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.

UPDATE 3/8/16

Femur bone shots

Without a doubt this combination passes the durability test.

Video 1

Video 2

Video 3

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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.


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. 

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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.


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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Alaska Bowhunting Supply

Alaska Bowhunting Supply has some very valuable information.  Click the following links for more information. 
Top 12 Arrow Penetration Enhancing Factors
The Power of Momentum
I used this information to build my arrows for a moose hunt in September. Here is what I built. 

GrizzlyStik Momentum U-FOC 250 cut to 28 inches
Monarch 200 grain forged single bevel broad head
20 grain brass adapter weights added to the insert
4″ Gateway feathers right helical fletch
Total weight is 650 grains with a 23% FOC I’m shooting a Mathews NO CAM HTR set at 70 lbs. and 28″ draw.
According to OnTarget2 my momentum will be .615 at 20 yards. OnTarget2 is software that will help you determine the correct spine for any bow and arrow combination you can think of. I’m not even going to post K.E. because it has nothing to do with arrow penetration. The bow companies would like for you to believe that K.E. determines how much penetration an arrow gets. The most important aspect of this arrow is that it weighs 650 grains. Dr. Ashby has determined that 650 grains is the bone breaking threshold. Speaking of 650 grains you should check out the 650 challenge

I know people are going to freak out when they hear 650 grains. OMG you will never be able to hit anything with an arrow that heavy. Most arguments you hear about the light fast arrows revolve around “flat trajectory”. With all the sophisticated range finders on the market it really makes yardage judgment a moot point. Now if you’re just shooting foam targets then by all means shoot the lightest and fastest arrow you can build. For hunting I’m not worried about hitting the 12 ring. For most big game animals you have at least a 6″ circle to make a perfect shot. Also when you consider most shots are 20 yards or less the flat trajectory becomes even less valid. There has been a very bad trend happening in bowhunting. Taking longer and longer shots up to and including 100 yards. This is bowhunting not rifle hunting. One of the most rewarding aspects of bowhunting is getting close.

In my opinion the whole light fast arrow just doesn’t work. As a guide for Illinois Trophy Bowhunters I’ve seen these light fast arrows fail on numerous occasions especially when they hit bone. This is an actual quote from one of my hunters “It ricocheted off his shoulder”.  I know what you’re thinking. It’s all about shot placement. To some extent it is but bad shots happen and when they do I want an arrow that will penetrate bone. Even standing in the yard practicing we all occasionally make a bad shot. Hope for the best but prepare for the worst. 

Do yourself a favor and read the Ashby reports It’s the only scientific study I know of about arrow penetration. I can’t stress the word scientific enough. We’ve all seen the so called broadhead tests but you have to remember these are usually backed by the broadhead companies. So surprise guess what their conclusions are going to be. Plus you can’t evaluate the performance of a broadhead on anything but animal tissue and bone. Most of these tests are done in ballistic gel.

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Bad news Good news

First the bad news. I did not draw my New Mexico elk tag. Now the good news. I had a Yukon moose hunt booked with Macmillian River Adventures for 2017. Just a few days after finding out I wasn’t successful drawing my elk tag I was contacted by my booking agent Bowhunting Safari Consultants and was told there was an opening for 2015. I jumped on that in a heartbeat. Even though not drawing my elk tag was a bummer getting to go on a Yukon moose hunt more than made up for it.

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