New Mexico archery elk unit 15

You’ll never forget the first time you hear an elk bugle. My first time was just before daybreak September 15, 2019. It was the start of my hunt of a lifetime that I would get to share with my 13 year old son.

After months of research I decided that unit 16D in New Mexico would give me a good chance of getting a good bull. I talked to several outfitters and decided to hunt with Andy Salgado of H&A outfitters . After 3 years of not drawing a tag Andy told me I should put in for unit 15. Drawing that tag on my first try was the beginning of my luck.

After not getting a pass through on a quartering away Gemsbok I decided to use a 250 grain cutthroat vs a 150 grain cutthroat bringing my taw up to 650 grains. Which I think was a deciding factor in my hunt.

Stepping out of the truck on that cold rainy morning and hearing that first bugle was something I had been dreaming of for years. We made a game plan and took off after that bull. I wasn’t as physically prepared as I wanted to be but who is. That first little climb kicked my ass. I had to slow down and take my time. I was determined to get there. I did but it was too late. The bull had already gone by our intercept point.

That’s when another bull bugles to the west. Now we are between two bugling bulls. If that doesn’t give you an adrenaline rush it’s time to check for a pulse. We start working in on the bull to the west. Not only is he closer, the wind is perfect. As he continues to bugle it sounds like he is stationary. Possibly another hunter? I catch a glimpse of something and a quick look through the binoculars confirms it’s an elk rear end. The rain is really starting to come down. My guide turns to me and asked the dumbest question I’ve ever heard. Don’t get me wrong, he was a great guide. “Do you want to go back to the truck since it’s raining so hard?” Are you kidding me? Hell no I don’t want to go back to the truck. We finally work our way to about 70 yards and a cow busted us. Sean thinks it’s a 330ish bull.

After a nice lunch and changing into dry clothes we head out for the evening hunt. Sean points out a very tall, steep, and intimidating mountain. Let’s climb up there and see what happens. Before we get started there’s a bugle to the north. Winds swirling but let’s give it a try. Those pesky cows get spotted first. Sean sets up behind me and does his best impression of a bull raking a tree with intentions of stealing some cows. A bull is heard but never seen as he goes over the ridge with cows following him. Cresting the ridge Sean makes a few cow calls. He wants that cow but not enough to come back for her.

Let’s go up this side of the mountain. It’s a little steeper but we’re already here. There’s a nice game trail to follow that angles up the side of the mountain which makes it a lot easier. Just as we start up a bugle echoes around us that originated from the top of the mountain. Several more bugles are heard as we make the slow arduous climb. Well at least for me it is. Wyatt and I both agree our guide is part mountain goat. At least he acts like we are doing good and doesn’t get way ahead of us. The trail leads up to a saddle. Just as we get to the top our mystery bull unleashes a bugle that you could feel reverberate in your chest. Breathing uncontrollably, bow in my sling, arrows in my quiver, release aid in my pocket I couldn’t be anymore unprepared. The bull graciously allows me time to get composed and on que I can see his whale tails coming above the brush. I immediately think I’m shooting this bull before I even see anything else. He stops to rake a tree and if he continues on his current course he will go through an opening to my right. Being short I will not be able to get a shot over the crest of the hill. Very cautiously I take 2 steps up the hill. Satisfied with the thrashing he gave the bush he starts to walk into the open and I draw. Having already gotten the yardage to a nearby tree from my guide I quickly estimate the yardage at 30 yards. I have noticed he is “slightly” quartering towards me and I hug the shoulder as close as I dare and release the shot. My initial thought was “too far back, gutshot”. Sean assures me that it went in right behind the shoulder. My arrow hit a pencil size twig at about 10 yards and I’m positive it glanced my arrow into the guts. Evidently shooting an elk is a sign for the clouds to open up and dump gallons of water. Any hopes for a good blood trail diminished with every minute it rains.

Wyatt had high hopes of videoing my hunt with our Cannon XA11. Due to the rain it was left in camp and he was using my iPhone. Our number one priority isn’t getting the shot on camera. You’ll never hear us say “are you on him”. He was too far below the crest of the hill to see the elk so he didn’t get the impact on camera. He did get me taking the shot.

