Author Archive for Dave

Eastern Colorado Archery Deer

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

It was two weeks before Christmas and I found myself on a plane flying to Colorado.  Early in 2011, Trevon and Adam contacted me and extended an invitation to join them on their annual Colorado plains archery deer hunt. I was honored that they would invite me on a hunt that has been their tradition for many years. This was a no brainer as I had watched heir 2009 footage many times and was very impressed with the bucks they were chasing.

Born and raised in  Nevada my passion is spotting and stalking in the sagebrush country the Great Basin provides. This Eastern Colorado plains hunt would be a little different than what I’m used to and I definitely was up for the challenge.

My first look at the country was on opening day. With the first rays of the golden sun hitting the landscape the thermometer bottomed out at 15 degrees. All I could see around me was wide open cut wheat stubble, cut corn, and CRP fields. With such little cover we could spot deer for many miles but getting to them would be the true challenge. This late season archery hunt was taking place after three gun seasons, making the animals very much on edge. Anytime they would see a vehicle moving they became very skittish and if the vehicle stopped they were high tailing it out of the country with ears pinned in the back position.

The first morning out on the plains, a day before Adam could get away to join us, Trevon and I spent most of the chilly morning in his truck moving from one vantage point (more like a slight rise in the road) to another where we would fix ourselves to our window mounted Nikon spotting scopes picking out every detail that was out of place.  We would have to spot deer from a long way away and make a plan to get in close on foot.

Mid day found us pinned to the side of the road watching a large main frame 4 point muley moving through the cut wheat with another buck and a whitetail doe.  The only reason we saw this bruiser buck was his mid day stretch got him to stand and reposition  When the deer bed in this cut wheat little is left in the way of landmarks to follow except for the tips of their tines peaking out from the tan stalks.  We only had the antler tips as a landmark above the rolling wheat stubble.

While we watched this four pointer, another group of deer rose from their beds at the report of a phesant hunters shotgun.  This herd was about 400 yards away from the big four and bedded under the sprinkler lines in the middle of the pivot.  We marked their position so as not to blow them out of the country when we went after the big four.

Trevon and I parked the truck downwind about a half mile from the deer and out of sight, and the stalk was on. With a rise in the landscape we were able to reach the edge of the pivot without being seen, but from then on it was on hands and knees belly crawling the rest of the way.

The wheat in this particular field is topped off at about 18″ and is extremely loud and crunchy. Although we didn’t have any wind that was steady but the occasional gust of wind would cover the sound of our approach and prevent being detected by the radar ears of the deer.

With bow in hand I was followed by Trevon running camera and getting everything on film.  It was extremely slow going but we were steadily closing the distance.  Keeping our eyes on the buck’s antler tips we weaved our way closer, occasionally having to sit still and wait in one spot for the breeze to pick up before moving again.  One of these silent waiting periods was interrupted by another pheasant hunters’ shotgun report a couple miles away.  Again this alerted the closer herd of deer and they stood to investigate. The biggest buck in the group stood for just a few seconds, giving us a quick look before repositioning to bed back down. Soon he was followed by the others as a calm came over the herd.

The wind started shifting and the herd was now down wind of the big four point buck we were originally stalking.  We knew there was a decent buck in this closer group and if we kept going straight for the big four we would surely blow them out of the country and eliminate any opportunity to hunt them in the coming days.  Sometimes, as a bow hunter, you have to except the gift you are given.

Being 150 yards from the herd and 300 yards from the big four, my strategy changed.  I turned to Trevon and told him we were going to go after the big group bedded under the sprinkler pivot.  They were in prime position and if we could get through the wheat and close the distance we would have an opportunity to fill a tag and have the first kill on film for the Outback Outdoors show.  His nod in agreement changed the game.

Trev stayed on my heels as we closed the distance.  The buck I wanted bedded near the 5th tire on the pivot sprinkler line, all I had to do was get to the 4th tire and I would have a 60 yard shot.  Those last 100 yards was utterly nerve racking. Wheat stubble cracked under my hands and knees with every shift of my body.  Seventy yards away and I was on my own as Trev stayed back with the camera to capture the events as they unfolded.  There was 30 yards left to cover while avoiding the eyes and ears of the deer on the perimeter of the herd.  I could see bodies and ears through the thin openings in the wheat stubble which forced me to slow my pace further.  Finally making it to my goal and the 4th tire up line from the buck, my nerves calmed as now the waiting game began and I was in prime position.

Our timing on the stalk was perfect, almost scary perfect.  Within three minutes of setting up, the smaller bucks and some doe started to stand and mill around.  Surely he would rise at any time and join them for an evening feed.  I could hear my heart pounding in my ears. As though it was a choreographed dance, I came to full draw as he stood and he gave me the two steps forward that I needed for a clear shot behind the shoulder.  The small window of opportunity was all that was needed as a clean release sent the arrow 60 yards to its mark.

