I am forever amazed at the incredible talent to be found across America, and when that talent is exhibited by a hard-working deer hunter from the Heartland, I am really impressed.
I saw this skull art on the Facebook page of Robert Nichols, a family man and deer hunter from Oklahoma. I posted to Robert that I thought his work was awesome, incredible really. I figured he had carved and engraved for years, and was selling his artwork. Robert wrote back:
Hey Mike: Thanks for the compliment on my engravings! I have enjoyed watching your shows and reading your work for years.
This is a very new hobby for me. We got snowed in for a couple days last November. My wife had been telling me I should try something like this for a while, so she convinced me to do it then. I had a small shed antler and figured, “Why not?”
The shed turned out okay (last picture) so the next afternoon, I did an elk shed that I’ve had for several years. And then I did a gunstock all in the same weekend! I was having a blast, and friends and family encouraged me to keep going and trying different things. I work with a little bit of everything: sheds, a lot of skull caps, gunstocks…
You asked what tools I use. I’m just using a 15-year-old dremel that my wife got for me. I just picked it up and hit the ground running.
I work a regular job 60 to 70 hours a week. I have 2 great boys in high school, and an amazing wife that has always supported me in everything I have done. These engravings/carvings have actually helped me feel like I have a purpose again. And I enjoy doing it.—Thanks, Robert
Amazing the spirit and hidden talents of deer hunters across this great land!
On this Earth Day, I point you to a fantastic and enlightening passage written some years ago by two of America’s top deer biologists, Drs. Larry Marchinton and Karl Miller.
In the United States roughly 3 million white-tailed deer are harvested each year… This translates to about 150 million pounds of meat. Add to this the amount of elk, turkey, squirrel, rabbit and other game as well as wild fruits, nuts, and vegetables that is consumed. To produce this amount of beef, chicken, or vegetable crops in addition to that which is already produced would be ecologically devastating. Acres and acres of wild places would have to be destroyed to accommodate this increased agricultural production. More wildlife habitat would have to be plowed under. More pesticides would be applied. More soil erosion would occur. More waterways would become lifeless drainage ditches. Isn’t it better that some of us reap a sustained harvest from natural systems, rather than destroy these systems?
Today we celebrate the fact that hunters are America’s #1 conservationists and environmentalists!
Drew sent this picture of a tremendous buck he had been hunting for the past 3 years. “A truly remarkable animal that we called Moose,” Drew wrote. “Unfortunately, Moose died due to (another) bowhunter’s mistake (not mine) and we recovered his body and antlers this spring. My story is too long to put into an email tonight, but if you would like more I would be grateful and happy to share it with you.”
Drew will be sending the full and exclusive story soon. He also sent a trail-cam video of Moose on the hoof, and it is amazing footage. I’ll wait and post that with the story.
Drew says the rack was scored at 252 1/8″ and that was after squirrels had chewed off 20 inches during the winter. Scorers think it might be the 6th overall biggest buck that would have been harvested by any means in Ohio.
Stay tuned for more.
Archie over at Midwest Buck Quest turned us on to these big sheds that were found recently in Illinois. Split brow and a nice drop! Hope this hunter, who wishes to remain anonymous, gets a crack at him this fall.
This is a good reminder to get out there this weekend and do one more round of shed hunting before the woods green up. Find a nice set like this (or one antler) and you know the buck that dropped them survived last hunting season. If he does not get hit by a car or otherwise perish this summer, he will live in the general vicinity of where he cast his sheds (typically within 500 acres or so).
Teaser: You won’t believe the size of the wild skull/rack we’ll be posting next week. Can you say 250 inches plus?
I had a fascinating conversation with Andy Pedersen, a retired engineer and hard-core bowhunter who for more than 20 years was deeply involved with a deer management program on the Naval facility where he worked and hunted (and still hunts today).
From 1989 to 2006, 161 bowhunters participated in the tightly controlled program on 3,000 acres of great whitetail habitat near the Potomac River. Pedersen’s records show that 104 of them (65%) hit 908 deer and recovered 746 of the animals within 24 hours for a recovery rate of 82 percent (+- 2.5%). From 2007-2012, hunters stuck another 388 deer and found 337 of them. Add the numbers and you get a recovery rate of 83.6% over the 24-year span. The hunters were able to recover 1 deer for every 1.4 shots.
“Those are real-world numbers,” says Pedersen, who blood-trailed many of those deer.
To me, the most telling number is found inside the reams of data. The hunters were advised by Pedersen and others to hunt ethically and show restraint, and they did by keeping their shots at deer close. Shots averaged 17.6 yards for compound hunters (longest successful shot on record was 40 yards and the rest were closer, often much closer). There is no doubt in my mind that this statistic drives the impressive 83 percent recovery rate.
Just 10 years ago, if you wrote a blog about shooting at a buck more than 40 yards away, hunters would scream and call for your head. Today, you routinely read about 50-, 60- and even 70-yard shots, and see it more than you should on TV.
I don’t get that. As this 24-year study reaffirms to me, if you want to find most every incredibly fast, string-jumping whitetail you shoot at, show some restraint and keep your shots close!
Read my entire account of this landmark study in the August 2014 issue of Bowhunting World magazine.