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How To Use Rifle Scope

How To Use Rifle Scope?

Riflescope Tubes

Riflescope Tube Diameter

There is two main tube diameters in the marketplace plus a few other sizes:riflescope

A:The more popular 1” (25.4mm) diameter – called by many the American tube

B:The less popular 30mm (1.18”) diameter – called by many the European tube

C:A small quantity of tubes are offered in 34mm, 35mm, or larger diameters for specialized applications

What are the Differences between the 1” (25.4mm) and 30mm (1.18”) Tube Diameter?

Overall, there is not much difference:

A – Optically

There is a misconception among many in the hunting industry, including many writers, that all 30mm tubes allow more light through the riflescope, give you a larger field of view, increase light transmission in low light conditions, give you sharper images, etc. However, these comments are somewhat misleading (they do make for good marketing copy!) and in virtually all cases the image you actually see with the 30mm is no different from that with 1” tubes!

You absolutely have the same field of view, as no larger field of view is possible! The resolution of the image will remain the same in virtually all cases!

As far as getting any additional light through the system, it depends on the exact optical design of your riflescope. Let us assume for the two tube sizes that the objective size (40mm) and its design as well as the eyepiece design are identical and the variable power is 3x to 9x. The actual exit pupil is 13.33mm at 3x and 4.44mm at 9x and let us also assume the optical coatings are identical.

1.If the riflescopes both have identical erecting lens systems and do not have a field lens, then the larger 30mm tube will not gather any additional light.

rifle scope

2.If the 30mm tube has a larger erecting lens system than the 1” tube and neither has a field lens, then the 30mm tube may gather some additional light from the rays passing through the objective lens that were vignetted at the edge of the field of the 1” tube. Note that most 30mm tubes in the marketplace do not have larger erecting lens systems.

3.If the riflescopes both have identical erecting lens systems and do have a field lens (that refocuses the light rays from vignetting as much), then the larger 30mm tube will not gather any additional light.

For # 2 above, the additional light gain will not be noticeable at all in daylight as the exit pupil at low or high power is larger than the entrance pupil of your eye (depending on the brightness of the day it ranges from 2 to 3mm). The additional light gain in low light conditions (dusk and dawn) could benefit some younger people but I am not sure if they really can see any difference and for older people with smaller entrance pupils there probably is no benefit that can be seen.

Therefore, I am skeptical that spending additional money for a larger 30mm tube mainly for optical improvements makes any sense.

B – Mechanically

The 30mm tube diameter does add rigidity and strength (assuming the same wall thickness as the 1” tube) due to the larger cross-sectional area along with larger rings and mounts. The 30mm tube does increase the adjustment range for elevation and windage (on most riflescopes) and this is quite useful for long distance hunting.

On the negative side, the 30mm tube is heavier, larger, more prone to dents, and more expensive than 1” tubes.

Most hunters would be hard pressed to detect any performance difference between the two sizes except a little at long distances with added elevation and windage adjustments.

The growth of the 30mm tubes over the last decade has mainly been due to consumer demand associated with marketing hype from the manufacturers.

One Piece versus Two Piece Tubes

One-piece construction is the normal offering in today’s market except for some of the lower-end products. It is stronger, sturdier, and sealed better than two-piece tubes.

Two-piece tubes are generally less expensive to make as assembly time is less and machining is easier.

I would recommend only one-piece tubes due to the higher potential of leaks (gas escaping and water coming in) in two-piece tubes and because they are inferior in strength and structural design.

Tube Materials

Most riflescope tubes are made of aircraft grade aluminum, usually 6061T6. More expensive titanium tubes used mainly in military applications may be slightly lighter in weight than aluminum ones but aluminum is strong and light enough for virtually all uses. A very few tubes are made of steel. Recently, some tubes are using a magnesium alloy for added strength and a slightly lesser weight than aluminum but at an added cost.

From a structural standpoint, all of the materials are good. The wall thickness of any of the tube materials must be satisfactory to handle the rigorous functions of the riflescope.

Tube Finishesrifle scope

The predominant tube finish today is a matte black. Why is this? It will come with a hard-anodized finish, which has virtually no reflections or glare. It is rugged, virtually scratchproof and immune to rust.

riflescopeYou will also find glossy black, silver in matte or glossy, and some other colors. In many cases, the users are trying to match the color of their rifles, handguns, etc. and this is ok for target shooting. Nevertheless, for hunting purposes, shiny finishes are not good as they are subject to glare and reflections and are likely to scare off game.

 

You will also find camouflage models. Camouflage was more prevalent a decade ago and is less popular now. You will find inexpensive clamshell packed models in large retailers.

A few manufacturers offer rubber covering on the tubes for a more rifles scoperugged riflescope for use in extreme and unfriendly environments.

 

Reticles

riflescope

Reticles are also called crosshairs, sighting references or graticules. Their main purpose is to allow hunters to place the aiming point within the riflescope on the animal or target. Reticle choice is very important and there are many considerations to make.

Reticles come in a multitude of configurations and can be a system of posts (thick or thin), lines, bars, circles, dots, angles, numbers, etc. in your riflescope that appear superimposed on the target. Reticles range from a simple crosshair style, to plex styles, to very complex styles (Mil Dot, etc.) to allow hunters to estimate the distance to an animal or target (if the animal or target size is known), and to compensate for bullet drop (BDC) which may be difficult to use for some hunters.

Recommending a particular reticle type is difficult to do as the hunter has to take into consideration the type of hunting he will be doing and how easy he wants it to be – in other words, it comes down to personal choice.

Basic Crosshair Reticles

rifles scope

Up until the 1950s, the only reticle normally used was the basic crosshair. The crosshairs were made of spider web material or metal wire and put together very meticulously. These reticles are best for many small rodents, prairie dogs and varmints since usually the hunting distance is long and they only cover up a small amount of the target, which makes the target brighter and easy to see. They are also very good for target shooting.

Plex Reticlesriflescope

During the 1960s, the duplex reticle (still simple crosshairs with varying thickness of the lines and easy to use) was developed by Leupold & Stevens and became very popular. The duplex (and numerous similar or somewhat similar styles) are still very popular and are a great all-around choice for many hunters. Some manufacturers began using a photo-etching process on metal foil to make the reticles.

riflescope

The plex (duplex, multiplex, and numerous other hybrids) typically have wide and thick crosshairs coming from the outer perimeter towards the center of the reticle. As the lines of the crosshairs near the center where they cross each other, the crosshairs become very narrow and fine allowing for accurate target placement. The thick crosshairs are easier to see in low light conditions or against busy backgrounds like forest or foliage. They are very good for big game hunting.

