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PSE’s Bill Epeards Lives the Bowhunter’s Dream


Bill Epeards

Day 1: Shauna and Bill Epeards Take Turkeys with their PSE X-Force Axe 6 Bows

Editor’s Note: Bill Epeards of Goshen, Ohio, who has shot PSE bows for 32 years, has traveled the world and taken some legendary animals on some unbelievable hunts. A member of the Mossy Oak Pro Staff for more than 20 years, he works with “Jimmy Houston Outdoors” and has been on a world-champion archery target team. “I shot competition archery for a lot of years, but I got away from it,” Epeards reports. “Then I got with some other older fellows, and today we shoot the senior class of the Bowhunter Division of the IBO. We won the national championship for two consecutive years – 2008 and 2009 – and came in second in 2010. This four-man team is made-up of Mike Parker, Larry Vann, Billy Burns and I.” Epeards also guides and hunts in the United States. This week when we caught up with Epeards in Sweetwater, Oklahoma, where he was hunting turkeys, we asked him to tell us about some of his most-memorable hunts.

Question: Bill, who were you hunting with in Oklahoma?

Epeards: We were hunting out of Buffalo Creek Lodge that has property of over 6,000 acres in Oklahoma and Texas. On the first day of the hunt, I had my wife Shauna with me, and I was calling turkeys for her with a Quaker Boy Old Boss Hen and the World Champ, which are diaphragm turkey calls. I was also filming the hunt. She killed her Rio Grande gobbler and finished her Grand Slam of turkeys with the bow. We were hunting from a tent-style blind, and the turkey came within 27 yards. Shauna shoots the PSE X-Force Axe 6, which has a short draw length and a lot of speed. It has great accuracy, and she really likes shooting this bow. She shoots about 43 pounds of draw weight and a Trophy Ridge Rocket broadhead. When the bird came within 27 yards, she drew, aimed and hit the bird right by his wing, once she released the arrow. The shot broke the bird down immediately. This Rio gobbler weighed 20 pounds and had 1-1/2-inch spurs.

The following day, I went out to take my turkey, and we put a Dave Smith Decoy out in front of my hub-style blind. These decoys are phenomenal and look almost like stuffed birds. We got footage of gobblers coming-in and mounting this decoy. On this particular hunt, a jake came-in and mounted the decoy, and a longbeard came in to the decoy and ran-off the jake. After he’d run-off the jake, he went into a full strut and presented the shot. I shot my PSE X-Force Axe 6 with a Trophy Ridge Rocket broadhead and released the arrow when the gobbler was at 26 yards. Once the tom took the arrow, he only ran about 30 yards and then fell-over dead.

I really enjoy hunting turkeys with a bow, and if you’ve got a really-good decoy, a little calling expertise and a tent-type blind, bagging that longbeard isn’t nearly as difficult as you may think it will be. PSE makes the bows to put the birds down. All you have to do is find the turkeys, set-up properly, do a little-bit of calling and let the decoys do the rest. When the bird gets in close, take your time, make sure you’re solid before you shoot, and let your PSE bow do the rest. Spring is a great time to hunt turkeys with a bow.

Hank Parker Jr. Kentucky

PSE’s Bill and Shauna Epeards Have an Alligator Bowhunt of a Lifetime

Editor’s Note: Bill Epeards of Goshen, Ohio, who has shot PSE bows for 32 years, has traveled the world and taken some legendary animals on some unbelievable hunts. A member of the Mossy Oak Pro Staff for more than 20 years, he works with “Jimmy Houston Outdoors” and has been on a world-champion archery target team. “I shot competition archery for a lot of years, but I got away from it,” Epeards reports. “Then I got with some other older fellows, and today we shoot the senior class of the Bowhunter Division of the IBO. We won the national championship for two consecutive years – 2008 and 2009 – and came in second in 2010. This four-man team is made-up of Mike Parker, Larry Vann, Billy Burns and I.” Epeards also guides and hunts in the United States. This week when we caught up with Epeards in Sweetwater, Oklahoma, where he was hunting turkeys, we asked him to tell us about some of his most-memorable hunts. Before his Oklahoma hunt, he’d been on an alligator hunt.

