Tag Archives: Grizzly Stik arrows

The Mountain Got It’s Own Ways

26 Sep
I made camp where my legs gave out on me. It just happened to be on a narrow saddle that was the only way over the mountain and onto the nearby ridge system.

I made camp where my legs gave out on me. It just happened to be on a narrow saddle that was the only way over the mountain and onto the nearby ridge system.

For some reason Will Greer’s line to Robert Redford in “Jeremiah Johnson” springs to mind, when I think of this past opening weekend’s bivy hunt. “You can’t cheat the mountain Pilgrim. Mountain’s got it’s own ways”. It seems just spot-on appropriate.

I began scouting the higher elevations just as soon as the snow receded enough to give me access and quickly found an area that held plenty of promise and had me excited. Towards the end of July, I began climbing higher and higher up the mountain and was surprised to find plenty of Elk, Mule Deer and Bear sign. The sight of a small Elk herd lolling in an Alpine bowl one afternoon, had my hopes high and fantasies of chasing bugling bulls above the tree line brimmed in my heart.

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Laying it all on the line

13 Sep
A moment of complete exhaustion, during the last physical trial of the Train To Hunt Challenge: Pack on burpees.

A moment of complete exhaustion, during the last physical trial of the Train To Hunt Challenge: Pack on burpees.

Every year I look forward to new adventures and new challenges; but I often find myself living inside my comfort zone. Nothing irks me more than living vicariously through other’s achievements or feeling inspired by what someone else has overcome; only to sit idly by…wistfully.

According to Newton’s first law of motion; it’s the natural tendency of objects to resist changes in their state of motion. And when overcoming the inertia of our routine seems too difficult, or impossible; what do we do? We have to mix it up, we have to push forward…and push hard.

I started off this year with my heart and mind committed that I would make this season better than the last and in doing so; I would need to mix it up and step outside of my comfort zone a bit. I needed a goal that deviated from the same old “scout more, shoot my more bow more, train more” gibberish that everyone mutters at the start of each year. To do this I had to think bigger and commit to something that would be difficult…and why not announce it to everyone, while also reaching out for sponsors, for some added  accountability?

As soon as I heard of this “premier adventure race for bowhunters” called the Train To Hunt Challenge, AKA the”Search For The Fittest Bowhunter In The West”…I immediatly made up my mind that I was in. It was announced late last year and with snow still covering the ground; I went into training mode full-bore. Since I had been hunting more and more with my Recurve and had every intention of starting the season with it in hand…I had to ask myself; why wouldn’t I compete with anything other than what I would be using in the mountains? This would put me at a disadvantage; as far as being competitive goes…but this was more of a competition with myself, more than anything else. The course had been set and no alterations would be made…at least that’s what I thought.

One of many training sessions. This was just after the snow melted; I trained rain or shine and as many days a week that my schedule would allow. This day it was pouring down rain. My wife had to snap a pic; thinking that I was crazy as she watched me shoot an arrow, sprint to the target and back and shoot again, all while it rained cats and dogs. You only get out of things what you put into it...and it was my intention to "go big".

One of many training sessions. This was just after the snow melted; I trained rain or shine and as many days a week that my schedule would allow. This day it was pouring down rain. My wife had to snap a pic; thinking that I was crazy as she watched me shoot an arrow, sprint to the target and back to shoot again, all while it rained cats and dogs. You only get out of things what you put into it…and it was my intention to “go big”.

With every workout; I felt my strength and endurance growing and with that, my confidence in my stickbow shooting grew as well. A moment dawned upon me; could I possibly do this? Could I possibly stand a chance of going beyond just competing…when the dust settled, could I actually be standing tall as the victor? At that point is when things went horribly off course.

One of the many logs that I had to clear by hand this day. By the time that I got to the log that would end up knocking the "eff" out me; I was pretty exhausted and obviously was not thinking clearly. Hopefully I learned my lesson and will always assume that any downed tree is under tension!

One of the many logs that I had to clear by hand this day. By the time that I got to the log that would end up knocking the “eff” out me; I was pretty exhausted and obviously was not thinking clearly. Hopefully I learned my lesson and will always assume that any downed tree is under tension!

The first setback came in the form of a concussion sustained from having an ax handle and my own fist being driven into my face. This happened while clearing a road into an area where my hunting partner had drawn a spring bear tag. I was very fortunate that I walked away with only a concussion, a broken tooth and a slightly mangled right hand. But this would set my training back an entire month and I was almost devastated.

Even though I couldn’t exercise much beyond a short, light walk during the time my brain was healing from my concussion; it was only a couple of weeks before my hand healed enough to allow me to shoot my bow again. I was ecstatic about this and began to shoot my bow daily from that point on.

