Hunting & Family

PSE’s Todd Carter on How to Hunt Trophy Bucks

By John E. Phillips

Editor’s Note: Todd Carter of Oldham County, Kentucky, manages about 7,500 acres for wildlife and has one 800-acre farm he manages intensively. He’s been a PSE pro for the last 3 years and shoots the PSE Evo. He’s also on the Mossy Oak Pro Staff.

Day 1: Todd Carter Talks about Taking the Black Widow Buck

I was hunting a 4-1/2-year-old buck named the Black Widow that eventually scored 188-7/8-points on Boone & Crockett. We had been watching this buck on trail cameras for about 2 years and found his scrapes on top of an oak ridge. We didn’t usually put our stands up until the day we planned to take a buck. On this particular day, we hung our stands at noon. I got in my stand at 4:00 pm. At 5:30, we saw this buck coming toward us from only 40-yards away. I waited until he got within 10-yards before I brought my PSE Evo to full draw. I was using a two-blade Rage Broadhead, and I had a good solid back wall. When the pin sight rested behind the deer’s front shoulder, I released the arrow. When the buck took the arrow, he did a mule kick and ran back the way from where he’d come. We waited for a good while, before we went after him. When we climbed down out of the tree, we located a really-good blood trail and went 100 yards before we found him.


I believe the secret to taking trophy bucks is living with them. I’m on my land looking at the deer and the other wildlife on these properties about 360 days in the year. I’ve learned after a buck sheds his velvet, he’ll probably set-up his home range. So, when you find a deer like this, you not only have to learn where that deer is living, you have to find markers that tell you where that deer likes to be. We had found this deer’s scrapes and rubs and knew he was using this area. When we put-up our tree stands, we got about 18-feet off the ground. I believe in the first-strike strategy for taking these older bucks. If these bucks realize they are being hunted, especially older-age-class bucks, they’re much harder to take. We want to introduce as little human odor as possible into an area. I like to get high in the tree, so one piece of equipment I always have with me is a Gorilla Safety Harness. No one intentionally falls out of a tree. Tree stand accidents occur when you least expect them and when you’re least prepared to deal with the fall. So, I always wear a harness.

Day 2: PSE’s Todd Carter and the Buck Old 22

We had 3 years of trail-camera pictures of the buck Old 22. This buck was 5-years old, and during the early part of the season, our trail cameras revealed he already had been shot by another bowhunter and had an arrow sticking out of his back. We know no one on our property had shot this deer, so we assumed a hunter on the neighboring property had done it. To be honest, we thought Old 22 was dead, after we got the pictures of the arrow in his back. We didn’t get any-more pictures of him and didn’t sight him when we were scouting. I was really surprised when I finally saw Old 22 again, since it was the first time anyone had spotted him, because he’d stopped appearing on the trail cameras.


On this particular day, I was near a water hole and spotted him at about 45 yards, headed toward the water. Old 22 had 12- or 13-inch tines, but his rack was really narrow. I could tell he had lost weight and wasn’t very healthy. Apparently the shaft of the arrow had broken off. I let him come in about 20-yards from my tree stand and released my arrow from my PSE Evo. I was shooting a G5 broadhead. He only ran about 40-yards before he went down. We watched him fall. He scored 180-3/8-points. We really wanted to take this deer, because we didn’t want him to die of his previous wounds. We know if we don’t get a good hit on a buck, we can’t assume that buck is dead until we find him. Old 22 had carried his arrow for a long time. No one likes to shoot a deer and not recover it, especially a trophy buck like Old 22, but it happens. So, anytime you see a wounded animal, take him if you possibly can, especially a really-fine buck like Old 22.

Day 3: PSE’s Todd Carter Tells about Taking Minivan – a 300-Pound Buck

We called this buck Minivan, because he was a really-big buck, well-over 300 pounds live weight. He was big and blocky and resembled a minivan. Minivan was 6-years old, and we’d tried to take him a few years earlier. He just didn’t look like he ever would have a quality rack. His rack had a lot of stickers on it and a lot of mass. The year before, he’d only had about a 120-inch rack. He had a few drop tines on the right side of his rack, but wasn’t an impressive deer. We’d labeled him as a management buck and planned to shoot him to get him off the property. I agreed to take this buck, even though I wasn’t expecting him to be very big or have good antlers. There were several-other trophy bucks on the property the landowner and his friends wanted to take themselves. Another buck living in the same area was a 4-year-old 10-point that scored 160 points. We didn’t want 6-year-old Minivan to run the 4-year-old off the property. We intensively manage the deer on the property where I hunt, and we know we can’t stockpile mature bucks in our area. To grow a trophy buck, he needs to be able to hold in his home area without being challenged by another big buck.


Minivan always had lived close to a road. I knew Minivan was living in a certain thicket, and when he came out of this thicket, he would go eat some native grass and then move to a pond below where he’d been bedding.  I set-up my stand, so when the buck came out of the thicket on the way to the native grass, I’d be able to get a shot with my PSE Evo. Sure enough, he moved out of the thicket and came down the trail 15-yards from me. When I released the arrow, he took off running. He went about 70 yards and fell over in native grass. When we recovered him, we found he scored 168 points.

Day 4: PSE’s Todd Carter – the Hammer Buck

Hammer was a deer we’d been watching for 3 years that traveled to other properties too. We all had agreed to let him pass, until he got to be an older-age-class buck. The first year, we got good trail-camera pictures of him. He was 2-1/2- to 3-years old and scored 130 or more Boone & Crockett. The next year we had trail-camera pictures of him he was a 12-point, and his rack looked bigger. We found his sheds, which scored about 157 B&C. The next year he was scoring 178 B&C, so we decided to put him on the hit list. Hammer was in a thick-cover bedding area and was going toward water. On the farms I manage, there isn’t much water, so we try to take the bucks in-between the bedding area and the ponds where they water. This way we don’t disturb the bedding area or the watering sites. This buck had developed a scrape and a rub line out of the thicket, going toward the water. I took this buck at 15 yards with my PSE Evo by hitting him right behind the shoulder. He ran about 150 yards.


