Sunday, February 28, 2010

The perfect rack

I think we might be making more progress. My wife is getting in the spirit of things. I'm not going to write a long soliloquy today but something just happened that was too funny to pass up. I'm sitting here watching "Dead Down Wind's American Archer." They're discussing the impending deer hunt and what they're looking for in a deer. Alissa walked in as they were commenting on looking for a buck with a symmetrical rack. She smiled and said. I have a symmetrical rack and if I was a buck I'd be two pointer. At which point she produced the proof. My rifle is now loaded and I have to go hunting.


God I love this sport!!


Have a great day.

Thursday, February 25, 2010


Every great adventure usually starts with a small and rather innocuous thought. My grand adventure started the same way. With less than 30 days to get organized, the thought culminated in the hay field next to a world class equestrian facility that I had managed to get permission to hunt on. It's October first and the deer season will officially start with the coming of the dawn.

The world is nothing but sound and smell in the darkness of the rural fields. In the distance was the thump of the horses as they rattled impatiently in their stalls. I could appreciate their eagerness for the day to begin. The wind blows gently from the west. It's a good wind for the tree stand I'm headed to. The world is in muted silence as it holds its breath waiting to burst forth with the sun. I quickly change into my hunting clothes and make a note that standing on the dew soaked ground is NOT comfortable and maybe the next time I come out I should plan to deal with that. I make some final adjustments to my safety harness, strap my fanny pack on and sling my bow over my shoulder. With a certain amount of concern and anxiety about the correctness of my decision I chose a route and head for my tree stand.

The tree stand hasn't been in for very long. This farm has, in memorable history anyway, never been hunted and the other gentleman who is going to hunt the shotgun season showed me how to build it. We did that only a few days in advance. I climbed the overly engineered ladder that was my contribution to the construction portion of the plan. I'm not the world's best carpenter and I didn't want it to break under me as I climbed it. For this reason I made sure there were enough nails in the steps to make a compass swing wildly at 20 feet. I settled onto the little homemade stool we had installed and waited.

The wait for the beginning of your first day of you first hunt is a stressful thing. It's a lonely moment when you are in a tree trying to decide what you might have done wrong or what you need to do next. Was I quiet enough? Did I use enough spray? Will they smell my underwear? Those darn underwear I never know how to make, and keep scent free like the rest of my clothes. Should I have crawled across the hay field? Would it have made me look like a deer instead of someone looking to hurl a pointy stick at them? If I scratch my nose can they see me move in the dark? Are they standing behind my laughing and pointing at the new guy? What if they walk right by me because I fell asleep? It is still early and I haven't been able to have my morning coffee. We aren't hunting Columbian deer so I suspect the smell of a dark roast on my breath would seem a little out of place.

I'm in the tree stand plenty early. I have a little more than an hour before the legal shooting time. In Ontario that is 30 minutes before the official sunrise. I hear nothing significant yet. The forest behind me is quiet. It's predawn slumber is only interrupted by the occasional rustle of the wind through the tree leaves. I can see a faint glow on the horizon as the sun creeps closer. I begin to hear the occasional twitter as the local birds begin to wake up. Their voices gently coaxing the sun closer. As I sit motionless on my stool listening to this, basking in the sublime majesty of my existence, I have one overpowering thought. The stool is too damn hard and my ass is going to fall off before the day is out. Another thing to deal with along with the dew.

Eventually it happens. In the murky light of the early morning I can hear it coming through the bush behind me. This is perfect. It was coming in the manner and direction I had hoped it would. This was going to be awesome. My heart started to race. I froze as I listened to the approaching footfalls in the leaves. I mentally prepared myself. Visualized the deer and the shot in my head so that I wouldn't freeze. I needed to be able to concentrate and focus on where I had to put the arrow. I could taste the venison in my mouth already. I had only been deer hunting a grand total of about an hour and I was going to accomplish something they say only 10% of hunters do every year. I could hear it coming. I slowly started to turn my head so I could prepare for my shot. My eyes searched the gloom for the monster buck that had to be making those footsteps. They paused, moved, and then paused once more. Trying not to move, my eyes probed for the sound. The footsteps moved again and I locked onto the monster. There, staring up at me in an unconcerned fashion was a squirrel. A stinking tree rat. I'm convinced that if he had opposable thumbs he'd have found a shed and rattled at me just to aggravate me even more. Stinking tree rats. Doesn't he know he's edible?

