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Day 2: PSE’s Bill Epeards Takes an Eastern Gobbler with His X-Force Bow By PSE’s Bill Epeards with John E. Phillips


Editor’s Note: Bill Epeards of Goshen, Indiana, conducts 45 to 50 seminars per year, all over the country, on turkey hunting, whitetail hunting and dangerous game hunting. He has taken 12 Grand Slams of turkeys and 2 World Slams. Two of the Grand Slams have been completed using his PSE bows.

I took my Eastern gobbler for my Grand Slam in my home state of Ohio. I don’t know how the Eastern gobbler reacts to hunting pressure throughout his home range, but here in Ohio, the gobblers are very sensitive to hunting pressure. If you spot turkeys out in the field 200-yards away and stop your truck to look at them, those turkeys will take off running. I think the Eastern gobbler very well may be the most-difficult turkey to take of all four races of wild turkey, since these gobblers tend to receive the most hunting pressure. Regardless of which race of turkey you hunt, scouting is the most-important part of the hunt. This statement is especially true when you’re trying to take an Eastern gobbler with a bow.

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Many turkey hunters miss the point of being successful. You don’t have to be a world champion turkey caller to take a gobbler with a bow; being a good woodsman it far-more important. Learn the turkey’s daily movement patterns before you start to hunt him. When I scout, I try to get on the highest ridge in the area to listen for turkeys. We know when a gobbler flies-down off his roost, he probably is headed to find food and water. Next, a gobbler usually goes to an open field, a power line, a gas line right-of-way or a clear cut to feed on insects and young tender shoots of grass or to strut, drum and gobble to attract hens.

One of the differences in hunting turkeys from a blind and hunting whitetail deer from a blind is you can set-up a blind for turkeys the same day you hunt, especially if you use a Mossy Oak (http://www.mossyoak.com) blind and brush it in before daylight. When whitetail hunting, I try to have a blind set-up and in place for about a month before I hunt from it to let the whitetails become accustomed to it. Once you set your turkey decoys in front of your blind, if the turkeys respond to the decoys and start to come in, they won’t pay any attention to the blind.

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When you call to a gobbler to get him to come to you, you’re trying to get that tom to perform an unnatural act. Most of the time in nature, when the tom gobbles, the hens will go to him. When you call to a turkey, you’re trying to get him to do something he won’t normally do – go to the hens. Too, a gobbler has an audio global positioning system (GPS). As soon as he hears a hen yelp, a longbeard usually can pinpoint where she is within a few feet. Another reason you need to scout before you hunt is to make sure there are no fences, creeks or blown-down trees between you and the turkey. Although a gobbler can and will go around, under, through or over an obstacle, he doesn’t like doing that. So, you want to give the gobbler a clear and easy path to walk to your blind site. I always start my hen calls with a slate call. As the turkey gets closer, I switch to a diaphragm call like the Quaker Boy Split Notch Mouth Call (www.quakerboy.com), so I have my hands free to hold and draw the bow. If the turkey is a long way off, and I barely can hear him when he gobbles, I start calling to him with a box call instead of a slate, because the box call is louder and has a higher pitch. In this scenario, I’ll move closer to the turkey, set-up my blind, use a slate call and finally my diaphragm call.

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On this particular hunt, I was hunting out of a Double Bull Blind (http://www.primos.com/products/double-bull-blinds) on a picked soybean field edge where gobblers normally come out to strut. We knew the gobbler would show-up here, since we’d scouted the area before the hunt. The first thing I did after we set-up our blind was use a Quaker Boy Owl Hooter to get the turkeys to shock gobble. I wanted to know where the gobbler was, and what direction he’d be coming from when he got to the field. After I blew the owl call, and the turkey gobbled back, I knew the bird was 100- to 150-yards from the field. Once I saw the turkey step out on the edge of the field, I began to purr to him on the diaphragm call. He gobbled twice. When he saw those decoys, he gave them his full attention. I like to use a hen and a jake decoy, or a hen and a gobbler-in-full-strut decoy. Ninety-nine-percent of the time, the turkey will come to the gobbler decoy, because he wants to run that gobbler away from his hens and prove his dominance. So, I put the gobbler decoy closest to my blind at 15- to 18-yards out, with the hen decoy about 20-yards away.

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I like to hunt from a commercially-made ground blind, since having a cameraman in the blind with you is easier. Both of you have more room to work and you can get away with more movement. This gobbler came in at full strut, but he was very cautious. He came in and circled my gobbler decoy about three times. This gave me plenty of time to make sure he was in the right position for me to make a good shot before I released the arrow. I was using my PSE X-Force bow with a Spitfire broadhead (http://www.newarchery.com/products/mechanical/spitfire-2). When I shot the turkey, I aimed just behind the wing butt, and the turkey went down instantly.

Click here to get the ebook “Bowhunting Deer: The Secrets of the PSE Pros” by John E. Phillips, or 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.

Tomorrow: PSE’s Bill Epeards Hunts the Rio Grande Gobbler


Thanksgiving…Bacon Style!