First day, first stalk, first shot and we had a buck down.  There was no need to track the crimson sprayed wheat as we watched the buck fall less than 30 yards from his bed.  With my 2011 Colorado deer tag filled I the next 4 days found me returning the favor and running camera for Trevon and Adam.

What a great experience, having the opportunity to stalk mule deer in the flat wide open country of Eastern Colorado.  I will take the many lessons learned and strategies acquired and apply them to all my future hunts in the hope to become a better bow hunter.  I believe, both in hunting and in life, no matter how successful or accomplished you are, you can always learn and better your future performance.

Dave Beronio – team Outback Outdoors

Wyoming Elk, Stalking Strategy put to the Test

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

We needed to cover over three hundred yards in the wide open if we wanted to catch up to the herd.  The ankle high sage would only cover our Kenetrek boots so now it was time to put our gear to the test.  With three of us in a line perpendicular to the elk we used a Montana Decoy “Cow Elk III” as a shield.  The herd was 400 yards away and we were in plain view during the time it took us to cover 300 yards of open ground. 

My Camera man Chris Callinan was the lucky recipient of a Wyoming archery elk tag.  On this trip, I was running camera while Chris was hunting. Joining us on this adventure was good friend Wade McCammond who took care of the calling.  The Red Desert of Wyoming is not  what your ideal elk country looks like and anyone who knows the area can attest it is more like typical antelope country.  Surrounded by flat rolling hills covered in low sage there was  not a tree in sight.   With the lack of good cover our Montana Decoy played a key roll in the success of the hunt.

I’ve had bulls come in while using the decoy and it has helped in many situations.  Its main use has been to entice a bull into range or help animals feel secure.  Now, using it as a shield, I have another tactic to use for closing the distance and helping my success as a bow hunter.  Chris, Wade, and I were shoulder to shoulder sneaking through the sage with the decoy leading the way.  Hiding our silhouettes and sending out the occasional lost cow call we covered ground with ease.  The herd gave us little attention as we skirted our way to a pre designated hill which we would use to make a calling set.  Now in position a little ahead of the herd Wade started calling and the monarch of the prairie came charging in to 60 yards.  Although this set didn’t produce a shot it was proof that using a Montana Decoy as a shield opened up another opportunity that we wouldn’t otherwise have had.

A couple days later this strategy would pay dividends as it would get us in on another herd.  Using two Cow Elk III decoys we jockey with the herd until our position would allow us to pull away a satelite bull and with camera rolling Chris slips an arrow behind the shoulder of a Red Desert Bull.

I know you will enjoy this show as you watch us use the decoy to stalk and entice this bull into bow range. It’s my hope that you too have the opportunity and enjoy the thrill of using  this strategy to get into position and slip an arrow into a trophy of your own.

Dave Beronio – Team Outback Outdoors

Californa Bears Hit the Ground

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

I am still suffering from adrenaline overload from this years California spot and stalk bear hunt.
What an exciting hunt with all the highs and lows associated with bow hunting. Our spring and summer scouting provided us hundreds of bear pictures, increasing our excitement and anticipation for the upcomming season but as we all know, things change in the field.

Opening weekend came around and we hit the mountains hard. I spent hours pinned behind the glass of my Nikons searching every nook and cranny only turn up sows and cubs. This was special in its own right as it allowed us opportunity to watch nature at work and kept us on our toes. One situation in particular put us 12 yards from a sow, with her two cubs under 10 yards, her bluff charge raised the hair on the back of our necks and as Fred Bear said, “it is a feeling that will cleanse the soul”.

Heading back to work for a couple days, I gave Chris a couple days off from running camera.  He used this time for scouting, but with bow in hand he found himself 18 yards and at full draw.  Chris took advantage of this gift and filled his tag with a nice California bear.

 

I was still with an unpunched tag when the hard work and dedication finally paid off.  Spotting a great bear with the first rays of light our stalk would be fast and the final seconds even faster. Forty yards of berries and steep High Sierra country kept us from the bear, but only clean mountain air separated my Goldtip arrow from his thick chocolate coat . With camera rolling, my first shot hit the mark. The bear hit the deck, regained his footing and sprinted uphill only to realize there would be no more up. This is when the real fun begins. Without giving away too much, I leave you with this; My first shot was at 40 yards, the second was at 7 yards and I never moved my feet.

 

With Chris Callinan running camera and me behind my Hoyt CRX 32 we have gained memories that will last a lifetime. We hope you enjoy watching this hunt as much as we had bringing it to you.

We will see you where the white rocks and the green trees meet the blue sky.

