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PostPosted: December 22nd, 2014, 1:57 pm 
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We all know that one of the best benefits of PBS are the contacts that are made and friendships formed. I just returned from a trip to North Dakota that exemplifies the value of that.

It all started a number of years ago on one of the Wensel's PigGig hunts. Part of the crew that week included a group of guys from North Dakota, including Jim Domaskin and Irv Prough. It was obvious from the start that we shared a twisted sense of humor and it became the basis for long friendships. PBS conventions gave us more opportunities to cement the bonds and we finally shared another camp in Manitoba last spring chasing bears.

Jim is a farmer in North Dakota and talked about some of the great whitetail hunting he has. An invitation was extended for me to come hunt with him in December a couple of years ago. I was really looking forward to it, but ended up drawing a last minute Utah bison tag, so backed out on the trip to North Dakota. The invitation stood however, and this December we finally made it happen.

My good friend Ohne Raasch joined me on the trip from Wisconsin. We were scheduled to leave on December 13th. Two days before departure I received a text with this picture of a great buck that Irv had shot that morning. That really stoked our fires!
Image

We arrived in Minot and met up with Irv at a Scheels so that we could purchase our license and deer tags. Jim had said that turkeys were also plentiful, so we each had already applied for and received those tags in advance. Another 75 miles west and we arrived at the Domaskin farm. With a couple of hours of daylight remaining Jim had a couple of stands in mind and we quickly gathered gear and heavy clothes and headed out for a quick evening hunt.

When I think of North Dakota I had generally thought of wide open spaces and very few trees. The drive out to the farm did little to dispel that impression. Upon arrival we discovered a whole new perspective. The top fields were indeed flat and open, but they were cut with extremely deep and steep timbered draws that just screamed deer country! This is an aerial photo of Jim's farm and you can see that the draws and ravines make up a good portion of it.
Image

Irv took Ohne to a pit/box blind called the Bomb Shelter, while Jim drove me to the end of a draw with a ladder stand called Climax. I climbed up and buckled in while Jim left and drove around to an opposite hillside where he would have a view of the entire area. I don't think I had been there an hour yet when two does came walking in my direction. Instead of dropping below the stand on the trails as expected though they filtered into the brush above me and quickly caught my scent. Jim immediately texted me and said he was going to come move me to a nearby ground blind that would have a better wind direction.

The new blind overlooked a fence crossing near the top of the draw the recently departed Climax stand was located in. Shortly before dark a very nice buck came waltzing out of that draw. Of course, rather than using the fence crossing he stayed well out of range and walked over the hill and out of my life. I could only wonder which trail he had used as he came through the Climax draw. And I couldn't resist the chance to needle Jim about pulling me out of a stand that a buck was about to walk under. :lol:


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PostPosted: December 22nd, 2014, 2:25 pm 
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I am looking forward to this one.......


David


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PostPosted: December 22nd, 2014, 7:20 pm 
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Okay Joe you got me sitting on the edge of my chair.


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PostPosted: December 22nd, 2014, 8:22 pm 
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Well Joe I am waiting to see if that spill you took on the mountain bike on Blackbeard Island did in fact dislodge that horseshoe that you have been carrying around.


Last edited by Greg Szalewski on December 23rd, 2014, 7:02 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: December 23rd, 2014, 6:20 am 
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I subscribed to this immediately, but delivery is really slow at holiday time....!

:D


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PostPosted: December 23rd, 2014, 7:36 am 
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Just poured a cup of coffee in anticipation of another good story before I started work. Guess I'll just make another later in the day.

Looking forward to this tale.


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PostPosted: December 23rd, 2014, 7:41 am 
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This sounds good. I had a couple of really good hunts and really close calls on biiiiiig deer in North Dakota.

Please proceed!


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PostPosted: December 23rd, 2014, 8:02 am 
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Sorry for the delay here. Between unpacking from this trip, Christmas preparations, and trying to get ready to leave for Arizona on Friday I'm feeling a bit like a one armed paper hanger this week. I'll get a few more pictures uploaded and get back to this.