Turkey with a bacon crust

Turkey with a bacon crust

Everything goes great with bacon! These days, they are even pairing it with ice cream, but how about turkey? One of our PSE followers, Tomas Gonzales, submitted his Thanksgiving turkey pics and recipe. We couldn’t resist! Here are the steps to Thanksgiving bacon style!

Ingredients:

  • 15-20 lb Turkey – cleaned, gutted, and thawed
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp rosemary
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 stick of butter at room temperature
  • Pound of bacon
  • Stuffing
  • Two apples cut in wedges
  • Two oranges cut in wedges
  • Twine
  • 1/2 cup pineapple juice
  • Aluminum foil
  • Aluminum roasting pan

Make sure the turkey is gutted, cleaned and thawed. Dry the turkey so the herbs will stick to the skin. Combine the thyme, rosemary, pepper and butter and rub the mixture on the turkey including in the areas under the breast skin. No additional salt because the bacon will provide the salt. Preheat the over to 500 degrees.

Weaving the bacon

Weaving the bacon

Weave the bacon in a basketweave configuration on aluminum foil. It’s done on the foil to make it easier to flip it onto the turkey. You can find videos on youtube.com to show you how to do this;  just search on “bacon basket”.

Stuffed turkey

Stuffed turkey

Cut the apples and oranges into wedges and place a few inside the cavity of the bird along with your stuffing. Tie the legs of the bird up with the twine.

Turkey right before putting it in the oven

Turkey right before putting it in the oven

Place the bird and the remaining slices of apples and oranges into the pan. Flip the bacon onto the bird and cover the remaining areas with bacon.

The secret sauce - pineapple juice

The secret sauce – pineapple juice

Pour the pineapple juice over the turkey making sure to coat the bacon on top of the turkey. The turkey is now ready for the oven. Put the turkey in the over for 15 minutes at 500 degrees.

Take the turkey out of the oven after it has browned for 25 minutes. Cover the turkey with aluminum foil and lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Place the bird back inside the oven and cook it according to the weight of the turkey.

Baste the turkey

Baste the turkey

Every 30 minutes, baste the turkey in its own juices. The last 20 minutes of cooking time, remove the foil and let the turkey brown. When the bird is finished cooking, take it out of the oven, cover it with foil and let it sit for 20 minutes before serving.

Turkey with bacon crust

Turkey with bacon crust

Here is how the turkey will look coming out of the oven.

Carve the turkey

Carve the turkey

Carve the turkey up!! Thanks for the recipe Tomas!!

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


PSE’s Jared “J-Rod” Bloomgren- Priceless


By Jared “J-Rod” Bloomgren

Jared “J-Rod” Bloomgren

PSE’s Jared “J-Rod” Bloomgren & Friend

What makes hunting complete for many? What makes hunting have more of a meaning for many as well? If you haven’t guessed yet it is hunting with family and friends. Although I am a hardcore DIY bowhunter and hunt many areas and times a year alone (basically because others can’t keep up) it is still impossible to put a value on hunting with family and friends. The friendship and love that is shared and forged through time hunting is unlike any other event that you can do in my opinion. It is a very spiritually passionate relationship that is shared with others while in the field chasing your game of choice. It is very powerful as well when you hunt with someone that you have a relationship with that allows you to think alike when it comes to hunting. This can really benefit you and the other hunting with you as thinking alike will ultimately make you more successful.

I will be the first to admit that I cannot hunt with just anybody. They need to have the same passion and love for hunting that I do. When I hunt I am a very patient person and every move of mine is thought out and not hasty. This has allowed me to be very successful with my stick and string over the years. I also admit that I have much better success when hunting alone; with that being said, I will never pass up the opportunity to hunt with family and friends that I trust and I am comfortable with. The bond that is built and strengthened in these experiences cannot be broke and it cannot be forgotten. Here is one such instance:

Jared “J-Rod” Bloomgren

PSE’s Jared “J-Rod” Bloomgren

This last spring turkey season I look my 2 year old daughter Emmalynn hunting with me. I knew the chances of taking a gobbler with her noisy antics in the blind could be difficult. But I was ok with that. After all, I just wanted this experience to be something that would teach her a little bit about hunting. I wanted it to be a learning experience that can be built on year after year. The first few evenings in the blind she was loving the experience and she was very excited. I taught her how to use a slate call and she was making all kinds of racket and even pulled a long beard into range! Couldn’t believe it! When the tom gobbled, the look on her face was priceless! I didn’t even know he was coming in….what were the chances!? Her idea of spinning around in the blind singing “Ring Around the Rosie” didn’t allow that bird to stick around long enough for a shot. But I wasn’t bothered at all…..it was a learning experience for her and a very good one too. We watched other wildlife move past the blind such as deer and various birds. She had never gotten the chance to see wildlife in this setting and I could tell that her gears were turning as she watched them. She was hooked like I was many many years ago when I was hunting with my late father. On our last evening hunt we were able to call in 8 different turkeys and she was able to watch me make a good shot at 30 yards on a big gobbler. I didn’t expect to harvest a turkey with her along this last season, but when I was able to it forged and built our relationship and our love for hunting that much more! I look forward to future adventures with my daughter and younger son and anybody else who I am lucky enough to share this amazing sport with. So get out there with a loved one and have the experience of your life!