A view from a rainy day in the spring bear stand. My nephew was to arrow a nice, 300# bear from a different location this afternoon. I had the pleasure of dragging his bear out for him. His expression when he first caught a glimpse of what he had shot; was well worth the effort...even if it was supposed to have been MY bear!

A view from a rainy day in the spring bear stand. My nephew was to arrow a nice, 300# bear from a different location this afternoon. I had the pleasure of dragging his bear out for him. His expression when he first caught a glimpse of what he had shot; was well worth the effort…even if it was supposed to have been MY bear!

Before long I was back into the swing of things and almost to the fitness level as I was before my accident…and then the second set back occurred. After spending a week with my wife on the island of Kauai; I returned and promptly tore my hamstring…only three weeks before the competition. It almost seemed that I just wasn’t supposed to reach my goals this year and that I just wasn’t supposed to be competing in any “bowhunter specific adventure race”. I wanted to scream out loud my frustration; but still was determined to be at the competition and do what I could. A week later found me in a treestand and waiting on a bear that never showed it’s self; but I had the privilege of packing out my Nephew’s first Black Bear instead. Somehow my hamstring kept it’s self together, as I lugged the 6′ 3″, 300 lb bear out of the woods. My nephew’s grin and enthusiasm matched the size of the bear that he had pin-wheeled…and that was more than enough for me.

I had so much anxious energy before the competition; I had a very hard time dealing with it. If I would have had to wait much longer for my heat...I might have blew a gasket!

I had so much anxious energy before the competition; I had a very hard time dealing with it. If I would have had to wait much longer for my heat…I might have blew a gasket!

The morning of the competition had my hamstring feeling a little tender and the butterflies in my stomach had me feeling very anxious. I gave it everything that I had and ended up finishing dead last in my division. Even though the competitive side in me wasn’t happy with my performance that day; deep down a warm feeling of satisfaction welled within me. Sometimes just being able to stay the course and finish; means more than the end result.

Crossing the finish line and completing a goal that pushed me past my comfort zone and made me reach deep within myself to complete.

Crossing the finish line and completing a goal that pushed me past my comfort zone and made me reach deep within myself to complete.

A quick note to thank some key people who provided some crucial help that enabled me to compete in this event.

I want to first thank Tim Endsley, of Bad Medicine Archery for his endless generosity. Without him, I truly would not have been able to even enter the competition!

I would like to thank the folks from Alaska Bowhunting Supply and Grizzly Stik arrows; for providing me with the absolute, hands-down, best arrow shafts that I’ve ever had the privilege to shoot. Grizzly Stiks “fly like darts and hit like a Mack truck!”

Also; I would like to thank South cox, of Stalker Stickbows for building the finest, custom recurve that I’ve ever laid hands to. My Wolverine FXT definitely delivers the goods!

Last but not least; a huge thanks to my best friend and hunting partner Darin, for running with me and documenting the event. I can’t wait to put all of his footage together!

Writing my competitor number on each of my arrows. A big thanks to Tim Endsley of Bad Medicine Archery for sponsoring me for this event!

Writing my competitor number on each of my arrows. A big thanks to Tim Endsley of Bad Medicine Archery for sponsoring me for this event!

My Grizzly Stik Momentum EFOC's, dressed up with some blingin' custom arrow wraps from Bad Medicine Archery.

My Grizzly Stik Momentum EFOC’s, dressed up with some blingin’ custom arrow wraps from Bad Medicine Archery.

This must have been pee #60 before I competed in my heat. I didn't have any caffeine that morning...so it must have been nerves.

This must have been pee #60 before I competed in my heat. I didn’t have any caffeine that morning…so it must have been nerves.

Warming up with some dips.

Warming up with some dips.

Event jersey

The first physical challenge: over your pack burpees.

The first physical challenge: over your pack burpees.

The one and only target that I missed during the comp; would basically put the nail in the coffin of my placing. If you missed a target; you had to do double of that physical challenge. This was the worst possible target that I could have missed; because Backpack Getups were the only physical challenge that I struggled with.

The one and only target that I missed during the comp; would basically put the nail in the coffin of my placing. If you missed a target; you had to do double of that physical challenge. This was the worst possible target that I could have missed; because Backpack Getups were the only physical challenge that I struggled with.

More backpack-getup agony

More backpack-getup agony

100 yard "shuttle run", with a 70# sandbag. One of the easier challenges.

100 yard “shuttle run”, with a 70# sandbag. One of the easier challenges.

Catching my breath and getting ready to thump a target.

Catching my breath and getting ready to thump a target.