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PostPosted: December 23rd, 2014, 9:43 am 
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Technically this was an unguided hunt, but only in the fact that we weren't paying for services. Jim and Irv pulled out all the stops to get Ohne and I on deer and turkeys and they worked harder at that than any guide that I have ever seen. They would drop us off at stands in the mornings before daylight and again in the afternoons. They never once hunted themselves even though Irv still had 3 turkey tags in his pocket and Jim as a landowner had multiple deer and turkey tags to fill. After dropping us off they would go to a high spot to glass the fields and try to further pattern the deer. I think Jim knows more about what the deer are going to do on his land than the deer do themselves. There are over 50 stands and ground blinds set up and choices for every possible wind direction.

The deer activity was very predictable as far as when they would move. But narrowing down exactly how they would get from bedding to feeding areas and back again was a bit tougher. There is just so much cover for them to chose from and soybeans, corn, and sunflowers to choose from for their menu. It was a real chess match with the deer not seeming to do the same thing twice. We consistently were seeing deer in bunches but often not within shooting range. The encouraging thing was that there were large numbers of them, and plenty of good sized bucks were among them. Seeing 4 or more mature bucks was a common occurrence each time out.

I mentioned that we had applied for and received turkey tags as well, and it was a good thing we did. Somewhere around 80 - 100 turkeys were roosting nightly in one particular draw about a mile away from the house. After fly down in the morning they would work their way into a corn field and then often would end up heading down toward the farm yard to hang out for the day in the shelter belt around the buildings. Jim has a couple of home made hay bale ground blinds in the shelter belt, so after a hearty breakfast on Tuesday morning climbing into them to see if we could ambush a turkey.

After flying down the birds tended to split up into two groups - one nearly all toms and the other hens and their broods from last spring. I had been hearing continuous turkey talk on the other side of the row of pines but hadn't seen a bird. All that talk was just a distraction though. A large group of toms had snuck in behind me and were twenty yards away on the back side of the blind. It wasn't long and the group started to filter directly in front of the only shooting window at less than 10 yards. Perfect, right? Well, almost. The first bird had a bit of a scraggly looking beard so I waited for others to come closer. With 3 or 4 directly in front of me I began to raise the bow for the shot and they all immediately went on to high alert and putted away from the opening. They obviously caught my movement and promptly exited stage left.

As the gobblers walked into the row of trees a large group of the hens that had been making all the noise earlier walked out. As they scratched around in the grass feeding I watched through a small observation hole. It took awhile, but eventually they headed my way in a single file line. I readied for a possible shot, this time thinking I would try drawing just as the first bird stepped into the shooting window. About the time she did that a few of the others picked up the pace to pass her and suddenly there were multiple birds again in range. Again they caught the movement of my draw, but this time I simply continued the process and as they began to putt and walk away I saw my arrow hit hard on the hip of a quartering away bird. She ran twenty yards and went down for good.
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PostPosted: December 23rd, 2014, 9:56 am 
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excellent Joe! That's sure some pretty country. Hopefully you will finish this story up or are you waiting for Christmas :lol: .....

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PostPosted: December 23rd, 2014, 10:01 am 
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Mmmmmm...Christmas dinner!


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PostPosted: December 23rd, 2014, 10:06 am 
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I'll continue with the story in a bit. But first I need to add a little commentary. I love PBS and all that it has done for me to build friendships and it has contributed greatly toward giving me a chance to do trips like this. Sharing it with like minded people is what makes the trip so special.

Jim is an associate member and during our stay we talked about his desire to step up to regular membership. I think he will follow through on that. But he does sometimes use bows that draw slightly less than 50# at his draw length. I strongly believe that we need to finally change that outdated requirement so that worthy regular member candidates like Jim will take the next step without worry. In my opinion, as age catches up to us all the arbitrary 50# restriction to qualify for regular membership should not play a factor in our ability to enjoy our sport.

My hunting buddy Ohne is one of the best and most ethical bowhunters that I have ever known. He does own and occasionally shoots a recurve just for fun, but when it comes to hunting he just doesn't feel confident enough to use a traditional bow even though the vast majority of his shots are always within stickbow range. In his mind, he wants every possible assurance that a poor shot will not result in a wounded animal. And while I personally know that a traditional bow can be a very effective hunting weapon there can be no argument that in the right hands and with proper shot selection a compound with sights and release will provide more precise shot placement. I find it difficult to argue with his logic and have nothing but the highest respect for his desire to do all that he possibly can to avoid wounding an animal. But his choice to shoot a compound with more than 65% letoff currently eliminates him from considering PBS as an organization, and that I think is a loss for our organization. He exemplifies every other thing that PBS stands for in regards to holding ourselves to the highest ethical standards.