Taking the shot

Still thinking I shot too far back and got guts we look for my arrow. Finding the arrow would shed some light on the shot placement. After several minutes of looking it can’t be found. The guide suggests it might still be in him. While he starts trying to unravel the tracks I decide to take a walk in the general direction the elk ran. After about 100 yards I see 2 rag horns off to my left. Thinking they might be messing with my bull I circle around towards them. As I come around a small pine I see antlers and my bull down. Cautiously I sneak up and give him a poke to make sure he’s done.

Recovery

As we are breaking down this elk another elk bugles from the ridge behind us. The guide makes a bugle with his mouth and this elk comes right to us. He stops at 40 yards only because he doesn’t want to jump the fence.

Mouth called elk

375.5″ 7X8

That was quite possibly the best first day of elk hunting in history. Being able to share it with my son made it all the more memorable. I know I’ll never be able to top that day but it’ll be fun trying.

I have to thank my sponsor: My wife Dr. Dana Dalton. Without her love and support none of this would’ve ever happened.

Click to watch full video

YouTube video of hunt

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Chattaronga Safari

An African Safari always seemed like a fairytale to me. On September 30 2018 that fairytale became a reality for me. Not only was I going to Africa but I was taking my son with me.  I use Bowhunting Safari Consultants to book all of my hunts.  They specialize in bowhunting outfitters.  There is nothing worse than trying to bow hunt with someone that is set up for rifle hunters.  Neil Summers recommend Chattaronga Safaris based on what I was looking for in an African Safari.

We flew out of St. Louis September 27 to Atlanta and then a 15 hour flight to Johannesburg. If you ever go to Africa consider using  Gracy Travel International. One of their representatives met us at Johannesburg and directed us to the hotel for an overnight stay. He met us the next morning and navigated us through the maze of an airport to check our bows and get on our flight to Polokwane. Chattaronga Safaris met us at Polokwane for a 1.5 hour ride to the lodge.  The lodge was amazing. Tour of lodge

We arrived at the lodge early enough to hunt that evening.  Heinrich was our PH and you couldn’t ask for a better person to be your guide.  The first blind we visited didn’t result in any shots.  There was plenty animals of which I thought were  big but Heinrich told us not to shoot.  I quickly learned that he would only let us shoot mature animals.

DAY 1

Going into the trip I only wanted to shoot a Kudu and a Sable.  Little did I know that idea wouldn’t last very long.  We drove up to the blind that first morning about an hour after daylight and Sable ran everywhere.  I didn’t like the idea of arriving after daylight but I’ve learned to listen to the guide.  We set up in the blind and about 30 minutes later the Sable started filtering back in.  A nice looking Sable came in that I wanted to shoot but Heinrich said no he is too young.  After a while another one came walking in and you could tell he was the boss.  The others would move to the side when he walked by.   The young one I wanted to shoot tried to challenge him and they started to spar.  When he got broadside at 20 yards I took the shot.  It was a complete pass through.  The herd ran out of sight into the bush.  Heinrich called the trackers and we waited.  After a short wait they started off on the track.  It didn’t take long because he didn’t make it far.

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I was using a Mathews Triax  set to 70lbs at 28″.  My arrow was a Easton axis 260 with a 50 grain brass insert, 150 grain cutthroat broadhead, 4 Gateway Razer vanes, Firenock, and a 2″ footer for a total arrow weight of 550 grains.  Ontarget2 calculated approximately 260 fps, 80 K.E., .630 momentum and 19% FOC.  I should have used a 250 grain head but hind sight is 20/20 as you will see later on in the story.

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We got back into the blind in hopes of seeing an Impala for my son.  His wish list consisted of Impala and Wildebeest.  As you will see his list expanded quickly as well.  A small herd came through but way out of range of his Ravin crossbow.  I tipped his arrows with the same broadhead I was using.  If you plan on using mechanical heads you better check with the outfitter first.  Most of them hate mechanicals and will not let you use them.  I also put Firenocks on his arrows.  After adding the weight the chronograph read 375 fps.  Which only required changing the speed on his scope and a re zero at 20 yards.  After a big lunch we went to a different blind.  About an hour before dark a really nice Nyala came in.  If Heinrich said it was a good one we shot it.  From our point of view the shot was clear but Wyatt’s shot was blocked by limbs.  It finally cleared the limbs and Wyatt took the shot.  However this Nyala was on pins and needles,  and just as Wyatt squeezed the trigger the Nyala jumped back.  Thankfully it was a clean miss.