Some of the more complex designs allow for some range finding capability. Both the basic crosshair reticle and plex type reticles are now mainly manufactured using thin etched glass. The etched glass style is stronger, more reliable and has the ability to provide complex designs easily. The negative to etched glass is that some of the light passing through the glass reticle is absorbed or lost to reflection. However, multi-coatings put on the glass minimize any absorption losses.

Mil-Dot Reticles

riflescope

Put simply, using a set of fixed data references within a riflescope on the reticle, a hunter can compare sizes of the target (known object height) or a part of the target to the precision dots and spaces in order to calculate the true distance. These reticles have a series of dots coming from the center of the reticle on fine crosshairs.

The “Mil” in Mil-Dot Reticle does not mean military (although the military extensively uses this type of reticle).mil

We use mils to find the distance to a target (where we know the height) which we need to know to aim the shot precisely. If we do not know the height of the target, then the reticle is useless.

Mil-Dot reticles calibrated at the factory are for only one magnification. In variable riflescopes, calibration is at the highest magnification.

Mil-Dot reticles are not for everyone (including me) as they take some time to understand and a lot of practice before they can be useful. Many people think they are too difficult to use, and they impair aiming due to the field of view “being cluttered” with dots, lines, circles, and numbers, etc. and this may be true. It takes time to calculate and is not the most accurate way to measure for distance. For those who do understand how to use them properly, they can be a big asset to the hunter and the military user for up to 1000 yards or meters.

The basic math may seem complex but bear with me. I have a hard time understanding and remembering this myself.

A Mil is 1/ 1000th of a radian, or milliradian.

1 mil is 36 inches @ 1000 yards or 1 meter @ 1000 meters.

There are two basic types of Mil-Dots used throughout the world. There are actually additional ones used in the former Soviet Union and in other countries but we will not discuss these here. Neither of the two basic types is better but they are just different.

The first one was (and continues to be) used by the U.S. Marine Corp where 6.2832 radians are in a circle. The math calculates out to 360/ 6.2832 = 57.3 ° per radian (6.2832 x 57.3 = 360 ° in a circle). Then, 6.2832 x 1000 = 6283.2 milliradians in a circle or 360/ 6283.2 = 0.0573 °/ milliradian (about 1/ 17th of a degree or 1/ 6283rd of a circle).

The second one is used by the U.S. Army (and most armies around the world use it), where 6400 milliradians are in a circle. The Army chose this method of radians using rounded numbers to make distance calculation easier for the users. The math calculates out to be 360/ 6.400 = 56.3 ° per radian (6.400 x 56.3 = 360 ° in a circle). Then, 6.400 x 1000 = 6400 milliradians in a circle or 360/ 6400 = 0.0563 ° milliradian (1/ 6400th of a circle).

The Marine style actually uses oblong dots rather than circular dots where the distance from the center of one dot to the center of the next dot equals 1 mil. Basic formulas, that roughly obtain the target distances (they are not exact but references), were developed by the military but the same applies to hunting:

 

(Height of Target (yards or meters) x 100) / Mils number (target height on reticle) = Distance to Target (yards or meters)

Example – target is 2 yards (1.83 meters) high and is 5 mils on the reticle 2 x 1000/ 5 = 400 yards distance or 1.83 x 1000/ 5 = 366 meters For animals, the formula is easily changed to inches or centimeters:

(Height of Target (inches) x 27,78) / Mils number (target height on reticle) = Distance to Target in yards (Height of Target (cm) x 10) / Mils number (target height on reticle) = Distance to Target in meters

Examples – whitetail deer height is 18 inches and is 1.25 mils on the reticle 18 x 27.78/ 1.25 = 400 yards distance Using metric conversion of 400 yards into meters = 366 meters Or the deer is 46 centimeters high and is 1.25 mils on the reticle 46×10/ 1.25 = 368 meters

Note: for animal height in the formula, use inches from the bottom of the brisket (breast or chest) to the top of the withers (ridge between the shoulder blades of a 4-legged animal). In the image here, see the circle for wither on top and brisket on bottom.

Typical height for a few animals:

Whitetail Deer 17– 19 inches (43 –48cm)

Elk – 23 to 25 inches (58 to 66cm)

Bull Elk – 32 to 34 inches (81 to 86cm)

Pronghorn Antelope 14– 16in.( 36– 41cm)

Caribou – 22 to 24 inches (56 to 61cm)

Coyote – 9 to 11 inches (23 to 28cm)

Sheep – 20 to 22 inches (51 to 56cm)

Rangefinding reticles are useful but using a laser rangefinder is much better, quicker and more accurate especially since there are so many choices now in the market. Some hunters will use Mil-Dot reticles because they want a sophisticated item and the feeling of having a military style product. At the same time, manufacturers offer these reticles because demand is high for them. To take the difficulty out of the calculations and the time it consumes, there are alternatives. One company (Mildot Enterprises at www.mildot.com in the USA) offers an analog calculator designed along the principles of a slide rule to make the calculations for you quickly. Personally, I prefer to use a laser rangefinder for distance measurements.

Mil-Dots and MOA

There is some confusion between Mils and MOA (Minutes of Angle/ Arc). Reticles are marked using Mil-Dots, while adjustment through the turrets for wind and elevation, are made in fractions of a MOA (as discussed under adjustment controls for riflescopes). The difference is 1 mil = 3.438 MOA.

Both Mil-Dots and MOA are two common ways to measure angles for units of measure of a circle. Mil dots are much more useful and precise.

Because 1 MOA @ 100 yard = 1.047 inch, the relationship of Mils/ MOA is expressed as:

(3.438 mil / 1) x (1.047 inches / 1 mil) = 3,6 inches = 1 mil @ 100 yards

Bullet Drop Compensation (BDC) Reticles

The main feature of bullet drop compensation (ballistic elevation) is the compensation for gravity on a bullet’s trajectory at a given distance, which is “bullet drop”.

You need to know or estimate the distance to your target.

Bullet trajectory and how it is affected by gravity is important, as a bullet fired from a rifle on an even plane will hit the ground at the same time a baseball will hit the ground when dropped by my hand. When I throw the baseball to a person 100 yards (91.4meters) away and the aim point is his glove, I will have to aim and throw much higher to compensate for gravity’s effect or it will fall to the ground well before reaching him. How high I throw it, depends on the distance and speed I throw the ball.

Likewise, if I fire my rifle at a target 100 yards (91.4 meters) away when in a horizontal plane (with no bullet drop compensation), the bullet will land below center of the target.

BDC reticles usually have standard crosshairs or plex styles with small lines or circles on the vertical line below the center of the reticle, which is the amount of bullet drop over specific distances.

You make turret adjustments matched to your rifle, bullet caliber and weight, muzzle velocity and air density.