Once again, I believe the secret for consistently taking trophy bucks is to know what bucks you have on your property, watch them over an extended time using trail cameras and make sure they have enough food. This way they can reach their maximum potential. If you keep up with your property’s doe numbers and keep bucks from competing with better bucks, you won’t have dispersal (deer leaving your property). The final element to taking a trophy buck like this one is once you gather all the information you can about him, don’t hunt him until all the wind and the weather conditions are right and are stacked in your favor.


You can’t have trophy bucks on your property, if you don’t fulfill all the management requirements to produce them. We plant Mossy Oak BioLogic year-round to ensure there’s plenty of food for the deer on the property. We keep our doe numbers in check. Once we identify a buck we feel has trophy potential, we learn all we can about that buck. We allow him to live long enough to produce the body weight and antler development that we want him to have. If you’re patient and let that buck become a 5- or a 6-year-old, you not only have produced a trophy buck. At that point, you also will know where to put your stand and at about what time the buck should appear. If you set-up your stand within 20 yards or less of where the deer will be, and if you’re shooting a fast, flat-shooting bow like the PSE Evo, you can expect to harvest trophy bucks regularly.

Day 5: PSE’s Todd Carter Believes in Using Bowhunting as a Deer Management Tool

We manage our property for all types of wildlife. We have plenty of food and cover and very-little hunting pressure. On the 800 acres, we have about 80 does and manage them as intensively as we do our bucks. We know we have some does that consistently produce buck fawn twins. We have others that are producing three buck fawns per year. You can’t guarantee that a doe will produce just buck fawns or just doe fawns. But if you keep up with your does and watch the types of fawns they drop, you’ll see some have a tendency to produce bucks. You’ll also see some does consistently produce two or three fawns.


For our management programs, these does are just as important as the older-age-class bucks on the land. The top-producing does are on the Do Not Hit list. We only take the does that are older and have stopped having fawns, or the does that generally produce only one fawn. Most biologists recommend you try to carry two does for each buck you have on the property, but I prefer to have four does for every buck. I go against accepted wisdom on deer management because the worst thing you can do is grow a buck up to trophy size, and then have him be harvested by one of your neighbors. If there are more does that are ready to breed on an adjacent property, your bucks will leave and go where the ladies are. I’ve found if I have four does for every buck, I can keep more of the big bucks on our property, even during the rut.

I’m often asked how I’m able to manage my does and identify the ones that are dropping the most buck fawns. The answer is quite simple. Does have a home range, just like bucks do. If you photograph and observe your does after deer season ends when they are dropping fawns, as the fawns mature, you can keep-up with which does are the most-productive in the herd. I want to watch them through at least one or two breeding seasons and be able to identify each of the does on the property. I live on the farm I manage, and one of those groups of does comes and feeds at my house. I can watch those does interact and can record their personalities. For instance, I’ve been observing one doe for the last 3 years, and I know for certain that she’s produced three buck fawns. This doe is 5- to 6-years old, stays within 100 acres and is definitely off-limits for harvest. In the winter, I get camera pictures of her in the Mossy Oak BioLogic Winter Bulbs & Sugar Beets plots. She follows the food.


I’ve taken 15 does with my PSE Evo in the last year. One of the reasons I like to hunt does with my PSE bow is the arrow doesn’t make any noise. Guns going off and hunters moving around puts pressure on the deer herd and can cause dispersal of your trophy bucks. So, we prefer to bowhunt on this 800 acres. The hunters can go right to the stand we’ve put-up on the day we want to harvest that trophy buck. When they take that trophy buck with a bow, there’s no noise to spook all the other deer on the property. We can load-up the buck and the hunter and get out of the woods without spooking the other bucks. It’s not to your advantage to do an intensive-management program to produce trophy bucks and then put so much hunting pressure on those bucks that you run them off your property.

For more information on hunting deer, get John E. Phillips’ new eBook “Bowhunting Deer: The Secrets of the PSE Pros.” Too, you can go to www.amazon.com/kindle-ebooks, type in the name of the book and download it to your Kindle and/or download a Kindle app for your iPad, SmartPhone or computer.

To learn more about PSE’s top quality bows and bowhunting accessories, click here.

The Cure for Post Season Withdrawl by PSE’s Al Quackenbush

By Al Quackenbush


February is typically a month where we feel deprived of hunting. There is a void in our lives as not too many are out actually hunting, but more so just thinking about it and how they can’t wait for deer season to roll back around. Even for me it can be a tough time of year to get out, but with turkey season rapidly approaching getting into the woods to scout is key to success. A major plus is that while scouting areas for turkey in California you can also hunt coyotes or hogs year round so bring your bow and arrows when you scout, too!

Target Practice

Target Practice

Practicing should be a year round activity. Just because the snow is falling or there isn’t any hunting season open doesn’t mean you should hang up your bow for the next few months. Stay sharp year-round by practicing year-round. I am fortunate to have good weather and an outdoor archery range open throughout the year. This year I plan on also setting up a small target in my garage to allow me to shoot a few arrows every day just to keep my body fluid.

Bring a friend out scouting and introduce them to the wild! Another good way to get people interested is to take some of that hard earned venison and whip up a nice meal. Have some friends over for a venison feast, swap stories and share the wealth. You would be surprised at how many guys want to go hunting after tasting some steroid-free meat!

Bring a GPS…and be sure you are up to date with the current versions of software. Land may have changed hands, public land become private or vice versa. By bringing a GPS into the field you can mark different areas to review in the comfort of your home and give you exact locations for when you head back out to hunt.