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 Jared “J-Rod” Bloomgren – Do-It-Yourself bowhunter


Jared “J-Rod” Bloomgren

Jared “J-Rod” Bloomgren

At a very young age I was raised to appreciate the outdoors and everything that Mother Nature has to offer. When still in diapers I acquired an interest in archery and toted around my stick and string everywhere I went and to this day that hasn’t changed one bit! I strive to better myself in the hunting community and to also help those that are looking for the insight that they wish to acquire when it comes to hunting.

I plan all my own hunts and I am very proud of being a “Do It Yourself” bowhunter. I am a freelance writer/photographer and enjoy reliving my adventures through written expression in various outdoor magazines and online websites. I am very fortunate to have gained the support of a number of archery accessories companies as well as PSE. I support these companies to the fullest and believe in their products and services that they have to offer. I am also the Regional Pro Staff Manager for Montana Decoy for the Dakota’s Region and a Field Editor for the Rokslide website.

I have been hunting for over 25 years and have over 30 Pope and Young and 5 Boone and Crocket animals under my belt mostly using archery equipment. I also hold the top four (soon 5) world records for SCI Non-Typical Merriam turkeys in the archery category. I take extreme pride in the knowledge and experience that I have gained pitting my wits against that of my wild prey.

It is hard to pick a favorite animal to hunt but hunting animals that are very vocal and interact with your techniques are a lot of fun. That makes elk and turkey very fun for me but mule deer, whitetail, and antelope hunting are right there holding the “fun factor” as well. 80% of my hunting is done by spot and stalk. That type of hunting really puts your knowledge and experience against that of your prey on their terms. It levels the playing field more than any other type of hunting in my opinion.

Jared “J-Rod” Bloomgren

Jared “J-Rod” Bloomgren

I am married to my lovely wife, Camillia; she has supported me through the thick and thin and I am thankful for that! She is a very strong person! We have two beautiful children; Emmalynn and Jackson. I will teach them many of the same things that I was lucky enough to learn from my late father. Fatherhood is amazing and it is something that no man out there should miss in his lifetime! Words cannot describe the feeling of being a father. I now know what my father meant when he told me that so many years ago! Thank you DAD!

I work full time for the SD National Guard and will always do my part to keep each and every one of us free and able to do what we want, when we want. Freedom isn’t free but I will do my best to uphold the code of the military and our allies in force. I am proud for the service that I have given my country and the service that I continue to do. I also work at Scheels All Sports as a Hunting Expert. I enjoy helping other sportsmen/women achieve the knowledge they are looking for to set out on that hunt that they are wanting to do. I take pride in helping others reach success. In my free time, I have pursued a new venture of starting a small business that is selling archery, hunting, and outdoor gear.

I look forward to being a PSE Blogger and will post my hunting adventures as well as tips and tactics. I will post each time I am going out on a new adventure and the things that I have learned and experienced! Stay Tuned!!

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.


Curtis Goettsch’s PSE Dream Season EVO Gobbled-Up Gobblers


Curtis Goettsch Turkey

PSE’s Curtis Goettsch Turkey Hunt

Editor’s Note: Curtis Goettsch of Elkader, Iowa, has several reasons for loving PSE bows.

Since I already had taken a buck early in the season, I decided to go to my tree stand during the rut and take a doe, because I still had a doe tag. I had shot my buck on October 17, 2011. This hunt was on November 5, which was still fairly early in the season. I was curious to see how the rut was progressing, even though I couldn’t shoot a buck. Besides the doe tag, I still had two turkey tags on my hunting license. In Iowa, you can take turkeys in the fall and during the spring.

I got into my tree stand before daylight, and as the sun was coming-up I saw three gobblers in a tree. I knew that there had been some turkeys roosting in this area, since I’d seen and heard them during the early part of bow season. When the turkeys flew out of the tree, two of the gobblers flew away from me, and one flew toward me. I didn’t know how I could draw the bow without their seeing me, so when they flew out of the tree, I went ahead and drew my bow. The gobbler that flew toward me landed 15-yards from my stand. Since I was already at full draw, I aimed at his wing butt. When I released the arrow, I got a clean pass through. The gobbler jumped straight up in the air, landed on his back and never moved again. This was the second turkey I had taken with my PSE Dream Season EVO.

Curtis

PSE’s Hunter in a Tree Stand

The first turkey I took was earlier in the spring of 2011. I was hunting in the afternoon from a total-concealment blind. I had set up decoys. I began to call and hadn’t seen anything. Eventually, I looked out of one of the back windows in the blind, and spotted a gobbler not 10-feet away. I gave a few light calls out the front of the blind and then sat still and waited. Finally, the gobbler walked around the blind toward the decoys but didn’t hold tight to the decoys. I had to wait until he was about 23-yards out from the blind, before I could take the shot. When I shot, I hit the gobbler exactly where I was aiming. The bird ran about 20 yards, after a clean pass through, and then dropped dead.

