Home Forums Campfire Forum How long before your first harvest?

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    • shreffler
      Post count: 69

      This has been my first year switching from the wheelie to recurve, and so far the early season was unsuccessful. As you can imagine, I’ve got the bug and want to get a close encounter with a stick bow in my hand like yesterday.

      How long did it take you guys to get your first bigger game harvest with trad gear (i.e. not rabbits or squirrel)?

    • 1shot
      Post count: 252

      The first deer I ever shot at, 8years old with a bundle bow made of sapplings and bailing twine string, field-point on an old cedar arrow of Dads…

      Hunting with trad gear is different then with a wheelie, the draw is what messes most up when they switch over. Your not making the draw and holding while waiting for an open/nice angle with trad-gear. You have to make that move and not be busted. Either the deer is already in the correct spot/angle(quartering away, un-alerted), or a slooow, smoooth draw gets it done…About half of my practice is doing a very slow draw with the bow up with minimal movement…Yes I will shoot while they are walking..

      And forget the grunt/bleat to stop the deer, all your doing is putting them on alert at the moment of truth…

      I also never set my bow down or hang it, always have an arrow on the string, even when walking, just the way I’ve always done it…

    • Doc Nock
      Post count: 1150

      Specific to your question, it took me at least 5 yrs to score when switched “back” to trad. (Trad was all there was when I started bowhunting in the early 60’s)

      I kept holding out for a buck, or bigger doe and only had yearling does come in range. I got so paranoid, I thought I might have to BITE my own fingers to drop the string after a few years… passing smaller animals.

      First time I decided to let it fly, deer took 2 hops, wobbled and fell over! Excellent. 3 days later, last day, last 1/2 hour of shooting time, I shot a small buck.

      They’ve been few and far between since with antler restrictions…still like a mature dry doe for the effort expended.

      It will come. Practice! Practice! Practice! Include practice shots right below your tree…seems they do that on purpose to psyche you out! Confidence is key… follow thru and the shot will be true!

    • TurkeyCommander
      Post count: 13

      Try to enjoy the little things when you’re out in the bush, in that animals turf. Success is not just dragging an animal out. The things that you teach yourself and learn about when you’re afield are just as rewarding. The first time I ever harvested a deer in my life was with a longbow, so as you could imagine I was shaking when deer approached. But now after a lot of trial and error and encounters with different animals while hunting, it has grown me more accustomed to what to expect out of that animal and myself.

      Try running about 50 yards fast, then pick up your bow and dial in a shot, while in your hunting gear. For me that first time shooting at a deer sort of felt like that because of the adrenaline rush that came with the situation. Keep in mind shot placement and your ability to track game and then clean/ dress it and you’ll do fine work.

    • Ptaylor
      Member
      Post count: 579

      Shreffler,

      It was in my 4th year of hunting that I first harvested a big game animal with traditional tackle. 1st year, rifle hunting, no meat. 2nd year, killed my first deer with a rifle, 3rd year only traditional hunting, no meat. 4th year killed a yearling blacktail buck from 5 feet with my selfbow. Last year, didn’t have a shot at legal deer, but had does, fawns and spikebucks within 15 yards and at one point 2 yards away. This year, no shot at deer either. Already thinking about scouting for next season!

    • Don Thomas
      Member
      Post count: 334

      It’s been so long ago that I honestly can’t remember. But I can remember that however long it took, it wasn’t long enough to dim my enthusiasm. I would encourage you to examine your definition of “successful” and “unsuccessful”. The former does not require a dead animal at the end of the day, and the absence of one does not mean the latter. Don

    • jpd
      Post count: 22

      I am still waiting for my first big game take with a trad bow as I got out of hunting about 5yrs ago and all my rifles and TC pistols have been in my gun safe during the time I was not hunting. Got a new recurve about 4 months ago and am just getting back into hunting again.—jpd (jim dugan)

    • jason samkowiak
      Post count: 141

      It took me 3 years after I switched to a trad bow to finally connect on a deer. I missed over the back of a few in that time. but it took a solid 3 seasons to make it all come together. that was 20 years ago and I still remember that doe like it was yesterday.