  DAY 2

We went back to the “Nyala” blind the next morning in hopes of seeing it again.  No luck on the Nyala but a herd of Impala came to the blind.  Heinrich pointed out the best one and Wyatt made a good 20 yard shot.  It fell within sight of the blind.  After the trackers picked up his Impala we got back into the blind.  It wasn’t long until a herd of Blue Wildebeest came in.  The biggest one turned broadside at 30 yards.  Wyatt had to wait for an Eland to move for a clear shot.  His shot looked good at first but after it walked a hundred yards and laid down it was obvious it wasn’t a good shot.  I later learned how to cock his Ravin silently but at the time I didn’t know how and the clicking of the crank spooked the wildebeest and he walked off.  No I wouldn’t let him take a 100 yard shot on an animal but a wounded animal is a different story.  This is when I learned what a good tracker was.  Working as a guide for several years I felt like I was a pretty good tracker but after watching these guys; I would give my skills a 1.  I went with the trackers and we walked 3 circles.  The whole time I’m thinking these guys are just looking for a body there is no way they are tracking.  Sure enough we jump the wildebeest.  They track it to a road.  We mark the spot and go eat lunch.  Upon returning we drop off the trackers and circle around to the other side of the bush.  They find it within 200 yards of the road.  The shot would have been perfect on a whitetail so obviously it was too far back for an African animal.  The vitals are straight up the leg vs behind the leg.

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DAY 3

We went back to the “Nyala” blind again for the morning hunt.  Wyatt wanted that Nyala badly.   We saw Eland, Blue Wildebeest, Zebra, Warthog, and some Nyala but nothing was big enough to shoot.  That evening we tried a different blind.  Chattaronga Safaris has some awesome blinds.

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It wasn’t long until a huge Eland came in.  I really wanted to shoot him but again Heinrich said don’t shoot he is to young.  He kept turning broadside and just standing there begging to be shot.  Then a whole herd of Eland showed up and their was an old bull with them.  I had to wait several minutes for him to turn broadside.  I bought a video camera to film our hunts but I told Heinrich if we got the shot on video I would be happy but I was going to take the shot when I could, even if he wasn’t ready.  Unfortunately he had trouble with the lens cap and didn’t capture the shot on film.  It was another double lung complete pass through shot and again he didn’t run far.

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DAY 4

Wyatt wanted to go back to the “Nyala” blind.  We saw several animals but no Nyala.  There was a lone Impala that kept coming in and Heinrich said it might be a little bit bigger than Wyatt’s.  So when the decision to leave was made I said if he gives me a shot before the truck gets here,  I’m taking it.  Of course he comes in to 20 yards and gets broadside.  This is where my “perfect” shot streak ends.  I feel like my shot was high even if he didn’t duck the string.  We watched him run off into the bush never to be found.  The video confirmed my suspicions.  That evening we went to the “River Farm”.  A nice Nyala came in but it wasn’t as big as the one Wyatt had missed on the first day so he passed on it.  Later on, two huge Waterbucks came in.  They initially spooked and we thought our chances were over.  Right before dark the biggest one came back in and Wyatt took a 20 yard shot.  I thought the shot looked good but Heinrich thought it was forward.  He was still skeptical after we watched the video.  However it turned out to be a heart shot and we found him within 100 yards.  According to Heinrich this Waterbuck was a “MONSTER”.  

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DAY 5

It’s now day 5 and I haven’t even seen a Kudu yet.  Heinrich takes us to a different blind and when we pull up there are 3 Kudu at the blind; 2 of which are shooters.  We see Eland, baboons, and a good looking Giraffe but no Kudu.  The action slows down around 12 and we go back to the lodge for lunch.  Pulling back up to the blind around 2 the Kudu take off running again.  They come back in from the downwind side around 4 and spook.  This is the first day that we don’t take a shot.

