Thirty Southern California archers to Stalk Game with Bow and Arrow
Headlines in Los Angeles Times of recent date, that conjure up a mental picture of red-blooded sportsmen roaming through the woods in quest of elusive bucks, disdaining the idea of using a rifle, but giving their game a chance by hunting with a bow and arrow. What a feather in one's cap to be able to bag a deer with this type of weapon!
But they didn't get any!
So what? Everybody had a good time, with but few actually disappointed. We knew before we started that there were two strikes against us and if we brought back one buck we would have more than our share, according to past performances. But we came pretty close to knocking over a couple of beauties. IF ---
But let's start at the beginning. The hunt was the result of weeks of planning and preparation, with one thought in mind, that some time California nimrods may enjoy the privileges of an archery reserve. To gain that end the sport must have publicity and make friends with all sportsmen, whether they be rifle hunters or fishermen. Also the 1001 skeptics must be convinced that a bow and arrow is humane and capable of killing deer.
On Friday evening, October 3, seven car loads of archers left Los Angeles for Tom's Place at Rock Creek, in Mono County of the high Sierras. Stopping and Mojave and Bishop en route, to gas up and have something to eat, delayed the caravan until it was 12:45 a.m. before we reached our destination, having traveled some 325 miles.
No one needed prompting to go to bed, as we had be up at 4:30 a.m., with breakfast at 5:00, then a 15 mile jaunt to the cabin of Emmett Hayden, who was to be our guide.
At the Hayden cabin we found Mr. H. downing the last of a plate of scrambled eggs and bacon. Within a few minutes he was leading us over the windiest wood-roads, which were never meant for an automobile and over which it seemed impossible to travel without losing at least one fender. After about thirty minutes of skooting around windfalls and thru a maze of pine trees, our guide stopped at a shear drop and announced we had reached the end of the line.
All archers piled out simultaneously, stringing up their bows and taking a few warm-up shots at stumps and what not, all eager to get on with the hunt. Right here one of the boys, Max Stemple, had the rather unpleasant experience of having both limbs of his yew bow blow up on his second warm-up shot. Another bow was procured and away we went, fanning out into groups of two and three. All hunters agreed to meet back at the starting point to report any evidence of game found.
Around ten o'clock the archers began to appear back at the starting point. All had about the same report to make; plenty of fresh tracks but no game sighted - not even a doe.
One of the last ones to return was Earl Mace, with a more startling report. Said Eral: "I sure hate to say it, but there is a 3 point buck running loose down the canyon with my broadhead sticking in his neck. When I saw him he was partly concealed by some pine trees, only his head and neck exposed, looking directly at me. When I 'drawed' down on him I just knew I wouldn't miss. I loosed the shaft and at the instant the arrow took flight he turned to dart into the trees. I saw the broadhead hit high up on the back of the neck, midway between the shoulders and horns."
Upon questioning, Earl admitted he had tried to track the buck but lost his trail in the pine needles.
A fine kettle of fish! A buck at large with an arrow sticking in him, the one thing that none of us wanted to see.
The whole gang immediately hiked down to the spot where the buck was last seen and took up the trail. We tracked him for perhaps half a mile and found the bloody arrow near a big log where the deer had apparently stopped and brushed it out. We soon gave up the chase as all indications pointed to the fact the buck was not hurt much.
Upon examination of the arrow it was found the point was badly turned, and from angle at which the shaft was loosed, it was evident that the point had merely creased the hide, probably traveling just below the skin to the base of the skull and lodging against the root of the horns. The latter accounts for the curl of the point. Had the arrow been an inch or two lower the buck would probably had dropped in his tracks.
During all the excitement, with everybody intent on following the buck tracks, we had strayed quite a distance from the cars with most everyone having a different idea of which way was back. Indeed, it was not until we had tramped for over two hours did we find the cars. The country all looks alike with the only view out being straight up.
The next day we decided to split up into smaller groups and go in different directions. Some were to hunt the high country around Inyo Crater Lakes, others to hunt in the neighborhood of Sherwin Lakes, while the rest would work the flat country along Laurel and Rock Creeks.
That evening the boys came in with about the same reports as the day before - a good many does sighted, but very few, if any, bucks. The most favorable report came from the group that hunted the lower elevations. Fifteen or twenty deer were jumped in sage brush, where they had bedded down. Two of the boys, Leo Sipe and Bennett Gandy, actually got shots at bucks.
Benny tells this story: "I was approaching a fairly deep sage brush covered canyon when I heard a rifle shot some distance up the canyon. I hurried over to the edge so I could see the canyon floor, thinking the rifleman might scare something down my way. Sure enough there was a three or four pointer racing down the canyon like the mill tails of h---. I drew back and loosed a shaft at a likely spot about 75 yards down hill and about 30 or 40 feet in front of Mr. Buck. For the next few seconds it was a race to see which would get there first, the deer or the arrow. Well, it was practically a dead heat. I led him perfectly, but just a little too much elevation. Leo took a shot at him as the deer passed below him but also missed."
Alas, just a couple of arrows lost and no meat on the table.
Many of you old timers will say we didn't go about it right. I for one am inclined to agree. The only way to hunt with a bow is to find a nice comfortable spot near a likely game crossing and sit there until the game comes to you. It is practically impossible to walk quietly enough to keep from frightening the deer.