Note that with reticles focused on the second plane, they will work only at the magnification specified by the manufacturer whereas reticles focused on the first plane will work fine at any power.

More and more programs for BDC are available on manufacturer websites as well as smart phone apps.

In a perfect world, using BDC will allow your point of impact to be “spot on”. However, assuming you correctly made the turret adjustments required above and you have the distance to the target exactly correct, there are many variables that you are faced with – batch number of the ammunition, temperature, humidity, elevation and many other factors. Any minor change can affect the aim in a big way and the further the distance the further off you may be.

Thus, BDC reticles will help you get close to your target. You can also get closer by knowing the exact distance to the target and a laser rangefinder will help you.

Reticle Positioning – Focal Plane

Riflescopes have two focal (image) planes. The first image plane is in front of the erecting lenses, closer to the objective lens where the image plane is upside down and reversed left to right. The other image plane is behind the erecting lenses, closer to the eyepiece where the image plane is right side up and correct left to right.

If you are using a fixed power riflescope, it is irrelevant which focal plane is used.

On all variable power riflescopes, it is important which image plane the reticle is located in. The front image plane is the first focal plane (FFP) or objective image plane and the rear image plane is the second focal plane (SFP) or the eyepiece image plane. For example, the image plane shown below uses the first focal plane for the reticle location but you can see where the second focal plane is located when a riflescope uses this position for the reticle.

riflescope

FFP reticle – will become larger or smaller depending on magnification changes, the same as the target. The advantage of this type of reticle placement is that when using range finding reticles (like Mil-Dots), they can be used at all magnifications with no problems. The disadvantage is that a reticle image may look great at low power but be cluttered and difficult to use at high power. Some reticles look sharp and good at high power but may be difficult to see at low power. FFP reticles are European style (mainly because they can be very useful during night hunting in many European countries) although many Americans use them.

SFP reticle – will remain the same size when magnification changes but the target will become larger or smaller. The advantage of this type of reticle placement is that the reticle always has the same look and less cluttered at high magnifications. The main disadvantage is that when using range finding reticles (like Mil-Dots), they are only precise at one particular magnification set by the manufacturer – which is usually the highest power or up to 10x. A minor disadvantage is that the point of aim shifts ever so slightly during magnification changes as the lenses move tiny amounts during this process. However, many of the manufacturers now make the erecting image/ power changing assembly more precise and sturdy, which eliminates any point of aim shifts.

SFP reticles are American style but many Europeans use this style also. The two images at the top show the difference of the enlarged reticle and object (FFP) while the two images at the bottom show the difference of the enlarged object while the reticle size stays the same (SFP).

Illuminated Reticles

riflescope

Illuminated (lighted) reticles are popular with hunters (and military personnel) especially in low-light conditions as the reticles are much easier to see. They can even be helpful in full daylight for certain targets where the reticles stand out much more against thick foliage and forests.riflescope

The illuminated reticles are generally battery operated using LEDs. Red color is the most common as it least impedes the shooters night vision (for Europeans hunting in darkness) in low light conditions. Various other colors can be better under certain conditions and many are switchable between different colors.

The illuminator should be variable in brightness (most are except some very low cost units) via built-in rheostats to adjust the reticle to the appropriate light available. On some low cost units, the minimum brightness is too bright and thus not useful. These reticles add some weight and bulk to your riflescope.

The newest technology is electronically illuminated reticles. Radioactive isotopes (especially tritium elements), along with fiber optics, are seen more and more. Tritium illuminates the aiming point in low light conditions (beta rays from the tritium-hit phosphors to create the glow you see) without batteries and the fiber optics transmits the light. These new illuminating systems are more versatile than standard illumination systems.

Erector Tube Assembly

The erector tube assembly is part of a complete system that includes on most riflescopes the erector lenses, the reticle in some, springs, gimbals and many mechanical parts.

riflescope

All of the parts manufactured are to very precise tolerances to ensure a movement free mechanism that will hold precisely the point of impact while changing magnification and repeatedly do this over many years even withstanding the heavy recoil of many firearms.

The slight shifting of the point of impact (causing missed shots on the target) used to be more prevalent with second focal plane reticles. However, over the last ten years or so, the erector tube assemblies have become more reliable (with better materials, better machining to tighter tolerances and are more precisely assembled and tested to ensure repeated, accurate performance).

Parallax

Parallax is a problem with riflescopes due to the fact of the long eye relief associated with them as compared to binoculars and best spotting scopes where the eye relief is relatively short and your eye( s) are up close to the eyepiece.

Parallax in optical riflescopes can be a problem. It can cause missed shots and a lot of frustration. It results from the image formed by the objective lens not being coincident with the reticle (focused exactly on the reticle plane). In other words, the target shifts as you move your head at an angle to either side (left/ right) or up and down from the center while looking through the eyepiece. To demonstrate parallax, use your thumb and any finger to make a circle (or use a toilet paper tube). Then hold your hand (or the paper tube) at arm’s length. Look through the circle at an object in a room or outside and then move your head slowly left or right and the object will move out of the circle. This is what parallax is. Most riflescopes are parallax adjusted (parallax free) by the factory at a specific distance from 50 to 150 yards (46 to 137 meters) and at longer or shorter distances some parallax appears. At whatever specific distance, the focal plane of the target and the reticle is the same even if you look through the eyepiece at an angle to the optical axis.

 

Parallax is not a problem at all if your eye is in the center of the riflescopes optical axis regardless of power, exit pupil size, or distance to the target. A certain amount of parallax is present in virtually all riflescopes. However, if there is noticeable movement of the target it is not ok and will cause you problems.

riflescope

Parallax cannot be corrected by adding compound lenses in the optical system, as the reticle does not move along the tube axis to provide any compensation. The target images at different distances fall at various points between the objective lens and the erector lenses (this is why you have to refocus at different distances) and thus cause parallax. Usually parallax is not a problem at low powers up to 6x or 9x (depending on the particular riflescope) due to large exit pupils. Most riflescopes of 10x or larger powers have some means of quick parallax adjustments the user can make – for a description of these controls see the section on Adjustment Controls. In riflescopes of low price and/ or low quality, parallax can occur due to the reticle distance being positioned incorrectly from the objective lens, the reticle not being mounted securely, or a badly designed or manufactured objective lens.

