Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Traditional Archery in The Netherlands

These pictures and this Email were sent to me from Hans via the Netherlands. As you will read, bowhunting is not allowed in their country. Should bowhunting ever be outlawed in American I wonder how many people would keep up with our wonderful sport? Sadly, probably not very many. How great it was to see the passion that these folks have for traditional archery!
Hans' Email and pics:
"Dear rmsgear,
Bowhunting is not allowed in our country, The Netherlands, Europe, so I send you some pictures of our 3d-tournament called: Rondje in de Wei, which means as much as: Round around the meadow. Targets are placed on distances from 10meter up to 60 meters. Badger was on 25m and the black bear about 50 meters, shooting over water! It was one of the first times I was shooting my Spirit Longbow made by Bryan Holley, which I recently bought. It is a fine shooting longbow, fast and very nice looking! Don't see them very often, overhere in Europe! But I know where to get them now: at RMS Gear!!! You have a very nice internet-site, which I visit very often to read, look at the photo gallery and all the beautifull bows you have for sale! Might buy an other Spirit Longbow from you next year!
Best regards from a traditional bowhunter from The Netherlands,

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

On fire for trad!

Jarod is a Jr at Cuba City HS in Wisconsin. I wrestled with his older brother in college and have known him since he was 7 years old. Jarod is a fantastic wrestler and in his two years of high school wrestling he has yet to lose a match and has won two state titles.
Jarod has come out to Colorado a few times to train for wrestling at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. While he was here he came to our shop to shoot some bows and hang out. Already a hunting fool, Jarod immediately fell in love with the longbow and got all set up with a Rampart longbow. We showed him how to fletch and crest his own arrows, which he did. He is doing everything on his own now.
This year he has been hunting hard with his longbow. He killed two does in one evening, for his first deer with a traditional bow. A few nights later he made a perfect shot on this beautiful Wisconsin buck.
Jarod is a driven young man. His archery form is near perfect and he practices daily. He has been hunting on his own this year. Quite impressive for a 17 year old kid to take his skill and his hunting into his own hands and have such great success.

Jarod used a Rampart longbow with a Gold Tip Traditional arrow and a STOS broadhead.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Way to go Jan!

Way to go Jan! Jan just moved to N. Carolina and sent me this Email of her first deer.
Morning gentlemen,
Well, I got my first whitetail deer here in central North Carolina last night. The weather was perfect yesterday and I got in a 15' treestand in a white pine by a soybean field around 5:30pm. At 6:40pm or so, a group of three does, a baby and a spike buck trickled out into the field. Luckily I was standing up at the time so I could shoot at a variety of targets. The deer were spread out from about 15 yards to 25 yards. I let them all get into the field and get situated and feeding calmly. My best shot was at a doe who presented quartered away from me at about 18-20 yards. I took that shot and saw my arrow strike true.

I made that arrow myself from supplies that I bought at your shop, with plenty of advice from Tom and the gang. I believe it was three years ago that I found your shop. I remember coming in and telling Tom about my 45# Mongolian horsebow and how I wanted to get back into traditional bowhunting to carry on the family tradition. It took me a while to get into the field, but after three hunts, I'm successful and just as thrilled as I could be. This will be the first of many hunting seasons to come! I want to thank you so much for all the support and encouragement you guys have given me over the last few years. I couldn't have done this without your help and I truly appreciate it.

Happy hunting!

Best regards,

P.S. Feel free to post this letter and my photos. I'm proud to tell everyone I meet about your fantastic shop because I believe there isn't another place like it anywhere. To whoever may be reading this - these guys are extremely knowledgeable, courteous and just good people. If you want to bowhunt, you need to go to Rocky Mountain Specialty Gear - they will take care of you and help you make your hunt successful. I miss you guys and can't wait to come in and visit when I get home to Colorado!

Monday, September 27, 2010

The longest day of the year...

Sept 27th is the longest day of 2010. It is the first day after elk season, and the first day we have to wait for the next one...I hate it.

This is what it's all about...

This has been one of the best hunting years in memory for ourselves and our customers. NOT because of how good the hunting action was, just because so many connected on bulls - and nice bulls at that. I don't remember a year when my customers did so well, or my own personal hunting partners. Even with all the success it was a tough season. Those animals came with lots and lots of hard work. Neither my brother Danny or I killed an elk this season but it will still go down as one of the best.

