Sunday, October 31, 2010

Today’s Goose Hunting Episode Is Brought To You By The Letter F…For Failure

For a week now I've been watching hundreds of Canada Geese pile into the corn fields across the road from my house. Hundreds and hundreds of yummy looking geese. Off to the post office I headed to pick up my migratory game bird license because I decided I needed a bit of a change. It was time to chase some geese.

I had to overcome some problems. The first one was what to use to shoot them. What do you do when your old shotgun can't shoot steel and other non-toxic shot is brutally expensive or non-existent? You make Flu Flu's of course.


I was somewhat prepared for this. I had a supply of feathers in my garage aka Ward's man cave and junk room. It was all set. I spent the afternoon making flu flu's. I made three. I figured if things worked out optimally that would be two flu flu's more than I needed. Needless to say I went into this with a reasonable expectation of my chances of success.

I had it all figured out. Write my 3.5 hour exam starting at noon, race home and head for the field to intercept the waves of geese just dying to land in reach of my brilliantly laid out decoys and my super fantastic calling skills. Oddly it didn't work out quite like that. I woke in the morning and watched the early birds heading in, only to hear the sounds of someone shooting at MY geese.

Ok I admit this wasn't the best thought out plan I've had. I read up quickly and on how to set decoys in fields for geese and where to put your layout blind. I didn't have a corn coloured layout blind. I had a forest flavoured sit out blind. I stuffed some corn stalks in it but the gale force winds seemed to rip them out almost as fast. The standard J pattern field decoy placement seemed to be a problem with my 4 sad old floating decoys I managed to scrounge up.


Even when I got into the blind and looked out it didn't look any better. Not much I could do about it now though. It's what I had and come what may I was hunting.



I knocked one of my fabulously made flu flu's, that may or may not actually fly straight enough to kill something, into my bow and discovered my first unexpected problem. The feathers were too long to accommodate my drop away rest cocked the way it was supposed to be. I was going to have to allow it to cock as I drew the bow.


I sat back with great anticipation and waited for the mayhem to start.

The first flight of geese appeared as if from nowhere. I grabbed my goose flute and went to put my limited practice to work. It's Halloween season. In keeping with the season my first call was expertly designed to sound like a zombie goose coming back, begrudgingly, from the dead. It was intentional. Honest! You believe me right? OK it was at this moment I was glad there was no one there to hear me. I was glad from the moment I arrived in the field actually. The entire adventure would have had seasoned goose guys smirking behind their hands.

Needless to say they didn't land. Actually that isn't true. They landed soon after they flew over my head. I spent the next 30 or so minutes watching hundreds of geese land. They landed beside me, in front of me and behind me. Hundreds of them but all well out of range. In the last 5 or so minutes I decided to try and sneak across the open corn field to try and shoot one. I was desperate. Did pretty good though. Got almost 100 yards from one bunch. Now I know why they don't spot and stalk geese in corn fields. They wisely use shotguns and lots of decoys. Oh well! Live and learn.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Devilish Deer Season

Apparently I've annoyed the dark forces that protect deer.


See his antlers? I'm sure it's the demon deer pumpkin.

I was going to shoot him. "She Who Must Be obeyed" said I shouldn't waste time. I'd only miss anyway.

Then she mumbled something about upset children and how I'd suffer some strange affliction called celibacy.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

T3 Or Not T3

I imagine every bow hunter does it from time to time. As the season approaches you start to wonder if the broad head you are using is being all that it can be. This being my second season hunting deer, I certainly had more questions than answers. Last year I shot some old 100 grain Thunderheads but I really like the idea of a mechanical head flying like a field point. To me it makes sense because it would reduce shooting errors down to just the things I do and not flight characteristics. With that in mind I started researching the net.

    I had heard both the pro's and cons of some of the mechanical heavyweights in the industry. My trip to the local pro shop had me receiving a strong recommendation to purchase one of those heavyweights. You know the one. I won't name it but it's the angry one. I had heard enough mixed concerns about it that it made me somewhat leery. The head that caught my eye was the one I had heard nothing about because it was so new. I really liked the concept behind G5's offering in the form of the T3. The pro shop could give me no information as they had just received their first shipment and had no shooters using it yet. So I volunteered to report back to them what my experiences with the heads were. I'm now going to share my impressions with you. This is all from the field. I have done no side by side shooting on the range. Everything I'm about to relay to you happened as I was hunting.