I’m often asked why I shoot the PSE Dream Season EVO. I explain that the EVO has improved my level of shooting skill, both in tournament archery and in bowhunting. If you want to up your game and be a better bowhunter or tournament archer, PSE can help you do both. Yes, equipment does make a difference. The reason I chose the PSE Dream Season EVO was that I talked to a lot of people about the bow, then I shot the bow, and I found it to be the best bow that I could use. I don’t believe any bow company is coming close to the speed that this bow produces. I go to tournament-archery shoots, and the officials have a chronograph set up to record the speed of the arrow coming-out of the bow. Most of the time, my arrow coming out of the PSE Dream Season EVO will record the fastest speed of any arrow. My arrow is usually 10 feet per second faster than any other contestant’s arrow at the shoot. However, when you’re shooting an arrow that’s that much faster, you have more margin for error. If you misjudge the distance, the drop of the fast arrow is much less than the drop of a slower arrow. I shoot the PSE Dream Season EVO, because it makes me a better and more accurate bowhunter and a more accurate 3D archer. Too, it helps me win at bow sports.

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


Curtis Goettsch’s First Bow Buck with PSE


Curtis G.

PSE’s Curtis Goettsch

Editor’s Note: Curtis Goettsch of Elkader, Iowa, has several reasons for loving PSE Bows.

I was hunting on public hunting land at a spot I’d found early in the season, when I’d been fall turkey hunting. I had seen a lot of deer in this area, and I thought it might be a good place to try and take a buck. A couple of trails came through this area, with a rub line and scraping activity going on in this spot. Also, this was an ideal funnel region, because on one side was a sheer cliff and on the other side was a creek. So, the deer had to come through this little narrow gap to move from one section of the woods to the other. I didn’t take a stand in the pinch point, but instead set up a little back from the funnel.

The buck came in about 4:50 pm in the afternoon. I saw the height of the antlers and how big they were, but I didn’t take the time to count the points, since earlier in the hunt I’d seen some nice 8-point bucks that were too far away to shoot. I just assumed that this buck was one of those 8-pointers. The buck was chasing a doe. As soon as I saw antlers, I knew that this buck was a shooter. I watched the doe to see which way she was going, knowing that the buck would be right behind her. I could tell that she was probably going to come right under my tree stand, and I was going to have a really close shot with my PSE Polaris Express.

PSE's Curtis Goettsch

White Tail Buck

Now, I had a new problem. I had to determine how to get my bow drawn without the doe’s seeing me, so that I could prepare for a shot at the buck. I wasn’t worried about the buck’s spotting me, since he was intensely focused on the doe. As soon as the doe was directly under me, I drew my bow. The doe stopped when she heard my arm rubbing against my side as I made the draw. When she stopped, the buck stopped. Even though I was at full draw, I hadn’t moved the bow into position to aim. The buck started looking around to see why the doe had stopped. He was broadside to me, but quartering to me just a little. I used my bottom pin to sight-in on the buck, since he was only 25 steps to the base of my tree.

When I shot the buck, he whirled around and went back the direction he’d come from, and then I heard him crash. Since this buck was my first one, I didn’t want to pressure him. I decided to go back to the truck and call my buddy to help me find the deer and drag it out. I told my buddy, “I think I shot a pretty good 8-pointer, and I need you to help me get him out.” My buddy showed up about an hour after I called him, and we followed the blood trail. The buck hadn’t gone very far. When we saw the buck, my buddy went running up to the deer, grabbed the antlers and looked at the deer. He said, “That’s better than an 8-pointer, it’s a 10.” We both got pretty pumped up that the buck was so big. That’s still the biggest buck I’ve ever taken. So, I had taken my first deer, the doe, and the biggest buck I ever had taken with my PSE Polaris Express, all in the same season. I decided that when I had a bow that performed that well, I didn’t need another bow. The Polaris Express had done everything that I had asked it to do and more.

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


Mike Hopkins in 2009 Took Turkeys and Continued to Win at 3D Tournaments with His PSE Bows


PSE's Mike Hopkins

PSE’s Mike Hopkins Turkey Hunt

Editor’s Note: Thirty seven year old Mike Hopkins of Junction City, Kansas, has been shooting a PSE bow since 2008. Hopkins is a classic example of how to become a better bowhunter. Mike decided to shoot 3D archery just before he took his first buck with a bow. As you’ll see, Mike consistently has been able to take more animals and a wider variety of animals, since he’s incorporated 3D archery into his bowhunting program.

PSE: Let’s talk about the third year after you shot your first buck with your PSE bow. From the first year to the second year, you really stepped up your tournament archery participation, and you took five more animals the second year than you did the first year. You also moved up in class in tournament archery from Bow Novice, to Open C, to Open B class. Tell us about the third year, 2009. What bow were you shooting?

Hopkins: I was still shooting my  X-Force Dream Season hunting bow. In tournament archery, I started shooting a Dream Season bow that I had built in PSE’s Custom Shop. This bow was set up with a single cam system for shooting in the Open B class.

PSE: Tell us about your 2009 hunting season.

Hopkins: That year, I shot more turkeys than deer. I shot a couple of does in the fall, and then in the spring I took three gobblers with my bow.

PSE: What was your most memorable turkey hunt?