In the end I didn't get my deer that day but was proud of the fact that I saw one. I heard a grunt and turned to see a doe slipping through the trees as a buck followed her 15 or so yards behind. She slowly and daintily picked her way up to me. She paused about 15 yards from me in a perfect spot for a shot. She seemed to know that I didn't have a tag for antlerless deer. The buck never got any closer and was around the back of the very wide tree that I was in. He never gave me a shot. She nibbled some branches and gave me a good look. She might even have winked although I can't be sure. After a few moments she turned and slipped back into the bush. I'm pretty sure she just wanted to let me know that they were there. That I would have to prove myself more worthy than I had so far if I was going to take one of them home. In the end I checked it off in the win column with a caveat. I packed up my gear and headed home. Maybe by the next hunt I'll have found a good squirrel recipe.

Sunday, February 21, 2010


"It's ok honey you can watch MurderTV." With those fateful words I might have finally reached the edge of my wife's tolerance. Recently I ordered Wildtv from Bell Expressview. I did it primarily because I can't seem to gain control of the remote early enough to see "Canadian Tradition" and "Canada in The Rough" on Saturday mornings. I've seen both those shows and enjoy them quite a bit. So, for the last week or so I've been trying to find something to enjoy on the new network I'm watching. It's been a bit of a struggle.

Now don't get me wrong. I'm not taking away from the accomplishments these folks are doing in their various shows, but to be honest, I don't want to see a bunch of shows where everyone sits around on a game preserve shooting booners. Some of the footage has been great and amusing but lots has been amateurish at best. What I was hoping for was a bunch of programs that could show me how to do what I'm doing better. So far I've been given very few real tips but I'm always hopeful. I have to give props to Michael Waddel and the crew. Other than Harley Davidson I think the "Bone Collectors" logo is the only other one I've ever seen tattooed on someone's body.

On an up note, my "not as anti as I used to be" wife did come to me and tell me that she's been thinking that harvesting our own food through my hunting makes more sense. She cited the health benefits of the food etc. That's good progress and sitting with me watching "murdertv" she doesn't cheer for the "innocent" deer quite as often as she used to. I have pointed out to her that Hoyt makes the Vixen and two heads are better than one. I think I'm a little premature on that one though. As I read this section out loud her comment was "that's for sure." She has mentioned that she wants to come out and sit in a blind with me to see what it's all about. At least I'll have a legitimate excuse to buy her a cammo thong now.

So it's been great to see people finally reading my blog. Thanks for the comments. It's always appreciated. I'm still wandering the house trying to pretend I'm a turkey in heat. I've discovered you can get away with the loud unsexy calls while vacuuming. I'm not sure if it's because the noise drowns out the sounds of the yelps or because she feels I deserve some latitude for being so domestic. I'm counting down to turkey course day, March 19 at the Toronto Sportsman Show. How great is that? Half the day or so learning how to hunt a turkey and the rest wandering sportsman's paradise. I should probably leave my credit card at home. Argo's are good for yard work aren't they? Hmmm I just found out that my wife is going to be there for work reasons with her service dogs. Argo's can't be seen in cammo can they?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Be Vewy Vewy Quiet…

Somewhere in my early childhood a member of my family thought it wise to hang a sign on our cottage wall that is full of outdoor wisdom. Not the one in the outhouse that says "All good things come to he who waits as long as he who waits works like hell while he waits." Rather the fishing one that says "Early to bed early to rise. Fish like hell and make up lies." While the first may seem like the most profound the second is most definitely the most important bit of wisdom for hunters and fishermen. My children have started to learn this as they started fishing at a very young age.

Last December I asked my nine year old daughter if she wanted to go rabbit hunting with me. The deer season had yet to produce any significant results and by December I was starting to lose heart. I thought a nice rabbit hunt would be just what I needed. My daughter leapt at the chance. We tracked down a bright yellow rain slicker in the absence of any available hunter orange. We had to roll up the sleeves because even over all her warm winter clothes she absolutely swam in it. With a flourish and quick runway pirouette she was dressed for success.