Two more items that are a must when I scout are my binoculars and my camera. A good pair of binoculars like my 10x42s are great for scouting because they are powerful and I don’t mind the extra weight when it comes to optics. I want good quality, power and reliability (just like my compound bow). I also bring a camera along to document areas, things I find on the ground, and any animals I might see. It’s also a great way to document your trip to show your hunting buddies or your family.

So, if you get out there to do some early pre-season scouting or are fortunate enough to get some hunting in share your experiences and photos on the PSE Facebook page. We would all love to participate in your progress, excitement and all around success!

Albert Quackenbush has been bowhunting for more than 29 years. He shares his adventures on his blog, www.SoCalBowhunter.com and also writes for Bow Adventures e-magazine. He is a PSE Staff Blogger and a Pro Staff member for Piranha Custom Bowstrings and Field Logic. He is a member of the National Wild Turkey Federation, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, California Deer Association, and is a Life Member of the North American Hunting Club.

Albert was born and raised in New York State where he learned to hunt everything from squirrels to whitetail deer. He lives in Southern California with his wife and daughter and hunts year round.

To learn more about PSE’s top quality bows and bowhunting accessories, click here.


Season’s Over, Now What? by PSE’s Will Jenkins

By Will Jenkins


Now that deer season is over or wrapping up for most people we’re left with what to do for the rest of the winter until it heats up and we can shoot fish, turkey or foam. Here are a few suggestions to keep you and you’re equipment busy!

1. Get good deals on hunting stuff! Right now many store especially Wal Mart and Dick’s are selling stands and other equipment at anywhere from 25% up to 70% off! If you live in an area with several be sure to stop by each and see what’s in stock and how low they are marked. The top items that are usually marked down are hang on stands, ladder stands, trail cameras and scent eliminator along with some clothing.

2. See who survived. Get those trail cameras out and see what deer made it through the season. This is one of my favorite times to have trail cameras out. It also helps you time your shed hunting season and understand how deer are using the property in the late season.

3. Get your bow geared up. Right now you have plenty of time to get your strings and cables replaced or sight in that new sight. You’ll be able to get all of that done and still be drilling x’s by the time turkey season, bow fishing or 3D season kicks in. Or you can always upgrade to a new 2013 model and have it ready to roll as well!

4. Shoot indoors. Check with local archery shops and see if they have an indoor league or techno hunt. It’s good fun and great practice.

5. Practice. Just because it’s cold out doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be practicing. For one its fun and two its great for relieving the stress of not being able to actually hunt! Even if you don’t have any of the above stuff to do you can always practice and try to improve your form, range or accuracy.

I should probably have made a number 6 that involved getting done all the “Honey-Do’s” that were neglected for the last few months but what fun would that be. What are you doing now to prepare for next season?

Will Jenkins is creator of TheWilltoHunt.com and Harnesses For Hunters. He’s an avid outdoorsman who enjoys sharing his experiences through his blog. He also writes for Bow Adventures e-Magazine and is a member of the Professional Outdoor Media Association.

Will lives in Central Virginia with his wife and two kids. He hunts in Virginia and Maryland but has dreams of heading west to hunt Elk and Mule Deer.

Keep your eye out for the #elktour DVD over on huntography.com! Watch PSE’s Emily Anderson and Dustin Jones hunt elk DIY style on our amazing public lands in the Western United States. Huntography also films a deer hunting DVD called #deertour which you will be able to watch PSE’s Will Jenkins hunt whitetails. Huntography…filming America’s hunters, one at a time!

To learn more about PSE’s top quality bows and bowhunting accessories, click here.

Packing Out Your Game by PSE’s Jared Bloomgren

By Jared Bloomgren


I can’t remember the last time when I had brought home an entire carcass of a deer or elk. It is so much easier to field dress the animal and take all the meat out with me. There is less of a chore of having to take care of it once you are home and less time involved once you get there. Many feel that hanging and aging meat is very important but I haven’t felt that it is enough of a need to ensure my meat is hung and aged rather than almost processed right out of the field. Once home all I have to do is clean it up and package it.

Going in light and coming out HEAVY!

All capped out.

Using the gutless method is also very inviting for obvious reasons; there is no need to remove the innards as there is no reason. The way I like to go about doing this is by boning out the animal; removing the meat and leaving the carcass behind. The head and cape will go home with me as well if it is a buck or bull.

Removing the hide

Removing the hide

After walking up to the animal and admiring it and taking the necessary and wanted pictures I always go straight into removing the meat. I start on the side that is facing up and skin the animal on that side only. I make a cut through the hide along the entire length of the animal from the back of its head to the rump. Usually this involves caping the animal out and removing the hide on that side as far up the neck as I can go. (Watch for a future blog about caping) Next I remove the hide all the way back to the hind quarter on that side. I first take the backstrap off of the upper side, debone the hind quarter by following the leg bone with my knife and take all shoulder and neck meat as well. If done right you will have the hind quarter all in one piece. It can be a bit of an art and practice makes perfect! Last thing I do on that side is remove the tenderloin on that side. Once I have that side done I flip the animal over and do the same to the other side, removing the hide and all meat.  Removing the tenderloins can be a bit of an art as well. This is done by making an incision below the spine and pushing the guts away to get to them and carefully filleting them out. Be extra careful not to puncture the stomach as this could cause an unwanted mess! If needed open the bottom side of the hide and skin to allow the guts to escape. This will move them away from the tenderloins.

Flip the animal over and continue with skinning and de-boning

Flip the animal over and continue with skinning and de-boning

The last thing I do is remove the head and cape from the spine. The meat has been laying on my game bags cooling and is now ready to be put in my pack. Each piece of meat is placed in a game bag before being put inside my pack. I will pack everything that I have with me below the meat and then put the meat on top of that with the intent to keep the heaviest load close to my back and in the center. This allows for more comfort while packing out and the load will be distributed evenly. After the meat the head, antlers, and cape are place on top.