Enough of the rant, and on with the story.....


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PostPosted: December 23rd, 2014, 10:31 am 
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A change in wind directions brought new options for stand selections into play. Southerly winds would work well for the Climax stand that I had been in on the first afternoon of our hunt, and I headed back there on Wednesday afternoon. At 4pm a nice 4x4 slipped in behind me and promptly bedded down 25 yards away. 45 minutes later two more nearly identical bucks joined him, but all three then left without coming close enough to offer a shot. I was encouraged by the action though, and the wind forecast for the next two days would allow me to get back to it.

Thursday afternoon I was back. And so were the bucks. This time a group of four mature bucks filtered into the draw but again were 25 - 30 yards behind me. As they worked their way through the draw it was obvious that once again they weren't going to be headed close enough to offer a shot. Until the does showed up that is. Six does and fawns slipped in on a trail directly in front of me, right on the trail that I had hoped the bucks would use. Two of the bucks broke off to come check out the girls and came my way. One of them noticed the huge blob in the tree and started starring a hole through me. A heavy beamed 4x4 was focused on the does though. At 15 yards I started a draw on him but the other buck caught my movement and I stopped. The big guy moved behind a clump of trees and as he came out the other side I decided to just go ahead and finish my draw with the other buck watching. As he stepped into the clear slightly quartering away I dropped the string only to see my arrow sail harmlessly just under his armpit. Oh so close!!


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PostPosted: December 23rd, 2014, 10:42 am 
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somehow I get the feeling this story is not finished just yet :D

Come on Joe can't stand the excitement much longer, it's raining here, no work on the books and ????

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PostPosted: December 23rd, 2014, 11:13 am 
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Friday would be out last day of hunting. The draw that I had been hunting actually has two ladder stands in it. The one that I had been sitting is lower in the draw and is where the majority of deer movement takes place according to Jim. But it seemed that the deer weren't reading his script with most of what I had seen staying higher in the draw and well within range of the other ladder stand. Friday morning I decided I would outwit them and sit the upper stand. I can probably let you tell me what is going to happen now.....

A heavy fog had rolled in during the night and left the woods gloriously decorated with hoarfrost. It was difficult to see more than 50 yards or so. Shortly after full daylight I bent down to peek under the frost covered branches in front of me and spotted the ghostly silhouette of a buck starring directly at me. He had caught that slight movement and bounded away. By 9:30 I was starting to think it was about over for the day when I heard the distinct sound of antlers clashing lightly just out of sight below me. Yep, you guessed it. The deer had taken the trail directly below the lower stand that I had been in for the past two nights. As they worked their way out of the draw they popped out into an open grass field 50 yards behind me. First three does. Then one by one, four magnificent bucks. They came out one at a time, each pausing for a minute or so perfectly skylined and framed by the hoarfrost trees. It was picture postcard, magazine cover images. But a camera malfunction that morning means they will remain forever captured only in my mind.

Friday afternoon would be the last chance. Back to the Climax draw for me. Now which stand to choose? High, where the majority of the deer movement had been? Or low, where they had been that morning? I crossed my fingers, said a prayer, and went low. The fog and the hoarfrost was still there creating a magical backdrop to my last sit of the trip. And I had my camera working again.
Image

Image

Time passed quickly and although I couldn't see it, my watch said that the sun had set. I began to wonder if that was going to be it for deer activity this trip. It didn't matter though. It had been a great week spent with great friends and topped off with some of the best deer hunting I had ever experienced. But it wasn't quite over yet.

On the open grass ridge top which the deer had disappeared over that morning a doe slowly headed my way. 20 yards behind her was a buck with his head stretched low obviously looking for one more girl friend. She came down into the draw and picked her way within range. Although she didn't seem to notice me the buck did. I didn't have any winter camoflauge, and with the trees coated in white my brown form was easily noticed. He couldn't resist following the doe though, and cautiously followed behind her. He would stare at me, then move after the doe, stopping every few yards to keep an eye on me. When he was directly below me and making another move toward the doe I made mine and began to draw. As he came to a stop the arrow was off and he lunged forward at the shot. The arrow hit too far back and I had a sinking feeling in my stomach. I knew immediately that the shot would be fatal, but it was not at all what I had hoped for. We could be in for a long recovery.