Question: Bill, how did you go alligator hunting?

Epeards: I have what I call my Bucket List – the types of hunts I’ve always wanted to go on, so when I think of a hunt that I really want to do, I mentally put that hunt on what I call my Bucket List. If I can find the right time and the right outfitter, I want to take one of these hunts out of the bucket and try to go on that hunt. A trophy alligator hunt has been on my list for a long time. I’ve been gator hunting two other times, but I’ve never found the size of gator I really want to take.

Then I heard about Matt Cates at M&M Outfitters in Melbourne, Florida, who specializes in hunting alligators and hogs. We hunted about 45-minutes from Melbourne on private land. I took two judges with me from Michigan. They’d planned to hunt hogs with Cates, but when I started talking about hunting alligators, they decided they wanted to shoot gators too. So, before my hunt, they went out and shot a gator apiece with rifles. Then Matt and I went out hunting, and we found an alligator that looked like a dinosaur – 12-feet, 4-inches long that weighed close to 600 pounds. Once we took the gator, we put it on a scale that weighed-up to 500 pounds, and this gator bottomed-out the scale.

Question: Tell us about the hunt.

Epeards: Most alligator hunts are at night out of a boat. However, the wind had been bad down there, and we’d had some storms, so we were hunting alligators in-between the storms and the wind. We found this gator sunning itself on the bank at about 1:30 pm one day. We knew that this area where we were hunting was going to get severe storms that evening, so we decided to try to take that gator that afternoon. My guide said, “Bill, this alligator is at least 11-feet long. I need to look at its tail with my binoculars and make sure it hasn’t been bitten-off by another alligator in a fight. But right now, it looks like a good alligator for you to take.” The alligator was 75-80 yards from us when Cates started shaking the cattails.

We had to crawl across a potato field to get to the edge of the canal. Then we were on one side of the canal, and this monster-sized alligator was on the other side of the canal. This region had a heavy wind that day. Apparently the alligator had come-out of the reservoir, gone-up this canal and was lying in the sun out of the wind. We crawled close to our side of the canal, and my guide shook the cattails again. When the alligator saw the cattails move, it came-off its side of the canal like a rocket. It looked like a big submarine moving right toward us as it closed the distance from 75-yards away to come to us. My guide said, “Get ready. You’re probably going to have to take the shot quickly.” I was hunting with my PSE X-Force Axe 6. I had a Bohning fish arrow and a Ramcat broadhead I was planning to use. I also had a buoy tied on to the line of my fish arrow. The alligator came out of the water on my side of the canal and presented a shot at 10 yards. I shot the fish arrow right behind the alligator’s front leg. The big gator immediately wheeled and went back into the water. My guide told me the alligator would go down to the bottom and stay there for a while, before it would have to come-up for air.

About 45-mintues later, we saw the buoy moving, and the line we’d attached to the buoy coming back to the bank. Once the buoy began moving, we started pulling on the line attached to the fish arrow that had gone inside the gator. We had an airboat available that we could have used to chase the alligator. But my guide said, “Let’s try to get the gator to come out of the water again, so you can get another shot.” We pulled slightly on the line attached to the fish arrow and tried to lead the gator back to the bank. Finally, the gator started coming toward us again. When the gator came up again, it was less than 10-yards away, and I took the second shot with my PSE X-Force Axe 6. I was above the gator, and it was still in the water. When the arrow hit the gator, he took off again. Cates said, “The gator won’t stay-down long this time, because he’s going to have to come-up to get more air.” We got the gator up again. However, this time, instead of aiming behind the gator’s leg, I aimed for the neck area, hoping to get a shot in that would dispatch the gator quickly. I had a complete pass-through with that arrow. This time, the gator rolled, and when he finally quit rolling, we brought the gator out on the bank. The arrow had done its job.