Let me tell you about my brother-in-law, Kelly. Nine years ago I was a freshmen in college and my sister called me to say hey. My roommate and wrestling teammate answered my phone thinking he was going to be funny and talk to my little sister. Joke was on him because 5 years later they got married.

Kelly is a super competitive guy, like me, so we are always finding something to best each other at. He never had any interest in hunting. The year after we graduated college we were both still living in Wisconsin and I killed a big whitetail buck. For some reason that piqued Kelly's interest in hunting and he said he wanted to start hunting to kill a bigger deer than me.

Two years ago we all moved to Colorado, my home state, and Kelly got really interested in traditional archery. My Dad and our good friend chipped in and got him a Wapiti recurve. He was so excited that he had to shoot it right away because he thought that that might be what it was like to shoot at an animal. Since then Kelly has had the fire for traditional archery as much as anybody. He shoots daily and makes his own arrows, from the crown dip to the cresting. We showed him how to mount his broadheads a few weeks ago, which I guess is about the final step in preparation.

This was his first hunting season in his life and he started with traditional archery. Earlier this spring I got to watch Kelly miss a few turkeys in Nebraska (
story here). There's nothing like being with somebody when they get those first hunting shots. He was devastated for missing and started to understand the excitement that keeps us all coming back to the field.

Kelly finally got to go elk hunting with Danny and our good friend, and elk killing machine, Del Jolly. Del and Danny are two of the finest elk hunters out there, thanks in large part to the fact that they have the legs to cover more distance than any person I've hunted with. So Kelly was getting an introduction not only to elk hunting, but to misery like you cannot experience unless chasing elk in the Rocky Mountains (especially with Danny and Del).

Del, Danny, Kelly, and Jared Hammen packed 6miles into the wilderness to their spike camp. Jared is an exciting UFC fighter but did not carry a bow on this trip, he was just there for the beautiful view, clean air, and awesome experience.

Early in the hunt they came across this magnificent bull grazing in an open meadow. He had no cows and paid little attention to the bugling going on around him.

Del is pretty picky on shooting an elk, which is why he's known around here as an elk snob. Usually small bulls and cows are not worth all the effort he puts into getting in the back country. But with three days left in the season and this cow at 12 yards Del decided he'd like to try and eat something a little more tender this year.
Del has some very unconventional elk hunting methods. With a cow and calf feeding nearby and a bull bugling in the distance Danny and Del had a bit of a miscommunication. Danny told Del to "shoot that cow". Del thought that Danny said to "shoo" that cow, like shoo it away. So Del took off running at the cow, thinking that by splitting up the herd they could call in the bull. Danny and Kelly watched in horror as a few of the elk turned inside-out running away. But Danny immediately started calling, which to his surprise and Del's plan, the majority of the herd ran right to them. Del shot this cow and then dodged out of the way of other elk running into them, at one point using his bow to poke one that tried to run through him.
The following day Danny, Del and Kelly made a hike that would put most hunters 6 feet under. On their way out of Diablo Bowl (as Del fittingly named this hellish bowl) they came across a small herd. A few of the cows walked along the edge of a cliff just 12 yards from Kelly. Drawing his bow on a big game animal for the first time, and sure of his skill at that distance, Kelly did what ALL of us have done at one point or another - he shot right over her back. His arrow kept on sailing off that cliff and out into the wilderness. A mistake which he would be thankful for in another 24 hours.
One tired hunter
On the final evening of their hunt Danny and Kelly put on a monster all-day hike. Later in the evening they heard a bugle towards camp, and the wind was perfect. Luck was on their side that night.

Sneaking as close as they could they spotted a big herd out in the open. Elk were running everywhere, making every noise an elk makes, and doing all the cool things that elk do. Kelly got to see the herd bull do everything and make every noise that they make for almost an hour.

With shooting hours winding down they feared ambushing these elk would run them out of time. Danny picked up his call and this big bull came in looking for blood (or love, either one he wanted RIGHT NOW). Kelly was drawn on a cow, but not knowing where Danny was exactly he did not shoot. As soon as he let down this bull ripped off the loudest, nastiest scream that Kelly said made his legs shake uncontrollably. He was only 20 yards away. Kelly drew his bow as the bull walked behind some trees and as he stepped into the open Kelly made a perfect shot.

