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Saturday, December 7, 2013


It’s Game Time!

   Many may have been watching football this day. To me..."It's Game Time!" means so much more!
   The buck looked back at his worthy adversary and gave out a loud snort-wheeze as he postured up and was ready for a fight. Little did this buck know he was no match for the foam antlers and clothe makeup of his opponent!

Each and every November we as deer hunters get pumped up for the rut and all the action that is about to take place when we enter the fields and woods. Our bows are tuned, broadheads are sharp, optic lenses are clean of spots, and boots are laced; all in anticipation to tighten that string and loosen an arrow at a deer of our choosing. All the preparation and sleepless nights come down to that one experience that brings you one with nature. It requires you to outsmart that critter on their turf and you need all the tools possible to help turn the tables.

It was November 24, 2013 as I slipped through the chilly darkness and onto a ridge that bucks use to cruise about in search of their next date. The sun began to do work as the sky lightened with the winter beauty that we as hunters know. The air was crisp and clean. The ground was hard and crunchy. My fingers and toes could feel Jack Frost’s efforts trying to take his toll. But I, I was ready and knew the bucks were still active as the rut was winding down. My Heads Up Decoy whitetail buck was in my pack awaiting its’ deployment. I just needed a worthy adversary to pit my wits against.

After moving about slowly on that ridge and not seeing the bucks I was looking for I decided to work my way into unchartered territory. This was my first time reaching this area and after 4 miles I was considering the validity of my location. The sun was now up and it was a blue bird day. Squirrels scampered about reluctantly as if looking for the last of their preparation for the cold winter and future snow storms. They didn’t seem to care much about me but wanted to stock up their supplies for their winter retreat.

It was warming up fast and I contemplated making my way back towards the truck when I decided to push on just a bit farther to see what was ahead. Up to this point I hadn’t seen the deer I normally do. I spotted a pretty good clearing ahead and quickly noticed a doe in the middle, alone and feeding. I watched her and spied around to see if there may be a buck nearby. She fed on and into the timber as I crept forward.

Just like a ghost emerging from the darkness; a doe erupted from the timber and ran into the meadow about 200 yards away. Something had to be pestering her. Just then a nice buck emerged with his nose pressed to the ground. He was a dandy 5 point for this area and very conducive for a closer look!

Nothing separated us but the clean air and frosty open meadow. He began to push that doe up a small hill across the meadow as I moved along the edge of the timber only when they were not looking my way. I contemplated pulling my HUD out and fixing it on my bow but decided to get closer before doing so. The doe finally moved over the hill and the buck stopped to rub a tree allowing me to close the gap a bit more. Just before he went over the hill he looked back to see if anybody may come into his bedroom it seems. I remember seeing his antler tips disappear as he went over the hill and then it was game time!

I was within 100 yards now as I quickly put boots to ground and crossed the meadow. Upon reaching the bottom of the hill I removed my pack and pulled out my whitetail buck decoy and fixed it to my bow. The foam antlers were positioned and I was ready within 30 seconds. I worked my way up the hill and just before cresting the top I removed an arrow from the quiver and snapped the nock onto the string. I was inching forward where the doe had crossed trying to make it appear that another buck was on her trail. I spotted her just ahead looking back at me. She was concerned but not spooked. She was probably thinking, “Great, I have to deal with another hormone intoxicated buck…..what gives?” But regardless I kept pushing forward with no sign of the buck.

I stopped and let out a grunt hoping this would make the buck appear but nothing happened. The doe was standing 40 yards away in the bottom of the small draw. The buck was nowhere to be seen. Just then another doe came running into the draw as if she was being pushed by a buck and not far behind her the buck stepped out below me at 35 yards with his head to the ground. He had no idea I was there and he quickly took up pursuit of the doe heading up the opposite side of the draw. I ranged him as he walked up the hill…..41, 43, 45 and I grunted stopping him at 47 yards as he turned broadside and looked back at me.

As soon as he seen the decoy he postured up, pinned his ears back and let out a magnificent snort-wheeze. He was ready for a fight and I am sure he would have came right into my lap if I wanted to let him. He was ready to close the distance but I opted to take my shot then. I lowered my range finder. My release hooked my d-loop and the string tightened as my muscles worked together to bring the bow back to full draw. I completely forgot about the decoy as I split my 40 and 50 yard pin and held low behind his shoulder. He was mad there was another buck close to his girl. As soon as he moved his near side shoulder ahead my release spit out the loop and the energy of the limbs projected my arrow forth. I couldn’t have placed that arrow in a more perfect spot! The sound of the broadhead making contact is a sound I crave and can never forget!

The buck make a quick sprint up the opposite hill away from me as I could see blood pumping out of both sides. He wouldn’t be going far after he went out of sight. I picked up my crimson red colored arrow and another smile and warm feeling came over me. I couldn’t help but stare at it for a bit with a huge grin. Weight was lifted off my shoulders as I knew I was punching another tag today.