We never had to use a bang stick or any type of firearm to complete the hunt. Five grown men were required to pull my gator out of the water. When we finally measured the gator, it taped-out at 12-feet, 4-inches long. I couldn’t believe how fortunate I was to take a trophy like this. The guides estimated the gator’s age at 60-years old. We took the gator to an alligator-processing business, which skinned and cut-up the gator. I got the meat to eat, and I’m going to have the alligator mounted life-size.

Day 3: Bill Epeards Learns that the PSE X-Force Bow Packs a Wallop for a Pachyderm

Bill Epeards

Editor’s Note: Bill Epeards of Goshen, Ohio, who has shot PSE bows for 32 years, has traveled the world and taken some legendary animals on some unbelievable hunts. A member of the Mossy Oak Pro Staff for more than 20 years, he works with “Jimmy Houston Outdoors” and has been on a world-champion archery target team. “I shot competition archery for a lot of years, but I got away from it,” Epeards reports. “Then I got with some other older fellows, and today we shoot the senior class of the Bowhunter Division of the IBO. We won the national championship for two consecutive years – 2008 and 2009 – and came in second in 2010. This four-man team is made-up of Mike Parker, Larry Vann, Billy Burns and I.” Epeards also guides and hunts in this United States. This week when we caught up with Epeards in Sweetwater, Oklahoma, where he was hunting turkeys, we asked him to tell us about some of his most-memorable bowhunts.

Question: Bill, what was one of your most-memorable bowhunts?

Epeards: I guess it was my hunt for the elephant. I’ve been fortunate enough to take an elephant, a Cape buffalo, a lion and a rhinoceros with my bow.

Question: Where were you hunting?

Epeards: I was hunting in Zimbabwe with Sigianuna Safaris with a guide, Raiin Vosloo. I shot my Cape buffalo, my lion and my rhino (which was a green hunt) with Raiin. When you’re bowhunting for dangerous game, you’re trusting your guides with your life, because when you’re hunting the big five, there’s a tremendous amount of danger involved.

Question: Which bow did you choose to take the elephant?

Epeards: To take an elephant with a bow, you’ve got to have a bow with a tremendous amount of kinetic energy. I shot the PSE X-Force at 98-pounds draw weight with Alaskan bowhunting supply arrows, because they make a dangerous game arrow that’s 1,600 grains. I was shooting an Ashby broadhead.

Question: How did you train for this hunt?

Epeards: When you’re pulling a bow that’s almost 100 pounds, you’ve really got to train hard. I shot 35 to 40 arrows every day before the hunt. To test the broadhead and the shaft, I shot the broadhead through a car door. I went to a salvage yard, and the owner let me shoot-through a car door to make sure that I could get the penetration I would need to take an elephant. When I got to Zimbabwe, I made several stalks. But each time we made a stalk, the elephant would wind us and run-off. On one stalk, the elephant charged us, and I couldn’t get-off a good shot.

Question: What did you do when you got charged?

Epeards: I backed-up really quickly. When you have an animal running at you with his trunk up and his ears flared-out that’s 11 feet at the shoulders, the time has come to move. I don’t care what you’ve got in your hand to stop him with. Rainn was standing right next to me with a .416 Rigby rifle. Luckily, the wind changed. Suddenly the elephant laid-back his ears, dropped his trunk and walked-away. On another stalk, we were moving close to two big bull elephants. I heard something to my left, and I whispered to Rainn, “I hear something to my left.” Suddenly, this big bull elephant came out at 37 yards, and I took the shot right behind the shoulder. The arrow buried-up all the way to its fletchings. I was really concerned about making sure I got the arrow past the ribcage without hitting the bone. Luckily I did. When the arrow took the elephant, he grunted and ran off. We wait for 2 hours and then brought-in the trackers. We tracked the elephant for about 250 yards and found him piled-up. What a tremendous hunt I experienced with my PSE X-Force bow.

