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  • June 30, 2011

    Would You Repair a Broken Rack?

    By Scott Bestul

    Over the last couple of seasons, a couple of my friends hired taxidermists to do more than mount their deer; they’ve had them repair broken tines. It’s not unusual, especially in areas with good populations of mature bucks, for a whitetail to snap a tine, kicker point, or even a main beam while fighting. Bucks can also break off points while rubbing or via a run-in with any number of hard objects.

    So the hunter asks his taxidermist to return the buck to its former in-tact-rack glory. Some of these repairs are purely guesstimates; if a buck’s right G2 was 9” long, his snapped-off left would probably have matched it. Others are near-exact replicas, thanks to trail cam photos from before the rack was damaged.

    I shot this busted-up buck in Wisconsin several seasons ago. He came trotting into my decoy, and in the heat of the moment, I didn’t recognize a big chunk of his left side was missing. I shot the deer and was ecstatic to tag it, though his right side was a pretty 140-class five point and his left was nothing more than a fork. The buck basically sheared his main beam off at the G2. When the landowner looked at the buck he laughed and said, “I know that deer! I have a trail cam picture of him from 6 says ago...and he had both sides!”

  • June 29, 2011

    Score Some Bucks, Win the New Mathews Z7 Xtreme

    By Dave Hurteau

    I know, I know. It’s been far too long since the last scoring contest. But to make it up to you, I’ve lined up some fantastic prizes going forward, beginning with Mathews’ brand new, compact and speedy Z7 Xtreme, the company’s flagship bow for 2011 and a prize worth about $900.

    As usual it can be yours by just scoring some bucks. To review, I will post a picture of a buck each week, for one month. You will guess the gross B&C score of each and keep track of your guesses. Fractionals will count. When I post the final buck, I’ll ask you for your grand total. Whoever is closest wins the bow*. If there is a tie, we will have a tiebreaker buck.

    Got it? Okay, here’s your first buck. What do you think he scores?

  • June 28, 2011

    Countdown to F&S's Best of the Best Bows #14

    By Scott Bestul

    I just got done testing 14 brand-new bows for Field & Stream’s “Best of the Best” awards program. I’ll be announcing the winner of the test in the September issue of the magazine. Meanwhile, I thought you’d like to see the runner ups. So every week from now until September, I’ll be posting reviews of the test bows, counting them down from #14 to #1 and revealing the winner here shortly after the September issue hits mail boxes and newsstands.

    The Test: For the third year in a row our test was held at Archery Headquarters in Rochester, Minn., one of the Midwest’s top pro shops. My testing team included shop owner, Marty Stubstad; bow technician and tournament pro, Trent Kleeberger; veteran bowhunter and 3-D shooter, Tom VanDoorn; and me. We fitted each bow with a Whisker Biscuit arrow rest, weighed it, then shot it through a chronograph using a Carbon Express Aramid arrow that weighed 437 grains and was 29-1/4 inches long (this will explain why our arrow speeds won’t match the IBO speeds advertised by the manufacturers). Then we spent hours on the range, testing each bow for noise, hand shock, balance and grip, back wall, draw cycle, fit and finish and overall shootability. Bows were rated on a scale of 1-10 (10=perfect) in each category, and the scores were totaled to determine rank. This week we’ll begin the countdown with:

  • June 22, 2011

    On New Deer Regs in New York: We Have to Learn to Share

    By Scott Bestul

    New York hunters have until July 28 to comment on a proposed deer management plan that is (big surprise) stirring up some controversy. According to a recent story in the Wall Street Journal three of the lightning rod proposals by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) appear to be the creation of an early youth hunting season, expanded hunting days for bowhunters in the southern zone, and putting additional zones under Antler Point Restrictions (APRs).

    Having recently lived through contentious debates over APR’s in my home state of Minnesota, I recognize the complexity of this issue and will reserve comment. That’s a different blog post for another day.

    But any controversy over the other two issues is lost on me. Let’s start with the youth season. New York is no different than many other states; its hunting population is aging, and young-hunter recruitment has been a problem. So the DEC proposes an early-October weekend for 14-16 year olds to have an early and exclusive shot at whitetails, before the cold weather and circus atmosphere of the general firearms opener. This type of season has been tried with great success in many states and is a proven winner. Who can argue with that? I’ll tell you who: short-sighted hunters who won’t tolerate anyone—even a kid trying to kill his first deer—getting first crack at “their” buck.

  • June 17, 2011

    Ethically, How Far is Too Far with a Bow?

    By Scott Bestul

    Have a look at the video below—all the way to the end, including the kill shots—and tell us what you think: From an ethical standpoint, how far is too far with a bow?

