WOODS, WATERS and WILDLIFE
An Internet image this week reminded me that with the south dove zone season opening Friday, Sept. 22, the entire state will be open. The image read: “After the flood, God sent Noah a message, using a dove. In Texas, He used a hummingbird. He knew a dove would end up wrapped in bacon with a slice of jalapeno inside.”
The bow season for whitetails, mule deer and Rio Grande turkeys opens September 30 - November 3. That’s a hunting opportunity many neglect through lack of interest or experience with archery equipment. Some prefer knowing their rifle can dispatch game at 100 yards or more.
Alan McGraw hunts with both. The former mayor of Round Rock has particularly distinguished himself with a bow. As a kid, he got interested in bow hunting while watching Tarzan movies and films of Howard Hill. Mc-Graw bought his first bow and arrow at the Alabama-Coushatta Indian Reservation store near Livingston. By age 15, he had purchased a Fred Bear Whitetail Hunter bow for $89.99 at Wal-Mart in Jasper. A saga was about to begin.
He bought a “Bow and Arrow” magazine, sneaked it into church and read it. We’re not told whether he kept it inside the hymnal when they stood to sing. That was probably the catalyst for his bow hunting career. Since then, he has taken 18 North American game species with a bow, and by year’s end will have shot 24 of the continent’s 29 game animals with a bow or rifle. He intends to drop all 29. Most notable bow kills have been an Alaskan brown bear and a desert bighorn ram, the first ram ever taken with a bow on Texas public land.
McGraw, who has hunted whitetails for years, says the most important things about hunting deer with a bow are preparation of self, equipment and hunting area. He trains physically for hunts, hiking up hills toting a backpack. He also practices shooting at 90-yard ranges, although he doesn’t expect to risk a shot at that excessive distance. He quickly points out that newcomers should stay within 20-25 yards. He practices on does and hogs when possible.
Preparing his equipment includes tuning his bow to the arrows and broadheads he will shoot. That probably includes consulting an expert at an archery shop.
Preparing where he hunts includes scouting the area, determining stand placement and shooting lanes, trimming branches and considering wind direction. He sets his blinds well in advance of hunts so deer will become accustomed to them. Ideally, he will have two stands: one for north-wind days, and one for southeast winds.
Shot placement is more critical with a bow than a rifle. Avoid head or neck shots and shoot for heart and lungs on deer slightly quartering away to avoid hitting the shoulder bone. After shots that seem successful, he waits 15 – 20 minutes before trailing the deer. If it was a questionable shot, he’ll go back to camp for lunch before trailing.
Finally, he says study the species you are hunting.