Archive for December, 2004

Deer harder than haybales

Monday was my first day hunting with a bow, in about 15 years. I was never much of a deer hunter. My father and I always focused our efforts on small game. But now that I have a new bow, I've got the bug. Monday was the first day of the second Archery/Flintlock season in PA.

I got a late start Monday. I was hunting a steep (and I mean steep! 35degree incline, 1000' vertical feet) hill near my parents. It is bounded by a river/highway at the bottom, and a residential area at the top. It is chuck full of garden-fed deer, and not many people bother hunting it.

I thought to myself “all I'm hoping for is to get a shot” as I walked into the woods. Maybe I should have wished for even more… 5 minutes after I steped into the woods, I had my first shot (and miss.)

As I sized up the shot, I realized that this was going to be a lot harder than at the range. I was shooting over a small valley, slightly downhill, over some brush, between some trees, and in very flat light. I tried estimating the halfway point, tried picking out a feature I thought was 20yds away as a basis point, tried estimating the size of the deer… anything to give me a good idea as to how far away the deer was. It didn't help I was a little bit excited too.

I guessed long, and my first shot sailed harmlessly just over the deer's back.

An hour of slowly creeping along the hillside gave me another long, but easier shot. This time my arrow clipped a small branch about halfway to the target and sailed wide of the mark. One drawback of carbon arrows & fast bows is that the arrows don't seem to make as much noise skipping through the woods, and a miss sure goes a long way. I never found that arrow.

But just as light was beginning to fade I got one last shot. A fat doe, nearly broadsides, straight uphill, about 45yds away. A tough shot, but the deer was far enough away I could take my time and really concentrate. This time my range estimation seemed to be spot on, but as I shot the arrow she took a quarter step turn in my direction. As luck would have it, my arrow went exactly where I had aimed it, which since she moved turned out to be square in the shoulder. My heart sank when I saw that the arrow failed to fully penetrate.

I waited as long as the light would allow, and then followed the trail. I was initally hopefull as there was enough blood to make it easy to follow. But about 400 yds later I found the arrow, and after it fell out the blood trail all but dried up. The doe I was following was in a group of 7 other deer, and their trail crossed back onto their previous outbound trail, leaving a jumble of prints. It was now well past sunset, and I was forced to give up.

I hope to give it another try tomorrow. I hopefully improved the odds a bit by picking up a laser rangefinder. The weather might help too… instead of 10F with crunchy leaves and snow, it's going to be 50F and wet. At least my bowhand will be happier… that aluminum riser is damn cold at 10F.

I'm so proud

Deb and I went archery shooting again last night. We were lacking any proper targets… we tried some of those annoying magazine postcard inserts. Ok, in size but a bit dull. I happened to look in the kitchen (adjacent to the range) and found a box of latex gloves and instantly knew I found a good substitute target.

Initially, Deb was shooting the improvised balloons, while I focused my attention on a salt packet someone else had stuck to the target butt (that's the technical term). On my first volley, I stuck three arrows into the same packet, had two close and one flyer. Sweet. But it was a feat I was unable to duplicate. As soon as I start to tire, my shake makes accurate shooting progressively more difficult.

Meanwhile, Deb was putting a hurting on that glove. We made progressively smaller balloons out of the fingers, and she continued to dispatch them. That's when she started talking smack… (she's new to the artform of smack, but I know it when I hear it.). So up went 5 new golfball-sized balloons, and it was on.

Deb's first shot and I was one down. A half-dozen shots later and she was up 2-1 with 2 to go.

I'm always facinated at the difference between target practice and competitive/hunting shooting. For me, it's one of the few times I can stop “thinking” the shot and just shoot. I just acquire the target and the body goes on autopilot. This is apparently the state that good shooters can easily reach. For me, it's money on the table or the thrill of the hunt that sometimes does the trick. It worked this time and I broke the last two with consecutive shots. That was fun, but it wasn't half as fun as competing with Deb on a somewhat level playing field. I'm secretly proudest of her attempt at smack-talk… it's like seeing your baby take its first steps.