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Avoiding The 10 Sins when Turkey Hunting

Avoiding The 10 Sins when Turkey Hunting

Sin No. 1 – Spooking Turkeys When You Walk

I try and change the noise I make when I’m walking through the woods from human noises to turkey noises. I want to sound like a hen as she goes about her daily routine. Turkeys take erratic steps and don’t walk with a regular cadence like a hunter does. Usually I take three steps, wait, take one When I come to a dusting site, I pat the ground with my hand or seat cushion to sound as though a turkey is dusting. If I’m walking through an acorn flat, I’ll move much slower like a turkey that’s feeding. If I’m walking through a pine forest, I’ll generally walk somewhat faster.

turkey hunting

Sin No. 2 – Coughing or Sneezing

I always carry a deer grunt tube with me into the woods. Then if I cough or sneeze while turkey hunting, I can blow the grunt call to cover the sound of the cough or the sneeze with a deer sound, which often is heard in the woods. Or, I can turn that cough into a drumming sound, if a tom is in close to me. When you’re listening to turkeys, notice that you may hear a sound similar to a cough when gobblers drum. If I don’t blow the deer grunt call or make the v-rooooom of a drumming sound after I cough, then I immediately give a cluck or two to cover that cough. I never want to make a human sound around turkeys without covering it with a turkey sound.

Sin No. 3 – Swatting a Mosquito or Scratching an Itch

I keep my hands close to my body and move my hand very slowly to the place that needs to be scratched or to the mosquito that must be swatted. I make the swat with two fingers rather than my whole hand. After I’ve swatted or scratched, I brush my shirt sleeve against the side of a tree to make a sound similar to what a turkey’s wing sounds like as the bird walks through the woods and brushes the side of a tree.

Sin No. 4 – Making a Bad Call

To hide a bad call, continue to call. Never stop calling when you’ve made a mistake. If you listen to turkey hens, you’ll realize they often call poorly. If you hit a sour note, keep on calling, and then you’ll probably sound just like a hen. The gobbler won’t remember the sour note you’ve hit. But if you stop on that sour note, the tom will think about that last, bad note and possibly be spooked.

Sin No. 5 – Being Spotted By a Turkey

If I’m in the woods, and a turkey sees me, I stand still and try to resemble a stump. If I’m in an open field, I’ll lie down on the ground and hope I blend in with the dirt. If you’re carrying a turkey decoy with you like the lightweight and collapsible, you’ll totally confuse a gobbler that has seen you if you reach into your pack, get that decoy out and slowly and carefully put it in front of where you’re lying. That tom may not know for sure what’s lying in the field, and he certainly won’t understand from where that hen (decoy) has come. As I’m putting the decoy up, I start clucking and purring to sound like a hen turkey. I sometimes will tilt the decoy over, so she looks like she’s pecking. When the gobbler hears the sound of a hen clucking excitedly and sees her feeding in the middle of the field, I think he forgets all about seeing me and comes to investigate her. If you don’t have a decoy, then lie flat and pray. Be sure to check your state’s regulations on using decoys for turkey hunting. A turkey gobbler has a keen sense of curiosity. If he doesn’t know for sure what’s lying in a field, many times he may walk to within 30 yards or less just to see what you are. Then you can take the shot.

turkey hunting

Sin No. 6 – Overcalling

Usually a hunter doesn’t realize he’s called too much to a bird, until the tom stops at 50 to 60 yards and refuses to come any closer. When this happens, wait until the gobbler can’t see you, and then change locations and callers. If you’ve been calling with a mouth diaphragm, use either a slate call or a box call. If you can’t move, wait until the tom walks off. Then make a big circle, attempt to get in front of the turkey, and call to him again.

Sin No. 7 – Being Caught in a Poor Position

Often a hunter will roost a turkey in the evening and return to that bird before daylight. When the tom gobbles the first time, the hunter may realize he’s less than 40-yards from the bird and must sit down immediately where he’s standing. A situation like this means you must pull out all the stops and become a turkey hunter rather than merely a turkey caller. When I’m this close to a gobbler, the only calls I’ll give are soft, contented purrs. I’ll scratch in the leaves lightly and brush my shirt up against the side of a tree to duplicate the sound of a feeding hen brushing up against a tree. If the tom is gobbling a lot from the roost, I take the opposite tactic. I cut, cackle and call aggressively. Often that gobbler will fly and light within 10 feet of me, or else he’ll come running to me when he leaves the limb.

The key to success is to let the tom tell you how to call to him when you’re in close. If he’s only gobbling a little, then give him the soft, subtle calls of purring, scratching in the leaves and brushing your shirt up against the tree. If the gobbler hasn’t shown up after 15 minutes, hit him with some aggressive cutting and cackling. Make him think a party’s going on, and he’d better come join it.

turkey

Sin No. 8 – Missing an Opportunity to Take a Shot

Sometimes when a turkey comes in, for one reason or another, you can’t take the shot. Maybe a twig is between you and the bird, or perhaps he steps behind a tree before you’re ready to shoot. Or, maybe you can’t get the bead on the bird in time to make the shot. Once the bird has passed by you and walked out of sight, circle, and get in front of the bird. Knowing where a turkey wants to go and where he likes to be at different times of the day may result in your having a second chance at a gobbler if you miss the first opportunity. Be sure to make a large enough circle to get in front of the tom without spooking him. If the turkey has been gobbling to the call you’ve been utilizing, then start off with that call. However, if the gobbler doesn’t answer you, change calls on your second attempt.

Sin No. 9 – Spooking a Tom

When you spook a turkey, continue to call. The sounds a tom makes when he’s spooked are the same sounds – fast clucking, wings beating and running in the leaves – he makes when he’s excited. When you spook a bird, cut at him, cackle to him, and call excitedly. Even if you flush a gobbler, cut and cackle to him, because these sounds are excited calls. Other turkeys in the area that hear the tom fly off and those excited calls you’re giving may think the gobbler is flying into you rather than away from you. Attempt to turn scared sounds into excited sounds to make other turkeys come in to where you are.

Sin No. 10 – Shooting and Missing

If you shoot and miss a gobbler, then start giving a cutting call quickly, before the smoke clears the gun barrel. Because turkeys regularly hear thunder in the woods, the turkey you’re aiming at may think that loud blast is thunder. If you start cutting immediately after you shoot, you’ll sound like an excited hen that also has been spooked by the thunder but is waiting for the gobbler to come to her. Don’t move after you shoot and miss to totally confuse a tom. Approximately three out of 10 times, that same gobbler will come right back to you. If the turkey has gobbled and responded previously to the call I’m using, then I’ll continue with that same call to try and get him back. If he doesn’t return within 30 minutes, I’ll move, circle, get in front of him and utilize that same call with more pleading in it to attempt to call that same turkey again.
Turkeys make mistakes just like hunters do. Because turkeys can be confused, often a tom will wonder if he’s seen and heard what he thinks he’s seen and heard. By confusing a gobbler or convincing him he hasn’t seen or heard you, you often will be able to take many of the birds you normally spook. To hide the 10-sins of turkey hunting, think, talk and act like a turkey when the sin is committed.

