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By Kyle Blasch
Like many hunting enthusiasts I enjoy the challenges and simplicity of traditional bow hunting. The close proximity required by using a primitive weapon magnifies the hunting experience both in duration of the encounter as well as the intimacy provided by being within a few strides of your quarry. This past year I was fortunate to find myself with two free weeks during the archery season and decided to try my luck on a truly challenging hunt. The challenge was to identify a backcountry whitetail deer from afar and stalk up to within shooting range using my traditional bow. This hunt seems commonplace at first, but in reality, such a hunt is rarely done. Backcountry whitetails with their sharpened senses and skittish nature present a tremendous stalking challenge. Thus backcountry whitetails are often taken with more sophisticated weapons at distance, by ambush from ground or tree stands, or by chance encounters on a stalk.
With this idea in hand I set about developing a set of rules for the hunt and reviewed it with several experienced hunters with whom I have the pleasure to know. What emerged were the following conditions...
"We have fallen heirs to the most glorious heritage a people ever received, and each one must do his part if we wish to show that the nation is worthy of its good fortune." -Theodore Roosevelt
|Tim Brass with his first deer, age 12|
It was way back in 1996 when I first stumbled behind my dad and grandpa with a pair of waders two sizes too big and a musty hand-me-down canvas camo coat. We made it to the lone hackberry tree and then waited, and waited …
It was duck opener on a state wildlife area in Western Minnesota and we arrived a good three hours early with ample time to beat the competition to “the spot” – an exercise I would repeat time and time again, almost exclusively on public lands. From the wide Army Corps mud flats in Oregon to the burly Colorado backcountry, our vast public lands are largely to thank for the many hunting experiences that made me who I am.
Looking back, I realize I was born with a silver shotgun in my hand. But where our family was rich in hunting-tradition, we were poor in land. Thus, we learned to share the land set aside generations ago for sportsmen and women of all backgrounds to hunt and fish on – our rich portfolio of public lands.
By Nick Obradovich, co-founder of Modern Hunters.
My girlfriend Robyn and I had gone nine long weekends in a row without seeing deer. That included all of our pre-season scouting and all of bow season. Talk about disheartening. Not seeing any animal of the species we were after significantly reduced our motivation to hunt. While it was our first attempt at hunting deer, we expected that we'd at least see something. Perhaps we just weren't cut out for this, or perhaps the desert surrounding where we live just didn't have any real deer. Maybe someone just came along with a deer hoof imprinting tool and a bag of fresh scat, sprinkling both around in healthy doses for us to follow around aimlessly. Yeah... we just weren't cutting it. Quitting was on the mind.
1. Steven Rinella – "Meateater"
A true backcountry bad ass, Steven Rinella has gone from chasing squirrels around suburban Michigan woodlots, to running long beaver and muskrat trap lines for cash in high school, to hosting one of the premiere hunting shows on television today. As host of the Sportsman Channel’s Meateater, Rinella is putting the meat back in hunting. Rinella is also one of the few TV personalities who is willing to candidly speak-up about the need to maintain public ownership of wildlife while conserving the high-quality backcountry habitat the public depends on. The following is short video of Steven, produced in partnership with the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership on the importance of managing wildlife as a public trust, in accordance with the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation.
2. Clay Hayes – “Wild and Untamed”
Wilderness. The word conjures up different things, depending on each individual’s perspective.
For some, wilderness is the trackless desert of the southwest. For some, wilderness is the urban jungle. For me, wilderness is the boreal forest stretching across North America from ocean to ocean. In my version of wilderness, there are no roads, no conveniences, few people.
Wilderness, despite a widespread assumption, is not hostile. A number of years ago I watched a TV documentary on the life of the arctic fox. The narrator kept referring to the “hostile environment” the fox lived in. Deep snow much of the year when mice and other prey were hard to catch. Yet for the fox, this is the best environment. And that’s why the fox lives there rather than in downtown Los Angeles.
In part, the appeal of wilderness for me springs from summers in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. In the early 1950s, my parents bought a substantial property in the woods a mile or so from what was then a gravel road. In a couple of years, there was a cabin on the land and we visited often. As I grew more confident, I wandered farther afield. Once while in high school I awoke before anyone else, slipped on my clothes and headed out. I saw fresh deer tracks along a dirt road and began following them along a trail parallel to the lake. Suddenly, startling both of us, a buck jumped up a few feet ahead of me and crashed off through the underbrush.