Heads Up Decoy

Heads Up Decoy
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Monday, February 20, 2012

Another Season of Firsts

The fall of 2010 was one I will never forget. My young bowhunting career was spoiled in a mere 46 days. Or so I thought...

I was able to share two amazing Kansas hunts with a couple of great friends. On September 18th I harvested a beautiful pronghorn exactly nine minutes into the season that came very close to cracking the state's top 10. Something I would have never dreamed just a few years prior when this central Kansas boy finally learned there were actually antelope in this state and that the tags were over the counter!

The high certainly hadn't worn off when it came time to switch gears and focus on some Flint Hills whitetails. Another friend and I had spent all summer tracking a true 8x5 giant on his family's farm. In mid July we were lucky enough to catch a set of pics on a very hot afternoon of another amazing buck traveling with the 8x5. He was a main frame 12 with matching kickers sprouting out in three spots. Between the two we knew we were into something special. Stands were hung and the hunting began shortly after my antelope kill. October yielded us one daylight picture of the 8x5 and no sightings. The main frame 12 had disappeared as quickly as he showed back in July.

Next thing we knew, it was November and the switch turned seemingly overnight. We headed out the evening of the 3rd. I reminded my buddy that exactly 5 years prior he had helped me track down my second buck ever. Both of us felt pretty good about our chances. After five bucks had passed by, one a 6 1/2 year old+ freak, just out of range and a text from my buddy telling me he was about to call it good I was losing faith in what I considered my "lucky day". That all changed when the main frame 12 appeared out of thin air with mere minutes left of shooting light. He decided he'd give me a couple more trail cam pics, only our second sighting ever, before trotting over to check out the grunting I was throwing at him. He stopped at 25 yds and was dead in another 40.

Fast forward to the summer of 2011. How do I top that? I don't, but I have to try, right?

I finished school, moved to northwest Kansas, and began brainstorming for the fall. Plans were made for a short mid-September Colorado antelope trip at 8,000 feet. My first out of state attempt with yet another good friend. In the obsession that had spawned after my 2010 antelope hunt I stumbled across Heads Up Decoy while reading and watching everything I could about hunting these guys on the go.

Along with the tiny antelope population, western Kansas holds a good number of quality mule deer. A first muley seemed much more attainable than topping last year's buck. I decided my 2011 season would be spent almost entirely on the ground and pursuing instead of in trees or blinds. Heads Up Decoy seemed like the perfect fit in the instance that I'd need a decoy.

The Colorado trip came and went. Beautiful country, many close encounters, and some good practice with the decoy left me pleased. However, the rut was still a bit off, and the big bucks weren't running off youngsters.

The following weekend I was back at my Kansas spot. Day one started off intense. I spotted a small group of 5 or 6 does and a very nice buck. I worked through a corn field for a 1/4 mile or so, and popped out with the decoy attached about 250 yards from the group. The buck picked me up immediately while the does were clueless and continued grazing. He started toward me with a cautious walk and continued all the way to about 50-55 yards. It was obvious this was his stopping point. I was drawn and let it launch. The arrow sailed right under his chest and he trotted back to his girls. When going to retrieve the arrow I walked off the distance and found I had misjudged by about 13 yards. Oh well, the sun was only half way up and I was in one of my favorite places in the world.

The next day and a half proved to be grueling. It was hot and windy, I spent a lot of time covered in stickers and sweat, had two more incredibly close calls, and was about to call it a weekend. On the way past my last spot I picked out four antelope from a mile away through the afternoon heat waves. After a quick circle with the pickup and a half mile jaunt on foot I came to them. Three had gotten up to move towards water, but one, a mature though not giant buck, still laid on the gradual slope in inch tall grass.I affixed the decoy with the thought he may awaken and it could hold him in place just long enough. I crawled to where the one yucca plant in our vicinity was between me and his head. Next I knew he was 50 yards and still had no idea I existed. This time the shot was true and he tipped over backwards in no time.

The next two months I spent tromping around corn fields, pasture ground, deep rock draws, and even bare dirt in my attempts for muley number one. Countless close calls, successful decoy set ups, and one major whiff later I still had a tag on Nov. 20, my last day to hunt before rifle season began.