  • June 13, 2011

    Write a Summer Scouting Tip, Win a Trail Camera

    By Dave Hurteau

    I’ve been a little obsessed with flowers lately. And while that’s the sort of personal information I might normally spare you, it actually has relevance here. Over the weekend, I took my five- and three-year-old kids on a wildflower expedition at one of the farms I hunt. We found cow vetch and windflower waving from the ditches, swamp buttercups nodding at the field edges, and a wash of yellow bedstraw streaking a waste area that crawled with dewberry. There was cow parsnip in the aspen grove, forget-me-nots along the creek, plus devil’s paintbrush, sweet clover, mouse-eared chickweed...

    All of which was well and good, but I was focused on the bunched-up, white, starlets of gray dogwood. That’s because where there are gray dogwood blooms now, there will be gray dogwood berries in September and October--and deer coming to eat them.

  • June 10, 2011

    Standard Punishments Not Enough to Deter Some Poachers

    By Scott Bestul

    Does revoking a poacher’s hunting privileges stop him from committing further violations? It surely didn’t for Richard Kochevar. The Wisconsin poacher had so many tickets, fines and revocations in his past that a judge threw him in jail for his most recent violation. Kochevar was convicted last February for possessing a deer shot in Nebraska and tagged with a Wisconsin tag. He received 6 months in federal prison.

    Wardens from both states were assisted by federal officers in nabbing Kochevar, who had been traveling to Nebraska in recent years, where he and his son deer hunted without a license. When the Kochevar’s were successful in the Cornhusker State, they drove untagged animals back to Wisconsin, a violation of the Lacey Act.

  • June 8, 2011

    Biting Bugs: How Deer Flee The Spring Swarms

    By Scott Bestul

    One of the great things about summer is that whitetails are often highly visible. We see them in fields and pastures long before dusk, and sometimes in the middle of the day. There are lots of explanations for this; deer often eat grasses and forbs that grow in open areas, does drop and tend fawns in openings and other visible spots, and whitetails are simply less nervous about human contact this time of year.

    Then there’s the insect issue. If you venture in or near the timber in summer, it’s pretty common to get swarmed by bugs. Deer flies, gnats, mosquitoes, no-see-ums...everything that flies and bites people is equally zealous about chewing on deer, and life can get exceedingly miserable in wooded areas when the conditions are right. Or, I guess, wrong. I haven’t spent a lot of time banging around the timber yet, but in my little exposure I’d rate this as a record summer for gnats and small biting bugs.

  • June 3, 2011

    Ohio Poacher Notches Record Fine for Taking Trophy Buck

    By Scott Bestul

    We’ve covered Ohio’s restitution system—which fines a poacher according to the B&C score of an illegal buck’s rack—in this space before. But a Buckeye State poacher recently received the highest penalty ever levied in the state. Arlie Risner, a 58-year old resident of Bellevue, Ohio, was fined $27,851 for killing a monster non-typical that scored 228-6/8” in November, 2010.

    According to a story filed by D’Arcy Egan, outdoor writer for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Risner was ticketed by Ohio Division of Wildlife wardens for hunting without permission on CSX railroad property. Acting on a tip, officer Josh Zientek and investigator Jeff Collingwood visited the kill site and found evidence that Risner killed the whitetail on CSX land. Homeland Security rules prohibit any form of trespass on railroad lands and are strictly enforced by railroad security and wildlife officers.

  • June 1, 2011

    King Buck Controversy: The World-Record Whitetail That Isn’t

    By Scott Bestul

    In case you missed it, Deer & Deer Hunting magazine recently broke a story about a huge Wisconsin whitetail that many feel should be the new Boone & Crockett (B&C) world record typical, and internet chat rooms have been buzzing ever since. To read the DDH story, click here.

    The buck, a monster 12-pointer, was shot by Wisconsin hunter Johnny King in November of 2006. Shortly after killing the buck (and before the required 60-day drying period), King had a B&C measurer from Wisconsin look at the deer. That measurer felt the King buck could possibly net above the current world record buck, shot by Saskatchewan hunter Milo Hansen in 1993. But the measurer wanted King to get a ruling on the buck’s main beam, which had been shot during the hunt and broken upon recovery. King drove the buck to Pennsylvania the following spring, where B&C records chairman Jack Reneau was attending a scoring session. There, Reneau (and three other scorers) ruled the break was acceptable, but also informed King that the G3 on the buck’s right side was an abnormal point. This decision knocked the buck from a 6X6 down to a 5X5 with two hefty deductions.