 

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Adventures Hunting Elk in Arizona and New Mexico

3620491-Bull-elk-on-a-glade-Cervus-canadensis-in-Jasper-National-Park-Alberta-Canada--Stock-Photo
Editor’s Note: Corky Richardson of Laveen, Arizona, either has guided or hunted for himself on more than 150 elk hunts, and he’s harvested over 80 bulls. On many of the elk hunts that Richardson has guided or been on, his dad, George Richardson, or his wife, Cindi, have been there. Richardson also guides hunters to take free-ranging buffalo with their bows.

How Corky Richardson Started Bowhunting Elk 

Where I live in Arizona is home to some of the biggest elk in the world. I’m fascinated about the size of elk, their speed and the keenness of their senses. I also like to call elk. I’ve always enjoyed calling critters. Elk hunting can be physically demanding, and my style of elk hunting is often run-and-gun. I’ve been skinny, I’ve been fat, and I’ve been in good shape. I like to go 100 percent all the time – regardless of the shape I’m in – and the only difference I can see is when I weigh more, the hunt seems to hurt more at night when I lay down at the end of the day. I’ve never lost the enthusiasm I had on the first elk hunts I ever went on back in the early 1970s. My dad would pick me up from school on Fridays, and we’d go to the Arizona Game and Fish Department and pick up one of the elk tags that were unsubscribed. Back then, the Game and Fish Department was trying to promote elk hunting with a bow, and they actually had left-over elk-hunting permits at that time. So, Dad and I would stop by and pick up a tag that entitled us to take any elk we wanted to take with a bow.
On my first elk hunt, we drove up to an area that my dad and I knew really well. The first day of the hunt was Saturday morning. When I woke up, snow was falling in the middle of September. I got up early. I didn’t want to wake up my dad and mother. I just took off elk hunting. At 12-years old, I really didn’t know what I was doing. I was just in the mountains walking around with my bow. I probably shouldn’t have gone out on my own. But in youngsters, I’ve learned that enthusiasm often outruns good judgment. I knew this country really well, because my family and I had spent many summers in this region camping and hiking. When I got about a mile or so away from camp, a fog rolled in, the ground was muddy and wet, and I couldn’t see very far in front of me. I went into a thick fog bank. When the fog cleared for just a second, I looked all around me, and elk were bedded everywhere. Seven of the elk were bulls. About 40-yards away, there was a big 6×6 bedded in the wide open. I spotted a spike bull bedded about 6 yards from me. I decided that the surest shot was the spike closest to me. I nocked my arrow and shot the spike. The spike only went about 20 yards before he fell over. I can still feel the adrenaline rush I had when I saw that elk go down. I ran straight to him, put my little daypack on him, laid my bow and quiver on the elk, took the tag out of my daypack and put it on the elk’s antlers. Then I took off running like I’d been struck by a bolt of lightning all the way back to camp and pounded on the door of our camper. Because the weather had been so bad, my mom and dad had decided to stay inside until the weather broke. As soon as my dad opened the door, I said, “I got one.” Dad was so excited he tackled me, and we both fell out the door into the mud. Dad said, “You got a deer.” I said, “No, no, I killed an elk.” At that time in Arizona, you were more likely to see a deer than you were an elk. The elk numbers were very few in those days.

Today, you’re more likely to see a lot of elk and very-few deer. I think my dad was more excited than I was. He hardly could believe that his 12-year-old son had taken his first elk with a bow. He asked, “Are you sure he’s dead?” I said, “Yes, sir. He’s dead. I left my bow, my pack and my quiver on the elk and my tag on his antlers.” I was still excited and really not expecting the next question. “Where were you when you shot the elk?” Dad asked. I gave him this blank stare and answered, “I have no idea where I was. I’ve been running for the last 10 minutes to get back down the mountain to tell you I shot an elk. I don’t really know where I was.” Dad paused and said, “Do you remember any landmarks at all?” I thought for a minute and said, “I crossed a big road on top of the mountain.” So, Dad and I loaded up in the jeep and drove up the mountain until we found my tracks. Then Dad retraced my tracks, and they lead us right to the elk. Dad and I loaded up the elk and took him back to camp. Mom and Dad didn’t even know I’d left the camper, because I wanted to hunt so bad and get out in the woods early regardless of the weather, I hadn’t bothered to wake them up. I still get that excited every morning in elk camp. Back then I was shooing the old PSE Phaser. I never really realized how important that first elk hunt with me and my dad would be, or that this first hunt was the beginning of a lifetime of hunting elk with my dad.

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When Corky Richardson Took His Biggest Bull Elk with His Bow One time I had been guiding for other elk hunters for a couple of weeks in New Mexico, but I had a bull elk tag for an Arizona bull. I had had 2 weeks of tough elk hunting, although we were taking a lot of elk. The hunt was tough because of my frustration with my clients. For instance, we had been working really hard to get within bow range of a really-nice bull, I had the bull coming within bow range, but my hunter didn’t even have his arrow nocked. As a guide when I’ve worked hard to get my client the shot, but he forgets to put the arrow on the string, works on my mind. So, I was really looking forward to going on a hunt and not being responsible for anyone but myself. On the first morning hunt in Arizona, my wife, Cindi, went with me. Finally, I said, “Cindi, I’d really like to go out on my own, be by myself, find a nice bull, take him with my bow and let the solitude of the mountains renew my soul and my spirit.” Luckily, I have a wife who understands this type of mentality. I didn’t not want to hunt with her. I just needed to be alone. I guess I was over-peopled. So, Cindi didn’t take any offense, and honestly, she had rather hunt by herself. But then we hunted together the next day. A friend of mine who had been scouting earlier in the season told me about a place where he’d spotted a bull elk. He told me, “Although the elk had long tines, I don’t know how many points he had, or what he would score. I saw him late in the afternoon. I was looking at him from a mile away with a spotting scope, and the bull was all by himself.” My friend told me about this bull the day I got into camp. He also mentioned that the bull had gone out on a big, long flat. He suggested I hunt there the following morning. So, the next morning, Cindi and I got up on top of a mesa and started glassing. Early in the morning, we heard a bull bugle. Cindi actually saw the bull before I did.

When I finally saw the bull, I said, “Oh, yeah, I really want that bull.” We were on top of a mesa, and the bull was in a wide-open field, feeding toward me. Cindi and I hurried down off the mesa to intercept the bull. As I got closer to the bull, I saw that he had about 13 cows with him. However, he was having a difficult time keeping his harem together. The lead cow wanted to go in a different direction than the bull was trying to push the herd. Cindi and I split up when we came to a ravine. We felt certain the bull would come up the left side or the right side of the ravine and should present one of us with a shot. In a little while, I could tell the bull was coming up my side of the ravine, because he kept bugling. Since he was calling, I didn’t want to call very much. He was letting me know where he was and the direction he was traveling. So, I didn’t think there was any reason to call to him, if he was coming straight to me. I decided I’d save my calling until I really needed it. Once the bull got to the spot where I needed to take the shot, I gave a little chuckle to sound like another bull. When the bull I wanted to take heard the chuckle, he realized he’d gotten separated from his cows. Now he was concerned about the rival bull he thought was trying to move in and take his girlfriends from him.