    • paleoman
      Member
      Post count: 927

      Not embarrassed (well, a little..)to say I’m still waiting on the bow. I had my successes with the old compound years ago and the graph would look like I went right off the edge of a steep cliff picking up trad gear. But, it also happened to coincide with my own “awakening” that success does not equal a carcass at my feet. I think that comes with age as I’m no one special. I just don’t work half as hard at it as I used to and it shows:)

    • Doc Nock
      Post count: 1150

      paleoman wrote: Not embarrassed (well, a little..)to say I’m still waiting on the bow. I had my successes with the old compound years ago and the graph would look like I went right off the edge of a steep cliff picking up trad gear. But, it also happened to coincide with my own “awakening” that success does not equal a carcass at my feet. I think that comes with age as I’m no one special. I just don’t work half as hard at it as I used to and it shows:)

      What a fine honest answer! I remember going from a rifle in the thick PA woods, to a revolver, then a single shot pistol, to a flinter, then to a bow to increase the “challenge.”

      But as I read your post, I realize that declining abilities to hump back in have played a part in my harvest record, too. I still enjoy venison to the max, so a harvest does still play in my motivation. Sightings of deer and the “game of inches” is to me the real payoff.

      Lacking sightings, and the resulting “juice” of an encounter with one of God’s amazing creatures (so better attuned to their world than I,) is HUGE for me… If I see a fox, or coon, or other critter going about it’s business w/out knowing I’m in lethal range, that MAKES my day…

    • wahoo
      Member
      Post count: 418

      hell man it took me 20yrs to kill an elk – in that time I missed at least 7 animals that I can remember no wounds just misses. In that 20yr time that was 1 week a yr hunting with family and friends in which I was in the back calling and raking trees but the success was priceless remembering the time spent at camp fires laughing and talking elk ( big fun ). Last week I spent all afternoon chasing mule deer in noisy snow and finally took my shot and missed – right over the back , just shook my head and laughed . Success yes I was 20 yds in a blizzard . I’ll get em next week ( 14 below ) this morning.

    • Doc Nock
      Post count: 1150

      My, my… all that time spent by firesides and watching others enjoy close encounters must be a wonderful memory bank you can draw on for a long time to come!

      Misses are grand memories as well. Some of my most vivid memories are “almost” encounters…whereby kills fade with time.

      Congrats on a great history!

    • Vintage Archer
      Member
      Post count: 276

      Good things happen to hunters with patience and perseverence.

      I always wonder how certain people always shoot large deer. I discovered that part of it was skill but all things being equal it is because they are in the field a lot. More time in the field improves the luck factor….being in the right place at the right time. …..It could be they don’t nod off in the stand either………….Next year I plan to spend more time in the field and try to get more rest when at home 😀 😀 😀

      All kidding aside when I lived in North Dakota and before Canada required outfitters I had a great opportunity to hunt bears on the cheap. Several of my friends and myself ran a baiting operation for ourselves in Sask,Canada. I was the last one of the group to kill a bear and it took five years. Since that time I have shot 11 bears with long bow (please I just mention this to make a point) .I personally feel the after five years I gained a certain set of skills but most of all I believe that the majority of it was luck and time spent in the stand (awake)

      I do believe that that some get the wrong impression from the hunting media particular TV that hunting is easy.:(

      ***********PATIENCE AND PERSEVERENCE *********

    • Doc Nock
      Post count: 1150

      Vintage Joe,

      I read your note several times… and the one thing I seem to gravitate most to in your post is “RIGHT PLACE AT RIGHT TIME“.

      Can’t argue with being in the woods more. Can’t argue with being awake in the woods. 🙂

      But you can be in the woods all day, every day and if you’re NOT where there are critters, or the wrong trail, I question whether patience and perseverance pay dividends????

      As the Wensels say, if you hunt where there are NOT big deer or mature bucks, you’ll NOT SEE big deer or mature bucks!