A week without caffeine

Hola, amigos. Sorry it's been a while since I rapped at ya, but it's been a busy few weeks at Casa Denovich. Actually, it's been potentially very busy… my to-do list is a mile long which perversely is in itself a strong inhibitor to completing any of those tasks. The to-do-list dread seems to intensify the local gravitational fields that surround the couch, with predictable results.

Last week I flew to beautiful Minneapolis for business. By luck of the draw I got the super-special extra-security shake-down. A note to potential terrorists that if you have “SSSSS” on the bottom of your boarding pass you are going to get pulled aside. This code may be specific to PIT or may change regularly, but it was obvious enough that I knew what I was in for as soon as I printed out my ticket. (I feel so much safer now.)

The trip was successful, and capped of by an excellent porterhouse steak with a twice cooked baked potato, chive and apple wood smoked bacon crust. Normally I'm a steak purist (salt and pepper only) but this crust was a surprisingly good addition to an excellently prepared (rare) steak.

When I returned home I realized that I had not had any caffeine in the preceding 24hrs. So, with one day in I decided to see what would happen if I quit caffeine cold-turkey. I was rewarded the next morning with a day long headache. However I stuck it out, and felt normal the day after.

I disappointingly felt normal. I've always had a persistent shake (it gets worse the finer motor-control I need.) I was hoping that caffeine was the root of the problem, which seemed reasonable since I consume a ton of it per day. Turns out that caffeine just doesn't do that much to me… or that I acclimate to it very quickly. I was secretly hoping that my morning cups of coffee were all that was standing between me and my immediate transformation into a master Zen archer.

It turns out I'm just as wired without caffeine… about the only appreciable difference is that the coffee I was drinking (decaf) tasted like freshly-brewed human excrement.

I think I am going to end this little experiment… or maybe enter a new phase… how will I react to the re-introduction of caffeine?

Traffic Safety Thoughts

What I've been thinking all along… From a Wired News article today.

Hans Monderman is a traffic engineer who hates traffic signs. Oh, he can put up with the well-placed speed limit placard or a dangerous curve warning on a major highway, but Monderman considers most signs to be not only annoying but downright dangerous. To him, they are an admission of failure, a sign – literally – that a road designer somewhere hasn't done his job.

uncompensated endorsement: Tire Rack

I ordered yet another set of tires from Tire Rack today. This time it's a set of dedicated snow tires for the truck. Tirerack really makes this easy. I bought them mounted and balanced (no extra charge) on a set of steel wheels. That makes switching to winter tires (and back) a simple 20 minute operation with a jack and a wrench.

Hooray for traction.

First indoor results

No, it wasn't staged….

That's three shots in a row from 20yds. Yes, it was lucky, but not lottery-winning lucky. It wasn't that hard grouping 5 consecutive shots in the black.

I bent my wiki

The twiki<->MT integration is currently screwed… Photo links and formatting are currently broken, but will hopefully be fixed soon.

Update: It's fixed. Mostly.

New Toy(s) update

I'm a bit late with the blog entry… my latest obsession:

Last week I bought a 2004 Hoyt X-Tec (found on Archery Talk's forsale forum.) The X-Tec a near perfect compromise hunting/target shooting bow… fast, easy shooting, relatively short axle-to-axle length. I really can't believe how good it is. It is deadly accurate, and surprisingly quiet. My “old” bow (circa 1994) seems so crude by comparison.

Last night I shot at the club's indoor range. For $2 a trip, I can shoot any time I want day or night. The facilities are fantastic.

My bow is set to a 60# draw weight. Needless to say Deb can't even budge it. She couldn't draw my old bow either, even after I backed it off to 45#. Since this seems like a fun hobby we can do together (indoors too) I started looking for a bow that would suit her. I think I found it (again on Archery Talk.) It is a mid/late 90s woman's target bow. With a draw weight of 30-45#s it should be easy for her to operate. The colors make it look slightly girly too, which I think she appreciates. Should be here next week.

My old bow, while dated compared to my new one, is still pretty decent. I took it with me last night, tuned it, and sighted it in. Now I have a spare bow for friends to use. If you know me and want to give it a try just ask.

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