Having never hunted, and never seeing anything get shot by his own hand, Kelly didn't know what to do. The bull didn't act like it was hit. Kelly said he knew that you don't chase an animal, especially if it was hit, but the urge to get another shot over took him and he stumbled a few steps trying to get another shot at the animal, which of course scared some of the animals and the big bull. He only ran ten more yards and fell over.

Good thing Kelly missed that cow earlier in this hunt because the only thing running through his mind as he drew on this big bull was "pick a spot, pick a spot, pick a spot". The top part of his arrow was lodged in the heart, exactly like this, when they dressed the bull.
Since the llamas were packed down with two elk the guys had to carry out a lot of their own gear. Kelly's pack weighed close to 90 lbs and it took the guys about 4 hours to walk out - thankfully all down hill.

Del shot that cow with a Spirit longbow, 48@28 but drawing around 30, and a Snuffer broadhead. 250 up front and arrow weight of around 625. His arrow was a CX Heritage 150. His blood trail was huge and she died very quickly. His arrow exited out the other side but did not pass entirely through.

Kelly shot his bull with a Wapiti recurve, 64@28 and drawing 30.5, and a STOS broadhead. Kelly shoots 225 up front and his arrow weight is around 625. His arrow was a CX Heritage 250. Kelly's arrow was about 3/4 out of the other side and directly hit one of those big elk ribs. The feather end of his arrow was left stuck in the heart. The blood trail was massive...of course with a heart shot.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The season is winding down

Here are a couple of pictures of our elk season so far. My personal hunting has been pretty slow, two bulls have been within shooting distance but neither presented a shot. The wind is my eternal enemy.
Tom got a nice big cow on the opening week of the season. His three blade VPA Terminator broadhead slipped between the ribs on the near side and obliterated a rib on the far side, resulting in an almost complete passthrough. Tom used his Hawk recurve to kill this cow.
Dale (left) was leading the three man procession through the woods when Danny spotted a group of elk coming straight towards them. Danny was in the middle, and Tom was in the back of the group which allowed him to slip an arrow out. Dale is a lot of things, but he also makes a pretty good tree because he had elk within three feet of him. He just spotted antlers coming up and over the hill when he heard a bow go off behind him. Elk scattered everywhere. He must have been a little peeved for a second but even a tree would have had a hard time getting an arrow out in that circumstance. With the erratic winds they were experiencing they all agreed it was a miracle to get a shot off anyway.
A pretty cozy little home when it comes to elk camps.

Unbelievably - a tree fell directly on the tent in the middle of the night. It sounded like a .44 being shot which jolted Dale out of bed. The top of the tree smashed into the tent's crossbuck and landed right in the bed that Dale just got out of. The crossbuck broke in two and landed 5 inches from Tom's head. Danny's side of the tent was totally unaffected and so was his sleeping. Miraculously nobody got hurt.

Wallows like this were everywhere.
The mountain's bounty, including wild strawberries, grouse berries, goose berries and brook trout.
Not an elk to be seen but the view itself was worth the hike.
Just a few miles from where I saw lots of old tracks and only a few live elk my cousin Chad was having the time of his life. In just two evenings of hunting Chad and his cornhusking companion Blake tagged out with two fine bulls.
Blake isn't much for gambling, he likes sure things - like six foot shots. And he'll get them when hunting with Chad because Chad has a rabbit's foot shov....well, lets just say I've seen him in his longjohns so I have a good idea where he keeps it. Nice job to both of you guys!
Chad (above) used a Bassett recurve and a Magnus Stinger 4 blade broadhead. Blake killed his elk with a Robertson recurve and a Grizzly broadhead. Both had excellent bloodtrails.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Nice job Jacob!

Jacob Haynes of Pagosa Springs, Colorado was our first customer of the 2010 Colorado Big Game season to score on his hunt. This was Jacobs first big game bow kill and he did it by sneaking up on this antelope with a cow decoy...truly one of the most difficult animals to kill by stalking. Jacob used a Bighorn Ramhunter longbow and a STOS broadhead on a hexpine wooden arrow shaft. Congrats Jacob!