70 yards from where that buck was standing had me admiring a truly handsome specimen. I knelt down in front of the buck taking his antlers in my hands, feeling his soft coat and praising the Lord and the powers that be for allowing me another amazing experience. The meat of this buck will bring many good meals my family’s way!  

I headed back to gather up my belongings and put my pack back together and prepare for the pack out. I rested my bow with the decoy still attached up against a tree and was replaying the events in my mind when I heard a buck grunt. I looked up and noticed a young buck following the does scent right to where I stood. As soon as he saw the decoy he froze in his tracks and became aggressive but knew the buck looked bigger. He circled my position as I was able to get away with the movement of taking my camera out of my pack. At 15 yards I know he could see me moving but the decoy had his mind locked that I was another buck. Amazing what these decoys can do!

Without the Heads Up Decoy on this hunt I don’t think I would have gotten a shot at that buck. The decoy kept that doe at bay allowing me to slip into range on the buck. Without the decoy they would have taken off leaving me pondering the what ifs and should haves. I have had numerous experiences using various HUD’s and each time they have helped me in my quest for putting meat in my freezer.

After caping and deboning the buck I had a 4.5 mile pack out and with each step of the way I had a smile on my face! Another day of going in light and coming out heavy! I love this game! God is Great!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Short and Sweet

by Nathan Sullivan

Short and sweet…that pretty much sums up my Mule Deer hunt this year. As any Mule Deer fanatic can attest to, it’s not often that you are able to put your tag on a buck on the very first stalk of the year. But, as I have learned the last couple of years while using Heads Up Decoys and hearing stories from others who have also, opportunities can be created when conditions are less than ideal.

This hunt began at first light checking some areas that have held big bucks in the past. We were hoping to turn up one of the shooter bucks that my hunting buddy Justin had recently found. Shortly after sunrise we spotted a small buck running a doe about a mile away and drove around on another road to get a better look and to see if any other deer were nearby. While glassing the smaller buck and doe from a closer vantage point we looked up just as a big buck was coming over the hill. It was immediately obvious that this buck was a shooter as he headed down the hill looking for a hot doe.  By now we realized we had come a little too close to the action as the small buck was now pushing the doe within 200 yards of us and we could not get in a better position to make a move on the shooter buck that was now closing fast. As luck would have it, the doe wasn’t hot and the young buck quickly lost interest and they parted ways. As the big buck dropped into the draw he watched the smaller buck leaving and heading down the valley just below our position.

The stage was now set for deployment of the Mule Deer doe decoy. When the big buck briefly disappeared in some thick weeds I quickly popped the decoy into the bow mount and used what little cover was available to crawl down the hillside to get to the bottom of the draw. When I reached the bottom I quickly realized that the weeds were much taller than I had anticipated and was worried that I would not be able to get a shot even if the buck did come within bow range. At this point I had nothing to lose and held the doe decoy up high enough for the buck to see it above the weeds. By the time I realized the buck had spotted the decoy and was coming my way he had already closed the gap by fifty yards. The next 20-30 seconds were some of the most exciting moments of my 20-plus year bowhunting career. I knew he would have to be close to get a shot in the tall weeds but I had one open lane out to about 15 yards if he would only choose the right path.

As what usually happens he was not going to come through the opening and was staying in the thickest cover as evidenced by his towering rack pushing through the five foot tall weeds. By now I was well aware that things were about to get very intense as he was closing fast and his current heading would have him stepping into the open at a mere 4 steps. Not wanting to get pinned down at full draw without a shot, I waited as long as I thought I could to draw my bow. Finally, with the bruiser buck at less than 10 yards, I knew I had to make my move. As he went behind an especially thick clump of vegetation I knew it was now or never and quickly came to full draw. As a testament to the keen senses of a mature buck, even when fully convinced that there is a doe to check out, the buck caught just enough movement to momentarily spook him. As he bounded out of the weed patch I stood up and grunted loudly with my mouth to stop him. He still wasn’t sure what he had seen and only trotted a short distance before stopping to look back and try to locate the doe that he thought was there. By this time my pin was already settling on his vitals. I immediately knew the 35 yard shot was perfect on the slightly quartering-away buck and that he would not go far. In fact, he only made it about 40 yards before tipping over in plain sight. Justin was able to see the shot from his vantage point and we both were almost in shock at what had just happened. We estimated it had only been about 6-8 minutes since we first spotted the buck coming over the hill and now we were standing over him admiring his huge back forks, heavy mass and long main beams.

This was a perfect scenario to use the doe decoy—the target buck was alone and looking for does and he watched the young buck heading in my direction and wasn’t about to let him potentially steal a hot doe. It was also a case where we would not have attempted a stalk on this buck in his present location without the decoy. There was very little wind that morning to cover sound and movement and we already were too close to back out and wait for the buck to present a better opportunity. But instead of watching the buck and wandering how we could attempt a stalk, we were able to make the buck come to us.