DAY 6

We go back to the “Kudu” stand and guess what?  Yep, those damn Kudu are already there and run off again.  They come back in around 12 but yet again I don’t get a shot.  I talk Heinrich into not going back in for lunch and staying all day.  At 4:00 they start working back in.  I finally get a shot.  He is broadside at 10 yards and I make a “perfect” shot.  Heinrich calls the trackers and tells them to bring the trailer this Kudu isn’t going to make it very far.  I can’t wait to get my hands on him so we go look for him.  By the time the trackers show up ,we haven’t found my Kudu yet.  After looking at the footage Heinrich confirms its a “perfect” shot.  We take off on the track and 5 miles later we still haven’t found my Kudu.  It’s getting dark so when it crosses a road we mark the spot and go back to the lodge for supper and a very long night.  

DAY 7

The trackers start back on the trail.  The night before we discussed that if we didn’t find any blood to confirm we were on the right track we would have to backtrack.  It wasn’t long until they found a speck of blood to confirm we were on the right track.  They tracked for another 2 miles until we came to some rocky terrain.  The trackers told me the secret to their tracking.  When an animal is wounded their hooves will spread apart when they walk thus blood isn’t needed to track.  This only works on the heavy animals, which is why we couldn’t track the impala.  So when we hit the rocky terrain they spread out and looked for the track.  That’s when I heard a hunters favorite words “I found him”! The trackers were in disbelief at how far this animal went after seeing the shot placement.  The skinners said not only did the arrow hit both lungs it also nicked the windpipe between his lungs.  I have no explanation as to how this Kudu went this far.  You should watch the video posted at the end.

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Up to this point I was feeling really down.  I even said find it or not, I’m done.  I have to give my son a lot of credit.  He tried to keep me upbeat and happy.  My mood changed immediately after it was recovered and I was ready to go hunting again.  Heinrich said the trackers had found a spot that some really nice Gemsbok were frequenting.  They built a blind out of burlap and limbs and we got set up by 2:00.  Sure enough the Gemsbok started coming in and Heinrich pointed out the best one.  In order to stay concealed they had only left a very small hole to shoot through.  I had a hard time getting a good shot at the one he told me to shoot.  He was either quartering to or there would be other Gemsbok in the way.  He spooked a little bit but he stopped and gave me a quartering away shot.  When I drew back to shoot, Heinrich took down the camera for fear of getting shot.  That’s how small the hole was.  We heard the crack of bone as the arrow hit the opposite shoulder.  Another “perfect” shot and again we told the trackers to bring the trailer.  After tracking a couple miles it was obvious the shot wasn’t actually that good.  This particular section of the property had a lot of roads.  We would circle around and try to finish him with the rifle as the trackers stayed on the track.  At the first crossing Heinrich gave me his .375 to finish him.  Heinrich started saying there he is shoot, shoot; but for the life of me I couldn’t see him. Just as I handed the rifle to Heinrich the Gemsbok ran across the road and he took a shot.  He hit it in the ass and that Gemsbok didn’t even slow down.  The next crossing didn’t yield a shot because it was a narrow opening and he ran across too fast.  At the next crossing the trackers call on the radio to let us know they found him.  They walked up on him and as he tried to get up they finished him off with another shot.  The skinners said the arrow had broken a rib on entry, but it turned the arrow enough so that it only got 1 lung.  This is when I wished for the 250 grain head.  Not sure if it would have made a difference, but I think it might have.

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There was full body mount of a Bushbuck in the lodge and Wyatt decides he wants one.  Heinrich tells us the best way to hunt them is at night with a light because they are rarely seen during the daylight.  The best place is the “River Farm”.  After supper we drive to the farm and begin the hunt.  Using a spot light we see a nice Bushbuck.  After maneuvering into position I try to range it.  I had left my rangefinder back at the lodge so I was using Heinrich’s.  Mine has red numbers which makes it very easy to read in low light however his had black numbers and it was very difficult to read.  Fearing the Bushbuck would run off I guessed the distance at 40 yards.  Wyatt took the shot and it looked a little high.  We followed up and found the Bushbuck standing facing away from us but he was hit good and wasn’t able to run off.  We got into position for another shot and again he hit a little high.  This time we find him laying down and Wyatt hits a limb on this shot deflecting the bolt off course.  That’s 3 shots and he is out of bolts.  Luckily he was using Firenock’s and I was able to retrieve one of his arrows.  This time we are able to get within 20 yards and he finishes it off.