Scouting Update for California Bears

Monday, July 11th, 2011

Just shy of six weeks from the opening day of the California bear season and the bruins are reading the script to the story perfectly. However, until first light on opening morning I will not know which animal will play the leading role. We have a number of contenders but the unpredictability of animals is a factor left in Gods hands.

Chris Callinan and I have been documenting all aspects associated with scouting and preparation for this hunt. Many hours of video footage, still photos, and trail cam pictures are the appetizer to what should turn out to be another great Outback Outdoors webisode. We’re excited to share this adventure from start to finish.

July 1st found us high in the mountains trying to avoid the high 90° temperatures that lurked back home. It wasn’t only the air temperatures that were hot; our trail cameras were on fire. Staying out of the area for a few weeks, this was our first trip back to check on them and the new locations were turning out to be extremely productive.

Tucked into a small basin, the mountain spring boils out of the hillside and weaves its way slowly through an aspen grove only to disappear into the sage flats below. With no opportunity to glass the area our scouting is comprised of reading the many signs on the ground, gauging the marks on trees, and viewing nearly 1700 trail cam pictures from this one camera alone. This honey hole is turning out to be our most productive set to date. This headwater serves a dual purpose for the bears in the area. Pooling up under a natural grassy bank, the small gravel tub is both a water hole and a wading pool to soak their thick coats.  The water is constantly moving through the pool so there is always clean drinking water or a freshly drawn bath.  This location will make for a difficult hunt but with the number of bears in the area, it offers great opportunity. 

Here are just a couple of the trail cam picts we enjoyed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moving on to one of the other cameras later in the evening we were stopped in our tracks as one of the bears from my original post, “Scouting California Bears”, lumbered out of the willows. Bandage is a very distinct bear with a white blaze chest and a bandage like stripe across his nose. With camera rolling Chris and I contemplated strategies on how we‘d stalk him as he feed through an open park just a couple hundred open yards away.  I’m hoping this situation replays again in six weeks as it would have made for an exciting hunt. 

Scouting California Bears

Friday, June 17th, 2011

Scar Face/pumpkin head

The excitement level is rising with every trip into the mountains and the anticipation for the opener of bear season is becoming obsessive. For me, scouting for any big game can never start early enough or maybe it is just my excuse to get more time in the mountains. Either way it is paying off both for deer and bear.

This past Wednesday I met up with friend and Outback Outdoors camera man, Chris Callinan, for our second trip into the mountains checking

White Nose

the trail cams we have set for bears.  The state of California does not allow baiting as a means to take bears. So in the backcountry of the Eastern Sierra’s we rely on signs of bear activity to determine where our cameras will be most usefully placed and our glassing concentrated. Chris and I have been focusing out efforts to one deep canyon. Lined with pinion junipers and aspen pockets, the lush grassy parks are showing sign of an active population of bears.

 

A nice chocolate bear gnawing post

Scratching post

One tell tail sign of high bear activity in the area is a railroad tie fence post. This oil soaked object is being used as a scratching post or a scent marker. The top quarter gnawed away giving a great indicator of the size and dominance of the bears in the area. This location along a high mountain cattle grazing fence line is turning up some great pictures.

Bear trail inspection

Another indicator is a fascinating sliver of aspens displaying signs that many generations of bears have been lumbering under the quaking canopy. There are trails beaten into the soft earth by the tight gait of bears following in the same foot step as the previous bear. Nearly every aspen is clawed or chewed upon as markers and scratch posts with many showing claw marks nearly to the top.

White Nose

We will be heading back in to the area at the end of June to see what these areas are producing.  All this leading up to what looks to be a potentially awesome California archery bear hunt. 

DIY, Know Your Equipment, Hoyt CRX32 Setup

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

My new Hoyt CRX 32 hit the front porch a few days ago and another

New Winners Choice strings

 package containing my Winners Choice strings.  Now what?  Do I drive an hour  to Reno and go to one of the archery shops that I have no relationship with or tuck into the garage, with my Bowmaster press that I picked up from Sage Creek Outfitters years ago, and put my Winners Choice strings on myself? 

One of the most important tools an archery hunter can possess is knowledge of how your equipment works.  There are some awesome archery shops out there with a knowledgeable staff that can setup and tune your bow for you.  But what happens when you are in the back country and slice your string with a razor sharp broadhead?  Chances are, there will not be an archery shop anywhere close, leaving you hours if not days absent from the field.

I choose to take on the task myself.  I am not a bow shop nor do I claim to know everything about how a bow works, but if something happens in the field, I will be better off than 90% of the guys out there.  There is no professional bench mounted press in my garage either, I use exactly what I take on my hunts, (usually left in the truck) a cable Bowmaster press.