As bowhunters we have to enjoy every part of a long season full of close calls and what-ifs, but every once in a while it’s nice to have a hunt that is short and sweet. I owe all the credit for this hunt to a great friend who was willing to let me try my crazy plan and to Heads Up Decoy.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

2013....Bitter and Sweet

I'm pretty sure there wasn't a more challenging year than 2013 for Heads Up Decoy. I entered the year literally full of my self...confident, cocky, and optimistic for the months ahead. Despite the planning and the projecting...things don't always go as planned.

It was apparent my torn up ankle was going to need major repair. High school and college athletics along with multiple sprains while in the field took it's toll and I no longer had a stable foundation to do the things I enjoy...bowhunting and playing with my kids. If things went well, I'd be out of the boot by mid April and hunt the first part in the boot.

The turkey season was a full of miscues, debacles, and mother nature not letting go of winter. The snow and cold was ridiculous and relentless. We had some bad hunts...and some not so bad hunts. I was unable to wrap a tag around a bird...something I didn't think possible with our history of proficiency with the Heads Up Turkey Decoy. However, I was witness to a great hunt with Prostaffer David Gillan. We called and decoyed a tom in from several hundred yards. He came on a "dead" run.

The late spring and summer brought a renewed optimism. Even though things with the company were challenging, bowhunting or thinking about bowhunting always makes things seem better...or less of a hassle.

The ankle was feeling okay and exercising regimes seemed to be working as I prepared for a 2013 Colorado elk hunt. With mother nature still being unfriendly, I bailed on my own hunt. I left Colorado in a rainy haze that resembled my confidence as a big game bowhunting, person, friend, husband, dad, and business owner. The question was, Am I washed up? Were my best days as a bowhunter gone...not that they were that great?

So many people write about redemption this or redemption that after a bad hunt, there was no redemption for me...I just wanted to start getting close to animals...then kill them. A feeling I don't get often. I enjoy the hunt. The kill is anti-climatic...but this industry can sometimes cloud the simple enjoyments of the things that started in the heart of a young bowhunter. Course, I wasn't getting close to anything...so my frustrations were mounting.

November was quickly upon me, family obligations, and limited time was adding to the pressure. Remember...I did not shoot a buck in 2012 or a turkey in the spring. I must be washed up. My shooting was way off...so far off...I changed bows in mid season. I could not go afield with confidence with my "old" bow. I was able to get a loner from our local dealer...which I now will have to purchase. A bow that fits me better and one that is way more comfortable. AND, one that seemed to hit everything I aimed at.

On the 10th of November, I was cruising a route on my way to town to meet up with my older brother who had decided McDonald's sounded better than hunting. I was not going to give up precious time afield so I took my time glassing historic haunts of great bucks...and what in my wandering eyes should appear...a GREAT buck in a perfect spot.

The plan was on...shoot that buck with the buck decoy in my bow mount with a Hoyt Spider I have shot 30 times...maybe...with a 15 mph wind. What was I thinking?...I wasn't. A confident bowhunter knew it just might work if I can get into position. When my pin stuck to the buck's vitals...it was over in an instance and confidence and belief in my ability restored. Even when things start out so bad...perseverance, family, friends, and a great product can see you through. I am blessed. Be Mobile...Stay Mobile. F.A.B.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

A Successful September...

   My 2013 archery season started earlier than ever this year when I headed to south central Colorado on August 30th for my first elk hunt. Two of my best friends volunteered their services and we set out on a short hunt for the first five days of the season. A quick scouting trip was made in early August and we received some tips from a few local friends, but for the most part we were going in complete virgins. No elk were harmed or hardly even put in harm's way that week, but I'm not sure we could have had a better hunt. Of course a kill would have been miraculously special. However, in the 5 days on the mountain we had some very exciting moments. Everything from a 20 yard bear encounter, to some great action in a wild thunderstorm, and eventually a very close call with a bull we were on for 3 days, accumulated to make one hell of an inaugural elk hunt for three rookie flatlanders. I'll be back as soon as life permits...

   Fast forward three weeks to September 20th and I found myself rolling west again, for what I've stated on the blog before as my favorite weekend of the entire year, Kansas antelope season. This year was extremely special as my uncle Keith accepted my invitation to join me. Keith is the very reason I am a bowhunter and has allowed me some opportunities not many kids get growing up as aspiring hunters. For that I am incredibly grateful and I hoped this hunt was somewhat of a repayment, however small it might be compared to what I owe.

   We met the evening before opening day to do a quick scouting session and set up a ground blind. The plan was for Keith to sit water for the good part of three days while I employed my usual attack, whatever in the heck seems like it will work at any given time! For those who aren't aware, Kansas pronghorn are few and far between. Thus success rates are quite low. Couple that with increased hunting pressure and unusually heavy rains in August/September for parts of western Kansas, it didn't take long to figure out that water probably wasn't our best bet.