Flip the animal over and continue with skinning and de-boning

Flip the animal over and continue with skinning and de-boning

I have found that packing out an animal in this way is far easier than having to drag the entire animal out of your hunting area. Even if I have an animal that is close to an access point I still will incorporate this practice in as to me, it is much easier. Going in light and coming out heavy always leaves a smile on my face!

Jared “J-Rod” Bloomgren is a hardcore Do-It-Yourself bowhunter who strives to better himself each year in the outdoor community. As a professional hunter, freelance writer and photographer, he likes to relive his outdoor adventures through written expression and photography making the reader feel as if they were along on the hunt. He attributes much of his success to the vital education he has learned from the various big game animals that he hunts. He is quoted as saying, “In each and every hunt, success or defeat, I learn something from every outing and that I can put in my arsenal of knowledge to use at a later date, a later date that will again put my wits against that of my prey.”

To learn more about PSE’s top quality bows and bowhunting accessories, click here.

PSE’s Ernie Calandrelli, the Bionic Bowhunter

By Ernie Calandrelli with John E. Phillips

Day 1: PSE’s Ernie Calandrelli Takes the Biggest Buck of His Life in Kansas

Editor’s Note: When we asked Ernie Calandrelli, public relations director for Quaker Boy Calls in Orchard Park, New York, how long he had been shooting PSE, he answered, “Years and years and years.” Calandrelli can’t remember when he didn’t shoot PSE. Although he doesn’t remember the models of PSE bows he’s shot over the years, he does remember some of the better deer he’s taken with his PSE bows. As Calandrelli has gotten older, he has had medical problems that would cause most bowhunters to give-up the sport. With both shoulders completely replaced, he is still taking deer each season with his PSE bow. Ernie Calandrelli is the bionic bowhunter.


The best buck I ever took with my PSE bow was a buck I killed in Kansas that scored 176-1/2-points on Pope & Young that I took at 17 steps. I had put a climbing stand in a tree on the edge of a river bank where I had hunted the year before. I climbed into my tree stand before daylight that first morning. As the light brightened-up the sky, I did a series of grunt calls. I just had put down my call when this buck came up over the edge of the river bank. At first light, I had seen a rub and ranged it at 17 yards. When the buck came over the river bank, he walked right beside that tree, before moving to within 12 steps of me. I thought he was at least a 130-inch buck. I made the decision to take the shot, but the way he was coming, I knew he would smell me. While he moved through a thicket, I came to full draw. When the buck hit my scent line, he whirled and ran back into the thicket. I thought the hunt was over, but luckily, he stopped by the tree I had ranged and looked back at me. I put the pin right behind his shoulder and released the arrow.


I realized immediately I had the buck. I knew I had a clean release, and that my pin sight was behind the shoulder, where I needed it to be. When I touched the trigger on my mechanical release, there was no question in my mind that the buck was mine. One of the big advantages of shooting a PSE bow is if you practice with it, you have confidence and know your bow is flat-shooting and fast. You know when you touch that trigger that you’ll have your buck. I often am asked why I shoot PSE bows, and my answer always is, “They’re dependable, they fit me, and they do what they’re designed to do. They take deer and other big game.”


Day 2: PSE’s Ernie Calandrelli Takes the Same Kansas Stand and Makes the Same Shot with the Same Bow to Equal a 160 Inch Buck

One of the things I like about PSE is I have years of history with the company. I believe if something’s not broken, don’t fix it. I’m the same way about deer hunting. After I took the biggest buck of my life in Kansas, I returned to Kansas the next year. The first morning of the hunt, I went back to the same stand where I had taken the 176-1/2-inch buck the previous year. I knew when I walked into the woods I’d start perspiring. So, I carried my outer clothes with me to the stand and put them on there. On this morning, I wore a hooded sweatshirt with a Quaker Boy Ridge Runner Grunt Call in the front pocket. Before I could take my outer clothing out of my daypack, I heard something walking and cracking limbs. To be honest, I thought it was another hunter. Then I spotted a deer at about 40 or 50 yards in my peripheral vision.


I took out my grunt call. Because I was looking at the deer and trying to take out my grunt call out at the same time, somehow the plastic tube on the front of the call got hung-up in my pocket. So, when I pulled it out, I had just the call in my hand. In the early days of deer calling, grunt calls were just short calls with no hoses. So, I knew how to put my hand over the end of the call to muffle and deepen the sound. The deer turned and started coming to me. That buck walked right up under my stand. I couldn’t see exactly how big the buck was. However, I knew he was over 130 inches, so I took the shot. I waited about an hour in my tree stand, before I decided to track the deer. Instead of following the blood trail and going straight to the deer, I opted to go over the bank and walk the edge of the river.


Before I came out of the tree, I identified a tree that I could recognize from the river bank. That tree was important, because it was the last place I had seen the buck. My plan was to stay out of sight and hearing of the buck I had arrowed and walk down the edge of the river. When I got to the tree where I had last seen the buck, I started looking for my deer. I took my time and walked as quietly as possible. When I was even with the tree, I sneaked over the edge of the bank. Just as I topped the river bank, I saw a huge buck with long antlers. I said to myself, “Oh my gosh, is that the buck I just shot?” I went over the bank and put my hands on the deer’s antlers. I couldn’t believe it. This buck scored 160 on Pope & Young. When I went back to the tree and stepped-off the distance, I found the buck only had been standing 6-yards from me when I took the shot. I had used my 10-yard pin, and that PSE bow shot so flat and fast that my arrow only hit a few inches below where I was aiming.