I thought the best thing to do, to get her truly involved, was to give her a job. Here in Ontario you need to be 12 years old to be mentored in hunting so she was only going to be able to spot rabbits for me. I dug out a small backpack and told her she was in charge of the snacks. Our plan was to head up to the Beverly Swamp. It's 800 acres of government ground that is good for many things not the least of which is rabbits. We were going to start around 10 or 11 in the morning and we had to be home by 3pm. I realize this is not the prime rabbit hunting time but truth be told it was more an excuse to go out with my daughter. This length of time with a 9 year old necessitated some food to keep us going. My thought was a thermos of hot apple cider, maybe a sandwich or two for lunch and a couple of apples. What I got was enough food to keep us alive for about 6 weeks.

We climbed out of the truck, I shouldered my shotgun and with a groan took on the burden of our provisions and led Ainsley into the fringes of the area we would be hunting. I took a few minutes and gave her the instructions and the rules of how she was to behave at all times as well as where she needed to be in relation to me at all times. With a grin we started through the snow and the scrub trees on our quest for rabbit. Off in the distance in other areas of the park we could hear the sound of beagles as others pursued the same quarry. The first few bits of cover didn't produce anything but soon my eagle eyed daughter spotted a rabbit sitting in the snow through the trees. He didn't linger and bolted for cover. I shouldered the shotgun and made a phenomenal kill. The rabbit was fine but I slaughtered the snow right behind him. I decided to leave the body there because I was pretty sure we didn't have any snow recipes at home to cook it properly.

I slowly started to work my way through the trees. The rabbit had run from left to right and vanished over a hill. We soon had to give up the pursuit as we encountered another group of hunters coming through the bush with their dog. We never did find out where it went but they didn't see it either. We moved deeper into the bush on our quest and started to kick brush piles when Ainsley announced it was snack time. That was fine by me. Slugging a thousand pounds of food on your back is always more difficult than dragging it around in your stomach. While I poured the apple cider Ainsley laid out our mini meal. When finished, she presented me with a chocolate bar for dessert. Apparently we had a lot of candy and chocolate bars for the day. I didn't mind the idea but little did I know that it would be the stick with which she beat me.

We saw lots of evidence on the snow that rabbits lived in the area. We followed more unproductive rabbit trails than I care to count. It wasn't long before her natural competitiveness started to rear it's ugly head. Everything became a bet. Who would see the next rabbit. How many rabbits we would see before I would actually shoot one. By the time our next, hobbit like, second breakfast (or was it lunch?) ended we still hadn't seen any other rabbits. The occasional shotgun blast off in the distance told us they were still around but our efforts weren't getting us very far. She changed tactics and now tried to motivate me with such missives as "no more chocolate for you until you get us a rabbit Dad." It took quite a while for me to negotiate this particular rule into obscurity. I wasn't back on the chocolate list until after she stopped us for our 4th or maybe it was 5th snack.

We never did find another rabbit. After hours of looking, our time started to draw quite short. I think it really was more of a picnic interrupted by the occasional walk. We had a great time though. Ainsley's enthusiasm held up brilliantly as we searched every brush pile we passed. I think she particularly liked her time with the beagle. We met some other hunters as we got close to the parking area. They had more success with a half dozen rabbits hanging from their belts. Ainsley boldly asked them how they got them to hang upside-down off their belt. The owners of the rabbits took a moment and showed her the trick they used and then offered to share their catch with her. Triumphantly she carried the rabbit back to our truck and as we pulled out of the parking lot she looked at me and uttered these profound words. "So what now dad? Hunt like crazy and make up lies?" I smiled and thought of the sign at the cottage. She's so wise at such a young age.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Turkey Love

Today pigs flew and hell froze over. Ok maybe not quite that dramatic but in the realm of turkey hunters I'm pretty sure this was an equally momentous moment. Driving down the road running errands this afternoon Alissa turned to me, smiled, and uttered the following phrase. "I kind of miss the turkey calls. You haven't clucked at me for a bit."

I know this is momentous because I clearly heard the expert warning in the HS Strut training video. "Wives hate turkey calls." I didn't buy the HS Strut calls because they are better or worse than any others, I've never used a turkey call so I haven't the faintest idea, but because it had an informative dvd. I wanted it so that it could give me such important nuggets as "wives hate turkey calls". Diligently following their advice I popped the call in my mouth and squeaked and squawked from Toledo Basspro, where I bought them, to Jerseyville. You'll be happy to know I resisted the temptation to answer the Customs Officials question of "do you have anything to declare" with a loud yelp.