Just after loosing the second to last arrow of the competition.

Just after loosing the second to last arrow of the competition.

Catching my breath during the last physical challenge: pack on burpees.

Catching my breath during the last physical challenge: pack on burpees.

Heading to the last target. I remember this target vividly; it was an Elk and I was pretty gassed. I remember letting the arrow fly...wondering if I had even picked a spot...and then being relieved to see that I had scored a neck hit.

Heading to the last target. I remember this target vividly; it was an Elk and I was pretty gassed. I remember letting the arrow fly…wondering if I had even picked a spot…and then being relieved to see that I had scored a neck hit.

Since I wanted to finish strong and not re-injure my hamstring ; I chose to walk at times. This was right before the last target.

Since I wanted to finish strong and not re-injure my hamstring ; I chose to walk at times. This was right before the last target.

Taking aim on the last target and then it was a 400+ Meter sprint to the finish.

Taking aim on the last target and then it was a 400+ Meter sprint to the finish.

This was immediately after I crossed the finish line. A lot of things were going through my head at this moment. One of which was being glad that my hamstring held up; but the competitor within me was grumbling over my finish time of 36:00.

This was immediately after I crossed the finish line. A lot of things were going through my head at this moment. One of which was being glad that my hamstring held up; but the competitor within me was grumbling over my finish time of 36:00.

Sweaty, dirty and thirsty.

Sweaty, dirty and thirsty.

Even though I didn't finish as competitively as I had originally hoped; I felt deeply satisfied to have finished what I had started.

Even though I didn’t finish as competitively as I had originally hoped; I felt deeply satisfied to have finished what I had started.

I'm very proud to be a member of the Bad Medicine Archery Pro Staff. Live your brand! #noregrets

I’m very proud to be a member of the Bad Medicine Archery Pro Staff. Live your brand! #noregrets

Not the placing I had hoped for! Since I was the very first person to compete with a Traditional bow; I was showed a certain amount of respect...even though I placed dead last. To me; it was just competing with the gear that I would be using when it really mattered. And of course I thought that besides the limitations of my injury; I could have at least made a better showing with my shooting. But I guess that never being satisfied is the only we can continue to improve ourselves.

Not the placing I had hoped for! Since I was the very first person to compete with a Traditional bow; I was showed a certain amount of respect…even though I placed dead last. To me; it was just competing with the gear that I would be using when it really mattered. And of course I thought that besides the limitations of my injury; I could have at least made a better showing with my shooting. But I guess that never being satisfied is the only way we can continue to improve ourselves.

Warming up before the 3D shoot; which was the second day of the competition.

Warming up before the 3D shoot; which was the second day of the competition.

I had the privilege of shooting with a few of the top placers in this competition. Not only were the outstanding athletes; but they were a great bunch of people as well. Thanks guys; I had a great time!

I had the privilege of shooting with a few of the top placers in this competition. Not only were they outstanding athletes; but they were a great bunch of people as well. Thanks guys; I had a great time!

Bearing down

If you look closely; you can see my orange fletching streaking towards the target.

If you look closely; you can see my orange fletching streaking towards the target.

Pick a spot

The Pecking Order

11 Jul
This has got to be the most bling-bling, deadly setup that I've ever shot: Wolverine FXT built by South Cox of Stalker Stickbows, GrizzlyStik Momentum EFOC's from Alaska Bowhunting Supply and the classy-sick and twisted custom arrow wraps by MR. Tim Endsley from Bad Medicine Archery. Now it's just shoot, shoot, train, shoot and train until September gets here!

This has got to be the most bling-bling, deadly setup that I’ve ever shot: Wolverine FXT built by South Cox of Stalker Stickbows, GrizzlyStik Momentum EFOC’s from Alaska Bowhunting Supply and the classy-sick and twisted custom arrow wraps by MR. Tim Endsley from Bad Medicine Archery. Now it’s just shoot, shoot, train, shoot and train until September gets here!

It’s just a prudent practice to establish a “pecking order” any time you get a new set of arrows. Regardless of how high-tech or high-speed a certain arrow shaft is; there will always be slight variances that will account for accuracy. Sometimes it’s just a matter of how they are fletched, how the inserts are installed, or a number of other variables that can dictate how consistent a particular shaft will fly. Well…leave it to me to always do things backwards or in the incorrect sequence…I’ve had these arrow shafts for at least two months, carried them in the spring Bear woods, have competed with them in the Train To Hunt Challenge… and I am now just getting around to doing this!
One of the better groupings of the night. The proof is in the pudding with these GrizzlyStik Momentum EFOC shafts! Every time that I was able to get a shot off with perfect focus and form...they flew right were they were supposed to!  I've been sold on Alaska Bowhunting Supply products for several years....but dangit if I've never seen this kind of performance! I just love these shafts and can't say enough good things about them.