Day 3: PSE’s Ernie Calandrelli Lets His Bow Down and Turns Around in the Tree to Get the Shot at a Missouri Buck

A week before I took the biggest buck of my life in Kansas, I had been hunting in Missouri. I had set-up a ladder stand in a creek bottom, where two or three ridges came together. This bottom was right on the edge of some Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) land. During this afternoon hunt, the sun was going down over the hill behind me. I knew I didn’t have many-more minutes before dark. As the sun went down, it lit-up the CRP field behind me. Every blade of grass and every bush glowed like neon lights. In the distance, I could see something moving across the field. I picked-up my binoculars and saw it was a monster buck, and he was coming toward me but wouldn’t pass by me. I pulled my Ridge Runner grunt call out of my pocket and grunted to the deer. I hoped to get him to turn and walk to me. As soon as that buck heard that grunt call, he spun and started running straight to me.


This hunt had to be one of the most-exciting ones I ever had in my life. I never had seen a buck run as fast or as hard straight to me as this buck did. For a minute, I was dazed and couldn’t think of what I needed to do. Finally, I grabbed my PSE bow and clicked on my release. The buck stopped about 80-yards away and stood in a little draw. As I listened and watched, that buck used his antlers like a wrecking ball. He tore-up trees, bushes and everything in sight with those antlers. After the buck had done battle with all the foliage, he stopped, looked in my direction and then looked away. When the buck looked away from me, I gave him a soft grunt call. He whipped his head around and took-off running again. Leaves and dirt were flying in the air as he dug his hooves into the ground and ran full out toward me. When he got within 12 steps of my stand, he locked-up and froze like a statue.

From the position of the deer’s body, I thought he was going to walk to my right side, so I was positioned to take the shot on that side. Instead, the buck went to my left side. I had to let the bow down to turn to the other side of my stand without him seeing me. When I got around the tree and came to full draw again, the buck was 12-yards from me and walking away. I started grunting, whistling and all the things I normally would do to stop a buck. Finally, I yelled at the deer. Once he stopped, I had my pin sight right where I wanted the arrow to go. I touched my release and fired. The buck took the arrow and only ran a few yards before he piled up. When I found him, I couldn’t believe the size of his antlers. This buck scored 166 on Pope & Young.


Day 4: PSE’s Ernie Calandrelli Says All He Could See Was Antlers Coming Toward Him in Iowa

I was hunting in Iowa during early November. The temperature was 2-degrees below zero, and I was really cold. Icicles hung off all the limbs. The first time I moved in that stand, the icicles fell off and sounded like glass shattering as they hit the ground. I didn’t know what to do. I knew if a buck came in I wouldn’t be able to move without spooking him. Early in the morning, I had a 2-1/2-year-old 8-point buck walk right under my tree. I had a little trail in front of me that came out of some Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) land, and there were scrapes and rubs on that trail. This 8-point was a nice deer, but I was really hoping to take a better one. As I watched the 8-pointer move down the trail, all of a sudden he stopped. Every muscle in his body seemed to lock-up. There was a ditch off the side of the trail, and this buck backed-up and went down in the ditch. Because I had the wind in my face, and I hadn’t moved a muscle, I knew the buck hadn’t seen, heard or smelled me. After the buck got down in the ditch, he took off running like a scared dog.


I looked in the other direction, and I could see horns coming towards me – big horns. This buck was monstrous. When he came to a scrape, he began to work the scrape. Finally, he was at 17 yards. Once he turned broadside to me, I thought, “Oh my gosh, he’s as big as an elk.” I put my sight right behind his shoulder and released the arrow, hoping I could put this monster down. When the buck took the arrow, he only went 50-yards before he piled-up. The buck scored 148 inches, but he weighed over 300 pounds. Because I’d taken elk with my PSE bow before, I felt certain if I could place the arrow where I knew it should be that the speed and the power of my bow could drive that arrow all the way through this big buck, which it did. That buck might be one of the biggest-bodied bucks I’d ever taken.


Day 5: PSE’s Ernie Calandrelli Downs an Iowa Buck at 20 Yards

I was hunting in Iowa, and one afternoon, I went into the woods to hang my tree stand. I had spotted a really-nice buck, but after several days of hunting, I hadn’t seen him again. I’d learned before in Iowa that those big bucks only might show-up in the same area every three or four days. Often I might go several days and never even see a deer. At about 9:30 or 10:00 am, I spotted that buck coming down a little draw. I grunted to him. He was on a hill, and I was on a bottom. After he heard me grunt, he came down the hill and went down in a little ditch. He was still coming to me. I was a little concerned I wouldn’t be able to take him. When I get in my tree stand, I wiggle around in it a little bit to see if it squeaks. Sure enough, this morning I had heard my stand squeak. I knew if I stood to take the shot, or if I had to move around on the stand to get into position, the stand would squeak and spook the deer. So, I put some cotton gloves under my stand to prevent it from squeaking. When the buck got to the bottom of the ditch, he was about 20-yards from me. I had to stand to shoot. I was hoping I had solved the squeaky-stand problem. I was able to stand-up, come to full draw and arrow the deer at 20 yards with my PSE bow. The buck scored about 140.


I don’t remember which PSE bow I was using then, and it doesn’t really matter. Over the years I’ve found one PSE bow is just as good as another. They’ve been everything I’ve ever wanted in my bows. Many years ago my friend Bill Epeards introduced me to PSE bows, and I became friends with Pete Shepley, founder of PSe. When I started having shoulder problems, Pete Shepley advised me on which bows I should use, and what poundage I should shoot. I had a complete shoulder replacement in my left shoulder 6-years ago. About 8-weeks ago I had another complete replacement in my right shoulder. Because I’ve had so many shoulder problems over the years, all the deer I’ve mentioned have been shot with a 55-pound PSE bow. I’ve learned that if you shoot a deer with a 70-pound bow and get a clean pass-through, the arrow just sticks deeper in the dirt after it passes through the deer. So, I don’t think shooting the heavier-weight bows is really necessary.