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DAY 8

Wyatt wants to try for the Nyala again so we go back to that blind for the morning hunt.  We see lots of animals as always but no Nyala.  We do see a warthog that I considered shooting but Heinrich tells me we can do better.  We are back in the blind that evening looking for Wyatt’s Nyala.  Finally we see him coming in.  All of the blinds had big rubber mats to help keep down noise.  As the Nyala works around the waterhole to give Wyatt a shot Heinrich’s chair falls off the edge of the mat and makes a loud noise spooking the Nyala.  However it only makes a couple jumps and stops long enough for Wyatt to make a shot.  Wyatt makes a good shot and it only runs about 60 yards before falling.  Heinrich tells us we just completed the spiral horn slam.  I got the Eland and Kudu while Wyatt got the Nyala and Bushbuck.

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DAY 9

At this point we have shot everything we wanted and then some.  Johan makes me an incredible offer on a Cape Buffalo but at this point I’ve already gone way over budget and can’t afford it.  I inquire about shooting a Livingston Eland.  He has an old bull that the trackers say probably won’t make it much longer.  I can shoot it for a very big discount.  We drive out to the area it was last seen and find it.  Only one problem it’s already dead.  Johan says I can have the head if I want so I tell them to prepare it for a European mount.IMG_0085

Now we are just looking for a Warthog.  Heinrich takes us to a totally different blind he called “Whitepan”  that evening but we don’t see any shooter Warthogs.

DAY 10

Back to “Whitepan” to look for Warthogs again.  Zebra come in but no shot opportunities which didn’t matter because my wife said no Zebra or Giraffe.  Three Cape Buffalo come in and tempt me but luckily they don’t stick around long enough to give me a shot opportunity.  That evening a family of Giraffes come in.  Two females with several young ones.  After they move off a huge old bull Giraffe comes in and gives me a perfect shot opportunity.  I’ll admit I did think about it for a second but I knew better and hung my bow back up.

 

This video is the compilation of everything we recorded: Chattaronga Safari

This video highlights the Kill Shots we got on camera:  Kill Shots

This video is us talking about our hunt with footage:  Interview

 

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Illinois Trophy Bowhunters 

After six years of guiding I’ve decided to quit. Lots of people have asked me why and I’ve never really given anyone the real answer. That is until now. There probably isn’t just one reason but if I had to sum it up in one word it would be dishonesty. I have witnessed Mr. Phelps lie to hunters on numerous occasions. I should’ve spoke up but I never did and I guess my conscience couldn’t handle it anymore. 

Mr. Phelps made me numerous promises over the years which he never fulfilled. You might ask “why not confront him”?  I asked myself that same question and this is the only explanation I have. We had a friendship or at least I thought we did. When you’re friends with someone and they break a promise you tend to overlook it in the interest of maintaining that friendship. After several broken promises you finally realize this person is taking advantage of you and they never really considered you a friend. 

I created a Facebook page to book hunts with the promise that I would receive a $300 commission for every hunt sold through Facebook. In the beginning I would ask Mr. Phelps how many hunts did we sell and his response was always “I’ll have to check”. I finally stopped asking. I’ll admit I should’ve been more adamant about getting paid but it still doesn’t change the fact that we had an agreement. I decided it was time for me to be compensated for Facebook however, Mr. Phelps and his associate Duane Watlington were successful in blocking me from the very page I created. 

As if that wasn’t enough I have more stories of deceit. My wife had job offers in Arkansas and Illinois. She wanted the job in Arkansas but Mr. Phelps promised me a job as “manager of Calhoun county”. Being the good wife that she is we moved to Illinois only to find out that once again Mr. Phelps had broken another promise. 
These two stories aren’t the only tales of broken promises I have but they are the two worst ones. I wanted to end my time with ITB on a friendly note but stealing my Facebook page was the last straw. 

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The Perfect Arrow 

I don’t know if there is a perfect arrow but I’m going to try to build my perfect arrow. I’ll be using Ashby’s guidelines.

10 keys to penetration

1. Structural integrity

2. Arrow flight

3. Ferrule to shaft ratio

4. Arrow weight 650

5. FOC > 20%

6. single bevel 3.0 M.A.