I spotted what looked like a very large framed buck heading into a draw that morning. In checking the rest of the huge pasture before taking after him I stumbled on what looked to be another huge buck. While closing in he mysteriously stood up, left his 7 does, and trotted towards water. He had no idea I was there. I headed back to the truck, and on the way for lunch I caught the first buck bedded under a tree in the draw. He was still up and down trying to find the perfect bed, so I continued towards town. After a quick lunch I returned to find him motionless and in what seemed like a good spot to come in directly above him. The wind wasn't perfect, and I spooked a couple does on my way around and through a different draw.

Having no idea whether he was still there, and with the terrain looking increasingly different than what I pictured, I stuck the doe decoy in the bracket assuming he may very well pick me off before I catch his location. Again I hoped the decoy would relax him just long enough to finish the season. As it was with my antelope, he never knew what was coming. I popped up in the perfect spot, and my Hoyt sent the arrow up through his rib cage for a quick kill.

2011 had officially lived up to 2010.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Winter Time Blues

The winter months can be tough for a bowhunter. That time at the beginning of the year when all you can think about is the next upcoming big game season can seem like an eternity. Having a mild winter like we have this year can make counting down the days until turkey season even more nerve racking, but it also offers the chance for some good preseason practice. When preparing for hunting season I feel it is imperative to practice like you are going to hunt.
If you plan on hunting turkeys out of a ground blind you should practice shooting out of your blind, this will help you determine what your shooting position will be while hunting out of a blind, whether you want to shoot sitting in a chair or from your knees is valuable information to know when a worked up gobbler is making his way into your decoys. Since I will be chasing gobblers this spring with the Heads Up Decoy tom turkey decoy in the bowmount, I practice often with the decoy on my bow, from my knees since this is most likely the position I will be in while using the decoy this spring. I feel it is very important to practice with the decoy on your bow well before season starts because even though the decoy is light, it does take some getting used to shooting with it mounted to the end of your stabilizer. A good example of this was when I went to practice with the decoy on my bow a couple weeks ago, I put the decoy in the bowmount and adjusted the mount since I had previously had it adjusted for the whitetail decoy, when I went out to shoot I noticed I was hitting consistently to the right. Upon further inspection I realized that at full draw the decoy was slightly covering the left side of my sight guard, not enough to even come close to covering up my pins, but it was enough to
cause me to either torque my bow slightly or adjust my anchor point enough that I was throwing off my shot. With a quick adjustment of the bowmount my sight picture was clear and I was back to shooting spot on. It's things like this that you might not think would be a big deal that can cost you an animal in the woods, so it's best to use and know your equipment long before you go to use it in the field. So before turkey season rolls around it is a good idea to figure out your game plan you want to use to tag a bird and practice and execute the plan in your back yard first to help prepare you for when that big gobbler comes strutting into your decoys.

Monday, February 6, 2012

What's in a Logo.

Looking back over the last 5 or 6 years Heads Up Decoy has been around, we've come a long way. What has started as a concept has evolved into something much bigger and has exceeded my expectations with versatility and effectiveness. If you have been following Heads Up Decoy, you have witnessed this first hand. But for those that are just seeing us for the first time, what we started with is a concept that has evolved into a system that is the most exciting decoy ever designed.

When I first started the business, my daughter Jessica designed the first logo. Jessica was recently accepted into the University of Kansas Medical School. In many ways, Jessica has been a source of motivation and inspiration for me. This is a kid who epitomizes hard work, perseverance, faith, intelligence, and a thirst to live life like you're supposed too. I am fortunate to have 2 daughters who aren't my own...be my very own. Life and circumstances are very interesting indeed.

When the notion to change the logo came up...I really never thought about changing it...there was some emotional attachment. There is some meaning and reasoning behind the logo as it stands and what it has become. I am a whitetail hunter through and through. That will never change. But, Heads Up Decoy is what it is today because I developed an elk decoy I thought every elk hunter should own. It has since been accompanied by several other designs...including my beloved whitetail.

It's been a long time coming, in some ways pain staking, but I believe I have a new logo which will accompany Heads Up Decoy into the next level and phases of the company. I felt it was important to include similar characteristics as the original and to include an elk since the elk got me into this mess :). The elk is not to alienate anyone...it's just where Heads Up Decoy started and I think an important piece to remember where it all started. I am very happy to introduce the new Heads Up Decoy logo.