      Finding that “one tree every deer walks by…” seems key to success…along with patience and perseverance.

      I’ve also heard that you should spend way more time scouting than hunting… I don’t have that luxury with my hunting areas hours away..

      Agreed you can’t shoot any deer sitting in front of the TV, but being in the wrong place, ALL THE TIME, won’t do a lot better, whatchathink??? 😯

    • Vintage Archer
      Member
      Post count: 276

      Doc Nock, I dont disagree with anything you have pointed out. I over simplified my statement to make a point.

      Yes you have to be in a place where there is game.that is a big help…. time in the field would mean scouting planning where to set up a stand or ambush …..but even with all that homework there will be days when you don’t see game or you are not in the right place to get a shot… or you blow it…that is when the two P’s kick in.:D

      I guess I am referring to guys starting out ..stick with it and you will be successful and have fun trying.

      Some folks that can’t spend days in the field like some pro’s aand may go many seasons before the opportunity comes for them…..they need the two p’s:D

    • Vintage Archer
      Member
      Post count: 276

      Not to change the subject but I do occasionally sleep in the tree stand (saftey harness in place )or sitting on the ground waiting for game…. My wife asks me why I do that………..My thoughts are that I am so content and relaxed while out in nature the I fall asleep…what is wrong with that hunting is my relaxation 😀 ………..but for you deer it is always with one eye open 😀 😀

    • Doc Nock
      Post count: 1150

      Vintage,

      I probably owe you and readers the apology!

      It’s been a couple very frustrating years. We hunt a nice piece of land that lacks bedding areas. it’s near 3 hrs away. After 20 yrs, something changed drastically. We’re surrounded on 3 sides by posted ground and suddenly, NO DEER but a few long range sightings.

      I probably over-related to your otherwise great comments.

      Confidence in the spot your hunting and the tree or ground location you sit, is HUGE! Without that, based on our agreed point that KNOWING what the deer DO where you hunt, I think new and old alike can loose that motivation for patience and perseverance.

      When we’ve done the homework, then the “2ps” are much easier to generate and adhere to, yes???

      But regardless of how many deer and being in the RIGHT SPOT, if you don’t stick it out and work the wind, sightings might be few and far between… I totally agree!

      Some folks only have marginal areas in which to hunt…and limited time…and in either or both those circumstances, it may go long, long times before they connect.

      Transitioning to trad gear from other forms of archery has been so punctuated with the emphasis on PRACTICE and SET UP of gear, that I sometimes wonder if we’ve infused Trad with such mystic, that some feel so intimidated, that they are paranoid about “dropping the string”, which serves to delay that first success????

      Archery has always been (to me) a “Game of Inches”…tiny twigs over vitals, wrong angle, “one more step-stuff” all plays heavy. Having a target-rich environment and opportunities, surely helps with that transition…but you DO have to have patience and perseverance… AMEN.

      Thanks for clarifying and thanks for allowing me to realize my response was more about personal conditions of confusion over changing conditions in my hunting area…not a challenge to the voracity of your words!

    • Vintage Archer
      Member
      Post count: 276

      Doc Nock wrote: Vintage,

      I probably owe you and readers the apology!

      It’s been a couple very frustrating years. We hunt a nice piece of land that lacks bedding areas. it’s near 3 hrs away. After 20 yrs, something changed drastically. We’re surrounded on 3 sides by posted ground and suddenly, NO DEER but a few long range sightings.

      Some folks only have marginal areas in which to hunt…and limited time…and in either or both those circumstances, it may go long, long times before they connect.

      Transitioning to trad gear from other forms of archery has been so punctuated with the emphasis on PRACTICE and SET UP of gear, that I sometimes wonder if we’ve infused Trad with such mystic, that some feel so intimidated, that they are paranoid about “dropping the string”, which serves to delay that first success????

      !

      Doc Knock I don’t know why you would owe any one apology. I certainly was not offended by any thing you said.

      I agree with what you are saying. I complete understand your frustration when it comes to hunting ground most of us are experiencing that same. Even if you have the federal forrest in your back yard there are aggravating things you have to put up with to hunt.