Hopkins: I was walking into the woods around lunch time and wanted to go to a spot that was right beside the lake. As I was walking into the area I wanted to hunt, I heard some turkeys. I was just barely able to see the turkeys down by the lake, although they were out in the open. I knew that to approach them I’d have to be very careful. Luckily, bushes and trees already had greened out. When I got into position, the turkeys started walking toward me down the edge of the bank. When the birds got about 20 yards away, I drew my bow and looked for the 12 ring that you see on a 3D archery target, as I prepared to aim at this gobbler. I was accustomed to shooting the 12 ring on a 3D turkey target, so when I had the opportunity to take a gobbler, I knew where the 12 ring would be, and I aimed for that portion of the turkey’s body.

PSE'S Mike Hopkins

Mike Hopkins Turkey Hunt

When I released the arrow, I got a clean pass through, and the arrow went out into the lake and sank, so I couldn’t recover it. I shot the largest gobbler in the group, but that tom didn’t drop like they do on the TV shows. It got into the air and flew out over the lake. I had to leave my bow on the bank and swim out into the lake to retrieve my gobbler. But the good news was, I saw it fall, and I plainly could see where it was. I was wearing Mossy Oak Break Up camouflage at the time, and it was a very memorable turkey hunt. I wasn’t using a blind. I was hunting from the ground, and the hunt was more or less unscripted. The other two turkeys I took, I shot from a blind. I had patterned the other two turkeys like you’d pattern a deer. I decided they were coming through one corner of this corn field, and if I set up a blind, called and waited, they should come out at the same place they’d come out before, and they did.

One of the reasons I didn’t hesitate to make this shot on the turkey was that I’d built up a tremendous amount of confidence in my ability to shoot the 12 ring on a 3D turkey target. A turkey is a very unique animal to try and take with a bow, especially with a broadside shot. Some people like to shoot a large guillotine type blade broadhead at the head of the turkey, but I just shoot the same broadheads at turkeys that I use when I deer hunt. Then I don’t have to change anything on my bow or my shaft that I’m comfortable shooting.

During the fall of that year (2009), I moved over to Fort Jackson in South Carolina and took an 8 point buck with my  X-Force Dream Season hunting bow. I had just finished my first year in the Open B class before deer season, and I won out of Open B and knew I would have to move up a class for 2010. So, I was shooting a lot before hunting season, and once again, several things about 3D archery helped me become a better bowhunter. I was shooting at the kill zone on animal sized targets, shooting at varying distances and shooting a lot, and I built up confidence in my ability to draw, aim and shoot, not only at 3D targets. When an animal presented a similar type of shot that I had shot when competing in 3D archery, I had no hesitation in taking the shot and knowing that I could make the shot. That confidence is another very critical key to being a successful bowhunter. Each one of those factors impacting tournament archery also relates very specifically to my bowhunting success.

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


Rounding Up Cattle and Fixing Fences Equals More Land to Hunt for James Nickols


PSE's Field Team Member - James Nickols

PSE’s Field Team Member – James Nickols

Editor’s Note: Forty seven year old James Nickols from Sparta, Missouri, a PSE Field Team member, has been shooting PSE for 5 years. Up until 2 years ago, although he has had a hunting lease in the past, he mainly hunted public lands. He’d found a little piece of land owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that was close to a river and loaded with does. Little did he know how his luck would change when he arrowed a doe during gun/deer season, and the doe jumped a fence and ran onto private property. Nickols demonstrated the kind of character that would pay big dividends in finding excellent land to hunt. He learned that if you did the right thing, good things would happen for you. But Nickols didn’t do the right thing in hopes of any type of reward, that is just was who he was. The old saying, “Right follows right,” certainly defined what happened to Nickols. If you’ll solve a landowner’s problems, he may solve your problem of locating a place to hunt.

A friend of mine has a deer lease in northern Kansas and asked me to go with him to drive the 6 hours to his hunting lease. I really think he asked me because he didn’t want to drive that far by himself. On the way to his lease, we spotted a herd of cattle out in the road. This area of Kansas where we go to hunt is fairly remote, with very few houses along the road. We had to stop the car because the cattle were blocking the road. When we got out of the car we noticed there was a hole in the fence, so we corralled the cattle and drove them back into the pasture. We were in my truck, and I’ve also raised cattle so I had all my fence maintenance tools in my truck. I started repairing the fence. While I was working on the fence, the farmer who owned the land came over the hill in a pickup, and said, “Hey, what are you doing?” I explained to him that the cattle were in the road blocking our way, that we had driven the cattle back into the pasture, and we were now fixing the fence. I told him I didn’t know whose property this was but I explained that I was just doing what I would want someone to do for me if my cattle got out of a fence. I explained, “I know the cattle market right now is pretty high, and these 20 or 30 cattle out here in the road could be a great loss to this farmer.”