7. Tapered shaft

8. Shaft finish

9. Broad head finish

10. Momentum

Using ontarget2 this is what I have decided to build. Easton Axis 260 cut to 27″ with a 2″ footer, fletched with four 3″ feathers, 250 grain cutthroat broad heads and a 50 grain brass HIT insert. You get 50 grains by removing the end of a 75 grain insert.


I made a 2″ footer using a 2016 arrow. Use a chamfer tool and stone to remove any burrs.

  
I’ll be using a 250 grain Cutthroat broad head. These have a 2.0 mechanical advantage. I considered some other heads with a 3.0 M.A. but I felt like they wouldn’t be as durable so I opted for the stronger head because structural integrity was on top of the list.


  
  
 One head was 5.8 grains lighter than the rest. All of them were over 250 grains.

They don’t come out of the box razor sharp but they aren’t supposed to.


Using my Gatco it didn’t take long to get them all razor sharp however I had to use the 22 degree setting to clean them up.

Finished arrow weights


  
Here was my first 5 shots at 20 yards.


All of them were in a 2″ circle so I’m going to say they have same POI as field points at 20 yards at least.

With the footing I think they will be pretty tough. They certainly look tough.


So to recap

10 keys to penetration
1. Structural integrity  (to be tested)

2. Arrow flight (bare shaft and broad head tuned)

3. Ferrule to shaft ratio (shaft is smaller than ferrule)

4. Arrow weight 650 (660 grains)

5. FOC > 20%. (FOC = 25%)

6. single bevel 3.0 M.A.  (Single bevel 2.0 M.A.)

7. Tapered shaft  (not really tapered but shaft is significantly smaller than ferule)

8. Shaft finish (slick?)

9. Broad head finish. (Teflon coated)

10. Momentum (.645)

I pretty much accomplished all my goals even though I did sacrifice some mechanical advantage for durability which I think was a good trade off. I’ll update with a toughness test after I get a femur bone.

Now all I need to do is draw a New Mexico elk tag.

Finally drew my tag. Read about it here

New Mexico archery elk unit 15

UPDATE 3/8/16

Femur bone shots


  
Without a doubt this combination passes the durability test.

Video 1

Video 2

Video 3

Update 1/28/2019

I went to Africa and decided to use a 150 grain head (taw 550 grain)for a little flatter trajectory. That was a mistake. Read about it here Chattaronga Safaris

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Yukon Moose Hunt

A Yukon moose hunt has been something I’ve dreamed of doing ever since I started hunting. I booked a hunt with Macmillan River Adventures for 2017 but when my booking agent Bowhunting Safari Consultants sent me an email about a cancellation for 2015 I immediately changed my plans.

I flew from St. Louis to Denver to Vancouver to Whitehorse. TIP: When you land in Vancouver you have to pick up your luggage and go through security again. Getting archery equipment through security is very easy. I didn’t encounter any problems. I arrived in Whitehorse a day early just in case there were any issues with luggage. As an added precaution I packed 2 separate pieces of luggage a Badlands terra glide and a SKB bow case each with a set of clothes, boots, and a bow. I packed my one of items in my backpack and used it for my carry on item. That way if only one bag made it I would still be able to hunt. TIP: Oversize luggage always comes out at a different location. After checking into my hotel I called Don Lind to let him know I was in town. He told me I would be picked up by 7:30. I spent the next day walking around town and taking a few pictures.


  
While waiting to be picked up I met two more hunters going to Macmillan River Adventures. Our driver arrived with two passengers already in the truck. Everyone introduced themselves and I heard a name that sounded familiar. Curt Wells the editor for Bowhunter magazine was among my fellow hunters going on this adventure.   It was a short drive to the float plane. After weighing all the equipment and ourselves we packed the plane and headed for base camp.


  

Don gave me an overview of the camp I would be hunting. It was called the Tay since it was on the Tay river. He also told me I would have two guides and they would be attempting to film my hunt. I got my tags and license, loaded my gear onto another plane and headed to my camp.



The camp was very nice. They just had finished building a kitchen and the sleeping quarters was a canvas tent.