      I do think as you state that most of us hunt with to much self imposed pressure to make a kill…to make it the biggest in the forrest,,,,to make it a buck instead of a doe. I have been guilty of this myself. The hunts that I have enjoyed and remember as stated by other I have not taken game at all.

      There is a happy medium between these two positions. Yes we want to have success as motivation to go…but we should not forget some of the reasons why we go…that is to get away from the pressures of everyday living ,to enjoy nature in it simplicity. To get down to basics….Basic are why we are traditional hunters and carry a stick and string in to the woods to hunt with instead of a mechanical bow (machine) and its frustrations.

      Doc it sounds like you need to spend time finding new hunting property ……that is frustrating.

      .

    • Doc Nock
      Post count: 1150

      Thank you, Vintage.

      I just did NOT want it to seem I was contesting your good points. My concern for newbies and youth is the dwindling encounters I see, seem to make it less appealing to young folks.

      As a kid, with limited doe hunting, we’d have groups of doe circle about us all day…knowing we were there, but not fearing us and being rather cavalier. That was the “juice” that hooked me…SEEING deer.. I’m sure of it.

      Now, I can go out every weekend, spend the last full week in the woods and count on one hand deer I’ve seen all season. How does one expect to get kids excited about THAT?

      When I started archery, we ALWAYS saw deer… Shot bow quiver full of arrows at a doe watching me at 22 yards and she calmly ducked every arrow till I was out and then walked to 15 yards and I swear, stuck out her tongue!:o

      Encounters are the “juice”… harvest is the icing. As I’ve aged, the kill = some danged hard work to follow and my bones scream at me… but I do enjoy venison so I endure the issues!

      My personal situation is what I hear from so many young archers…young hunters in general. No wonder they’re lured to the BS about 55 yard shots and a “rage in the cage” kills… their encounters are so miniscule they opt for technology to help close the distance, so to speak.

      I am at a loss as to how to speak to that with young people… Had I not had early encounters where I flubbed them badly…almost wet my britches with excitement, would I be out there today when I seldom see animals…let alone deer?

      I just don’t know and surely don’t know what to say to young wannabe hunters…

      Thanks for the discussion…

    • Anonymous
      Post count: 124

      Doc Nock wrote: Thank you, Vintage.

      I just did NOT want it to seem I was contesting your good points. My concern for newbies and youth is the dwindling encounters I see, seem to make it less appealing to young folks.

      As a kid, with limited doe hunting, we’d have groups of doe circle about us all day…knowing we were there, but not fearing us and being rather cavalier. That was the “juice” that hooked me…SEEING deer.. I’m sure of it.

      Now, I can go out every weekend, spend the last full week in the woods and count on one hand deer I’ve seen all season. How does one expect to get kids excited about THAT?

      When I started archery, we ALWAYS saw deer… Shot bow quiver full of arrows at a doe watching me at 22 yards and she calmly ducked every arrow till I was out and then walked to 15 yards and I swear, stuck out her tongue!:o

      Encounters are the “juice”… harvest is the icing. As I’ve aged, the kill = some danged hard work to follow and my bones scream at me… but I do enjoy venison so I endure the issues!

      My personal situation is what I hear from so many young archers…young hunters in general. No wonder they’re lured to the BS about 55 yard shots and a “rage in the cage” kills… their encounters are so miniscule they opt for technology to help close the distance, so to speak.

      I am at a loss as to how to speak to that with young people… Had I not had early encounters where I flubbed them badly…almost wet my britches with excitement, would I be out there today when I seldom see animals…let alone deer?

      I just don’t know and surely don’t know what to say to young wannabe hunters…

      Thanks for the discussion…

      Doc,

      I don’t think that the scarcity of game is something that most new hunters experience these days. Perhaps in your area (PA has been a cluster as far as managing their deer herd for decades now), but certainly not everywhere.