Be sure to check out our Photo Gallery this season for more pictures of successful hunters!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

“Elk Hunting”
By Del Jolly
The words “Elk hunting” conjure up a lot of different emotions for lots of different people. For some, visions of sitting around the camp fire on a cool fall night swapping stories may arise. For others the idea of squeezing off a round while shaking from excitement rather than the cold mountain air, might manifest. And for me personally, I think of hard work paying off when there’s a bull screaming 20 yards away after you’ve climbed what seems to be Mt. Everest.
Ever since I was a little kid, I thought killing a bull elk with a bow was comparable to winning an Olympic Gold Medal. My dad held a special place in his heart for anyone who has done it. The statement “Yeah, I’m sure Johnny’s dad single handedly solved the mid-east conflict, but has he ever killed an elk with a bow?” may have come out of his mouth.

As time passed I grew further away from the outdoors and further away from my dad, as many young people do. Then in 2005 I got a wonderful opportunity working for the U.S. fish and wildlife service. For one summer I captured whitetail and Mule deer fawns and studied their mortality rates in the Rocky Mountain arsenal. This intimacy with wildlife rekindled my spirit for the outdoors. That summer my dad and I trained two llamas, and decided to do a 10 day archery elk hunting trip. I ended up killing a great 6 X 6 that was big enough to make Pope and Young. When I brought those antlers into camp that night, things changed. I remember walking up to my dad who had a camp fire going and couldn’t see into the night and dropping the antlers in front of him. Now I know I could have put a cow on the ground and he would have been proud, but I just so happened to put the biggest antlers he’s seen on the ground in front of him. My dad shook my hand, said congratulations, and for the first time I felt like my dad looked at me as a man rather than a boy.

Luckily for my dad's ego he killed an even bigger bull three days later. After all, I can’t upstage my dad on my very first year. But prior to his scoring on a big bull, with the days passing and the trip getting shorter with no elk on the ground for him, the BS began. My dad let me know who had taught me everything I knew, and whos idea it was to acquire the llamas. And for this, I am very grateful.
The following year I knocked down another great bull. My dad spent a lot of his time trying to get my grandpa a bull, then he got stuck in a freak snow storm that trapped him in the wilderness for several days, so he didn’t kill an elk that year. But he again reminded me who’s who. The following year I finally became a real elk hunter. I didn’t get an elk. I had multiple opportunities, five shots in the season with three in about a half hour. I was defeated. I almost bought a longbow this year, but chickened out. I wanted an undefeated title, and looking back I may have gotten it if I was shooting instinctively with a longbow.

Enough was enough. I decided to go with the primitive weapon. I took from the knowledge my dad bestowed on me and went with simplicity. It doesn’t get much more simple than a longbow. No sights to knock lose, no peep holes to fill with mud, no trigger release to forget in the woods. None of the tons of gadgets that go wrong on the modern compound. Besides I had nothing to lose and everything to gain by going with the longbow. I didn’t have a streak to maintain, and most importantly, I would be the first guy my dad knew who killed an elk with a longbow. Then I could give him some advice on how to kill elk with a longbow.
The 2008 season was upon us, and I had my new Brian Holly Spirit longbow in hand. I had practiced religiously all summer. I was confident in my weapon, and honestly felt like I was much more capable with “the Spirit” than my old compound. Shooting through my hallway in my house every night for a month leading to the season paid off. It’s only about an eleven yard shot, but this would be of importance later in the season.

The first morning, I found myself slipping in on a large herd of grazing elk. None of them responded to my bugle, yet a 4X4 came to my call. It was opening morning and I had a bull at 20 yards broadside. But after training all year, I didn’t want to end my season on a small bull the in first hours. I have found I am a real elk snob the first week of the season.

The next morning was raining and the ground was soft and quiet. I slipped in on a bachelor group of bulls and had a small 5X5 picked out. There were more elk in the group than I suspected and I was picked off by a bull I hadn’t seen. That evening I went back in camp and told my partner, Lee, that I was going into a real hell hole and wouldn't be back for two days. I loaded all the gear I needed for my journey on my back, and left towards my spot for the evening hunt.