   I spent much of the first day and a half dogging a big buck I'd been after for three consecutive seasons now. This year it was apparent "Spyro", as we came to call him due to a broken horn that healed and regrew in a spiral pointing straight up, had passed his prime and had little interest in the ongoing rut or any other antelope whatsoever. I would split time when Spyro wasn't hanging in an ideal location with a couple other nearby groups that had mature herd bucks and sizable harems of does.

   On day one a three hour stalk ended with a long miss after the Heads Up buck pulled one of them to 60 yards as he tried to keep track of his 18 ladies. Day two began with a very close call and another swing and miss at Spyro after he bedded in a yucca filled piece of pasture in his small home area. Quite disappointed, just as I was the year prior after chasing Spyro for a day and a half only to watch him chase a doe onto a neighboring property and be held there by other hunters, I headed to a spot I'd had good luck getting close to a herd that routinely lived near some standing corn. Once again this same group would spend most of their days on the north side of a strip of corn normally sheltering them from a stiff south breeze and passersby on the nearby county road. This setup actually allowed me to take a buck in 2012 after I had missed the same buck using the same tactic the year prior. Hoping that it would work as in years past I headed down the edge and quickly made it to 85 yards on the closest does. I figured it was only a matter of time before the buck circled his harem and allowed for a shot. After a couple hours, rising temperatures, and a stiffening wind began to dry me out the group had moved a little farther from the edge and appeared to be bedding up for the afternoon siesta. I decided to retreat to grab some lunch and wait for them to get back on their feet. As I began my move out of the chest high corn I took a couple looks back towards the herd just to make sure I wasn't being picked off. Between two of my checks the buck had apparently decided I was a young buck and closed the distance between the herd and myself in a matter of seconds. I fumbled around to nock an arrow as he had closed to under 30 yards, but had to watch him spin, collect his does, and move off a half mile or so just as quickly as he'd charged. The does were never alerted to my presence though and it was obvious this buck was a prime candidate for a decoy.

   I returned to my uncle's blind to find him ready for something a little more action packed. We took a tour of the surrounding area and made it back to our primary location after a few hours. Just as I had expected the does from the same group I was on earlier had moseyed back towards the corn in the midst of a hot windy September afternoon. The buck was standing guard nearby. In no time the two of us were within 200 yards of the group and my uncle was hanging the Heads Up out of the edge of the corn. Some of the herd picked up the intruder after a couple minutes and the buck was soon to spot us as well. He went into a stiff legged walk with his head held high and hair standing straight. Instantly he broke into a dead sprint and in no time stood broadside at 60 yards. I had come to full draw as he hit top speed and settled my pin on him while he decided whether to continue his charge or replay his escape from a few hours earlier. As he was deciding on the safe choice I let my arrow fly. In the stiff south Kansas breeze it caught the buck solid, and allowed for closing arrow in the corn a short while after his final charge.

    Calling this hunt special would be an understatement. It will be one of those few moments in life I can replay in my mind as clearly as it happened for years and years to come. Having my uncle running the decoy and seeing the enjoyment he expressed only adds to that memory. I know it may seem like it gets overplayed, but taking a kid hunting may be the greatest gift a hunter could ever give. It has been for me.


Friday, October 4, 2013

Doing the Right Thing

Contributed by Prostaffer Dennis Howell

There was a news flash today about some college football boys that went into a store, they thought was open. The door was unlocked and the lights where on. They waited for someone to show up, but no one did. They got what they needed and flashed the money to the camera and walked out. It made the national headline news. THEY DID THE RIGHT THING! The boys did right when no one was looking. They got rewarded for their honesty, as they should have. I hope some young kids look at their actions and follow what they saw.
We, as hunters are always out there by ourselves with no one watching. We think!  We are always trying to do right. When no one is around is when our ethics will show who we are as a person. I have always thought that,” Do as you would want someone to do to you”.

On my Utah mule deer hunt, I went up early Friday with my two mules and myself and packed into my favorite basin for mule deer. I got my camp all set up and then started to get my hunting pack ready for the morning opener. I went to get in my pack and then I realized that I had left my deer tag in my folder on my desk at home. Wow 3 hours from home with no tag what a good way to start a hunt. I went down  the mountain to get some cell phone coverage and called my wife. She said she would start driving and save me over two hours of windshield time.  What would we do without our best friends, our spouse's!
I met up with her and turned around and drove 2 hours back to the trailhead only to climb another 2 hours to my camp. It was 11.30pm before I got to bed. I did the right thing by making the effort to be legal and having my tag with me. I talked to several people that said they would have just hunted. I figured that if I did not have a tag in my pocket then the deer I killed would have been illegal. So I was good! I DID THE RIGHT THING!