Today, you can shoot a slower arrow and still produce enough kinetic energy to take any big-game species in North America. We don’t have to shoot those heavier bows. The cams on PSE bows roll-over smoothly, and I don’t have to jerk the string back to get it to full draw. These bows are much smoother and the let-off allows you to hold less weight at full draw. I come to a solid back wall. These PSE bows are just beautiful to shoot, especially as you grow older and have medical problems. Years ago, when I had my first shoulder replacement, I thought my bowhunting would be over, but it wasn’t. I learned I still could shoot a 50- to a 55-pound bow effectively. Now that I’ve had my second shoulder replacement, I still can shoot accurately with a 45- to 50-pound bow. Because of the new innovations PSE has designed into their bows, even though I have had both shoulders preplaced, I still can shoot a compound bow, which would have been totally impossible 10-or 20-years ago.


To get “Bowhunting Deer: The Secrets of the PSE Pros” by John E. Phillips, go to http://www.amazon.com/kindle-ebooks, type in the name of the book, and download it to your Kindle and/or download a Kindle app for your iPad, SmartPhone or computer.

To learn more about PSE’s top quality bows and bowhunting accessories, click here.

Gear Review-PSE Phantom Micro Adjustable Drop Away Rest by PSE’s Al Quackenbush

By Albert Quackenbush


Having been a fan of drop away rests for years, I have tested many with decent results. Some are cable driven and others are limb driven. The PSE Phantom™ Micro Adjustable Drop Away Rest is a cable driven drop away rest that offers much more than your everyday drop away. Reviewing the Phantom Micro was very enjoyable and enlightening.

Phantom mounted at rest and ready to shoot

Phantom mounted at rest and ready to shoot

The PSE Phantom Micro Adjust is our finest drop away arrow rest and features a full capture platform for the arrow. The rest falls out of the way for complete arrow clearance. The oversize screws make adjustments and tuning very easy.

Installation of the Phantom Micro is simple, but there were no instructions in or on the packaging, so you have to get them online. This would have been better if they were in the package in my opinion. Follow the directions found here and you’ll be headed in the right direction.

My favorite part is the fact that the rest itself never touches the riser. Unlike most drop away rests, the Phantom sits slightly behind the riser thus allowing it to swivel and function quietly and more efficiently. One of the best features is no aggravating slapping sound when the rest drops. I can’t tell you how much time I have spent trying to quiet down other drop away rests. When the Phantom Micro drops it is ultra-quiet and super smooth.

The curved supports on either side have a rubberized coating providing more sound-dampening when your arrow makes contact. It contains the arrow and is quiet. No more needs to be said.

I did not like that there is no glue or sticky bottom to the rubber piece that sits on your riser. This is the piece that your arrow makes contact with to keep it from making noise. In order to utilize it, you must purchase an adhesive and glue the rubber rest to the riser. If you don’t, the arrow makes constant contact with the riser and metal-on-metal makes noise.

Nice grouping after tuning the Phantom Rest

Nice grouping after tuning the Phantom Rest

I spent two days at the range after I installed the Phantom where I shot a minimum of fifty shots. During that time I had a good friend listen to the bow while I shot. Specifically, I had him focus on the arrow rest. He said he heard no noise and was also impressed at how fast it dropped. The Phantom Micro is the quietest rest I have ever used. I plan on using this rest in 2013 as it boosts my confidence in knowing I have less chance of spooking game.

Overall, I have to say that the Phantom Micro Adjustable drop away rest is one of the best I have put to the test. I like it better than any of the other drop aways I have used and it’s a great buy at $99.99. I have and will continue to recommend this rest to my fellow archers looking for the quietest, most highly functional drop away arrow rest on the market.

Albert Quackenbush has been bowhunting for more than 28 years. He shares his adventures on his blog, www.SoCalBowhunter.com, and also writes for Bow Adventures e-magazine. He is a Pro Staff member for DIYbowhunter.com, Piranha Custom Bowstrings and Field Logic. He is a member of the National Wild Turkey Federation, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, California Deer Association, and is a Life Member of the North American Hunting Club.

Albert was born and raised in New York State where he learned to hunt everything from squirrels to whitetail deer. He currently resides in Southern California with his wife and daughter and hunts year round.

To learn more about PSE’s top quality bows and bowhunting accessories, click here.

By Pedro Ampuero


Its being a coooold winter, but that has never been an excuse to get out and try our best.

Here are some pics of the last two months of hunting with a total of 21 days out.

chonacoI ahve been after chamois, ibex, deer, boars, duck, partridges,… Had a lot of fun.

Finallly got a huge boar which was awesome!! Hope you like them.

This past weekend I have been filming a TV show, got a two deer and a wildboar, i will send you pics later.

capraLuck is back again! Take care,


Pedro Ampuero was raised in Spain, a country full of hunting opportunities in which the hunting season goes year round. He spends many days each year in the field and traveling the world in search of new adventures. You will always find him outdoors scouting, hunting, filming or tracking with his Bavarian bloodhound.

Pedro is a mechanical engineer by trade and a bowhunter by heart. He is the co-founder of the blog AdventurousBowhunter.com and Cazandoconarco.es and has written many articles for the hunting industry and currently collaborates with the most prestigious companies on the industry.

To learn more about PSE’s top quality bows and bowhunting accessories, click here.

My Bow Choice by PSE’s Jared Bloomgren

By Jared Bloomgren

I am often asked what makes me decide which bow is best for me. Ever since I began shooting my first PSE nearly 25 years ago I always looked forward to the next year when the new bows were introduced. It was always like Christmas in October when PSE would introduce the new bows and that hasn’t changed one bit today! I always look forward to what PSE will bring out for new bows and technology. This last October was no different! It has came a long ways since I was shooting my PSE Deer Hunter.

I decided to give the DNA a try and I have finally gotten my hands on my own. I have only shot the DNA at 20 yards in an indoor range so I cannot say for sure how I feel about the bow at longer distances. But when I have shot it, it has felt and shot like a dream bow. Smooth draw, vibe free, and very fast. Accuracy and forgiveness will have to be determined after I get it back. I have stripped my DNA down and sent it off to Hydro-Dip in Utah to have it dipped in the new Kryptek Highlander pattern! Once I have it back in my hands and get it put back together you can expect I will be out there shooting this bow out past 100 yards to determine if it will take the place of my Omen.

