A very subtle noise. I reached out in the dark. It was 5:30 AM. My hand came to rest on Sam’s head – exactly on his head and another day was about to begin. Most days start this way for me. A loyal and devoted Labrador Retriever sitting on the carpet waiting for me to start today’s adventure. Sam has been around Kodabow for a decade. He has been to trade shows sleeping in a truck or tent overnight and occasionally seizing his own bed in a pretty decent hotel. He has met thousands of people and and has always been a perfect gentleman. When his mere presence was not acknowledged by a supplier or other business associate, it was always a signal to me to beware. In the very few instances where I was disappointed by someone who I regarded as a friend, Sam was 100% accurate in his early assessment. I have spent more time with him than any other living person or animal over the last dozen or so years. Dogs live about 14 years. I intend to make Sam’s retirement and his final years the best they can be. He is an exceptional dog.
2019 is the year that this bear hunter turned the corner …. some type of corner – I actually am not sure. It started in 2018 with a great bear hunt in Manitoba where I killed a nice Black Bear with my recurve bow . The three guys I hunted with were so terrific, we all decided to go again this year. We hunt with traditional bows but since I use carbon arrows (and not wooden arrows), I am included but generally viewed as a criminal the whole time we are in camp. The first evening I saw a nice color phase cinnamon colored boar. It was one of 14 bears I saw that evening and I passed on the shot at 7 yards. The outfitter said “someone will shoot that bear.” Sure enough, the next evening, he turned up in front of another hunter 1 1/2 miles away and met his demise. I felt a little sad.
I did not feel the need to kill any old bear just for the sake of killing another bear. So early on, my decision was to hunt for a very large boar and take that shot —- and only that shot.
I would see many bears every evening and became skilled at identifying the sows from the boars which actually is harder than one might think. When a sow is with cubs or when a sow can be seen to be a “wet sow” with tits hanging down — it is pretty straightforward. A dry sow is much harder and if a hunter does not take the time to study the bears, a mistake can be made. It is not illegal — except for shooting a sow with cubs — but after a few days, I was batting 100% with the bear ID piece and was pleased with myself. Every day was an adventure and there was tremendous enjoyment getting close to the bears — which is basically accomplished by doing everything you are not supposed to do around Black Bears. Sometimes – I would spend nearly an hour in the presence of a bear. The photo above is a boar I named Stumpy that was travelling with a sow. He hobbled into range with his girlfriend. It is never a good idea to give your quarry a name. I guessed Stumpy must of been caught in a trap or snare when he was young. With only 3 legs, he obviously experienced a rough life but was doing pretty good and I was simply not going to be the guy who made his day miserable.
So this hunt ended without taking a shot yet I was still very satisfied. The last evening , I was in a ground blind with a huge sow at 8 yards. So large —- if only it was a boar I said to myself. There was that little sketchy feeling — alone, no firearm, just my bow and some cut evergreen branches between me and the bear and 8 yards is pretty close. My heart was racing as it was all week. I think that is why I came.
New Mexico Odds
Can’t take a crossbow and use it in archery season. The odds are long anyway to draw any type of Elk tag for archery season and a vertical bow would be required. If I was to ever get a tag, I would still hunt with my traditional recurve just for the fun of it.
Half the NM Elk tags go to landowners. 80% of the other half of the tags that remain get allocated to residents. OK — the folks live there and that seems fair and sounds like it works till I talk to a gent with 7 family New Mexico Resident members who all applied for all types of tags (Elk, Mule Deer, Ibex, Pronghorn etc.) and not one of them drew a tag. Ouch.
If you are doing the math, most of the small piece left (after we cut the pie in half, gave that away ….and took 80% of the other half and gave that away)…. most of the small piece that remains goes to outfitters. And the smallest of all pieces goes to plain ole non-residents. Guys like me. Like 6% of the 2nd half of the pie. Then considering that the best areas are highly sought after, a non-resident might have a less than a 1% chance of getting drawn for a top region.
Some of the areas are truly a “OIL” tag. That means “Once in a Lifetime.” A tag can be drawn only once in your life. So in the world of hunting, it is nearly the equivalent of hitting the Powerball Lottery to get drawn for that tag. It is so exceptional if you are drawn for any of these special OIL areas – almost everyone who has ever hunted there will help you. They know they can never go back and will share their experiences freely. In some areas, there might be only 2 non-resident tags available and offered to all the non-resident hunters across the US.
I will be out of the office in September.
- More deer are being killed with crossbows in some states during the archery season than with vertical bows. It is not clear what this will mean long term but the purity of an archer heading afield with a longbow is becoming rare. When blaze orange is required in archery season, you will know that the world as we know it is about to end.
- The bows are getting faster and faster (so hunters miss quicker and quicker.) Shortly, crossbows just may approach the muzzle velocity of a .45 caliber handgun. Yet — at Kodabow, we have made straightforward, simple crossbows that have actually shot an arrow clean through a Cape Buffalo and Hippo but are slightly slower in comparison to some of the offerings today. There are pros and cons to everything but we would never take a crossbow with plenty of moving parts too far from home……like Africa.
- Crossbows are getting more complicated and expensive. A buyer has two choices. Spend a crazy amount of money like $2,200 or go the other way and spend $300. The middle ground is disappearing ….Kodabow still operates at $999 so we are a bit of an exception to this phenomena.
- Fewer hunters every year are making it more difficult for Fish and Game Departments in some places. They have less money. Not certain where it all leads but we do our best here at Kodabow to get every 13 year old we can off the couch and to put down the stupid video game. We also do our best to bring new folks into the shooting sports whether it is hunting, trapshooting or archery. One way to do that is to not act like a grumpy old gun club member with a “know it all” attitude. Put on a smile!
Thank you for your interest — be safe out there — and remember that most hunting accidents occur putting up treestands or just getting into them! My best, Chuck @ Kodabow