Recently, I called one of my buddies. I said, “What are you doing” he said “I am skinning my deer out.” I said” So you got your Utah deer.” No I got my Colorado deer. I said “ That is great but the season does not start till Saturday. He  said “ No it starts on the 28th. I said  “OK but I think you are wrong. Well, a long story short, while we are on the phone he looks up his tag. The phone goes quite then I hear. O my God! Dennis I made a bad mistake!  So we start talking. He decides he is going to talk to his wife and then decide what to do. He asked me what I would do and I said 'no deer is worth getting in trouble over'. I would call and turn my self in. I told him to make a good example of himself and not a bad one. He is a pro staffer for several companies and he had a lot to lose if he DID NOT DO THE RIGHT THING! So this morning I get a call and he said he was going to turn him self in. I said “Great”.

I was glad that he had decided to call and turn himself in. As ethical hunters, we need to know that it is way better to confess than to hide our mistake. The fines and the embarrassment are way easier to deal with than the guilt a person would face trying to hide a violation.

He meet the officer at the state line and the officer told him that if he would not have turned himself in they could have taken his truck, and his weapon. They could have fined him a 2000.00 dollar fine, and 750 dollar trophy fee. Ultimately, they confiscated his animal and fined him a small amount.

The point I am making here is for us hunters to DO THE RIGHT THING! We need to set a good example if we do wrong. Our young people are watching every move we make. We need to set the bar high for our youth, and our peers that admire what DIY hunters do. We are the directors of the show that we are producing, so let us win an Emmy for our performance in the field of ethics and moral performances.

Good luck this season. I hope to see you at some of the shows this year. Grab your decoy and get out and hunt!!

Monday, September 16, 2013

First Blood by Tony Dopita

Courtesy of Tony Dopita

November 18, 2012.

As any typical morning hunt starts off we are faced with decisions. Where am I going to hunt, what tactics am I going to use. After my alarm went off, my wife said "I had a dream you got your deer!" Of course my response was "where at?" and "how big was he?" She wasn't much help in that department...

My typical morning drive to any of my deer hunting sites is about 30 minutes, just enough time to finalize my game plan for the hunt. I had been using my H.U.D whitetail buck and doe decoys in combinations, setting them up about 15-25 yards downwind of my tree stand. With rut in full affect and bucks more interested in breeding, rather than fighting, I wasn't having much success. So on this particular morning I decided to setup just my H.U.D. Whitetail doe decoy.

The location I was going to hunt was on a field edge, with a very strong line of active field edge scrapes. Before climbing into my tree stand I setup the decoy clipped to a barb wire fence downwind from my tree stand and the last active scrape in the line. As the sky was turning orange, I started glassing all around. Right there, about 150 yards south was the split G2 buck I was looking at pictures of the night before. I started bleating, only to see him chase the real thing.. Luckily that doe must not have been hot. I kept bleating, all of a sudden he turned and started coming in. I slowed down and softened the bleat call as he disappeared in the tree line. I kept glassing for him, as he emerged from the wooded background he instantly locked eyes with my H.U.D. doe decoy. 75 yards quickly closed to 30, where he made the fatal mistake to stop. My shot wasn't the best, but my setup was PERFECT!! This day was the shortest time I had ever sat in a tree stand. My split G2 buck was down in the dirt a few minutes before sunrise. Thanks Heads Up Decoy for making a great light weight decoy! I don't think he would of came closer than 75 yards without the decoy!!

This is Tony's first bow kill.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

2012 P&Y Quebec Labrador Caribou

Contributed by Prostaffer Gary Martin

On Sept 18th 2012 I was finally successful in shooting my record P&Y Quebec Labrador caribou. It's funny how things can go in full circle. Twenty seven years ago I hunted Quebec Labrador caribou with Jack Hume's Adventures. On my last day I killed two caribou one cow and one bull. I was told the bull wouldn't make P&Y book so we cut the horns in half.  We were wrong! Five caribou hunts and twenty seven years later I was back with Jack Hume's Adventures and his son Richard and his wonderful wife Amanda were running the operation. They have an awesome outfit but, it's all about caribou. The Canadian caribou outfitters have had a rough go the last ten years or so with the caribou migration and herd populations. Many outfitters had hard times and some went out of business. The migration patterns had changed and disease impacted the caribou population. Herd numbers had exceeded one million and now were estimated at 400,000. I lost my full cost of hunt to Tuttulik  outfitters when they went out of business. Jack Hume's adjusted his business practices to remain in the game. He increased prices to purchase more camps and offer to move hunters to another camp if caribou weren't in the camp you were dropped off at.