DNA fresh out of the box!

DNA fresh out of the box!

Okay, I got a bit sidetracked; back to it….what makes me decide which bow is best for me? I am a spot and stalk hunter as you know if you have been following my blogs. I hunt in the west in open country often and having a bow that is fast and forgiving is what I prefer. There are times when a 70 yard shot may present itself and having a flatter, faster shooting bow can make a huge difference. Granted speed doesn’t kill but it does sure help with these circumstances! Having a faster and flatter shooting bow will make judging yardage not as critical. This also increases my maximum effective shooting range. (Watch for a future blog on Maximum Shooting Range)

Ever since the introduction of the X Force HF in 2007 I was very excited! The speed and shoot-ability of this bow was better than ever in the PSE line. Since then the X Force line has continued with new bows over the years and there is an X Force for every style of archer. The speeds are phenomenal and yes, the shoot ability is top notch!

That brings me into the year 2012. I acquired an Omen Pro, black riser with skullworks limbs and accessories. The thing looks saweet! The black and skullworks combination just pops! I was pulling 74# and shooting a 390 grain arrow around 330 feet per second. I was drilling the bulls-eye out to 120 yards and very confident in my shooting and in the bow! I have never shot another bow as good as I am shooting this bow. The thing is a dream for me to shoot!

Omen Pro

Omen Pro

So that leads me back to the DNA. Will the DNA stack up to my Omen Pro? Time and testing will soon tell and I will keep everybody up to speed on my findings. Granted, what bow shoots best for me and what I prefer will not be the case for others. Each person needs to find the bow that compliments them. The Omen Pro has worked great for me and I look forward to trying out other bows as well. I hope to get my hands on an Omen Max too and I assume that will be just like the Omen Pro with a few refinements that I am sure will shoot just as great!

Another all time favorite bow of mine has been my 2012 Revenge. This thing is short and shoots incredibly well. I used it to hunt turkeys last spring and it will likely let the air out of a few more thunder chickens this spring! I would have to put my Revenge right behind my Omen Pro as far as shoot ability and accuracy. The Omen Pro had the edge over the Revenge as the Revenge just doesn’t have the speed and accuracy of the Omen Pro out to farther distances.

2012 Revenge

2012 Revenge

I will do another blog in the future about the DNA and what I think of it. I am pretty confident that it will be what I like in a bow as it is lighter and that would really help in my backcountry hunts. Saving every bit of weight on these hard to do hunts will help out a great deal. As a backcountry hunter I am always looking to shave weight somewhere. But the biggest question remains. Will I be able to shoot the DNA as well as the Omen? Time will tell and I will share my finding with you in the near future! Watch for a one of a kind DNA coming your way!

Jared “J-Rod” Bloomgren is a hardcore Do-It-Yourself bowhunter who strives to better himself each year in the outdoor community. As a professional hunter, freelance writer and photographer, he likes to relive his outdoor adventures through written expression and photography making the reader feel as if they were along on the hunt. He attributes much of his success to the vital education he has learned from the various big game animals that he hunts. He is quoted as saying, “In each and every hunt, success or defeat, I learn something from every outing and that I can put in my arsenal of knowledge to use at a later date, a later date that will again put my wits against that of my prey.”

To learn more about PSE’s top quality bows and bowhunting accessories, click here.

Loosen your grip by PSE’s Emily Anderson

By Emily Anderson


When first shooting a bow there is a lot to learn … stand this way, find an anchor point or two or three, back tension, don’t punch the trigger, level, breath, etc.  The list goes on and on.

I remember getting so frustrated with my husband when I was first learning because he wanted me to get everything right.  Now don’t get me wrong, he had my best interests in mind which is admirable.  While I appreciate his concern for my accuracy and desire for excellency, it can also be exasperating when you are trying to remember everything and your spouse is whispering in your ear, “You did it wrong, again.”  I know he was just trying to help, but I felt like he was secretly enjoying pointing out my errors.  Ugh.  I wanted to throw an arrow at him, and since I’m confessing, I think I chased him around with one at some point. Don’t worry, a broadhead was not fixed to the tip of my arrow!


Gals, if you are just learning to shoot, here’s a piece of advice:  Find a non-biased friend or someone from a local pro-shop to help with your shooting technique.  I’ve found that it is much easier to hear constructive criticism from a non-husband source.

With that being said, after years of shooting a bow, I am still working on perfecting my shot.  I know there is always room for improvement.  Sometimes a minor adjustment here or there can bring you to that next level of consistency in your shot.  Since we are now in a hunting off-season where most deer hunting has come to a close, don’t put your bow away! I would encourage you to take a look at your form.  Is there any room for improvement in your shot?  Video yourself and evaluate your form.  Have someone else give you a second opinion.


I know what I’ll be working on … how I hold my bow, specifically loosening my grip.  I need to make sure I’m holding it correctly with the bow grip in the meat of my palm, letting my fingers relax, and trusting my bow sling.  After a missed shot this last year, I can almost guarantee it was because I was so excited that I gripped my bow which ended up giving just enough torque to throw my shot off.  So, I know I need some work in this area.  I’ve asked a friend at a Pro-Shop to make sure I’m holding my bow correctly. I know it will take practice… I can consistently shoot 20 yard shots all day long, but I quickly learned the hard way that if I haven’t formed the habit of consistently holding my bow correctly, it is way too easy to grip and torque your shot during the heat of the moment when the shot counts. I have a date with an elk in about 9 months from now, and I’m not going to make the same mistake twice!

What about you?  Are you taking strides this winter to improve your shot?  What areas do you need to improve on?