One of the better groupings of the night. The proof is in the pudding with these GrizzlyStik Momentum EFOC shafts! Every time that I was able to get a shot off with perfect focus and form…they flew right were they were supposed to!
I’ve been sold on Alaska Bowhunting Supply products for several years….but dangit if I’ve never seen this kind of performance! I just love these shafts and can’t say enough good things about them.

Tonight I shot groups from 15 yards and focused as hard as possible on correct form and a proper release. I just wanted to give these bad boys every chance in the world to prove what they were capable of. If I thought that I had a bad release (which is easy to do while shooting with fingers and with Trad equipment), I just pulled that particular arrow and shot again. Every time I would hit my mark (or close to it), I would give that arrow shaft a dot with a marker and write the shaft’s assigned number next to the hole it made in the cardboard. If a shaft acquired four dots; it was “promoted” and pulled out of the rotation. The theory is that if a shaft earns four dots (hits the mark consistently four times), it earns it’s self a first string position in my quiver and is tipped with a broadhead. But the truth of the matter, is that basically every one of these shafts qualified.
Earning dots.

Earning dots.

My final verdict…was that gosh darn if every single one of these shafts didn’t fly true…as long as I did my part! I’m so excited to be shooting these Momentum EFOC’s this season; I’ve just never shot an arrow shaft quite like them.
So there you have it; figure out which particular arrow shaft works with your setup, assign a pecking order and keep punching targets until September rolls around. At that point if you’ve done your part; you can be rest assured that when Mr. Big (or Misses Backstraps  ) steps out in front of your arrow…you won’t be going home empty handed!
I wonder who these arrows belong to? Oh...yeah, that's right!

I wonder who these arrows belong to? Oh…yeah, that’s right!

Get in a pre-season shakedown for a more sucessful hunting season.

21 Aug

Sheyk-doun; verb

A shakedown is a period of testing or a trial journey undergone by a ship, aircraft or other craft and its crew before being declared operational. Statistically, a proportion of the components will fail after a relatively short period of use, and those that survive this period can be expected to last for a much longer, and more importantly, predictable life-span.

Getting in a vigorous, full gear shakedown session while scouting for Bear season

I was greeted by the early morning song of birds as I slid from my truck and took a big pull of the fresh, mountain air. The air smelled sweet and new, as only it does in mid spring after the woods have renewed itself from the dormancy of winter. I paused for a moment to listen to the sounds as the birds and squirrels greeted the sun, starting it’s daily journey over the eastern ridges. My little hiking partner “Saxton” whined eagerly as I unhinged the door to his kennel, letting him escape with an anxious bound. Hefting My MR Crew Cab off of the truck seat, it felt like it weighed a ton as I shrugged it into place. With a soft click, I snapped it’s buckles closed and tightened the straps before setting off up the trail with bow in hand. Falling into step, the bottom of my Cat Quiver softly banged a cadence against the butt of my pistol, as my pack voiced it’s displeasure with light creaks and groans. “LEFT…RIGHT….LEFT, RIGHT, LEFT…” a Drill Instructor’s voice called out in my head, setting the pace as I marched up the mountain side. After I passed the first mile mark, I paused briefly to make some final adjustments to my pack straps and swap my bow to my other hand.

With every step my destination became a little closer as the distance behind me became a little greater. Every increase in incline swelled my legs with blood as my heart rate increased, causing my lungs to work a little harder. Eventually my left arm started to tire and become numb from carrying my bow, which only brought a smile to my face. I reflected on the up coming month of September, which marked the start of my most favorite outdoor activity: Bowhunting for Elk. This definitely brought a smile to my face.

No, this was not a hunting foray into the backcountry; but only a practice run, a “Shakedown” if you will. My pack tipped the scale at just less than 48 lbs, which really put the hurting to my legs and feet. I didn’t need to pack so heavy and I didn’t need to carry my bow with me, either. But like I said before, this was a shakedown, the first of many in preparation for the upcoming hunting seasons, which would put my body and mind to the test.

As I neared the four mile mark, my old hip injury was starting to talk to me and I could already tell that I had worn the wrong socks which led to quarter sized blisters later on. Judging by the way I felt at just a little over the half way mark in my predetermined 12 mile journey, I begrudgingly decided to make another half mile before turning back to the truck. Yes I was disappointed with my performance this day, but that was the exact reason I was out there enduring the pain. I knew that with consistent, self-inflicted pain and punishment over the upcoming weeks, would only lead to a more enjoyable and more successful time in the field when it really counted. Cameron Hanes always says “Train hard to hunt easy” and while I don’t even consider myself close to Cam Hanes caliber, his philosophy has always made sense to me. It’s like an athlete training for game day; he usually puts himself through much more physical stress than he ever would experience on the day of the big game. But all of the extra preparation, pain and pushing himself to the limit allows the athlete to focus on the task at hand (which ultimately is winning) and garners himself more of an edge over the competition.