    Before I go on I think I should set some parameters. Every time I read a discussion about performance invariably someone blames the bow, or the weight of the arrow. To give you some perspective so you can form you opinions of what I'm about to write I'll post my equipment stats.

Bow - 2010 Hoyt Alpha Max 32

Draw Weight - 60 pounds

Speed -     I haven't chrono'd it but according to the calculations my copy of software for archers I should be shooting somewhere in the neighbourhood of 289 fps.
Arrow – Carbon Express Maxima Hunter 350
Arrow length – 29 inches
Approximate arrow weight with 100 grain head (according to Software) 390 grains
Quiver – An old Quiki Quiver set up for fixed broad heads.

The concept behind the T3 is delightfully simple. There is a small knob on the sides of the leading corner of the blades. You can't see it in the above picture because it slides into a channel along the length of the head. When you slide the blade fully forward to close it requires a slight downward and forward pressure to cause those knobs to slip into a small grove inside the channel. The spider clip at the back simply provides upward pressure on the two small ridges above it causing the friction required to hold the blade in place. When the head contact an object it can penetrate the small shelf simply slides off those clips and the blade slides down the channel to open. Simple right?

G5 sends each set of T3's with extra clips which is good because they seem to be a one use situation. The instructions mention that after time they could wear out but my experience was that they would bend open when shot and never be the same again. This required them to be replaced. They send practice blades that don't depend on the clips because they don't open. When I installed the practice blades and took some test shots the head performed as advertised. It shot beautifully and truly was as accurate as my field tips.

The first problem I noticed was with my quiver. I had two problems. The first one was that placing the tip in the hole caused the blade to deploy in the quiver because the hole was fixed blade sized and not a small impression designed simply to hold the tip. That required a little tape to correct although I will admit it was not the most effective solution to the problem. The more significant problem I had was when the broad heads would shift from center in the quiver.

The issue wasn't one of sound, although that could be a possibility, it was the lateral pressure of the blade contacting the side of the quiver. For me this is a big deal. Any pressure placed sideways on the blades caused the spider clip to compress. The second these two small pieces of metal flattened out they lost the ability to keep the broad head closed. Certainly not what you want as things happen in the bush and your equipment should be able to take a little knocking around before failure.

One of the things everyone worries about is blood trail. I hit a deer with the T3 on my 4th day out. The blades deployed as advertised as it passed through the deer.

The blood trail started about 40 yards from the hit and was fairly substantial. Sadly I had switched trees in the dark and missed a small branch. The small branch didn't miss my arrow however and it deflected the shot badly. Many hours later and a mile away my attempts to pick up the trail ended and the deer was lost. That, however, is the topic of another story. Prior to that a significant amount of the trail looked like this.

A week later I was back in the bush on the edge of a field when a young buck came along and presented me with a 15 yard shot. This is where our tail of the T3 takes a turn for the worse. There's no worse sound, I'm now convinced, than the crack you hear of broad head on bone. I caught him in the shoulder blade. The T3 was an abysmal failure. Not only did it fail to penetrate the shoulder but it shattered at the top of the threads. The arrow simply bounced away and landed in the grass. The deer disappeared down the length of the field never to be seen again and without leaving a single drop of blood to follow. Needless to say the anxiety I felt from the shot prior to this was multiplied significantly as I watched another wounding. Just to clarify the head failed structurally without any outside interference. He didn't brush it against any trees. He was standing in an open field and the arrow came to rest within a few feet of where he was standing. The last I saw of him he was limping slightly as he slipped into the trees.

Much to my great sadness I have been forced to decide the T3 experiment is a failure. The problem with keeping them from deploying was annoying but the shoulder issue was the final straw. I haven't completely given up on mechanicals but I have to admit that last night I took the last two T3's off my shafts and switched to a different one. At the risk of looking like a sheep in the giant flock of bow hunters I put the angry one on. Hopefully my experience with it will be better.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Ward!! Where did you go??

Blog: Hey where are you? I feel ignored and neglected.

Me: I'm thinking of you. Isn't that enough?