I think I've made good progress. I had the yelp perfected by the time I came home. I could be wrong and I suppose I'll know come turkey calling time but I think I sound pretty convincing. I'll tell you the secret to getting your wife to like turkey calls as well. It's actually quite simple. All women respond to the language of love. You just need to know how to go about it. The first thing I discovered is that a wife that "gobbles" when you call is not the result you want and they respond only as part of a much larger calling ritual. Putts, purrs and soft clucks are the calls of choice to lure these hens in. A small yelp as you enter the room might be a good way to get them to stop what they are doing and pay attention to you but they find it a far more aggressive call than normal wild turkeys do and not part of the mating ritual at all. A second loud yelp would likely get a convenient blunt object thrown at you in a territorial display of dominance but the initial yelp is a useful attention getter.

Immediately switch to some soft clucks and purrs. Crouch a little in a turkey strut sort of fashion and start to cluck and purr softly. Maybe bob your head back and forth a bit as you circle her suggestively. Try laying your head seductively on her shoulder and give a small cluck as you gently kiss her neck just behind her earlobe. Cluck, purr and keep nuzzling until you get the response you are looking for. CAUTION, if you've been watching the youtube videos of big toms being called into turkey decoys it should be noted that while the wife hens can be seduced in similar fashion by clucking and acting a little like a tom DO NOT ATTEMPT TO MOUNT IN THE KITCHEN!!!. Seems they don't always think that's such a good idea and it traumatizes the kids.

So as you can guess turkey season is coming. I'm working hard to try and figure out how to sound like a turkey in heat. Thank goodness for long trips in the truck and an understanding family. I'm scheduled to take the turkey course at this spring's Sportsmen's show in Toronto. They tell me that I'll get a lot of information on turkey tactics from this because I'm at a loss. I have a blind ready to go and I know I have to wear black inside it. I'm at the range several times a week practicing with the bow because my current thoughts are that the hot set up is going to be a head shot with a gobbler guillotine or something similar. Right now I'm sighted in using 100 grain field points which means I either need to change points and start the sighting process again or use the smaller cutting surface of the 100 grain heads. I worry I'm not quite that good yet. Whatever happens one thing I know for sure. I might not get a wild tom out in the fields and forest this year but I seem to do pretty well calling a hen in the kitchen.

Friday, February 5, 2010

My hunt horses

I'm going to divert today slightly. One form of hunting I have done for many years is foxhunting. In Canada that really means more coyote than fox. use foxhounds to hunt them and follow the hounds with horses. We don't catch as many as we might with a gun but the real thrill is watching how a pack of hounds work together to follow the scent and to stay with them on a good horse. Of course the good horse is key and make or break your day. I have a youngster who is getting started and here is a story I wrote about him a little while ago.

