BOWHUNTING THE RED DEER RUT by Jose Rico

September and October, depending on the weather, and mostly on the rain and cold, is a special time for ungulate hunters. It´s time of rut! Both red and  fallow deer, one after the other, begin their efforts to be  the most “chulo” (word for aggressive and challenging male) and get as many females as posible. It´s a characteristic of males (humans too), we have to be, or at least to appear to be, the best of the species.

And this is freat for us, hunters, as all the bulls come crazy and begin a battle of roarings, barkings, buglings and all kind of gutural sounds. Same as humans when, after some cups, will cry… (sing?) as crazy deers.

The “Sierra de la Madera” mountains, as part of the Serranía de Cuenca mountains is a paradise by itself. Thousands of acres of one of the very best places of free range hunting in Spain. At least for red deer and  fallow deer.

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As part of the hunting offers that can be encountered in this little piece of heaven, there is one specially oriented for bowhunters. The profesional hunters that lead this outfitting are Juancho and Pablo. Good mates and good professionals! We hunt with them since a long time and depending on the time of year we go to one part of the hunting area for roebuck deer or to another for pigs. Besides, they have access to some other properties if bowhunting for mouflon sheep is in your list.

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Th Sierrra de la Madera mountains can be a hard place to bowhunt with steep slopes and deep canyons, but if you are a hard core bowhunter, is a place to come and enjoy. This autumm , my friend Aitor and me (sorry for Alberto and Jorge) went to Cuenca for a red and fallow deer on the second week od September. It was supposed that the rut should be on the way. Our idea was hunting on bike, so we prepared our aluminum horses and there we went. As we bowhunt with recurves and compounds, we took both guns just in case…

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It was the first time that I hunted with bike for deers, having done it for pigs and roe bucks. When we arrived to the huntig area, we soon found out that the rut was still far of being hot, and the deer were silent, although eventually one decided to cry and we tried to locate it and go with the bikes in a crazy run by the bush.

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As usual, the use of GPS and navigation knowledges were of great help, not having to worry about where had you left the bike or where were you after 3 hours of up and down hunting. This is the way we like to hunt, free and alone.

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Nevertheless, and, although we hunted very hard and saw lots af animals, the females always were on alert and destroyed all our efforts to connect with any animal. The rut was low and sometimes you could hear a voice but not enough time to locate the animal to go for him. Besides, it´s forbidden to call the animals, which is a good way to hunt in other countries.

We were allowed to hunt for wild boars, red and fallow male deers, not for females. That will be open in October and then with the great numbers of females, will be another story.

Bike hunting is a great way of hunting, not only for going and coming from the treestans, but also to quickly go to places where a bull is bugling as fas as posible befor he get silent.I am a firmly believer that if you get to the bush silently, the animals will be quieter, and the sound of a motor roaring is no good sign for any animal.

So, getting in the hunting area by bike is a good way to begin your hunting day. Those last 1-2-3 last  Kilometers can be the difference between getting to al alert animal or to a quiet one. Of course you will have to check your bike to be whisper silent, but that should be part of your equipment usual checking, same as the bow.

And if you are worried about how to carry your gun, pack or other gadgets, there are lots of products on the market to fit you and your bike to your needs.

I use to ride a lot near my home, so my legs are used to long rides. I firmly advise to train before going to bowhunt with your aluminum horse, not only because you will enjoy more the hunt but because being trained you will be able to accurately shoot an animal after a one kilometer ride and your heart will not explode, and so your shooting. As an example, one day, after having been huntig for four hours, I was riding by a track , not far from the meeting point with Aitor. The bike rode easy and silently when suddenly a pack of wild boars appeared in the middle of the track. At 30 meters they didn´t noticed me, so I parked the bike and went for them!. I saw two pigs on my right and went for them but was so studid that I didn´t noticed seven more on my left and I passed besides them. When I was coming back to the bike, the bush exploded as off they went when noticed me.

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The Sierra de la Madera is a wonderful place to hunt with bike, depending on the season you can bowhunt for red deer, fallow, wild boar, roabuck. You can stand hunt or stalk.

We will be back at the end of October at the annual traditional bowhunters meeting in Tragacete, where will try to harvest one or more of the animal that roam this magnificient place.

Reflections on a goat hunt

Nate Treadwell has shared (with us and with the Bowsiters) these reflections about his recent goat hunt. Good info for sure.

Reflections on a goat hunt:

This was the hardest hunt physically, and definitely mentally, I’ve ever been on. Nothing else even compares. It was also what I would consider the most successful hunt I’ve ever been on, yet my tag went un punched.

I was only able to actually hunt for 2 half day periods. The rest of the time I was trapped in a spike tent on the side of a godforsaken mountain in incessant rain, wind and fog. The outfitter said it was his second wettest hunt period ever. That said, I had two close calls and actually got to look a big billy in the eye! It was just plain awesome!

I’m sitting here with so many thoughts running through my mind. I’m not even going to try to organize them, so try to enjoy my fragmented ramblings. All I know for sure is that my life has been forever enriched by the experience of the last few days.

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What I learned:

An ice axe made me love my wife and kids more. It saved my life and arrested a death defying fall. I looked at it outside my tent that night and started crying. I was coming back after a failed stalk so I didn’t have my crampons on and my feet went out from under me and I started sliding. I had about 20 feet of slope before a sheer cliff. I was sliding on my ass, rolled over to my belly, switched the ice axe to my downhill hand mid fall, swung it, dug it in, then grabbed the top end with my other hand and leaned in, clinging for dear life. It worked or I wouldn’t be writing this.

Chicks in Xtra Tuffs are kinda hot. My wife needs a pair.

Never take being warm and dry for granted.

