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Current Group: Tribe Stories
Can't Cheat the Mountain
Author: Luke Johnson
Groups: Tribe Stories
Nov 7, 2013
"Early scouting missions were a success, and I spotted plenty of animals. My plan was set, everything in place to walk away the victor. And that's when things went awry."

Read On

Keeping the fire lit.
Author: Luke Johnson
Groups: Tribe Stories
Categories: Hunts | Miscellaneous
Nov 4, 2010

One of  my fondest memories, is of the first time I ventured into the woods with my father to go hunting.  Actually it was just to scout an area my Dad had planned to hunt for whitetails, but all I knew, was that I was “hunting with Dad”. You know, serious business, grown up stuff!

Oh, I had been hunting before…well, mostly I had hung around Elk camp with the hunting wives and other kids deemed too young to venture into the woods with the men.  And sometimes I got to ride along when someone decided to go road hunting, but to me as a young man, it just wasn’t enough to soothe my manly ego. I wanted to go hunting; I wanted to participate in the ancient rights that had fed mankind for centuries, long before the advent of super markets and fast food chains.

And finally on one magical, cold and snowy November morning, I was doing just that; I was hunting with Dad! That morning I got to witness my dad cleanly take a buck with one shot that dropped him in his tracks and learn what it meant to respectfully take the life of an animal that you intend to use as food.

Since that first trip afield with my father, there were many more times when I got to don Hunter Orange and venture out into the woods with him. And eventually I was old enough to have my own hunting adventures; which have taken me from low level Texas hog hunting all the way to the steep and deep back country, chasing more prestigious hooved game.

The comaradarie is one of the most enjoyable aspects of the hunting tradition.

My father has since passed on; in fact it will be exactly five years this November 25Thwhich coincidentally happens to be the opening of the late archery season. It’s not too hard to imagine where I’ll be and how I’ll be spending my time.

I greatly enjoy and live for every minute I spend in the woods; whether it’s with a bow in my hand, my beloved 10MM, my dad’s old .30-06 or with just a pack on my back, tying to see what’s over the next ridge. But I would trade it all, just to walk the trails with my dad again and get to hear him tell stories of chasing Whitetails with his old, Bear recurve.

I cherish every memory and all the lessons ever learned from my father; which I give all credit for every accomplishment I’ve ever made as a hunter, whether big or small. It all originated from time spent in the woods with him.

As time goes on, I suppose I’ve become more sentimental. I now realize how important it is to show interest in the younger generations and pass on any knowledge or guidance that one may have. After all, what would the future hold if we never passed on the lessons and skills that our fathers passed on to us?

Traditions have played a very large role in civilization for eons and the tradition of hunting is no less important than any other. The skill of hunting is something useful that, besides teaching a youngster how to put food on the table, teaches a host of other character building lessons that contribute to ones development.

I have no kids of my own to pass on these lessons and skills to, but I do have a “nephew”, the step-son of my best friend, who has always held a special place in my heart. He is now eleven years old, but he has been trying to tag along with his Dad and I every since he was five or so. I have never seen a kid quite like him; he has always been so well behaved and patient while in the woods. In fact at times he would be so quiet that we’d almost forget that he was with us! It wasn’t too long before we realized that he had been bitten by the “hunting bug”. I used to crack up when he would excitedly try to relate some little hunting tidbit that he picked up from one of his favorite hunting shows or magazines.

It was at the age of five that his Dad bought him his first bow; he struggled at first, but things got a whole lot easier once we figured out that he was left handed…! Once he got passed that first hurdle, he was definitely hooked and is very much a natural. He would shoot his bow almost every day after school and now is a very fine bow shot; in fact he’s not a bad rifle shot either.

This year he passed a huge milestone in his young hunting career; he took his hunter’s safety course and also graduated to a bow that is more suited for the big game that fills most of his consciousness asleep or awake. Not wasting any time, he accomplished something that  took me four years to accomplish; taking a turkey with a bow. Only a couple days after I managed to take my first turkey, spot and stalk style, he decided to try to show me up.

I’ll never forget the phone call that I got that night and I’ll never forget the excitement in his voice as he tried to remember every detail of his feat. It was a feat indeed; apparently while he and his dad were hanging some treestands in preparation for his first deer season, a flock of turkeys were heard. He was just itching to test out his new bow and fill his first tag. He asked his dad if he could try for one of the  turkeys, his dad being preoccupied with hanging a treestand, said “sure, why don’t you go kill one of those turkeys.” Eathan, acting quickly before his Dad could change his mind, snuck off in the direction of the increasing turkey ruckus.

He told me that he couldn’t see the turkeys at first, so he decided to try to call them within range. When he told me this, I expected to hear of him using one of the diaphragm calls that I had given him earlier this year…but then he told me that he didn’t have any turkey calls with him, so he had to use “his voice”…!

Like I mentioned before, Eathan is a pretty special young man and has been mimicking calls with his natural voice for as long as I can remember. He said that after he started calling, he still couldn’t see them but  could tell that they were coming closer. It wasn’t long before the first turkeys appeared; a large Tom and a young Jake. I was proud to hear him say that even though the Tom was huge with a long beard, the angle wasn’t quite right, so he decided to take the Jake instead. He started to sneak a little closer because they didn’t seem to want to come any closer, something that turkeys are notorious for, when no turkeys are where “turkeys are supposed to be”.