Bees! I can hear the gentle hum of their wings as they move from flower to flower amongst the clover. It’s subtle and almost unnoticeable under the steady thrumming of the cicada’s. I would have missed it completely if I hadn’t been laying in the long pasture grass this warm summer day. I wiggle my fingers on both hands. It’s a beautiful day for sure. The warm rays of the sun, high in the sky, buss my skin as the cool grasses press against my back. It sounds like the classic, idyllic scene that can only happen on a horse farm. This farm is perfect for it. Built as a high end broodmare facility it has rolling land and massive pastures full of lush grass. A beautiful pond with ducks and geese round it out. It’s beautiful. Even from this angle. I wiggle my toes to make sure they work as well as my fingers do.
I pause briefly to consider how I came to be here. Two distinct thoughts ran quickly through my head. The first of these thoughts is certainly a “Big picture” sort of moment. One of those, “whose fault is it anyway” thoughts. I start counting the bones in all my major limbs. I suppose I have to blame my mother. The daughter of a dairy farmer, she grew up with horses. Not working horses. My grandfather, having been raised with them, replaced them gladly with modern tractors when he took over from his father. She did, however, have a horse lovingly named Flikka”. It was named by a young girl who thankfully dodged monikers like Thunder and Flash and forgave it it’s sins as so many of us do when we are young. This love of horses she passed on to me. She married a “townie” who was allergic to all things furry so we could never have any at home when I was young.
I don’t remember a lot about the early stages of my life. The farther you get from 3 or 4 the less that remains. I do have one vague memory of my first meeting with a horse. It was massive. Made all the more huge by the fact that I had to be under the age of 5. I thought it was the most amazing thing I had ever seen. Absolutely! Like some shiny beacon rising up out of the field that could be ridden. Like that man is doing. Look mom! You can ride them! They’re great! They’re getting closer! They aren’t moving but still getting closer! Wait a second! Mom! What are you doing? It’s a beacon! Beacon’s are designed for distance! Put me down! DON’T LET IT EAT ME!!!
If the first time a man meets a horse he is going to be intimidated, and therefore emasculated, it is best done as a toddler. It seems to be more survivable. I don’t really remember when I saw my next horse but, unlike many husbands and boyfriends I’ve seen over the years who disappear from the barn not willing to admit they’re scared witless, I seemed to find these large furry money sinks all the more fascinating.
Maybe I would have escaped with my wallet and manure free social life intact had my grandfather stuck to his life long disinterest of all things equine. I’m not sure what possessed him to bid twenty five dollars on a pony at a farm auction. Everyone there knew who he was and that he no longer had a farm. I’m sure they all had a great chuckle as they watched him bedding his garage in the village in preparation for its arrival. My personal opinion was that it was better than any car or lawn tractor I had ever seen him store in there. I was hooked. Like lots of young crazy horse lovers I even forgave him when he bucked me off into the concrete wall. What did I know? I was a town kid. Nobody said you needed to break these things. Can’t you ride them from birth? Aren’t they built that way?
At this moment the second thought ran through my head. It was a little more immediate. I have to admit it wasn’t idyllic or even nostalgic. I picked myself up out of the grass. Looked over at my four year old thoroughbred and considered that I may have found the reason they didn’t train him long enough to even tattoo him. He was standing quietly munching grass a few feet away. The reigns had settle behind his ears in the last place I had seen them as we parted company in, what was clearly, an unscheduled dismount. I made a mental note of the dirt patch I noticed on his bridle path as I passed over it and thought boot camp! I think that might be it. He needs Boot camp. Thankfully there aren’t any concrete walls this time.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Critical Equipment

The harsh staccato of the alarm blaring in the dark is an unwelcome sound no matter what your plans are for the day. This I have decided. I groggily roll out of bed hours before dawn. Beside me my wife rolls over wakes up for her morning kiss, to wish me well, ask what farm I'll be at if something goes wrong and to ask me to ping her on her blackberry when I'm safely on the ground. I stagger bleary eyed down toward the shower for my morning pre-hunt ritual.

I thoroughly cleanse myself with the special soap that is designed to make me smell dirty. A peculiarity reserved for hunters I think. Nothing more exciting than the tangy autumn smells of Eau De Dirt. I towel off with a brief stressful moment. Is fact that my towel wasn't washed in the special hunting Eau De Dirt laundry soap ruining my scent masking efforts? Then it's the anxiety of my underwear. We've already discussed that particular concern so I won't dwell on it here. Into the garage I go. Toss my gear into the back of the truck and I am away.

I've spent a great deal of time revamping my hunting equipment this year. I've read countless comparison reports on which bow is best, which blind is best, which arrow is best. I've read about scent control, cover scents, scent reducing clothes and what not to have for breakfast because it's too stinky. While I still have far more to learn than I can possibly even begin to imagine, the one thing I know for absolute certainty is that there is one thing every person needs to be successful in this endeavour. No matter what it is you hunt or how you hunt it, this critical piece is absolutely invaluable. I have the good fortune of having stumbled over it so I'm well set. This, my friends, is absolutely, unequivocally the most important part of your hunting set up you could have. A co-operative and supportive spouse.

Alissa has been great. When I dropped my deer this year she was the first person who got my text message and the one who cheered the loudest. Even though the idea of me going out and killing something was somewhat problematic for her she understood that it was something that was a part of me and didn't want to interfere with that. I certainly put that to the test this year. In my drive to get my first deer I hunted like a retired person. I missed the kids horseback riding lessons, left her to get them ready for school while I went to the bush and the odd social engagement. I would come home after being away working for a few days and sometimes hunt like I hadn't been away from my family. To top it all off, and I know some of you guys will be jealous by this, if I hadn't been able to get out for a bit she would make an extra effort to make sure I had a couple of days free of children and other responsibility and then order me out to the bush.