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The Serene Duck Hunter

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In the estimation of many people, all those who for any purpose or in any manner hunt ducks are grouped together and indiscriminately called duck hunters. This is a very superficial way of dealing with an important subject. In point of fact, the objects of duck shooting and its methods of enjoyment are so various, and the disposition and personal characteristics of those who engage in it present such strong contrasts, that a recognition of their differences should suggest the subdivision of this group into distinct and well-defined sections. Such a subdivision would undoubtedly promote fairness and justice, and lead to a better understanding of the general topic. There are those whose only claim to a place among duck hunters is based upon the fact that they shoot ducks for the market. No duck is safe from their pursuit in any place, either by day or night. Not a particle of sportsmanlike spirit enters into this pursuit, and the idea never enters their minds that a duck has any rights that a hunter is bound to respect. The killing they do amounts to bald assassination—to murder for the sake of money. All fair-minded men must agree that duck hunters of this sort should be segregated from all others and placed in a section by themselves. They are the market shooters. There are others claiming a place in the duck-hunting group, who, though not so murderously inclined as the market shooters, have such peculiar traits and such distinctive habits of thought and action, as abundantly justify placing them also in a classification of their own. These are the hunters who rarely miss a duck, but whose deadly aim affords them gratification only in so far as it is a prelude to duck mortality, and who are happy or discontented as their heap of dead is large or small. They have smothered the keen delights of imagination which should be the cheering concomitants of the most reputable grade of duck hunting, and have surrendered its pleasures to actual results and the force of external circumstances. Their stories of inordinate killing are frequently heard, and often enliven the pages of sporting magazines. There can be but little doubt that this contingent give unintentional support to a popular belief, originating in the market shooters’ operations, that duck shooting is a relentlessly bloody affair. These are the dead shots among duck hunters.

The Vindication of the Gentle Huntsmen

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The danger that all those who essay to shoot ducks may, by the conduct of these two classes, acquire a general and unmitigated reputation for persistent slaughter, cannot be contemplated without sadness. It is therefore not particularly reassuring to recall the fact that our countrymen seem just now to be especially attracted by the recital of incidents that involve killing,—whether it be the killing of men or any other living thing. It is quite probable that the aggregation of all duck hunters in one general group cannot be at once remedied; and the expectation can hardly be entertained that any sub-classification now proposed will gain the acceptance and notoriety necessary for the immediate exoneration of those included within this group who are not in the least responsible for the sordid and sanguinary behavior of either the market shooter or the dead shot. These innocent ones comprise an undoubted majority of all duck hunters; and their common tastes and enjoyments, as well as their identical conceptions of duty and obligation, have drawn them together in delightful fraternity. By their moderate destruction of duck life they so modify the killing done by those belonging to the classes already described, that the aggregate, when distributed among the entire body of duck hunters, is relieved from the appearance of bloodthirsty carnage; and they in every way exert a wholesome influence in the direction of securing a place for duck hunting among recreations which are rational, exhilarating and only moderately fatal.

The Honorable Order of Serene Duck Hunters It must be frankly confessed that the members of this fraternity cannot claim the ability to kill ducks as often as is required by the highest averages. This, however, does not in the least disturb their serenity. Their compensations are ample. They are saved from the sordid and hardening effects induced by habitual killing, and find pleasure in the cultivation of the more delicate and elevating susceptibilities which ducking environments should invite. Under the influence of these susceptibilities there is developed a pleasing and innocent self-deception, which induces the belief on the part of those with whom it has lodgment, that both abundant shooting skill and a thorough familiarity with all that pertains to the theory of duck hunting are entirely in their possession and control. They are also led to the stimulation of reciprocal credulity which seasons and makes digestible tales of ducking adventure. Nor does bloody activity distract their attention from their obligations to each other as members of their especial brotherhood, or cause them to overlook the rule which requires them to stand solidly together in the promotion and protection, at all hazards, of the shooting reputation of every one of their associates. These may well be called the Serene Duck Hunters.

All that has been thus far written may properly be regarded as merely an introduction to a description, somewhat in detail, of the manner in which these representatives of the best and most attractive type of duck hunters enjoy their favorite recreation. A common and easy illustration of their indulgence of the sentimental enjoyments available to them is presented when members of the fraternity in the comfortable surroundings of camp undertake the discussion of the merits of guns and ammunition. The impressiveness with which guns are put to the shoulder with a view of discovering how they “come up,” the comments on the length and “drop” of the different stocks, the solemn look through the barrel from the opened breech, and the suggestion of slight “pitting,” are intensely interesting and gratifying to all concerned. When these things are supplemented by an exchange of opinions concerning ammunition, a large contribution is added to the entertainment of the party. Such words as Schultz, Blue Ribbon, Dupont, Ballistite and Hazard are rolled like sweet morsels under the tongue. Each of the company declares declares his choice of powder and warmly defends its superiority, each announces the number of drams that a ducking cartridge should contain, and each declares his clear conviction touching the size of shot, and the amount, in ounces and fractions of ounces, that should constitute an effective load. Undoubtedly the enjoyment supplied by such a discussion is keen and exhilarating. That it has the advantage of ease and convenience in its favor, is indicated by the fact that its effects are none the less real and penetrating in the entire absence of any knowledge of the topics discussed. To the serene duck hunter the pretense of knowledge or information is sufficient. The important factors in the affair are that each should have his turn, and should be attentively heard in his exploitation of that which he thinks he knows. There is nothing in all this that can furnish reasonable ground for reproach or criticism.

If under the sanction of harmless self-deception and pretense this duck-hunting contingent, to whom duck killing is not inevitably available, are content to look for enjoyment among the things more or less intimately related to it, it is quite their own affair. At any rate it is sufficient to say that they have joined the serene brotherhood for their pastime, and that any outside dictation or criticism of the mode in which they shall innocently enjoy their privileges of membership savors of gross impertinence. There comes a time, however, when the calm and easy enjoyments of in-door comfort must give way to sterner activities, and when even the serene duck hunter must face the discomfort of severe weather and the responsibility of flying ducks. This exigency brings with it new duties and new objects of endeavor; but the principles which are characteristic of the fraternity are of universal application. Therefore our serene duck hunter should go forth resolved to accomplish the best results within his reach, but doubly resolved that in this new phase of his enjoyment he will betray no ignorance of any detail, and that he will fully avail himself of the rule unreservedly recognized in the brotherhood, which permits him to claim that every duck at which his gun is fired is hit—except in rare cases of conceded missing, when an excuse should be always ready, absolutely excluding any suggestion of bad shooting. And by way of showing his familiarity with the affair in hand it is not at all amiss for him to give some directions as he enters his blind as to the arrangement of the decoys.