  

I couldn’t wait for the hunt to begin. We were up at 5 A.M. and after a breakfast of bacon and eggs we loaded the boat and headed up river. We went upriver for about an hour before stopping to call. Within minutes of the first cow call we had a bull respond. I’m thinking wow this moose hunting is easy little did I know how wrong I was. He sounded close maybe 80 yards but I never saw him. The wind swirled and he quit responding. We adjusted our position and called some more. Another bull responded from the ridge above us. However the sun was coming up and the thermals carried our scent up to him. The guides caught a glimpse of his antlers but I only saw his rear end. They both thought he was a shooter. As we started back down the river we soon ran out of gas and realized in our excitement to start hunting we forgot to load an extra “jerry” can. I’ve always called them gas cans. So we got to float back to camp for two hours. Which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing because it is a good hunting tactic to just float quietly along the river as you listen for moose calling. That afternoon we didn’t have any encounters.

Day 2 we didn’t get any responses to our calls. Day 3 we awoke to rain. One of the guides slept in the “kitchen” which only had a tarp roof. There was a leak and by sheer bad luck he had placed one of his boots directly under a leak. It was half full of water. TIP: bring 2 pairs of rubber boots. We didn’t get any responses to our calls that day either.

Day 4 I trip and fall on my bow. As I inspect it for damage I notice my rest is bent. No problem we run back to camp, pick up my spare bow, and head back up river. TIP: always take a spare bow. We got a response from our very first call. However it was a bull with a cow and he decided to just push the cow deeper into the timber instead of trying to run us off. That afternoon we used the trolling motor to get into the pond we had heard the bull at that morning. We called from the boat.  A cow, calf, and a bull stood up 60 yards away. It became obvious that the bull wasn’t going to come any closer. We decided to try and push the boat to shallow water so we could get out. While pushing with an oar one of the guides dropped it against the boat. The cow gets spooked and takes off with the bull right behind her. A few more pushes later we finally get to knee deep water. I had decided to wear my hiking boots instead of my rubber boots but wet feet wasn’t going to stop me. TIP: always wear your rubber boots. The bull is still in the edge of the timber. They tell me he is around 50″. Not really a shooter but the decision is mine. I elect to try and get a shot. TIP: never pass anything you would shoot on the last day. Lined up single file with a guide in front holding a paddle over his head doing his best to look like a moose, me in the middle and the “camera man” in the back we start walking towards the bull. We get within 20 yards but it’s just to thick for a shot. The bull just isn’t interested in fighting. I’m not sure if it was because he was young or he was spooked. He starts walking and we parallel him for at least three hundred yards. I draw on him 3 times but he keeps moving before I can take the shot. The forth time I get the shot off. I completely miss. At this time I have a little meltdown. I’m not sure if there are enough “beeps” for what I said. I took a shot I shouldn’t have and rushed it. Plain and simple I screwed up. The only positive was that I completely missed. Being somewhat superstitious I decide its my spare bows fault that I missed so I bend my rest back into place on my main bow and get it shooting again.

Day 5 we decide to go way upriver and stay all day. About 8 miles from camp we hit a sand bar which tears a good sized hole in the boat. After pushing the boat off the sand bar we get on plane which drains the water out. Our plan is to land the boat on the first beach we see. However instead of hitting the beach on a flat spot the current pushes us into a high spot on the beach. We scramble out and pull the boat up enough that it quits filling with water. After unloading the boat we assess the damage. One of the guides has hurt his knee pretty bad and I have a cracked limb on my bow. TIP: ALWAYS BRING A SPARE BOW. There is no way we can fix the hole where the boat is and we can’t pull it up any further. The decision is made to push the boat back in the water and hit the beach at the low spot. First pull to crank the motor it doesn’t start. Second pull it doesn’t start. After the seventh pull its starting to get scary. He throws us a rope and by this time he has almost floated past the beach. We are able to pull the boat in at a flat spot and get it completely out of water. TIP: DONT PANIC STAY CALM.  The plan is to make a plug for the hole out of a piece of wood. While one guide uses the inreach to appraise Don of our situation I start gathering wood for a fire. I hear the whack of an axe chopping wood and Ryan yells OH MY GOD!!  I’m thinking crap he just cut off a finger. Running over to check on him I see him pulling himself up out of the water. Stepping into what he thought was a small puddle of water he sank up to his waist. I built a fire and gave him my spare socks. We ate lunch got Ryan dried out and plugged the hole. The plug worked and we made it back to camp.