The Hoyt CRX32 was extremely easy to work on and tune.  I start a string change session by first marking the limb position on the cams.  Then I take pictures of the cams from both sides and one picture of the cable guard.  This comes in very handy when reattaching the string, control cable, and buss cable.  I learned this when changing one of the first strings on my own and running a buss cable the wrong way.  Yep, I couldn’t draw the bow.  A few frustrating and humbling minutes later all was fixed and a lesson learned.

Bowmaster press

The Winners Choice strings I put on this jet black CRX are a speckled blue and white.  Although red and black strings would look sharp matching the red highlights on the bow and on the RipCord rest, I feel that Red, White, and Blue are better and you cant go wrong with those colors.

The factory strings that I removed go in a plastic bag and marked.  This will stay with the bow press as a backup should anything go wrong.

With the Winners Choice string in place I could now draw the bow and check timing.  The CRX was easy to tune and tuning procedures explained simply in the owners manual.  I added a few twists of the Buss Cable and now the Control cable stop and the Buss cable stop hit contact points simultaneously.  I was also pleased to see the marks I made on the cams were in the same place as when I received the bow from the factory

Ripcord rest setup

With the timing of the bow set, I installed a Ripcord rest and attached the release rope to the Yoked Buss cable.  Perfect position, and the rest fell with the letdown of the draw.  No bow is complete without a Spothog Sight.  I  picked this one up many years ago from Sagecreek Outfitters.  This is the fourth bow it’s been on and I believe that is a testament to its dependability and durability.

TightSpot Quiver

The final touch was a Tight Spot quiver to house Gold Tip arrows.  The design of this quiver makes it adjustable to anyone’s preference.  The Tight Spot can be moved up or down with a couple set screws but the seller for me is its adjustment in tight or out away from the bow and or be removed completely with the use of a dovetail clamp. 

Full Setup

Time to paper tune and sight in this killing machine.  In a few weeks I’ll follow up with a performance report on the CRX32 and the other equipment on the bow.

In the end, I performed the string replacement and tuning with a portable Bowmaster press.  It is a comforting feeling knowing that if anything happens in the field that needs fixing, I wont have to rely on finding a shop.  Know your equipment and your confidence in the field will increase.

Nevada Draw Results

Sunday, May 29th, 2011

Nevada draw results were posted today and I was only able to come away with one tag. Although I had a good chance to draw multiple tags in my home state I came away with one, an archery cow elk tag.

After killing a great bull in 2006 I now have a waiting period of ten years before I am able to apply again. The waiting period is kind of a bummer but it doesn’t stop us from getting out in the mountains with the elk.

Many of the western states have great elk hunting and may provide residents the opportunity to hunt bulls every year. Not here in Nevada. We look forward to any chance to chase elk, cows or bulls, it doesn’t matter.

Anyone who spends time chasing elk through the tall sage or quaking aspens will appreciate my luck in the Nevada draw. 

Nate Johnston and Dave Beronio, with Nates NV archery cow elk

So while waiting for my ten year holding pattern to end on bulls I’ll be enjoying getting in on cows primal style and putting meat on the table for my family and friends.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed as I am still waiting for results from a few other states. Hoping you as well are blessed with the opportunity to hit the mountains with tag in hand.

California Bear Tag in Hand

Sunday, May 22nd, 2011

A pleasant surprise in the mail today, my California hunting license and bear tag.

With internet access we have updates and tag results at the push of a button. But one thing that never gets old is picking up the mail at the gang box, sifting through the stack of bills and seeing an unmistakable letter from a Department of Fish and Game.

As the shadows of evening cast into the canyon the bear was spotted feeding up a long side a thin red willow patch. Chomping the lush grass that lined the willows, this bruin never heard Outback Outdoors camera man, Chris Callinan stalking into position at the head of the willows. The wind was perfect, cover minimal, the bear never knew he was there. Chris kept tabs on the animals location by watching patches of hair through the thin willows. With the bears head pinned to the ground and moving uphill, chris could get positioned and drawn without detection. The moment of truth came when the bear cleared the brush 8 paces from the tip of Chris’s broadhead. With perfect shot placement all hell broke loose in the bottom of the canyon. The bear spinning and biting at whatever penetrated behind his shoulder while Chris sat motionless in the grass only yards away.

The most terrified person was Chris’s wife Celest who was sitting on the adjacent hill a couple hundred yards away watching the events unfold through the spotting scope. To her it looked like the bear was on top of her husband. As the bear fell a sigh of relief came over her as Chris stood out of the deep grass bow raised thankful for a great hunt.

This is what I have to look forward to archery hunting CA bear. California does not allow baiting so there will be no waiting for bears to come to us. There will be plenty of excitement as we spot and stalk them in the high alpine country of the Sierra Nevada mountains. With Chris filming over my shoulder we will bring you the excitement from the ground.