Friday, July 18, 2008

Answer and Question Time.

© By Othmar Vohringer

Today I would like to share a selection of interesting questions that arrive almost daily by email or that somebody has asked me on my hunting seminars and clinics and my answers with you’re here.

Q: What’s your favorite camouflage and why?

A: For many years I wear exclusively ASAT® and PREDATOR® camouflage. These two patterns are to my knowledge the only ones designed using animal vision science. Most other camouflage is designed using consumer appeal science.

Animals see things very differently than we humans do. Animal vision orientates on light and shadow, not on details like branches, bark and leaves. ASAT® and PREDATOR® with their open designs perfectly mimic light and shadow while the light base tan color works as a “chameleon”. Tan color absorbs surrounding colors, in the snow tan looks white and under a green forest canopy it looks green.

Fashion camouflage, as I call it, is generally too dark, making the human stand out as a dark blob in the distance rather then blending in with the surrounding. Besides, I have never seen a tree, cattail or bush walk, and neither have deer. When we look at camouflage and how effective it is we need to look at nature. Animals that rely on good camouflage use white, brown and tan colors. Take a deer for example. A deer can stand a few yards away from a hunter and yet completely vanish from sight. Now that is what I call camouflage and that is what an open pattern like ASAT® and PREDATOR® will do for a hunter too.
Read more about camouflage here.

Q: What do you think contributes to your success over the next guy? I guess what I really would like to know is what would I have to do to become as successful as you are?

A: First let me state that I am absolutely convinced that there are many hunters that are just, or more successful than I am. But to answer your question, my advantage is that I have studied animal behavior as a profession for over 30+ years. This definitely has given me an edge over some others. When all else is said and done hunting success boils down to one single factor and that is knowing the habits and behavior of the animals we pursue. You can wear the best camouflage and use the most expensive bow or rife and be the best marksman in the world, it all counts for nothing if you do not study the animals and their habitat.

In addition I hunt for over 40 years and always have been open minded. Meaning, I never adhered to rigid old fashion thinking and practices. I am open to try new ideas and mix tactics. To my mind the only thing constituting insanity is to do the same thing over and over but expecting different results. And finally, I am passionate about hunting and spend as much time in the outdoors as humanly possible watching, observing and learning.

Q: What is your opinion on including crossbows in the archery season?

A: My opinion is that a crossbow is archery equipment and thus is perfectly suited in the archery season. In fact a crossbow is very much like a modern compound bow, with the only difference being that the crossbow is mounted onto a rifle like stock and yhe string is held mechanically. This fact alone does not make the crossbow a “gun”. I have shot crossbows and found that they are, with that one difference, exactly the same as compound bows what accuracy, efficiency and effective shooting range is concerned.

Unfortunately, over the span of many years hunters have been told a lot of misinformation, outright lies and totally unfounded hype about crossbows. Over all these years many hunters have come to take this lies as the truth. But no matter how many times lies are repeated it always will be a lie. I am pleased that in recent years more hunters and wildlife agencies see through the smoke screen and accept the crossbow for what it really is, a perfectly suitable weapon to include in the archery season.
Read more about crossbows here

Q: I have used deer attractant scent in the past but have had no success with it. In fact on several occasion it seemed to have scared deer away.

A: The mistake some hunters make is to think of scent as a strategy. This mistake is often followed by several other mistakes, such as using a particular scent at the wrong time of the season or too much of it and at the wrong location.

Attractant scent is only one small part of a well planed hunting strategy and if used correctly it can attract or hold deer in an area for a short time. Just spreading scent around the stand location and then expecting deer to come running from everywhere is something the advertising would like you to believe but in reality it does not happen. No deer will go out of its way to investigate a scent, regardless of how appealing it smells to them. Scent only works when placed in close proximity of active deer trails.

Using a doe in estrus scent, as some hunters do, in the early season will definitely scare every deer in the area. Deer communicate by leaving scent marks for other deer to “read”; therefore we can assume that deer know at what time of the year they can expect to smell a particular scent. Therefore, we also can safely assume that if a deer smells a doe in estrus scent before the breeding season started it will become very suspicious because it is unnatural. The same is true for food scents. Deer know their habitat like you know your house. Placing apple scent in an area that does not have an apple tree for miles around would alert deer that there is something fishy going on. The conclusion of this is to use the appropriate scent at the time and place where that scent naturally occurs. Last but not least, read the label on the scent container carefully, if the instructions say. “Use two tropes of scent” do as recommended. As I said deer know what they smell like at any time of the season and they also know how strong the smell has to be. If you empty a bottle of scent on a scent wick you’re telling the deer that there is another deer as large as an elephant in the area, its unnatural. By the same token, apples do not grow the size of watermelons. Always read the label and stick to the instructions. It also is unatural for deer scent to be placed high on a tree or bush, deer can't climb trees.

The short answer is. Attractant scent works if used in conjunction with a sound strategy and in moderation at the right time and place.
Read more about deer scent here.

Q: What is the maximum distance a deer can be shot at with a compound bow?

A: I cannot answer you what distance that is for you. Only you can answer that. The proficient distance at which a bowhunter can take an ethical shot is for everybody different. Some hunters are proficient to shot at 40 yards and others at 20 yards. You can learn your shooting distance at the archery range. Your maximum shooting distance is the one where you can keep consistently 10 out of 10 arrows in the bulls eye. The distance where you cannot do that any longer is not your maximum distance. Once you established that distance take the bow in the field and shoot it under conditions you would likely encounter in a hunting situation. You will find that that distance is reduced by about a third.

At the archery range I can confidently get the arrows consistently smack in the middle of the target out to 35 yards. In the field, under hunting conditions, my distance where I achieve that same consistency is 25 yards and that is my maximum distance at which I shoot at a live animal. But I prefer to have them much closer to me, in the neighborhood of 15 to 20 yards.

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Tom Sorenson said...

Great points about the crossbow. I'm not going to run out and buy one to use - but, shoot, they aren't a whole heckuva lot different than a compound. It seems to me to be a debate that has been built around "my way is better than your way" rather than, "here are the facts, decide for yourself."

SimplyOutdoors said...

Great Q & A post Othmar. I used to be against crossbows, but after a lot of research I've came and around decided "why not?".

The big difference between a crossbow and a compound is that with a crossbow you don't have to draw within the presence of the animal, but I think if they're legal, and someone wants to use one. Hey, then why not.

Great Q and A post though. I liked the question and answer about camoflauge as well.

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