generally when archery seasons begin out West, most mule deer will still be in the velvet stage of antler development.  When a bowhunter is lucky enough to take a trophy in velvet, oftentimes they want to preserve their trophy in its natural state.  For those who are backpacked deep into a remote wilderness, they are generally not able to get it frozen and or deliver it to a taxidermist in a timely manner.  As a result, the velvet slips and they no longer have the ability to mount it with the original velvet intact.  Knowing how to successfully preserve the velvet is crucial for back-country hunters who wish to prevent the velvet spoiling and “slipping”.  Untreated velvet, in room temperatures, begins to breakdown immediately and should be treated within 24 hours (depending on weather).  Here's what I've done over the years that's worked for me while either in the field or at trailhead.

Penetration is a crucial element to consider when choosing an arrow.  There are many theories out there concerning which arrow has the best penetration performance.  There are also many factors that contribute to the overall penetration of the arrow such as draw weight and length, arrow weight, broadhead type, kinetic energy (KE), and front of center (FOC).  While each of these factors are essential to consider and deserve discussion, in this article I am going to focus solely on diameter and type of arrow.

I cannot stop talking about the new Equalizer release.  I honestly believe this unique and innovative release will change the world of archery hunting especially for women and those with short draw lengths.  I was introduced to this release a year ago when I was preparing to hunt the big five in Africa.   To hunt dangerous game in Africa there are certain requirements for draw weight and kinetic energy in order to make an ethical and lethal shot.  For years I thought I would never have the opportunity to hunt dangerous game because I only have a 24 1/2 inch draw length.  In order to get the kinetic energy necessary to hunt dangerous game at a 24 1/2 inch draw length I would be required to pull over 100 lbs.

With over 16,000 archery tags issued in the state of Utah for mule deer each year, the odds of harvesting the largest buck in state were less than .000062 %; not exactly numbers worth betting on in Vegas. Then combine that with the odds of taking a muley with a bow that would go in Utah’s all-time top ten and the odds get even worse, at .00002%. Any way you do the math, you’d have to be one lucky guy to fill that tag. On August 19, 2007, because of the help of some great friends, I beat the odds and punched that winning lottery ticket with a buck we had named Superman.