When we arrived in camp on September 15th the guys who were there had been successful, but no animals that were P&Y class. On the second morning while we were in camp Nick saw six bulls crossing the lake right next to camp. We took after them and Nick  killed One!!!! Those were the only bulls we saw the first three days.  I was concerned after three days of minimal caribou sightings. On the fourth day Jack Hume's moved us to two other camps. The caribou were there but, it wasn't going to be a cake walk. The fifth day brought us a snow storm. It was one of those windy wet snowstorms. We were pretty bundled up with our rain suits on. My guide (Rick Drudge) and I witnessed several big bulls fighting about a 1/2 mile away. We decided to try to make a stalk on them. When we got closer I proceeded ahead on my own.
I was able to get within 150 yards and then I ran out of cover. I was thinking about rushing them and then I saw the group of a dozen cows standing close by and was concerned they would warn the fighting bulls. I vowed to be patient and suddenly one bull started to head in my direction. It was the smaller of the two, but I was thinking about shooting him. That quickly passed when I caught a glimpse of the bigger bull following him out of the corner of my eye. I waited for the smaller bull to walk by my hiding spot  in several small conifers. I drew on the big bull as he approached, but I was having a problem with my release because I had my rain suit hood pulled over my head. My release went off accidentally as I was trying to find my anchor point. Oh my gosh!! It shocked the bull a little but he stopped, quartering  away at a distance that was pushing the envelope on my range limitations.  I hit my anchor and released the arrow, hitting him back, but he reacted very positive from the standpoint of hitting something vital. We were able to track him with the blood on the fresh snow and before long we caught up with him. He was still alive, but we could see he was hurting because he was limping and he had bedded down several times. Once we caught up to him he was down and exhausted. I was excited but apprehensive. He was a dandy bull but I was not sure if  he would make 325 P&Y minimum.
We took a lot of pictures and then the work began. We cut, caped and quartered him. After packing him up among us we made the long hike back to camp. I slept good that night. God and my friends helped me accomplish another one of my hunting goals!

Great Friends make success even sweeter!

The next and last day of our hunt started out good. I went with Don and he was able to harvest a cow and a nice bull that day with his bow. Brian killed two nice caribou also and Nick was able to kill his second one. What a trip! We all had successfully taken one or more caribou.  Great outfitter, guides, accommodations, meal and last but not least stronger friendships. Thanks again to all. God Bless and Happy journeys. Gary

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Spring Time: A Season for Shed Antlers and Longbeards

by Matt Palmquist
As hunters we all live for the fall months. September in the mountains and November pursuing rutting deer is hard to beat, but I enjoy the spring more and more. It is refreshing to get some warmer weather after enduring the cold, lack luster months bridging the gap between hunting seasons. As the days lengthen and the temperature rises it means that turkey season is approaching and exploring deer bedding areas for shed antlers is finally here. I typically avoid these areas like the plague from late summer through the fall and can’t wait for the first expedition into my core areas in search of sign left by rutting bucks and hopefully find some hard evidence that a good buck survived the deer seasons. 
I always get impatient when the warm days arrive and enter some of my areas too early. It is hard to find many antlers when you watch them all run off into the
distance. This resulted in several hikes that netted very few sheds, but it was still great to scout for sign. Several late snows kept me out for a while and allowed the deer to drop their antlers without being disturbed. I was anxious to get back a field, but the time off paid in results. Several short trips resulted in 20+ antler days, which always makes it more fun!!
There were still plenty of antlers left throughout the prairie, but when April finally arrived my focus was turned towards chasing love sick gobblers with my Heads Up Decoy! I was lucky enough to hunt with my brother Lucas and my nieces and nephew for the opening weekend. High winds resulted in tough hunting but we were able to use the HUD to fill a couple of tags before the weekend was over. We had to work for every opportunity we got. The birds weren’t very aggressive yet so we spent most of the time crawling towards the birds hoping to get a response. I was lucky enough to find a group of toms that were ready to challenge the encroaching turkey and arrowed my bird at 10 yards with the HUD in my bow mount. Talk about a rush!!
I still have another tag left to fill before the season is over. We are blessed in Kansas to be able to hunt until the end of May. Most years the foliage is tall and it gets hard to locate birds late in the season, but this year it has been cold and windy throughout most of April delaying spring growth close to a month. Due to Mother Nature I think the best is yet to come and I can’t wait to get back after them!! Good luck to everyone that is still out hoping to punch a tag or two!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


By Lincoln McClure

With turkey season fast approaching here in Kansas I sit at my desk staring out the window behind my computer screens (yes there are two of them).  I think about my performance and success during the 2012 hunting seasons and how I can improve to make this year even better.  While the previous year has left me with much to desire going into a new round of seasons, I am not disappointed with my triumphs.

2012 started well for me with the harvest of my first double on turkeys which was self filmed with two different cameras.  Though I have been criticized by some for my active participation in the shooting of young turkeys.  I will continue to shoot Jakes as long as they come to my decoy, because it is really fun and man do they taste great.  Due to the lack of a hunting partner at the time and my need to successfully capture my hunts on film, I did unfortunately shoot my turkeys out of a ground blind.  But lucky me the Heads Up Decoy Tom Turkey works no matter how you use it.