PSE Archery - Deer Hunting Season

PSE Archery – Deer Hunting Season

When the man asked, “What are y’all doing up here?” I explained that my friend owned a lease up that way, and we were headed there to hunt. He asked what we were hunting for. I told him we mainly hunted deer, turkeys, and although we weren’t really into pheasants much, we hunted them when we could. Then the man explained that he owned the property, the cattle and the fence and told my buddy and myself, “You’re more than welcome to hunt my property.” I asked, “How much land do you have?”  He began to tell me in square miles how much property he owned. I had to look up how much land was in a square mile, because I didn’t know. Once I finally figured it out, I understood that this man owned about 10,000 acres. He said, “You’ll be the only ones hunting this property, and by the way, on the backside of the property is my grandpa’s old house. I keep the house maintained, but no one lives there. Since you fellas are from Missouri and have a long drive, I’ll let you use that house as a camp house, if you’ll pay the utility bills, which is $50 a month for gas and lights. Y’all can stay there any time you want, year round.” He also had a pond on these 10,000 acres that he said our children and we were welcome to fish.

I just got this property last season, and in a couple of weeks my buddy and I will travel to the property to scout it. We’ll let our kids play in the water and fish while we scout the property. This landowner has a lot of fields planted. From the roads, you can’t see the woods, but there are a number of hills, hollows, fence rows and ditch lines, where I’m sure deer are living. He has a tremendous amount of crops on the land, primarily corn and milo, some of these fields extend as far as the eye can see. No one’s ever hunted this property but his family. He’s explained that no hunters ever had stopped and asked permission to hunt there. The closest town is 35 miles away. This land looks like it will be an outstanding place to hunt deer.

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Turkey Grand Slam with a PSE Bow – Pt 2


Brian Stephens - Stick'em Archery

Brian Stephens – Stick’em Archery

Off to Nebraska to bowhunt a Rio and Merriam with Calamus Outfitters. It is the Middle of May and the birds had been pretty vocal and responsive to calls based on feedback from guys from the ranch. As luck would have it some weather came in and shut the birds down. Also, every long beard we saw that first day was “henned up”. We had our work cut out for us to get a bird into bow range and on film. We did find an awesome Merriam the first day we were going to target the second morning. Tip“There is fine line between being aggressive and pushing the envelope to far. If you can make a move on bird, go for it. If you can be patient and have a better set up for bow kill the next day consider that. I rolled the dice but decided to wait to hunt him next morning.“ We got set up early early on this Merriam the second morning in a ground blind. As the day started to come to life we heard him gobble his head off, so all was looking good. Well, we thought so until we had a mature hen start “putting” at us from no where. She finally calmed down and we continued to hear him gobble. Over the next 30 minutes he finally began to work his way into our set up. We softly called with a few yelps and purrs to let him know we were here. He finally came in our area but never to the decoy. The hens he was with skirted about 50 yards from the decoys and he was taking the same path. He began to put on a show about 40 yards from blind and slowly worked his way towards the hens in front of the blind. My camera man Dillon and I were waiting to see if he would commit or if he was going to continue to get farther away. Finally, he got about 35 yards away but hung up, so I decided to take a shot. He was in full strut facing me and let the arrow go…Well, I missed! I shot right under him! He jumped up and ran in a circle but went right back into full strut. I quickly nocked another arrow and made sure Dillon was on camera. He said yes and I shot again this time hitting him. The shot was a little forward at about 40 yards. It was a hard hit but not in my preferred area of the bird for an instant kill. We knew he was hurting because he was slowly walking and then laid down. I gave him some time and he was done a few minutes later. He was one of the most beautiful birds I had ever seen or shot. When I got to him the whole that he had in him from the Swhacker was MASSIVE! He was about 20lbs. with 9 inch beard and inch spurs. Just solid Merriam! Again, the PSE Revenge did not let me down……

Brian Stephens - Stick'em Archery

Brian Stephens – Stick’em Archery

That night we did some scouting and located a Rio and made plan for him the next morning. We had a bird roosted in a lone tree about 200 yards in front of us thinking he would go to the birds roosted to the south of us. We anticipated he would pitch down and come to us before going under a gate to get to the other birds. That is exactly what he did except my guide had us set up more for a shot gun than bow. We set up in pitch dark and before I could do anything to adjust this bird would have seen us . He was already on the ground running toward us. I drew my bow but had to shoot through the gaps on a steel gate that had barbed wire strung in between the gaps or openings. The bird got to 10 yards and I was at full draw. I did my best to shoot through a very narrow opening of steel and wire. Well, you can imagine the arrow hit the gate and hunt was over and slam was in jeopardy. Needless to say I was highly frustrated at the outcome. When you are that close and come up short in that way it is tough. I literally had to go back to ranch pack my bags and head to the airport to catch my flight. It was a long 5 hour drive back to airport.