While waiting in the stand I used my binoculars and found the arrow laying in the brush. As the woods grew darker I climbed down and retrieved the arrow. It confirmed my initial impression of a gut shot deer, but it also had plenty of blood on it, and that gave me some hope. I headed back to the farm to meet up with Jim and Ohne. Jim has an infestation of coyotes in the area. A friend of his had recently been out hunting them with calls and a rifle and had taken 17 of them in two evenings of hunting. But frequent howls told us there were plenty more around, and we worried about them finding the buck before we could. With fresh snow on the ground and good blood on the arrow we decided to try taking up the trail after only a two hour wait. If the blood sign looked good we would continue, otherwise would wait until morning and take our chances with the coyotes.

The snow really helped, and the blood sign was good. Two hundred yards later the buck lay in his final bed. He had probably died before I had even climbed down from the tree. I am sorry for the low quality of the picture. The flash on the camera caught the thick fog and it was tough to get a good image.

Image


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PostPosted: December 23rd, 2014, 11:39 am 
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Nice story and wonderful adventure. Thank you for sharing it Joe.


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PostPosted: December 23rd, 2014, 11:40 am 
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Congrats Joe! Great read. Nothing better than a hunt with good friends. Nice deer.
Steve


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PostPosted: December 23rd, 2014, 12:41 pm 
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Oh the life of a retiree.


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PostPosted: December 23rd, 2014, 12:47 pm 
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Joe Lasch wrote:
....Jim is an associate member and during our stay we talked about his desire to step up to regular membership. I think he will follow through on that. But he does sometimes use bows that draw slightly less than 50# at his draw length.



Our By-Laws are often incorrectly assumed to mean that a Regular can never use a bow less than 50# and that is not correct. Below is directly out of the By-Laws, emphasis placed on '"regularly" which absolutely does not mean always:

Use regularly, in all phases of archery and bowhunting, a bow having a minimum draw weight of 50 lbs. at the individual bowhunters natural draw, and arrows having a minimum weight of 450 grains.


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PostPosted: December 23rd, 2014, 1:00 pm 
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I was recently told that Steve and was happy to hear it. My guess is that there are lots of other members who are not aware of that distinction. But I think that it does prevent a number of good people from taking that next step, and personally think it should be changed.


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PostPosted: December 23rd, 2014, 1:12 pm 
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Good for you Joe. The horse shoe is still intact! Have fun in AZ.


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PostPosted: December 23rd, 2014, 1:20 pm 
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Another great story Joe, I always enjoy reading them.
Hunting camps are always best enjoyed in the company of our good PBS friends.

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PostPosted: December 23rd, 2014, 1:36 pm 
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Joe Lasch wrote:
But I think that it does prevent a number of good people from taking that next step, and personally think it should be changed.


Will be on the upcoming ballot!


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PostPosted: December 23rd, 2014, 1:43 pm 
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Great trip and season so far Joe. I think you seriously need to do a yearly summary thread when you come back from AZ with your next prize. Great job Brother!

Steve, I am glad for the clarification. I shoot 50lb bows and was racking my brain as to what the purpose of that rule would be as well as second guessing my membership. I have some trad bows that are 50lbs at 28" and I draw 27".


Last edited by Tom Jenkins on December 23rd, 2014, 1:59 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: December 23rd, 2014, 1:53 pm 
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Great story Joe and congratulations on a beautiful buck! Sure looks cold!


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PostPosted: December 23rd, 2014, 2:21 pm 
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Good hunt Joe! Dam that looks bloody cold!

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PostPosted: December 23rd, 2014, 3:47 pm 
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Pretty much defies the odds to take one animal of any kind in that type weather. Two great animals in short time is definitely a Joe job. Great story and much appreciated on this winter day!

KD


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PostPosted: December 23rd, 2014, 3:59 pm 
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Good job Joe, especially with the last minute buck.

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PostPosted: December 23rd, 2014, 6:10 pm 
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Yep, nice to be retired. Great looking country Joe. What bow set up we're you using.


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PostPosted: December 23rd, 2014, 7:10 pm 
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Great hunt, Joe. Retired guys need lots of freezer space! :D


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