Thanks to all of our supporters...my beautiful wife and family most importantly...over the passed several years who have helped Heads Up Decoy get to where we are today and where we will be in the future.

Garrett Roe

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Same Decoy...New Tactic

As some of you know, I've been chasing this little self-inflicted goal of the Colorado Archery Big 8 for a number of years. That is, taking at least one of each native big game species in Colorado with my bow. 2011 found me chasing perhaps the most unique end to this quest of any who have completed it; a mule deer, Colorado's most prolific game species. After some great opportunities on big bucks in the alpine terrain of the central Rockies, I got impatient and took a small buck. I admit it, I'm really an elk hunter at heart and I was feeling the attraction to my favorite elk haunts....shame on me. The not-so-fantastic finish sent me off the alpine and into the aspen groves that my soul calls home; elk bugles were waiting!

I thought the elk rut in Colorado was late in 2010, but 2011 was even later. Many have theories of weather or moon phase affecting the rut timing, but I believe two consecutive years of heavy snow pack pushed the rut to the right a bit more each year. The heavy snow in spring influences cows to hold their calves a bit longer which directly alters their biological clock for reproduction in autumn.

In addition to a new invasion of hunters into my favorite area, the action was slow until the final week of the season. My good friend Bryan and I were keeping our legs fresh in anticipation of a multi-day strike into new terrain for the final week.

As we arrived in the late afternoon to an area we were minimally familiar, there were bulls going crazy in a high mountain basin covered with pine and open parks. We dropped our packs, made a quick plan, and Bryan moved ahead as the shooter. Within five minutes, one of the three close bulls was on his way, like being reeled in on a line! The Heads Up was naturally poised and ready, but this 6 x 6 bull needed no visual to convince him. Everything was text-book perfect...except the shot. Bulls continued to scream into the night as we searched for an arrow or sign of a hit. The arrow was eventually found and it was clean.

The next few days were a blur of close encounters without any good shot opportunities and a miss by me on a real hog. One other particular bull was huge, but he caught us in the open. I couldn't move enough to employ the decoy. Too bad, because this guy was big, pissed-off, and looking for love. He got close enough to know he should see an elk and didn't...game over.

On the second-to-last evening of the season Bryan and I decided that our 6 x 6 or better criteria needed to be modified. The multitude of 5 x 5s we had passed on over the previous 72 hours would now be fair game; meat became the objective. Bryan made a beautiful shot on a freezer filling 5 x 5 and we packed meat until about midnight.

The final day of the season was now upon us as we struggled out of our comfortable beds in the camper. We were simply headed back in to recover our meager camp which had been home the previous three nights, but my bow was in hand and ready if an opportunity presented itself. Halfway to camp a bull was sounding off above us. We pushed ahead almost recklessly and found the bull with two almost separate groups of cows, one near us and one beyond the bull. Bryan stayed back with the Heads Up as I moved forward and intentionally bumped the near cows, scattering them side-hill away from me and the remaining bull.

Instead of attempting to call the bull away from his cows, Bryan and the decoy simply made the bull believe that his cows were still grazing below him. A few gentle cow calls reassured the big bodied guy as he continued to bugle, rake trees, and otherwise attempt to display his stature. With the near cows gone and a content bull ahead, I began my stalk across completely open terrain. Every time the bull looked away or destroyed a sapling, I moved directly at him. He kept looking and listening down the hill and was obviously content that his harem was still in-tact. The other cows in his group had drifted slightly uphill and were no factor to my advance. At about 70 yards, I figured that my luck would run out at any second; hunters don't just waltz-in on bulls in wide-open terrain, right! The bull looked uphill to check on his existing cows and gave me the last sprint opportunity I needed. I hit my knees at what I figured was about 35 yards, knocked an arrow and let it go....right over his back! Utterly disgusted with myself I instinctively knocked another arrow but didn't expect another shot opportunity. The racket created by my missed shot made the bull look uphill where the arrow crashed through the trees. My second shot was perfect (amazing how a nice miss helps calculate distance!). The bull almost ran me over on his death run downhill.

Bryan and I packed meat and our camp until dusk. The season came to a close back at the camper with an amazing alpine glow across the golden aspens and windless sunset. Although we were exhausted we hated the fact that hunting was now eleven months away.