The ranch owner knew how close we came and invited me to come back if I could squeeze out two more days. Well you know I was going to do anything I could to make this happen. Due to understanding wife and family I was able to literally SQUEEZE two more days out. After watching my nephew graduate from West Point Military Academy over the weekend in New York, the next day I jumped on flight back to Nebraska. Dillon who is the guide and was filming me, targeted another Rio in the same area were we missed one a few weeks earlier. We made a plan and moved our ground blind in an area that would not spook the birds. For some reason the turkeys in this area DO NOT like ground blinds. We tucked in away in area that was not in plain sight, set out (4) hen decoys and a jake. After an hour or soo and some soft purrs and clucks I got a nice Gobbler to come in. He was nice bird that gave us a great show. The challenge was he only had 2-3 inch beard and we could not see his spurs. The alfalfa was too tall. This bird did not have the other characteristics or body language of jake. He had big body and full fan. Knowing there was better bird in the area I passed on him. Well, the show then started when we had (3) hens come in and get beyond mad at our decoys. The were fighting them, fanned out and strutting around decoys. That instantly brought in (4) jakes, then more hens and then more jakes. We had 20 plus birds right on us for 45 minutes. It was awesome.. Well a few minutes later the big tom shows up on the edge of the fence from the woods and works his way into the pasture. He stayed out about 45 yards with few hens. This was the Rio I had been waiting on! As hard as it was not try to shoot him at that range I decided to see if he would commit in towards the other birds on decoys. It boiled down to what a few hens were going to do as he was on them for most of the time. They decided to come in and fight the decoys and he came with him. He got to 25 yards at the decoys and was strutting around a few times. I drew my bow and told Dillon I am going to shoot him. Once he turned broadside I smoked him at 25 or so yards and he dropped in his tracks. This Rio was huge at 23-24 lbs. 10 inch beard and 1 1/4 spurs. The Turkey Grand Slam with Bow was complete!

Brian Stephens - Stick'em Archery

Brian Stephens – Stick’em Archery

Overall, one of the most rewarding experiences in my hunting career. Six states in three months. To have friends and family cheering me on along the way and to not give up when things did to work out, I feel very blessed and grateful! Again, this trip took some planning and the help of Scoutlook Weather.com was essential for me to determine the best days to get in the field to make the most of my time. I now love to use Scoutlook for Turkey Hunting like I have used it for deer hunting. I like the hourly weather, scent cones based on wind direction, solunar tables, moon up/moon down information and barrometric pressure data it provides. It is a great all around resources for hunting, fishing and even golf. I trust Scoutlook Weather more than any other weather website on the internet!


Turkey Grand Slam with a PSE Bow


Content Provided By: Brian Stephens, StickemArchery.com Pro Staff

Brian Stephens - Stick'em Archery

Brian Stephens – Stick’em Archery

I turned 40 this year and one of my items “to do’s” was kill Turkey Grand Slam with a bow & archery equipmentall on film.  I started planning this quest in January with the help of a lot of friends.  As a passionate bowhunter and turkey hunter I thought this would be a good test to see if I could combine both of these passions.  I hope to share with you some highlights from this journey as well as some learning’s along the way.  Finally, I will discuss a tool that I used to help me plan my hunts called Scoutlook Weather.com.

I would start the slam down in Central Florida on Co-Founder, Bill Lawson’s leased ranch.  I have bowhunted with Bill down there for several years with nothing but frustration to show.  This year was going to be different based on leason’s learned and a new strategy.  Going back to Kissimmee is going home for me as I grew up with Bill hunting anything that had four legs in Central Florida since we were kids.  This trip we also had friends David Welch and Thomas Sutherland from Spook Nation TV.  Bill had scouted a number of locations for us to bowhunt.  The first morning Thomas and I hunted together with the hope of doubling up with our bows.  Thomas let me hunt first and he had the camera.  This morning started with hens yelping and gobbles a ways off.  Thomas is champion turkey caller, so I let him work his magic right out of the gate.  It was not long before we had young gobbler come in to see what was going on.  We had a few HS Strut decoys out (Woody “Jake” and Jezebel “Hen”).  About thirty minutes later and a few sequence calls between Thomas and I, we heard two toms coming in.  We got ready and around the palmettos came two mature long beards straight to the decoys.  These two birds came in on a string and I got ready to shoot.  These birds came in straight to the jake decoy and postured very aggressively letting him know he was low man on totem pole.  I told Thomas which bird I was going to shoot and I smoked him at 22 yards.  He went less than 10 yards and was done!   The bird that was killed was awesome Osceola with an 11 inch beard that was like paint brush, inch and quarter spurs and weighed 20 lbs.

Brian Stephens - Stick'em Archery

Brian Stephens – Stick’em Archery

Next, hunt was with good friend David Welch from Tennessee.  We hunted on his families farm opening weekend with high hopes of a great bow hunt.  David is a outstanding turkey hunter and camera man.  He graciously filmed for me knowing of my quest to get the slam.  We started out the morning on the edge of the field in a ground blind that was set up the day before.  As the day started to come to life we heard birds off in the distance.  David felt the birds had roosted deeper in the hard woods than he expected they would.  We had a hen and super jake come into our set up but no long beards.  We decided to get out of the blind and go to the birds.  We quickly located a group of gobblers with hens on edge of pasture next to a creek.  We put a plan together to go set up on these birds by following the creek to give us cover until we go to within 80 or so yards.  We got set up as best we could next to a fallen tree.  David set out the “Spin & Strut Decoy” and we got set up.  It did not take many calls to know the birds were on their way.  A few minutes later we had two long beards come into our set up and the show began.  I anticipated they would go to the decoy and give me a shot to my right with David behind me filming the action.  Instead they decided to stay in front where I had a limited shot over this large fallen tree.  I decided that it was now or never and took my first shot.  Instead of hitting a bird the arrow ricocheted off of a branch and off to “now where land”.  David quickly started to mouth call to keep the birds focused on our set up.  I instantly nocked another arrow, drew my Revenge and located the gobbler.  David was right there with the camera and as the bird was walking away at about 35 yards.  I shot and hit him in the back of the neck and he dropped in his tracks!  It was awesome…The other gobbler immediately started to peck the dead bird and stood on top of him and gobbled and gobbled.  It was an awesome hunt to call the birds in from the ground, miss first shot and get another shot off to drop him in his tracks.  He was 2o lb. bird, 9 inch beard 1 inch spurs.  Overall, a great bowhunt and the footage is awesome!