After turkey season I made the move from Western Nebraska to North-East Kansas.  Excited about living in a new area that is prime habitat for big whitetails I began to prepare for deer season.  After months of practice and shooting the Kansas deer season was approaching and the time came for me to find a place to hunt.  After countless hours of driving around and knocking on doors to no avail I resorted back to what I have been so accustomed to over the past several years, Public Land.  After finally finding a Public spot I felt was far enough away from the Public, I hung my stand and anxiously waited the final two weeks for season to start.

My first trip out for the year ended well with the harvest of a whitetail doe 45 minutes after I climbed into the tree.  This was also the first time I had killed a deer while wearing Blaze Orange as it was the last day of Muzzleloader season.  After a couple more trips out without even a glimpse of a decent buck I decided it was time for a change of scenery and planned a trip to Nebraska for a week.  On the way I decided to stop in North-West Kansas for a weekend hunt with my dad and friend from Colorado.  We had permission for the weekend to hunt a piece of land I have hunted most of my life but was going to be leased for hunting soon.  We checked the pasture on Saturday and didn't see a single deer.  Sunday was a different story.  We spotted two mulie Does laying in a deep cut and they had us pegged.  After the Does left we glassed another cut and spotted a decent buck laying all by himself, the stalk was on.

While getting ready for the stalk I handed the Heads Up Decoy Mule Deer Doe to my friend who was running the camera and he said he didn't think we needed it since the buck was almost asleep.  I told looked at him and said "It weighs less than a pound and could be the difference between harvesting this buck and not harvesting him, so we are taking it."  He agreed.  The stalk to the buck was successful though he smelled us at the last minute and ran out to 40 yards.  It was windy, and the shot was far back.    We watched the buck lay down 100 yards from where I shot him and went and found the arrow, which was covered in dark red blood.  I knew at that moment my arrow had angled good enough to catch liver and he was done for.  After giving the buck some time I decided we would sneak up to where we had seen him lay down and see if he had expired or not.  As we approached the buck I spotted his antlers sticking up from a large group of yuccas.  I walked around to find the buck laying up against them with his nose in the ground and his head upright.  While the buck looked dead I knew something wasn't right, so I drew back and he met the Grim Reaper for the second time that day.  He sprung to life and after a short run down the hill I had harvested my first mule deer with a bow.  And even though we didn't use the Heads Up Decoy, you know it was right there in case we needed it.

So What I am taking with me from 2012 into this new year of hunting seasons is that even though I had a very successful year (with the harvest of my first double on turkeys, my first Mule Deer, and Shooting 100% during deer season for the second year in a row)  I still have much to accomplish in this great sport.  My goal for this year is to harvest my first Pronghorn, an animal that has eluded me for far too long.  In conclusion to this post is a short video of my hunts from 2012, I hope you enjoy it.

Sunday, January 13, 2013


Changing The Way You Hunt

by: Evan R. Williams

I peered through the gap between my riser and my Heads Up Decoy Mule Deer to see that I had another 140 yards to close to be within bow range of M3.  I had already maneuvered my way in from 600 yards but he was beginning to move with the rest of the bachelor group of bucks and I needed things to change in my favor soon to get this done.

All of a sudden twenty yards to my right I jumped a doe out of her bed I hadn’t seen before and I thought it was all over.  With the wind in my favor I froze hoping she would remain calm and begin feeding.  To my astonishment I looked up and the entire bachelor group of five had turned, heading directly for me. 

There are few products in the hunting industry that truly change the way we hunt.  With a multitude of accessories to pick from designed to aim better, shoot straighter, or some how improve the way we harvest animals there is only one product that I have used in the last few years that has CHANGED the way I hunt.  This is the story of that change:

This story dates back to 2010 when Garrett and I spoke on the phone for the first time.  I work at the local Pro-Shop in Colorado Springs and one day I received a phone call about a new decoy: The Heads Up Decoy!  Garrett and I shared a nice conversation and I remember while on the phone looking up his website and thinking, ‘it’s a cool idea but that’ll never work, HOW and WHEN can I use this?’  Everything I knew about decoys from experience and reading told me that it wouldn’t but what I couldn’t shake from my mind was they were from my “Hometown”. 

I continued to follow Garrett and the team harvesting elk, mule deer, and antelope but what really grabbed my attention was their exploits with turkeys!  Stalking them in open fields and having successes where other, “conventional”, methods simply weren’t working.

During the 2011 Spring Turkey season in Kansas I had some of the worst luck I have ever experienced! Call shy birds, huge flocks, or simply non-responsive birds in the middle of 140+ acres of drilled wheat and alfalfa with no way of getting to them.  Now was the time!

Before the 2012 Spring Turkey season rolled around I knew I was going after the birds from the previous season.  I had spent 2 years trying to get at these thunder chickens and this was the year.  I called Garrett and ordered my turkey!  With AMAZING results we were on TONS of birds all spring and filled both of my tags!  I immediately ordered the Mule Deer and Elk.  I now knew how to use this decoy and exactly where!  The Colorado High Country!

Spring 2012 H.U.D Double!