I myself view the mountain and the animals I chase, as the competition and success in the field as my victory. Success in the field can be viewed very differently by every individual outdoorsman and my view of success does not always hinge on the notching of a tag. This may be apparent by the lack of numerous shoulder mounts, or other “trophies” gracing my Man-room wall. I know for a fact that if you rub a generous amount of Johnny’s seasoning or use a nice Worcestershire marinade; an un-notched tag doesn’t taste half bad!

Game day! This was me, leaving the truck on my first ever multi-day solo hunt in the back country. Due to improper planning; unbeknownst to me, I faced a near seven mile hike in…to the trail head! I was very glad I had several 6+ mile shakedowns under my belt in the weeks prior.

Seriously though, I have always felt that “it is not about the destination, but about the journey” and to me the journey is everything. This is why pre-season preparation is of the utmost importance. Case in point: my quarter sized blisters I suffered on this day. Just by wearing the correct socks would have averted this from happening and may have allowed me to squeeze out a couple of extra miles. This was the first time I had experienced blisters on my feet in at least six years of backpacking and mountain hunting; but I wore a pair of “hiking socks” that I had not worn before. It was better to find out now, pre-season instead of finding out that “hey, these socks suck…” on the first day of elk season.

Notice that I was carrying my bow along, as well. Four pounds doesn’t seem like much while you are working yourself around the 3D range; but pack it around all day long while carrying a pack and it can seem like you’re packing a boat anchor! If you are a rifle hunter this may ring even truer, since the average big game rifle may weigh close to double that of a bow. Whether I’m shooting my Traditional bows or my compound, I like to take several “bow hikes” during the summer. Not only does this help your muscles get acquainted to the weight of the bow in your hand for extended periods of time, but it can be a lot of fun too. Roving around the woods stump shooting or varmint hunting is all part of the experience and is training for the real deal. Once again, rifle hunters can get in on this action. I own a custom-built, Ruger 10/22 that I love to rove around and whack Prairie dogs or even targets like rocks and small sticks that might be laying about (always keeping safety in mind). Not only is this type of “training” fun but helps to develop your hand-eye coordination which will pay big dividends when it counts.

whether your hunting high altitudes like on my 2009 trip, or just chasing game a mile or two from the trailhead; when it comes time to pack out that load of meat or chase that herd of elk…the more pre season preparation you have beforehand the better.

The big game seasons of the fall will be upon us before we know it and it’s never too late to squeeze in some pre-season conditioning. So do yourself a favor and plan a shakedown before it’s too late. Not only will this help make your season go smoother for you by increasing your conditioning, but you may be surprised as you work the kinks out of your gear system. You may just find that ”chink in your armor” before it’s too late and spare yourself some heartache that could force you to pack it up early. Like I mentioned before; I would much rather suffer those quarter sized blisters now and not be wincing with every step later on, while trying to conclude a stalk on that monster bull waiting for me out in the timber.

SIDE NOTE:

For additional pre season conditioning that would most definitely aid in a successful season; check out www.traintohunt.com. This hunt oriented training system draws off of current Cross Fit methodology but is tailored specifically to “making you a better predator” during the hunting seasons.

Also see: HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), I’ve found this method of training to be highly effective, especially when applied to your cardio routines.

*As always, please consult your Doctor or Physician before entering in any kind of conditioning routine or engaging in high stress activities.

Train like you hunt! Suiting up with your full kit and putting down some boot leather will pay huge dividends come hunting season.

I definitely was packing a full load here! My trip was only supposed to be for three days; but me being me, I had around five days worth of gear and food.

Is that a modern-day Sasquatch?! Nope, just me running to work with a 40# pack. While maybe not a smart way to train for extended periods of time; a few miles a few times a week will definitely pay off during hunting season and is a good way of ramping up your intensity preseason.

Hunting so-called “open” country definitely has its share of rugged terrain and can be very challenging.

Backcountry like whats found in the Bob Marshall definitely requires some preseason prep time; not only for your body and mind, but for your gear as well.

While hunting last year in NE Texas; I discovered a terrain completely alien to me. Constantly wadding through knee-deep water, busting through very thick brush and dealing with boot-sucking mud, presented its own challenges.