He finally was busted and the turkeys started to scatter; that’s when he dropped the hammer on the Jake that he had singled out. He said that he watched the arrow slam into the bird, causing him to do a back flip off of the rock he was perched on. He was so excited that he ran back to his Dad to tell him what happened; but of course he was still up a tree hanging a treestand and didn’t quite comprehend what Eathan was trying to tell him. He told Eathan that he better go find him, which sent him excitedly running back to claim his kill.

The smile says it all!

Hearing his story and seeing him put into practice skills that he learned from watching his Dad and I; makes my heart swell with pride and I feel very thankful that I have the opportunity to have this young man to pass on the skills and traditions that my father passed onto me.

Three generations of hunters; carrying the torch and keeping the hunting fire lit.

By passing on this figurative torch to youngsters like Eathan, we as hunters keep the fire lit and the traditions that we love and cherish, alive and well for the next generation to come.

If we don’t take an interest in the younger generations today; who will? We as outdoorsmen should take the lead and do our part to shape the generation of tomorrow by keeping the hunting fire alive!

Read On

Battered but not beaten
Author: Luke Johnson
Groups: Tribe Stories
Categories: Hunts | Miscellaneous
Aug 9, 2010
I will never forget the second day of my first Archery season. I was hunting a track of land near an old friend's house and stalking along an old logging road that bordered a clear cut. There was a screen of trees, heavy with snow that obscured my view of the clear cut; but I could hear what I thought was several deer chasing each other.

Not knowing what to do with this intel, I was content to just continue still-hunting along the road....until the call of nature could no longer be ignored, that is.

I finally gave in and leaned my recurve against a small pine tree and did my business. I had barely zipped up and picked up my bow, when an approaching sound made me pause and look over my shoulder. As I turned, a section of the pine tree-screen seemed to rupture and with an explosion of snow; a deer "popped" out and screeched to a halt no more than 10 yards from me. I made eye contact with the young buck, who resembled a small goat more than the buck he was. Just then a fast approach was heard as another buck slammed into his rear end. This time it was a little spike with Martian like antennae sprouting from his forehead.

I almost laughed out loud at this point but the rush of adrenalin that soon followed seemed to take the humour out of the situation. Before I could come to grips with what I was observing; the sound of another approaching deer was followed by a nice little 4 point buck who stopped only 15 steps or so parallel to me. And then the hyperventilating began.

It's funny how adrenalin seems to speed up your thought process while slowing down time; I seemed to have a million thoughts smacking into the front of my skull and the whole scene seemed to take hours, when in fact probably only seconds had transpired. I had already deemed that the first two bucks were too young to shoot and  the angle was wrong, but the largest buck was almost parallel to me.

Soon after I had set my sights on the largest buck , the smaller bucks got bored and trotted up the road. After that a 10 minute stare down ensued (or what seemed like 10 minutes!) with the buck posturing and trying to get me to move. At one point he turned broadside and I began to draw and pick my spot, only to freeze when the buck whipped his head around and looked at me. I held at 3/4 draw until my arms started quaking. The buck relaxed again and then I began to hyperventilate again! This time so badly that I shut my eyes and tried to think of anything but the buck standing only steps from me. When I opened my eyes; the buck was looking at me with a quizzical expression. I swear that buck was making fun of me!

This whole scenario continued on for several minutes; with me hyperventilating and then relaxing, me trying to draw only to be busted. Eventually the buck casually walked behind a large slash pile. "Finally!" I thought, "now he'll walk out from around the slash pile and give me a perfect broadside shot!" Well, that was not to be. I listened to him pick his way through the snow and after several minutes he never appeared where he was supposed to, but instead just wandered off in a straight line and out of my life at that point.

Now to jump ahead five years: about a year ago I received a hand-me-down 3D target from my best friend. Him and his Eight year old step-son had been shooting the stuffing out of it for about a year before he upgraded to a Glendel Buck. Heck, I'll take a hand-me-down 3D target anyday, especially when at the time I was shooting bales of straw!

I was excited to practice on something other then the square bales of straw and the more I shot at "Corky", (my new 3D target) the more he began to remind me of that buck who stared me down and then walked away laughing those five or so years prior.

I try to practice at least three times a week but usually step it up to four or five times a week during spring and summer to prepare for the upcoming season. Well, I've come to have a love/hate relationship with ol' Corky. I love him because he gives me a small deer shaped target to hone my shooting skills on and I hate him because he reminds me of that blasted buck that mocked me and lived to tell about it!

Well, lately Corky seems a little "peaked" and he doesn't stop arrows quite like he used to. I caught myself wondering "is it time for me to put ol' Corky down and buy a replacement?"  Naw, I think I'll just trot on down to Cabela's and buy a new vital area and maybe use a little spray foam to touch up the rest of him. After all he's a good ol' boy who's worthy of a second chance.

Corky may be battered but he's far from beaten!

Corky looks a little peaked lately.

Corky looks a little peaked lately.

Not only is Corky looking peaked; but he's having a hard time stopping arrows like he used to!

Not only is Corky looking peaked; but he's having a hard time stopping arrows like he used to!

Dang! Dude, you need to see a doctor for that!

Dang! Dude, you need to see a doctor for that!

Read On