How to Take Good and Bad Luck

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It is quite likely that his first opportunity to shoot will be presented when a single duck hovers over the decoys, and as it poises itself offers as easy a target as if sitting on a fence. Our hunter’s gun is coolly and gracefully raised, and simultaneously with its discharge the duck falls helplessly into the water. This is a situation that calls for no word to be spoken. Merely a self-satisfied and an almost indifferent expression of countenance should indicate that only the expected has happened, and that duck killing is to be the order of the day. Perhaps after a reasonable wait, another venturesome duck will enter the zone of danger and pass with steady flight over the decoys easily within shooting distance. Again the gun of our serene hunter gives voice, summoning the bird to instant death. To an impartial observer, however, such a course would not seem to be in accordance with the duck’s arrangements. This is plainly indicated by such an acceleration of flight as would naturally follow the noise of the gun’s discharge and the whistling of the shot in the rear of the expected victim. This is the moment when the man behind the gun should rise to the occasion, and under the rule governing the case should without the least delay or hesitation insist that the duck is hit. This may be done by the use of one of several appropriate exclamations—all having the sanction of precedent and long use. One which is quite clear and emphatic is to the effect that the fleeing duck is “lead ballasted,” another easily understood is that it has “got a dose,” and still another of no uncertain meaning, that it is “full of shot.” Whatever particular formula is used, it should at once be followed by a decided command to the guide in attendance to watch the disappearing bird and mark where it falls.

The fact should be here mentioned that the complete enjoyment of this proceeding depends largely upon the tact and intelligence of the guide. If with these he has a due appreciation of his responsibility as an adjunct to the sport, and is also in proper accord with his principal, he will give ready support to the claim that the duck is mortally wounded, at the same time shrewdly and with apparent depression suggesting the improbability of recovering the slain. If as the hours wear away this process becomes so monotonous as to be fatiguing, a restful variety may be introduced by guardedly acknowledging an occasional miss, and bringing into play the excuses and explanations appropriate to such altered conditions. A very useful way of accounting for a shot missed is by the suggestion that through a slightly erroneous calculation of distance the duck was out of range when the shot was fired. A very frequent and rather gratifying pretext for avoiding chagrin in case of a long shot missed is found in the claim that, though the sound of shot striking the bird is distinctly heard, their penetration is ineffective. Sometimes failure is attributed to the towering or turning of the duck at the instant of the gun’s discharge. It is at times useful to impute failure to the probability that the particular cartridge used was stale and weak; and when all these are inadmissible, the small size of the shot and the faulty quality or quantity of powder they contain, may be made to do service; and, in extremecases, their entire construction as well as their constructor may be roundly cursed as causes for a miscarriage of fatal results.

 

 

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Hunts and Calls Elk

Editor’s Note: Ralph Ramos from Las Cruces, New Mexico, has been shooting PSE bows for more than 15 years and guiding elk hunters for more than 20 years. He also teaches seminars on how to hunt elk at Bass Pro Shops Fall Classics and at the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s events.

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Ralph Ramos Explains Why He Shoots the PSE DNA SP I was introduced to PSE bows by Will Primos, the creator of Primos Game Calls, who kept inviting me to get a PSE bow. But at that time, I was with another bow company. I had met Pete Shepley, the president of PSE, at the PSE plant in Tucson, Arizona – only 4-hours away from Las Cruces. Then Will invited me to go on a hunt with Shepley in New Mexico where I guide. By getting to know Pete and the company, I felt comfortable in becoming a part of the PSE family. Pete and I have been hunting elk together at least every other year for the last 15 years. The first bow I ever bought was a PSE in 1985. I was still in high school, before I got in the guiding business. Right now, I’m shooting the PSE DNA SP bow (www.pse-archery.com/ c/ pro-series-compound-bows_dna-sp). I really love that bow, because I have a 27-1/ 4-inch draw length. I believe this is the smoothest drawing bow that PSE has in its line. The bow is also extremely fast. One of the advantages of a fast bow is that here in the West, especially when calling in bull elk, often, I won’t have an opportunity to range the elk before I take the shot. Many times an elk will just pop out in front of you, and you have to get the shot off quickly. So, I’ve learned to judge yardage. I usually can estimate the range within 5 yards of the actual range. When we’re hunting elk, I know my shots will be within 30 yards most of the time and hopefully within 20 yards. I have my top two pins set at those ranges, and those two pins are really close together. Even if I misjudge the yardage by 5 yards, I’ll still get an effective hit. Another thing I like about the DNA SP is I can hold it at full draw for a long time. When an elk, a coyote or a turkey is coming in, I want to be able to draw my bow early. But I don’t want to take a shot, until I’m ready to take the shot. I don’t like a bow with a short valley. That kind of bow is telling you, “Hurry, hurry, hurry. Shoot quick, shoot quick.” Before I release the arrow, I like to wait until I have the shot that I want. I shoot a 73-pound bow, but the PSE DNA SP allows me to hold that weight at full draw for a long time.

Ramos Hunts and Calls Elk with Pete Shepley

I was on a hunt with Pete Shelley, the president of PSE, in the Gila National Forest where we were hunting some monster bull elk. For some reason, we just couldn’t seem to get a favorable wind to stalk an elk. In the Gila National Forest, the wind often will shift directions every 5 to 10 minutes. We had moved in close to a herd bull that was bugling a lot and that probably had about 40 cows with him. As we were sneaking in to get within bow range of this big bull, we spooked some of the cows that were bedded out away from the bull. The bull we were after wasn’t the only bull in that herd. When we spooked the cows, the whole herd left the area. Then we started chasing them. Pete has bad knees but stayed right with me. After we spooked the elk, we hiked a long way. Pete turned to me and said, “Ralph, how far do you think we’ll have to go to catch up with the herd?” I answered, “I really believe these elk will bed-down again. If we stay with them, we have a real good chance for you to take a nice bull.” We hiked about another mile in pursuit

of the elk. Then a twist of fate helped us out. We came to a fence that the bulls easily could jump over, however, the calves traveling in this herd couldn’t get across. We watched the calves run up and down the fence trying to find a place to cross. They were calling to the rest of the herd constantly, as if to say, “Y’all wait on us.” The bull began to bugle and chuckle. I could tell he was losing his patience with those calves, because he gave some demanding calls like an impatient father when his kids wouldn’t keep up with him. There were two other bulls also bugling to the calves. I have one cow call that I created out of a moose horn that allows me to give a really-loud cow call. Not only do I blow it loudly, but I blow it so that it sounds like a demanding cow calling the bull back to where she and her calves are located. While I was calling, a small calf walked to within 2 yards of Pete and me. I kept calling, and the little calf kept looking, trying to see where the cow was that was calling. Finally, the small calf winded us and trotted off 15-20 yards away from us.