  

Day 6 the decision was made to fly out the injured guide. Ryan and I decided to take the small boat and hunt the lake behind camp. We got back around 10:30 just as the plane landed to fly out the injured guide. Don informed us he was going to get supplies to work on the boat and would be back around 2:00. We got the boat patched but it needed time to dry so Ryan and I hunted the lake again that afternoon.


Day 7 we got up early and ate a quick breakfast because we wanted to get back up the river as quickly as possible. The motor was on boat was in the water and ready to go just as it was getting daylight. I’m about to put my bow in the boat when Ryan says “I hear something in the water”. I’ve heard something in the water all week and it’s always a beaver, muskrat, or ducks. However this splashing was followed by a very loud and distinct grunt. Ryan says “grab your bow”. Checking the wind we get into position and decide to wait for “camera” light. We can see and hear him raking and grunting. I get a little rattled when Ryan says “damn he is a big one”. The moose decided he wasn’t waiting for camera light and starts coming towards us. When he first comes out of the brush he is facing us and I just freeze. Ryan starts doing his moose impression and the bull starts walking. As he goes behind a tree I draw and of course he stops behind a tree. Ryan grunts and he walks out. I’m whispering make him stop but no matter how much Ryan tries to convince this bull to stop he keeps walking. Just before he goes behind more trees I take the shot at 18 yards. There is a distinct cracking sound and the bull takes off. Shortly afterwards we hear him go down. I’m expecting a complete pass through but I can’t find my arrow nor can I find any blood. Obviously doubt starts to creep into my mind. I felt like the shot was good Ryan said it looked good and we are both 100% sure we heard him crash. The decision is made to go look for him. Ryan takes one trail and I follow another one. I hadn’t gone far when Ryan says come over here I found something. Sure enough there’s my moose piled up not more than 80 yards from where I shot him. We celebrate and take pictures for awhile and then the hard work begins.

Click this link for My setup. I wasn’t very happy that my broad head broke but it still made a lethal hit.


  
We spent the rest of the day skinning and cutting up my moose. It sure was nice to cut off a steak walk to the stove and cook a big lunch.


I’ll end this with some pics of the scenery. Photos courtesy of my guide Ryan Matthews.


  
  
  

He was 58″ wide and unofficial gross of 206 7/8 and nets 198 5/8.

UPDATE:

Here is the moose I missed. Vicki of archers choice got him. 

  
UPDATE: 6/20/2016

Bowhunter TV aired today with Curt Wells. I was in a couple scenes. 


UPDATE  4/24/2017

19 months later I finally picked up my mount. 

Update : 2/1/2019

Finally got the video my guide recorded. Didn’t have good camera light so turn your screen brightness way up.

Yukon moose hunt

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Femur Bone Challenge

Here is a video of me shooting a 650 grain arrow tipped with a 200 grain single bevel broadhead.  For more details about my setup click My setup

Here is a picture of the Monarch head after the shot.  I would like to note that the chips aren’t a flaw in my opinion. The heads have a 58 Rockwell hardness and should break before bending. This was not a green bone and is a lot harder. I tried to locate fresh bones but I could not find any.


And here it is after I re sharpened it.


As you can see that is one tough head. The shaft did not survive but I don’t think any shaft would survive an impact like that. However it did maintain enough integrity to make a complete pass through.


These can be purchased at tractor supply if anyone wants to try the femur bone challenge.

UPDATE:

Here is a 360 grain arrow with a rage hypodermic. Everything on it was bent or broken. Head was laying on the ground in front of target. Complete failure. 

  

UPDATE 3/8/16

   
 
Here is the arrow build  Perfect arrow. Video will be posted soon. 

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Bare shaft tuning

Bare shaft tuning is one of the best methods of tuning in my opinion. The goal is to get a bare shaft to group with your fletched arrows. The theory is if everything is perfect (center shot, spine etc.) your arrow shouldn’t need fletching. Let me note that bare shaft tuning isn’t possible with broad heads. Do not shoot a bare shaft with a broad head. 

Here is a picture of my  Alaska Bowhunting Supply setup shot from 20 yards. 

  
Normally I will shoot 3 fletched arrows and 3 bare shafts ;however they were grouping so tight I was afraid of busting a nock. I have never had an arrow group this tight before. 

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