Brian Stephens - Stick'em Archery

Brian Stephens – Stick’em Archery

Now, I am off to hunt in Missouri with good friend Mike Stogsdill from Tru-Tone Calls and Spin & Strut Decoys.  Mike invited me to bowhunt an Eastern on a Missouri farm he manages.  This place has not had a lot of turkey hunting in the recent years, so the birds do not have a lot of pressure.  It had been raining the night before so the birds were slow to get off the roost.  We heard an occasional gobble but they were way off.  Mike and I tag teamed the calls on our Tru-Tone Wet Tech friction calls that finally got them fired up and coming into our location.  We used a series of purrs/clucks and soft yelps to get them gobbling.  With both of us doing this, it seemed to get them interested enough to come around the corner of woods so we could see them.  We were set up on a point in the field that had old cut corn field to our left and open field of alfalfa to our right.  Now that they can see the decoys that included an HS Strut Hen and Spin & Strut Decoy the game was on.  We softly called to keep them focused on our set up and they started to come in.  These were two beautiful long beards that were coming on a string.  I would move the Spin & Strut but not over do it to be too aggressive.  The movement of this decoy I am convenienced got them interested enough to come check it out.  Unfortunately, they did not come straight into the decoys.  Instead they skirted out around the decoys at 40 yards.  It was now or never. Mike got on the birds with the camera and I picked out the bird I thought I could get a shot on.  I let it go at 41 yards as he was walking at angle in some fairly tall grass.  Again, the PSE Revenge and the Swhacker did not let me down.  I smoked that bird and he did two flips in the air and it was over.  The other gobbler jumped on top of him and gobbled his head off and then left the scene.  When I got to this bird he was “eat up” by the Swhacker.  It put a massive hole in him and broke his wing.  This Eastern had 10 inch beard with little over inch spurs and weighed about 22 lbs.  Nice bird.

Tip - “Don’t over call even when you don’t hear anything for while.  Sometimes soft purrs and clucks will get them to come in even if they do not gobble.  When they do call back, then you can be more vocal.  If you can use two calls at the same time even if you are by yourself that can work well.  For example; using mouth call and friction call to simulate two birds.”

A tool that I use on a regular basis is www.SoutlookWeather.com App on my iphoneScoutlookweather.com is one of the most comprehensive weather resources I have ever come across.  The data it provides is highly accurate and specific to my needs as hunter.  I used the hourly weather data on the hunt in Missouri to help me know how to manage the hunt and travel.  I had to carefully plan each hunt for this slam without many days to waste so knowing the weather was critical.  The developers of Scoutlook Weather are hunters and they understand the importance of accurate quality information for hunting and fishing.  The convenience of an iphone app for Scoutlook is so helpful due to my need to regularly keep up with the weather in the different parts of the country I was going to bowhunt for the slam.

The Rio was next on the hit list for the slam.  I was invited to go out to the Rattle Snake Springs Ranch outside of San Antonio, Texas (hill country) to turkey hunt.  They have not done much Turkey Hunting over the years on this ranch, so I was somewhat working blind on this hunt.  The first day was a matter of trying to locate birds and figure out how they are going to respond to calling.  It was a slow day but finally located a bird that late afternoon and roosted him for that next morning.  The next morning could not come fast enough with me using whatever cover I could find to set up.  I would be hunting on the ground and trying to film as well.  Not the optimal scenario for bowhunting turkeys.  Without a lot of cover to choose from, I set up next to a tree with decoys in front.  As morning broke I started to hear the gobbles of the bird I had roosted the evening before.  Not only did I hear that bird I heard a bird directly to my right on the hill side that became very vocal.  This bird pitched down within 15 yards of me with two other jakes.  He was a giant!  I was stuck without the ability to move to adjust to him.  You talk about frustrating!  If he would have come into the decoy set up I would have had a shot but he decided to walk down the road.  I quickly turned as he got out to 40 yards and stopped him.  I took a shot at him but missed with the arrow just going under him.  That was a tough pill to shallow because I had to fly out the evening.  This was a short two day hunt that did not result in a Rio.  You can imagine the pressure was mounting because there are only soo many days to hunt in a hand full of states to shoot a Rio.  That next week I called Calamus Outfitters and talked to Adam the owner.  I had already set up a hunt for the Merriam in mid May on his place.  I asked him if he had any places to hunt a Rio on his ranches in Nebraska.  He said he had a few locations with a handful of true Rios that he would get me on after we shoot the Merriam.  We would have to travel to it but we could make it happen.  Game on!


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