Emily Anderson’s hunting journey began shortly after she got married. She enjoys the passions for the outdoors, hunting and fishing as a team with her husband. She established www.FromTheDraw.com as a way to share her stories as a female hunter. Emily lives in Colorado which allows her to hunt elk each September in the Rocky Mountains. She is now a PSE Staff Blogger and will be posting daily about her experiences and views on archery and hunting.

Keep your eye out for the #elktour DVD over on huntography.com! Watch PSE’s Emily Anderson and Dustin Jones hunt elk DIY style on our amazing public lands in the Western United States. Huntography also films a deer hunting DVD called #deertour which you will be able to watch PSE’s Will Jenkins hunt whitetails. Huntography…filming America’s hunters, one at a time!

To learn more about PSE’s top quality bows and bowhunting accessories, click here.

Is there really an off season? By PSE’s Al Quackenbush

By Al Quackenbush


Resolutions are tossed around at the start of each year and most last but a few weeks. The off season can seem like it lasts forever, but does it really have to? Does it even exist? For the die hard deer hunter who hunts only deer the off season can feel like an eternity. For guys like me who hunt year round to stay sharp there is no off season. I don’t hunt all the time though. Taking part in other activities not only helps me prepare for whatever hunting I will do in the Fall, but it also helps me out a great deal. Some of my shared tips not only help sharpen your skills, but you might be lucky enough to have one or two lead you to some new hunting land.

As soon as the season is over I review the data I have compiled throughout the season and set a mental note for what areas I want to research through online mapping, zoning and to see if they are private or public land. During the deer season I found areas that were posted and others that I want to explore further. The off season is a perfect time to do that. I begin by scouring the internet, finding out who owns the property and then ask permission to either hunt it or, if I am lucky, seeing if it borders public land in any way.

Take part in events that get you out in nature. What do I mean? Do some shed hunting! Find an area of land and just search for sheds. Volunteer your time in a conservation effort. Take for example the Southern California Bighorn Sheep Survey. I participated in this last year to see what the local sheep habitat looked like and to help count whatever sheep I saw. Not only did I get to meet some new people now turned hunting buddies, but I also was able to hike into an area I normally would not have access to. Come to find out the area has a public access point and there is ample huntable public land. We glassed steep, rocky hillsides for hours and didn’t turn up one single sheep, but we had a great time and knew we’d be back. You can also take in a few hunting seminars. It’s a great way to learn more about the animal you are hunting and a great way to make new friends.

Taking part in the 2012 California Sheep Survey

Taking part in the 2012 California Sheep Survey

Scout, hike and get in shape! Some of you are probably curious as to why this isn’t my number one recommendation. If there is one thing that I avoid is making resolutions regarding losing weight because it is usually the first resolutions I hear made each year. I am not one of the masses who vows to lose weight each year. While I can always stand to lose a few pounds, my goal isn’t to lose a set amount of body fat. I aim more to get out more and hit the trail and better yet, hit the areas that don’t have trails. Get out there and glass new areas and hike them. Get a feel for the land and be sure to take your camera and GPS. Losing fat and gaining lean muscle is an added bonus!

Hiking into new areas is good exercise and can lead to new hunting spots

Hiking into new areas is good exercise and can lead to new hunting spots

You can make an effort toward conservation of the land by picking up trash. Make the hunting areas that much cleaner and safer by picking up what others have left behind. These past two years I have located some seriously trashed areas due to human negligence and we aim to clean them up. Plan a day or two with a group of friends where you hike in with trash bags and pack out every piece of movable trash you encounter. Be aware that there may be creatures making homes in certain items and you should verify each is empty before picking it up. If you can drive a vehicle into some of the areas, try to load them up with as much garbage that you can to reasonably  haul it out. Sure, I know this is hard work and that it shouldn’t have to be your job, but it does give hunters a good name, and more importantly it beautifies the land, make it safer for the animals and gives you greener pastures to hunt in.

Bad luck if you break the miror but good luck if you pick up the trash in the forest.

Bad luck if you break the miror but good luck if you pick up the trash in the forest.

This is also great time of year to utilize some gear you haven’t used often or a good time to pick up somethings you want to try out. Why wait until the hunting season? If you test them out now and list the pros and cons, you will be better off when hunting season comes around. I like to test out gear in the off season to see what works well or not so well in order to consolidate what is in my pack come September. You can find out what is effective for different hunting situations and remove the gear that is not.

Last, but not least is to research some new animals to hunt. Last year it was to hunt elk for the first time and that turned into one of the most memorable hunts of my entire life. This year, with the help of my friend Bill Howard, I am researching an alligator hunt in Georgia. It’s a hunt I have thought about often, but know nothing about. With his help I am going to be finding a way to bow hunt an alligator sometime in the next couple years, but it is not a hunt that I will take lightly. It’s a hunt that will take careful planning and practice while utilizing some bowfishing skills.

Researching hunts like an alligator hunt is exciting.

Researching hunts like an alligator hunt is exciting.

These are but a few of the things I do while preparing to hunt deer in the Fall. For me, there is no off season. In the Spring there are turkey’s to hunt and in Southern California you can hunt wild pigs year round. What a great opportunity to find new areas to hunt, meet some new friends and to hone my skills as a bow hunter. 2013 has much to offer and I plan to enjoy the off season as much as I possibly can.

Albert Quackenbush has been bowhunting for more than 28 years. He shares his adventures on his blog, www.SoCalBowhunter.com, and also writes for Bow Adventures e-magazine. He is a Pro Staff member for DIYbowhunter.com, Piranha Custom Bowstrings and Field Logic. He is a member of the National Wild Turkey Federation, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, California Deer Association, and is a Life Member of the North American Hunting Club.

Albert was born and raised in New York State where he learned to hunt everything from squirrels to whitetail deer. He currently resides in Southern California with his wife and daughter and hunts year round.

To learn more about PSE’s top quality bows and bowhunting accessories, click here.



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