Day 4: PSE’s Bill Epeards Says that to Take a Buffalo with His Bow, He Got in the Zone and Didn’t Worry about Danger

Bill Epeards

Editor’s Note: Bill Epeards of Goshen, Ohio, who has shot PSE bows for 32 years, has traveled the world and taken some legendary animals on some unbelievable hunts. A member of the Mossy Oak Pro Staff for more than 20 years, he works with “Jimmy Houston Outdoors” and has been on a world-champion archery target team. “I shot competition archery for a lot of years, but I got away from it,” Epeards reports. “Then I got with some other older fellows, and today we shoot the senior class of the Bowhunter Division of the IBO. We won the national championship for two consecutive years – 2008 and 2009 – and came in second in 2010. This four-man team is made-up of Mike Parker, Larry Vann, Billy Burns and I.” Epeards also guides and hunts in this United States. This week when we caught up with Epeards in Sweetwater, Oklahoma, where he was hunting turkeys, we asked him to tell us about some of his most-memorable hunts.

Question: One of the most-dangerous of African game animals is the Cape buffalo. Tell us about your bowhunt for this animal.

Epeards: Once again, I was hunting in Zimbabwe. We’d stalked a herd of buffalo, but the wind changed and spooked the herd. My outfitter said, “For the rest of the afternoon, let’s go sit in a blind at the waterhole, and see if any buffalo come there. We often see buffalo and sable at this waterhole.” When we got to the waterhole and set-up, we hadn’t been in our blind for more than 20 minutes before a herd of Cape buffalo showed-up. I was shooting my same PSE X-Force bow that I’d taken the elephant with, only I had a different set of limbs on it and a draw-weight set at 90 pounds. I was shooting a PSE Black Mamba arrow with a New Archery Products Razorbak broadhead. The buffalo turned and presented a shoulder shot, and my X-Force delivered. The shot was only 33 yards. One of the real thrills of this hunt was that there were about 35 buffalo in the herd. I didn’t know what would happen once I took the shot. The buffalo might fold-up right on the spot, but that usually didn’t happen. The buffalo might run-off after taking the arrow, which was what mine did, the buffalo could charge, and/or the whole herd could charge.

Question: What were you thinking when the buffalo took the arrow?

Epeards: I’m a police officer, and when I go into a dangerous situation, I get into a zone. I don’t get shaken-up or nervous when I’m in a dangerous situation. But after the problem has been solved, or the shot has been taken, then I get all wound-up, somewhat nervous and sometimes even shake some, because the adrenaline is really pumping. One of the advantages of shooting a bow once you’ve practiced enough and taken enough animals is when you’re in a position to take a shot, your total focus has to be on the spot you want to put your pin on, holding steady and making a clean release. There’s not any thought about what’s happened before or what may happen after. You just have to be in that zone to make that really-good shot and not worry or think about anything, until the arrow is released and hits the target, or in this case, the buffalo. I was filming this hunt for “Jimmy Houston Outdoors” and for my own use in the hunting seminars I conduct all over the country – about 40 seminars a year at different sports shows. I play these videos when I do my dangerous-game seminars.

Question: How big was the buffalo?

Epeards: He was a big, mature buffalo with big bosses (the bases of the horns). This hunt was great, exciting and one of those hunts of a lifetime.