Blog: No. I need love. I need a sense of appreciation. I need to feel like I matter to you.

Me: Baby you know I love you. I just been busy.

Blog: Don't give me that busy crap. You always put other things before me. Why can't I be the most important thing in your life?

Me: Baby you know I love you. You ARE important. Don't talk like that...

So what happened. Well for those who have been following along with the events of my crazy busy year and may have missed this part. After I got married in turkey season, ( *whispers*careful of what you say to that. "She who must be obeyed" is watching,) I decided I wanted an MBA. So I'm in the middle of tuning up my 3 year degree into something my alma matter likes for their MBA program. So now I study, write exams, hunt a bit and spend time with the wife and kids.

I do have blog entries to make. I've been out several times and each is a tale to tell. I've put what I learned in the last 12 months to good use and although I still have struggles I'm definitely making progress.

In addition to some interesting hunting stories I'm going to try my hand at a product review. I decided to try a mechanical broad head this year. I chose G5's T3 and since the pro shop couldn't help much due to it's newness I have been giving them regular reports on my experience with it. I'm now going to try and share that experience with you guys.

So stay tuned. I might not get much up right away but as soon as I get a chance I'll probably start posting like a fiend.

I hope you are all having a great season.


Saturday, October 2, 2010

A Summer of Change

This has been a summer of change. Our general vacation plans are usually pretty simple. Take the family to the cottage for a week in July, pack the children off to summer camp and have a second and less restrained week with just Alissa and I in August. Sadly this year the second week didn't happen. The cottage was a busy place with friends, family and others filling the place on the weeks we could get available. I took the opportunity, however, to start lobbying for a back country camping trip. I have to admit I may have been a little aggressive in my idea of what type of first camping experience would suit my wife. In the end the idea of bad weather, an event she may not enjoy and the possibility of playing patty cake with overly friendly bears swayed the vote in her favour.

In the end, however, it has worked out fine. My neophyte wife and neophyte children were ok with the idea of camping in one of the local conservation area parks. The labour day weekend was the chosen dates as we began to plan the family farewell to summer adventure. Needless to say the kids were over the moon with excitement. Alissa had weather trepidation but soldiered on as we accumulated the things we would need. I kept reminding her we would be only 15 minutes from home so we didn't need to plan for every eventuality. Having said that it was great to see her think about all the things that can go wrong on a camping trip. It's a mindset that will serve us well when I finally win the back country vote.

The fateful day arrived and we loaded the truck to head for the campsite. It was a mind numbing array of "stuff" we had. I wasn't sure what we would do with everything or how we would ever survive if this was the pile that would have to be backpacked in. It certainly isn't the most minimalist of camping approaches I've used. I've roughed it on a level that only someone who has carried a rifle for his country can truly appreciate. I don't ever remember my kit containing a combination marshmallow/smore/hot dog roaster. Of course my kit back then didn't include a ten and a six year old either.

We arrived at the conservation area and began to set up camp. The weather was cool and nice. My neophyte camper bride made your typical rookie error of setting up a couple of tarps over our tent and one of the picnic tables. I grudgingly helped and grumbled at having to go through the hassle. That lasted right up until the good Lord rewarded her frivolous extra effort with….rain! Good thing my wife wasn't an old pro like me or we would have been wet and then I really would have grumbled. Stupid weather. So for the next three days our home away from home was our brand new 7 man tent. 

Breakfast was a rugged but satisfying affair. I got the fire going nicely and then Ainsley, our 10 year old, cooked us a delicious meal of scrambled eggs. She thought it was the greatest thing.

The weather was never very co-operative. It pretty much rained lightly all weekend. It didn't seem to slow anyone down. The other campground kids careened up and down the road with their bicycles. We fished a little and took a long walk on one of their groomed trails. It had this fabulous boardwalk through the marshy part of the lake.

The weekend came to an end and with it the last of the summer vacation. The next day the kids were headed back to school and a week later I was scheduled to return to University in an attempt to try and get myself an MBA. Alissa was getting ready for a shift in her job. She was being transferred from training hearing ear dogs to their new autism program. I never realized a service dog could be useful for autism but apparently they are. So everything is changing. At least we are keeping with Heraclitus's axiom. "The only thing constant is change."