    • Doc Nock
      Post count: 1150

      Forager wrote:

      Doc,

      I don’t think that the scarcity of game is something that most new hunters experience these days. Perhaps in your area (PA has been a cluster as far as managing their deer herd for decades now), but certainly not everywhere.

      You won’t get an argument from me on PA being a cluster of it. Doe tags are off the charts. Doe MZ season in the middle of our archery season, so that deer are terrorized thru the best part of the season…

      But reading on a few other sites, it seems that everyone is seeing less game these past 2-3 yrs. Kids I’ve spoken to (albeit mostly in PA)have given up because they see no animals, not fox, coon, anything that holds their interest.

      But, you have a great point in that PA has some unusual dynamics.

    • Anonymous
      Post count: 124

      Doc Nock wrote: [quote=Forager]

      Doc,

      I don’t think that the scarcity of game is something that most new hunters experience these days. Perhaps in your area (PA has been a cluster as far as managing their deer herd for decades now), but certainly not everywhere.

      You won’t get an argument from me on PA being a cluster of it. Doe tags are off the charts. Doe MZ season in the middle of our archery season, so that deer are terrorized thru the best part of the season…

      But reading on a few other sites, it seems that everyone is seeing less game these past 2-3 yrs. Kids I’ve spoken to (albeit mostly in PA)have given up because they see no animals, not fox, coon, anything that holds their interest.

      But, you have a great point in that PA has some unusual dynamics.

      Doc,

      It might seem counter-intuitive, but increasing the doe take will lead eventually to an increase in the deer herd and a better herd (VA did this about 20 years ago). The decrease in game sightings will occur, of course, but as I recall the VA population exploded very soon after that 2-4 year decrease. That assumes that the management plan is done right from the beginning, and without getting into discussing the PGC, one can only hope that the consultants brought in from other states that actually do manage their herds well were well heard in PA.

      If the kids in PA you’re talking to aren’t seeing anything at all, either they aren’t hunting well, they aren’t hunting the right areas, or something much larger is going on. I’d put the likelihood on the first two long before the latter.

    • Doc Nock
      Post count: 1150

      Forager wrote: [quote=Forager]

      Doc,

      It might seem counter-intuitive, but increasing the doe take will lead eventually to an increase in the deer herd and a better herd (VA did this about 20 years ago). The decrease in game sightings will occur, of course, but as I recall the VA population exploded very soon after that 2-4 year decrease. That assumes that the management plan is done right from the beginning, and without getting into discussing the PGC, one can only hope that the consultants brought in from other states that actually do manage their herds well were well heard in PA.

      If the kids in PA you’re talking to aren’t seeing anything at all, either they aren’t hunting well, they aren’t hunting the right areas, or something much larger is going on. I’d put the likelihood on the first two long before the latter.

      Let’s just agree to disagree or at least have varied views.

      My views or perceptions are only valid for those areas in which I hunt or know people who do hunt!

      As for the deer population, I’ve watched the changes over a long time. I attended the PGC meetings, spoke with the Commissioners and the poor sucker who was being saddled with the “heading” up the “deer mgt”.

      My take is that over 7-8 yrs ago, I would see a doe with a fawn…then twins…then triplets. so your observations from VA would be applicable relevant.

      In the past 5-6 yrs, something else is happening. Don’t know what. But it’s not isolated to one area, but that does NOT mean it’s relevant throughout the Commonwealth of PA.

      Good discussion. Bottom line is that something is happening to varied areas and it’s reflected in other’s perceptions, findings, experiences.

      Bottom is that it’s mostly about how to keep hunting a viable endeavor among young men & women, who mostly happen to live in urbanized settings and have no contact with nature. My perceptions, experiences and field findings mean nothing.

    • Anonymous
      Post count: 124

      Doc Nock wrote: [quote=Forager][quote=Forager]

      Doc,

      It might seem counter-intuitive, but increasing the doe take will lead eventually to an increase in the deer herd and a better herd (VA did this about 20 years ago). The decrease in game sightings will occur, of course, but as I recall the VA population exploded very soon after that 2-4 year decrease. That assumes that the management plan is done right from the beginning, and without getting into discussing the PGC, one can only hope that the consultants brought in from other states that actually do manage their herds well were well heard in PA.