Hunting Mule Deer in the High Country is the ultimate challenge for a DIY Hunter.  They are in bachelor groups, feeding patterns (which is the best news), above timberline in the open, and NOT in the breeding mood so calling, etc isn’t going to help you.  It’s hunting an animal in his home, on his terms, and you are completely out matched.  Let’s face it the odds aren’t good, but that’s my passion!

I was unsuccessful in the draw for Colorado during the 2012 archery season, however, I was fortunate that a week before the season I received a phone call from a good buddy who had found an archery voucher for mule deer in a unit I have never stepped foot into or, for that matter, looked at on a map!  But I had to have a mule deer tag in my pocket so with five days before the season it was crunch time and I jumped at the chance.

I picked up the voucher and immediately began going over Google Earth, topo maps, calling anyone and everyone that I knew trying to get information, including speaking to a few local taxidermists.  I was working twelve-hour days at the shop getting home and spending another four on the computer trying to put together a game plan.

My 8 days was split into two trips.  The first was a week into the season and was going to be a quick three-day excursion.  Followed by a week back at work and then another five-day trip.  The goal was to cover a lot of ground on the first trip, locate a buck and kill him on the second trip and away we went.

On the last afternoon of my three-day scouting trip I saw him: M3.  Quite possibly the largest 3X3 Mulie I had ever seen! I judged him in the 150-155” class.  The best part about the situation was that he only had a one buck entourage that was a 4X4 in the low 160s and a high country buck I wouldn’t mind putting one of my mullet arrows through (A mullet arrow is a fancied up shaft with wrap and vanes party style and a broadhead on the front for business).  Game on for round 2!

My mind just couldn’t get over the size of M3.  I was sure that I had seen him wrong and there were really crab fronts or I had just not seen him right.  I had a few other places on my mind that I really wanted to see so as I closed up the shop and began my drive I decided to hit some new country.  After two days of seeing nothing but does in some new basins my mind was made up.  I now had three days to seal the deal and almost a two-hour drive from one trailhead to the other. 

I didn’t see M3 at all that morning and began to get nervous that I had made a big mistake not getting in there sooner and wasting time the previous two days until 1 hour before last light he emerged from his willow bed and began feeding.  All alone and with nothing for stalk able cover between us I watched him as light faded, knowing I would find him close in the gray light of morning.

As the sun began to rise the next morning I found myself unable to greet the morning rays.  I was physically so exhausted from work and hiking over so much new area trying to cover ground to find animals my alarm had no affect.  When I finally struck out from camp my only thought was to go into the willows where I had seen him emerge from the night before and hope he was still around.

Eight hours later with light fading and feeling that I had to MAKE something happen I began still hunting through the willows and came up with nothing.  I began trudging back to camp when I looked up and spotted him feeding up the drainage sixty yards below my camp!  It was now or never.  The grass was tall enough to allow me to move and still provide sparse cover but it was a bold attempt at an open stalk.  Grabbing my Heads Up Decoy off my pack I began my approach angling slightly ahead of the direction they were heading.

With 200 yards between us my over eagerness cost me.  From my right popped up a doe.  In my haste to cut off the bachelors I hadn’t taken the time to do the most critical thing…GLASS.  My heart sunk as I huddled down and knew it was over.  All I needed was 140 yards and I would have been well within my effective bow range and because I got in a hurry it was all over.  As I sat and watched that doe I began to realize that she didn’t care I was there.  My Heads Up Decoy calmed her down and within minutes she was feeding twelve yards from me without a care!

What happened next may be one of my most memorable moments while mule deer hunting. As I am admiring the fact that this doe is paying no attention to me I looked back to the bucks and they were no longer feeding their way on the same vector.  They were now feeding directly at me!

With an arrow already nocked I remained in position as they began closing the distance.  180, 140, 100, 60, 40, 35 yards now stood between me, and the buck I had chosen to hunt, M3.  For more than three minutes he stood facing directly at me feeding and I decided to make a decision.  At thirty-five yards with my selection of broadheads I was going to run it right down the center and take a frontal shot.

As he lowered his head to feed I eased up on my knees preparing to draw while the other four bucks came wandering up behind him.  I had forgot about them because my focus was so narrowed I had stopped paying attention to the others that were walking at a much slower pace behind M3 and now were adding to the number of eyes.  To my surprise he took a few steps closer and turned broadside. 

As he lowered his head to feed I didn’t hesitate.  M3 was now standing at thirty yards and all I had to do was draw, anchor and squeeze.


The familiar sound of my arrow-penetrating hide confirmed my shot as the whole group of deer scattered in every direction not knowing what just happened.  M3 ran forty yards and did a 180-degree turn to look back my direction and didn’t take another step.  I hit the ground rolling to my back celebrating my harvest.  Seconds seemed like an hour as the adrenaline from the encounter flooded over my body in waves. 

As I stood over M3 and said a prayer I couldn’t help but be reminded about my love for this majestic animal and my new decoy that will never be away from my side!