As the temperature dropped and I went in search of more and better underwear she helped and was always quick to point out things that had scent reduction technology. For Christmas I got a laser range finder and a big ol' Basspro gift certificate. She decided she couldn't bring herself to buy the instruments of death I wanted but that's ok. In the end the pop up blind I chose with my gift certificate was a more useful thing than the broadheads I asked her for. I can get them next year and my old thunderheads seem to work fine.

We had made a deal. When the season started and we were trying to adjust to the change in my obsessions I appealed to her more frugal nature. Pointed out that if I could get enough deer and other game every year that we could stop buying meat at the grocery store. Think of all the money we would save and how much healthier the meat would be for her. She stopped buying meat. She had more faith in me than I did. I did eventually get one but not before she had to go back to the grocery store. It's ok honey. I'll do better next year. Oh! Ummm...and turkey is only a few months away.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Questions and More Questions

What do I do with my underwear? No! Seriously! Why can't I seem to find an answer? I suppose to an old hand it would be an easy question. I'm not, as you recall, an old hand. I don't have an "old hand" in the family anymore. So who do I ask and why isn't it part of every "here's what you do" manual?

This was to be the year of the deer. Back in July I decided, rather unceremoniously, that I would not only start hunting again this year but to start with deer and my bow. I had only tried deer a couple of times in my youth and never got to see one let alone make a shot. So I wandered down to my local Canadian Tire, bought my bow tag for deer, grumbled somewhat that I had missed the antlerless draw date and then headed home to try and find my bow and assorted bits and pieces. Being the precise and modern day keener that I am, I immediately began to spend hours with that all knowing tome, the internet. The land of never ending conflicting answers.

So scent control became the big thing for me. I soon realised that, according to the internet, I needed to smell like dirt. No, an apple or rather some cedar, although maybe pine was better. I had to get scentlock or maybe it was scent blocker although it could have been that I was simply supposed to drown my clothes in rancid deer urine. What i did know was that after they came out of the scent free washing machine (unless you did it by hand, on a rock, in the sun out back, which is better according to some) that it had to go into some sort of scent proof bag. I did this faithfully. I guarded those bags like they were the most holy of sacraments from some new religion. I had a system down and had nothing but confidence that it might, according to the internet, be the correct plan of action out of numerous correct but sometimes conflicting ones. The one question I couldn't figure out was what to do with my underwear? Was I supposed to head for the hunt naked? Opting not to test the patience of my neighbours or the local constabulary I decided to keep the underwear out of the bag and risk contaminating myself by wearing an outer layer of less than perfectly de-scented clothes.

This system worked ok when hunt season started. Arriving in the darkened hours of the early morning I would quickly strip down to my underwear, retrieve all my carefully prepared hunt clothes from their bag, dress and be off. It worked perfectly until that faitful day when the mercury dipped below freezing to a balmy -5 C. Suddenly i needed not only more layers of underwear but i needed them long before i could have survived retrieving them from the bag in the dark. So I tried washing them like the rest of my clothes but giving them their own bag until finishing my shower on hunt mornings. A little risky I suppose. I have two dogs in the house that seem to ignore me until I'm in scent control mode and then they want to cuddle. Yet, I still don't know what to do? Is it over kill? Underkill? What do I do about my underwear? And why can't the internet tell me? Mike Waddell where are you? Why haven't the Bone Collectors done an underwear segment? Tom Pigeon? Taylor Wright? Anyone?

I have to admit my attempts to get help offline didn't go so well. I spoke to a couple of guys who pretty much dismissed the whole notion of scent control. Not the best timing when one of them did it in front of my wife. I got that raised eyebrow look. You know the one. That look that tells you she's just confirmed that you've lost your mind and have been putting her and the kids through misery with your insane rantings about odour for the few weeks. The one that leaves you scrambling to justify all that money you spent on fancy scent control stuff. I'm pretty sure she missed the part where he was smoking a cigar. What better cover scent could there be than a smoldering Cuban?

Turkey season is coming and that is going to be my next project. Maybe moose next year as well. So my journey continues. I keep working to rapidly expand my knowledge base. I try to practice at the range faithfully with my bow. My deer hunting clothes are in scent proof storage and surprisingly I'm still worried about my underwear.