I camped about a mile above my spot and was awakened by the sweet sound of a bull screaming. I was hoping to get a chance at the bull by my tent because I knew what was in store if I had to go down into my spot. The bull up top was a great bull. He had about twenty cows with him and grew so big because he was wise. The hunt only lasted about 10 minutes total, the bull must have winded me. He was gone in no time and I soon found myself packing up my sheep tent and beginning my journey into “Diablo Bowl.”
We call this honey hole Diablo Bowl because it is hell in there. A burn went through it and scorched the earth, knocking everything down. You don’t hike this area as much as you crawl it. It is hell, and that is why it is so good. As I make my way up this monster, I can smell that magic scent only an elk hunter can appreciate. The scent many of us wish could be converted into a air freshener, that we can smell it when we need an elk fix. A smell most people would quickly run from. I let out a bugle and quickly get a response. The excitement of these moments are comparable to few things in life. Delivering your first born, or maybe winning the lottery or the Super Bowl. Again, only an elk hunter can relate.

As I run to close distance on this elk I see about 10 elk filing through the woods. Most of them are bulls. I quickly set up on the downhill side of a ridge and call. The bull responds and is only about 50 yards out but won’t come in. I call again and know from the response he’s not coming. He’s just not that fired up. I can hear him raking a tree, more of a habit than a “I’m sharpening my sword to come to war”. I climb to the top just high enough to peek over and see that he is just over the ridge. I set my “Spirit” on my backpack and crawl to some knocked down trees while he’s raking.

This is the tree that the bull was raking when I shot from 11 yards.
Once I am in my position, I know it’s pretty much over for this elk. I have two trees in front of me that I crawled to, and the way they have laid down, I can see through them without giving away my position. I wait for the bull to put his head down to rake and I stood up. Full draw with the bull completely unaware of what’s about to happen. I release the arrow and the shot feels as good as any I have ever taken. The arrow finds its mark and the bull tears away. I quickly call and stop the bull at about thirty yards. As he looks back to try and figure out where the bull that just gored him came from, I send another arrow through space and hit him far back in the body. He tears off again only to be stopped a third time by my call. I know from the very first shot he is dead. I sent the second arrow for insurance and know a third is unnecessary. The bull takes a couple more steps downhill and out of site, I hear him crash.

All the commotion has brought in a 5 X 5 who quickly inspects the dying bull. When he figures something is wrong he turns and runs right towards me stopping less then twenty yards from me. We both look down the hill towards the expiring bull for about five minutes until the wind brings my scent to the young bull.

I always drop my pack from where ever I shoot to get my bearing. As I pace off the distance from my position to where the bull was raking, I smile and realize the distance is vaguely familiar. 11 yards. The same distance from my front door, through the hall, into my bedroom.

The 60 yard blood trail leading to my bull could be followed by a blind man. The Snuffers have done their job. I find my bull piled up exactly where I assumed he would be. Quickly I realize I have taken this great bull with a longbow. The sense of pride was great, and the conversion to a true primitive weapon was now etched in stone. I had now done something all my own. I had challenged myself to use a primitive weapon to take an all magical elk.
My first traditional elk was now the new beginning of an old way of doing things. My dad was very proud, and just possibly a bit humbled. I have even converted him to use a longbow. I gave him my Spirit bow, and had a gorgeous takedown Rampart custom made for myself. As far as the old way of complicated neon sights, stabilizer bars and all the other bells and whistles of a compound go, when I hear the words “elk Hunting” I think of a challenge. The challenge of putting yourself against once of God’s most magnificent creatures. I believe in challenge yourself to see what you can accomplish. After all, your thoughts and feelings may change next time someone says those magic words “Elk Hunting”.
Gear: This story makes me thankful for my Bryan Holley Spirit longbow. The bow I bought was 48 @ 28, not a lot of weight to pull, which I think helped my confidence in shooting a longbow. The Spirit bow was also an affordable brand new bow. At $400 I was very happy with my investment, that has now become a family heirloom. This bow has birdseye maple limbs and a cocobolo riser. Although the draw weight isn’t that much, this bow had no problem putting a large 175 grain Snuffer deep into the elk. I recommend Brian Holly bows to anyone interested in getting into traditional hunting.