When trapped in a tent in bad weather, read a war novel. It will remind you that even when it’s bad, it’s not that bad.

Even the best Hilleberg won’t win a fight against Mother Nature when she’s pissed off. It wasn’t much drier inside my tent than outside. A wet sleeping bag is kinda scary in that country. I used a Big Agnes Farwell (not a mummy fan) for a bag and one of their IAC pads. Was glad to have this system as we had to place the tent on a pretty good slope to keep from bogging out and there is no way I would have stayed on a seperate pad. The bag kept me warm even when wet, which was good, but I didn’t know the limit to how much water it could hold and still do that. I’ve never had a wet sleeping bag before. It did impress me. I did dry out some slightly damp gear in the bag and it was fine by morning, but some of my stuff was litterally soaked through, holding water, and far more than just damp. I didn’t want to push my luck too much.

I have a love/hate relationship with crampons.

Gore tex is fake waterproof.

I want plastic boots.

Your feet will make or break a hunt. Wet boots for 5 days tore mine to shreds.

SE Alaska rain is a different kind of rain. It’s meaner.

Health and fitness are one of life’s greatest blessings, second only to that of your kids’.

That sucked, but I’m tougher now. That became my mantra.

How inconsequential filling a tag is on a hunt like this. Most hunters end up with a rifle on this hunt even if they start out with a bow. The kill was virtually meaningless to me. The experience itself was enough, more than enough. Fulfilling.

Waterproof stuff sacks are worth the extra money.

Why can’t someone make a waterproof backpack?

Prayers soothe and work. My backpack will now and forever carry a rosary.

Mountain goats make deer seem like wimps

Alders suck, wet alders suck more.

I took 3 pair of base layers. One did not leave the tent and was for sleeping only. I rotated the others and tried to somewhat dry them in my bag. Still, they never got better than damp status. Fun to put on on a chilly morning!

I took one Sitka Traverse shirt, and ditched another one that I had originally planned on bringing. Wished I hadn’t. Could have used it.

I ditched my trusty Pendleton wool shirt. Didn`t miss it.

I took the Jetstream vest. Wore it once over base layers and under rain gear and it got so soaked with sweat that it was never usable again for the rest of the trip. That was a waste. Wished I had taken just a simple fleece jacket. Took a Sitka Kelvin Lite jacket which was nice around camp and while standing under a tarp for warmth, but too hot to hike in. I was still glad to have it. I also kept it in my sleeping bag with me and stuffed it into cold spots.

Took one pair of Sitka Mountain pants that never got worn. Was always just base under rain gear. Got cold standing still, but too hot to wear anything more while hiking. Would have like to of had some light puffy pants for sleeping and/or warmth around camp.

Took 4 pair of socks and wished I had more. One pair never left the tent and was just for sleeping. The rest were soaked through. My boots never dried out so putting on wet socks, while it sucked, was not really a big deal. Dry ones would have turned into wet ones immediately anyway.

For my hand i was using fisherman´s gloves with wool liners

Leukotape is way better than Moleskin. Wish I had remembered some.

I gotta figure out something for next time with my footwear. All but a couple of the guides wore plastics (Koflach/Scarpa) and glacier socks at times. I’m going to try those out before the next run and see if I like them. Another love/hate thing. All I know is my guide scrambled like a goat himself over stuff that I had to carefully pick my way through.

What I did right was to leave the one pair of socks and base layers inside the tent. As I said earlier, my sleeping bag got wet. Crawling in with dry base layers was a must.

I don’t think I honestly did anything wrong with my gear choices, it was just really extreme weather, even for the area.

And ultimately, what I did right best was my fitness level. Othere than badly blistered feet, I felt fine the whole time. I was never sore or excessively tired. I actually impressed myself. Tons of leg work and a lot of weighted stability training helped big time! You are constantly straining for balance on a goat hunt so working those wierd little balance muscles in your legs and hips is so important. Squats and lunges are good too, as the big stuff gets you UP the mountain, but the little abductors and adductors keep you ON the mountain.

Some things I will surely take next time:

A bivy sack. So what if your tent leaks! My wet sleeping bag was a major source of distress for me.

Some chemical handwarmers. Toss them in my boots at night to help them dry out, and just general comfort. I found great peace in warm things on this trip as they were so few. Stuffing my mountain house in my jacket while it absorbed water was pure pleasure for 10 minutes!

HH Impertech pants.

Even with gaiters, crampons tore my Sitka Rain pants to shreds. They are too expensive to destroy.

And then the boot thing remains to be seen. Different leather treatment? Different boots? Plastic boots? Waterproof socks of some sort?

Dennis Zadra of Lonesome Dove Outfitters is the most conscientious and hard working outfitter I’ve ever had the pleasure of doing business with.

And that’s about all she wrote. I’m a different man today than I was a week ago.

Gold tip Accu-tough inserts

I like the small diameters arrows from Easton, as the Axis or the Full Metal Jacket line, with good weight and excellent flight…but i hate the HIT inserts. Fortunately, now we have an alternative as we can use the Goldtip Accu-tough inserts. They weight 24 grains and are availables in two sizes.

Time to test

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Are availables at 3 Rivers (the pic is from their webpage) and from other archery shops.

Hunting bike concept

From some days ago the images of a new electric bike, dresssed with Kuiu camo, and designed by Feltcycles as a specialized model for hunting and fishing can be watch in differents blogs or webpages. Is a cool bike for sure !!

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With the trailer

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More pics from http://www.bikerumor.com/2014/09/08/ib14-felt-shows-concept-hunting-fat-bike-beef-hauling-e-cargo-bike/

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More details in the Outside webpage but with a price tag of 5.000$ is not the bike for your sunday rides.