      If the kids in PA you’re talking to aren’t seeing anything at all, either they aren’t hunting well, they aren’t hunting the right areas, or something much larger is going on. I’d put the likelihood on the first two long before the latter.

      Let’s just agree to disagree or at least have varied views.

      My views or perceptions are only valid for those areas in which I hunt or know people who do hunt!

      As for the deer population, I’ve watched the changes over a long time. I attended the PGC meetings, spoke with the Commissioners and the poor sucker who was being saddled with the “heading” up the “deer mgt”.

      My take is that over 7-8 yrs ago, I would see a doe with a fawn…then twins…then triplets. so your observations from VA would be applicable relevant.

      In the past 5-6 yrs, something else is happening. Don’t know what. But it’s not isolated to one area, but that does NOT mean it’s relevant throughout the Commonwealth of PA.

      Good discussion. Bottom line is that something is happening to varied areas and it’s reflected in other’s perceptions, findings, experiences.

      Bottom is that it’s mostly about how to keep hunting a viable endeavor among young men & women, who mostly happen to live in urbanized settings and have no contact with nature. My perceptions, experiences and field findings mean nothing.

      Completely agreed, which is why I said that QDM has to be done right – from the start and through the entire process – in order to work. VA did it right, as have many other states. The jury is still out on PA’s attempts, and many have acknowledged that.

      However, at least PA is trying. There are other states (VT, for one) that still believe – or have their F&G Departments beholden to those that believe – that a deer herd can be managed like a dairy herd where one breeding buck/bull is enough for dozens of does/cows. The biology says otherwise, the herd suffers, and the hunting suffers even more.

      Completely agreed on why hunting needs to be viable, on many levels, and why those of us that do need to do what we can in order to ensure that happens, that the hunting is as good as it can be, and that those that DO choose to hunt understand and appreciate all the facets of hunting. I don’t agree with Ortega y Gassett that one must kill in order to have hunted, yet I know that “tag soup” makes the hunger worse. As with everything, there is a balance that must be properly struck.

    • Doc Nock
      Post count: 1150

      Very thoughtfilled reply, Forager.

      I won’t tie up bandwidth airing what I know about the inside aspects of PGC’s deer management approach. I will say I’ll never refer to it as QDM, having read sufficiently in that area to know that is not the motive, nor the approach being taken. Biologists inside the “system” have revealed too much to respect what is happening and how.

      I could go on, but promised “not”. So I’ll sign off and thank you and others for great insights, respectful rebuttals and good information.

      Getting and keeping kids interested in outdoor pursuits is critical. I remain a bit confused how to move forward in that area…alas, a different topic or thread! 🙂

    • Larry O. Fischer
      Post count: 92

      The first came easy, pure luck. Then over the next few years I had to learn to hunt with a bow and lose the rifle hunter mentality.

    • CareyE
      Member
      Post count: 111

      Hi Doc,

      I’m just up the road in Lebanon and can totally relate to your experience. I have been hunting with the bow for over thirty years, mostly on PA Game Lands. I have had some success with the stick, taking the one in my pic last year not to far from the Lancaster County border. Although my trad harvests have been few and far between.

    • Doc Nock
      Post count: 1150

      Cary E…sent you a PM…

      Congrats on a fine deer! More so for making a go here abouts!

    • shreffler
      Post count: 69

      I love hearing these old memories. I’m sure the day that I harvest my first will be a time I won’t forget – although I have learned more trad hunting in the past year than I have archery hunting all of my life.

      Of course some of the best days in the woods don’t end with game laying at your feet, but it’s the chase that keeps us going. Here’s a great quote I found (might’ve been from someone on this sight I can’t remember):

      “It’s paradoxical that the death of your quarry is besides the point and at the same time the whole point. A chase without a kill as its object is like a journey without a destination; a kill without a chase employing all of the hunters craft is killing, not hunting.” – Phillip Caputo

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