We could hear the bull coming to us. Pete had an arrow nocked. We squatted down to keep the bull from spotting us. As we looked, we could see horns coming up the hill toward us. Pete came to full draw and held his shot until the bull walked right past us at 15-feet away, giving Pete a perfect broadside shot. At that time, Pete was using a NAP expandable broadhead (www.newarchery.com). When Pete released the arrow, he drilled the bull perfectly. The 340-inch bull only went about 40 yards before piling up in a heap. That hunt was probably one of the most-exciting hunts I’ve ever been on with Pete Shepley.

Ralph Ramos on How He Got Hooked On Elk Calling

A good friend of mine, Jay Jarden, hunts with a PSE bow just like I do. We were hunting Labor Day weekend a few years ago – the earliest part of elk season in New Mexico. Early, early in the morning we heard an elk bugle just before first light. The elk was about 1,000-yards away in a basin. He didn’t bugle a second time. We were hunting a burned-over area. Even though the bulls don’t bugle very much in the early part of the season, I thought, if we could go to this burned-over spot and get to a vantage point, we might be able to spot this bull and make something happen. When we got to a place where we could see a great distance, I saw two bulls a long way off. I started calling, and the elk began to bugle. We had been hunting for 3 days and hadn’t seen a bull. So, I told Jay, “We need to go after this bull now.” We took off at the quick step, went down a canyon and up another mountain where we had last seen the two bulls. When we arrived there, I started giving soft, quiet cow calls. We heard the bull chuckling. Jay went down the mountain about 120 yards in front of me to set-up to try and get a shot at the bull. I wanted Jay to get the first chance to take the bull, even though I had an elk tag also. I kept giving cow calls. I could see the bull down in a little bowl. This bull came within 30 yards of Jay before he took the shot on this really nice bull that scored about 300 inches. I had set-up about 120-yards behind Jay. I’d hoped to pull the bull right by Jay. Also, I wanted to be mobile to move to my left or to my right and continue to call, if the bull went to the left or right of Jay. This technique had worked well for me over the years. I’ve been hunting elk since I was 13-years old. I was born in Silver City, New Mexico. I’ve hunted the Gila National Forest most of my life. Fort Bayard National Wildlife Refuge is near Silver City, and that’s where I go in the evenings in September to call elk and listen to them. When I was a kid, I rode my motorcycle out there. I listened to elk and practiced calling to them. I never will forget that one afternoon when I was a sophomore in high school and I kept calling to this one elk. He would bugle and come toward me. I remember the bull was really upset. When I saw the elk, I could see by his attitude that he was mad. Back then, I was using a Quaker Boy bugle (www.quakerboy.com). For some reason, the call that the bugle produced really fired-up this bull. I was sitting on my motorcycle. He came in so close to me that I got nervous. Although I yelled at him, he kept coming. Finally, I stood up and waved my arms. He stopped within 20-25 yards of me and my motorcycle. After that one experience, I was hooked on calling elk. Right now, I’m using Flextone calls (www.flextonegamecalls.com), Primos calls, and Rockie Jacobsen (www.buglingbull.com) calls. When I’m elk hunting, I’ll have a minimum of eight different calls. To me, calling elk is much like going fishing. You don’t go fishing with only one or two lures in your tackle box. So, I take plenty of elk calls. I know that on some days, a bull only will answer to one call, and you never know which call that bull wants. By having eight or more calls, I can continue to change calls until I get the one that makes that elk bull talk.

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Ramos on Taking His Biggest Elk with a Bow I was guiding Mike Strandlund, the editor of “Bowhunting World,” and he was using a bow from another bow company. I had my PSE bow. I called in a bull that came within 12 yards of Mike, and he nailed the bull. Since dark was fast approaching, we field dressed his bull. We decided to come back the next day to skin and quarter the bull and carry the meat and the head out. I still had a tag in my pocket. When we went to recover Mike’s bull the next morning, I left my bow in camp, so I wouldn’t have to carry it at the same time I was carrying the meat. However, Mike took his bow to get some photos with it. At first light, we skinned the elk, and I started boning out the meat. Anytime I’m in elk country, I keep a diaphragm mouth call in my mouth. I started giving cow calls every now and then, just because that’s what I do. As we continued to make pictures, bone out the meat and pack the meat into our frame packs, I heard a bull bugling from down below us. At this time, I had only been a PSE pro staffer for about 3 years. When we finally got all the meat boned out, packed up and ready to start carrying it back to camp, nature called, and I had to go to the bathroom. The bull that had been at the base of the hill roared out a bugle so loud that it almost scared me. The bull was right below me. I hurried back to Mike and the meat. Mike asked, “Are you going to take that bull or not?” I said, “Okay, let me borrow your bow.” He handed me his mechanical release and his bow. I trotted down the mountain about 40 yards and called again. I could see this bull coming straight to me. The bull would score 360 points on Pope & Young. I said to myself, “Ralph, as soon as that big ole bull puts his head behind the tree just out from you, you’ve got to come to full draw.” Within two heartbeats, the bull had his head behind the tree, and I came to full draw. I didn’t know it, but Mike’s draw length was 30 inches, and my draw length is 27-1/ 4-inches. So, I had to move my neck and head backwards to be able to see through the peep sight. As the bull got closer and closer, I prayed, “Please, Lord, let him turn broadside to me.” The Good Lord heard my prayers, and the bull turned broadside at 12 yards. I let him walk past me and drilled him – taking out both lungs.

Now, I had a problem. I thought, “I’ve taken this awesome bull, but I wasn’t using my PSE bow.” I was determined to do the right thing. So, once we got my bull and Strandlund’s bull back to camp, I called Pete Shepley and said, “Pete, I shot this awesome 360 point bull. The only problem is I didn’t shoot him with a PSE bow.” Then, I explained to Pete what had happened. Pete started laughing and said, “Hey, the purpose of the hunt is to take the elk. You had a great hunt, and that’s what really counts.” I thought that was a really classy thing for Pete to say and to let me off the hook. When I went to help Strandlund get his elk back to camp, I didn’t have any intention at that time of taking a bull. I didn’t even have my bow with me. Sometimes things just happen that you don’t have control of, and. I’m glad I took the bull. I just wish I had taken him with my PSE bow.

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