Day 5: PSE’s Bill Epeards Goes on a Green Rhino Hunt with His Bow

Bill Epeards

Editor’s Note: Bill Epeards of Goshen, Ohio, who has shot PSE bows for 32 years, has traveled the world and taken some legendary animals on some unbelievable hunts. A member of the Mossy Oak Pro Staff for more than 20 years, he works with “Jimmy Houston Outdoors” and has been on a world-champion archery target team. “I shot competition archery for a lot of years, but I got away from it,” Epeards reports. “Then I got with some other older fellows, and today we shoot the senior class of the Bowhunter Division of the IBO. We won the national championship for two consecutive years – 2008 and 2009 – and came in second in 2010. This four-man team is made-up of Mike Parker, Larry Vann, Billy Burns and I.” Epeards also guides and hunts in this United States. This week when we caught up with Epeards in Sweetwater, Oklahoma, where he was hunting turkeys, we asked him to tell us about some of his most-memorable hunts.

Question: Bill, where did you find a green rhino to hunt?

Epeards: You don’t understand. I wasn’t hunting for a rhinoceros that was green. A green rhino hunt, or any kind of green hunt, is a catch-and-release hunt. You dart the animal with a drug, the animal goes down, the veterinarians and the scientists then study, measure, evaluate and draw blood from the animal to check its health, and you get to make pictures with the animal that you’ve taken while the animal’s unconscious. After the hunt’s over, and the scientists have gathered all the information that they need to gather, then the animal is injected with a chemical that negates the anesthetic in the syringe that you’ve shot into the animal. The animal gets-up and walks-off. So on a green rhino hunt, you go through all the stalking and hunting strategies that you go through if you’re planning to take the animal with your bow. However, when you release the arrow, instead of having a broadhead on the end of it, it has a hypodermic needle known as a dart. The force of the dart hitting the animal causes the shaft of the arrow to push the plunger of this hypodermic needle, which injects the rhino with an anesthetic that puts it to sleep. Or, at least, that’s the way the hunt is supposed to work.

My hunt for the rhino was an unbelievable experience. We used the spot-and-stalk method of finding the animal and getting in a position to take the shot. When I reached camp, I had a practice syringe attached to my arrow. Then I could practice shooting the dart instead of a broadhead. I had to set my bow, so that I was shooting less than 50 pounds, and adjust my sight to aim properly with 50 pounds instead of with 80 or 90 pounds of draw weight, which was what I’d been using. After I was confident that I could deliver the arrow accurately to the rhino, if we found one to shoot, we loaded-up the trackers and the veterinarian to go hunt the rhino. On these types of hunts, you have to have a veterinarian with you to make sure that the anesthesia and the drug to counter the anesthesia are administered in the proper dose for that animal. As we began to start hunting rhinos, I was able to move to within 40 yards of the animal I was to take. There were three rhinos, and I picked-out the biggest one. The shot was to be made to the shoulder of the animal, and when I took the shot, I hit the spot at which I was aiming.

We waited 45 minutes before we started stalking the rhino again. When we caught-up to him, we could see that the rhino was drowsy and sluggish, but he hadn’t gone down yet. The veterinarian suggested that we take a second shot with a little more anesthesia to put the rhino down. I got to the side of the rhino and took a second shot, and within 15 minutes of that second shot, the big rhino went-down. The veterinarian told me that the drug he was using was a very-powerful anesthetic. When the rhino received the proper dose of this drug, he’d have all his functions and know everything going-on except he wouldn’t have his mobility.

When the rhino went-down, the veterinarian and the trackers went to the rhino and started taking blood samples and gave the rhino antibiotics. After the medical maintenance had been done on the rhino, we were permitted to take pictures and finish the video. Then the drug to counteract the anesthetic was given, and the rhino was up and on his feet in less than 60 seconds. What was really exciting for me was to actually get-up beside the rhino and feel how heavy and thick his skin was and to rub my hand down his horn and be able to have my picture taken, shoot the video of the end of the hunt, and the rhinoceros still breathing. After we’d done everything we’d wanted to do with that rhinoceros, injected him with a drug that made him mobile and free again to roam as he’d been roaming before I ever shot him with my PSE bow. This was one of the most-amazing archery feats I’d ever accomplished. I know that Pete Shepley also has had a green rhino hunt with Sigianuna Safaris and Raiin Vosloo.

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