I’ve been wanting to write this column for years. Finally figured it was time to bite the bullet and just start churning it out in segments. People keep asking for it, but it’s going to come in in bursts, so forgive me if it’s not complete.
No matter where I go — whether it’s a deer camp, speaking engagement or hunting expo seminar — folks always ask the same questions: “What is the best…” “Who is the best ….” “What do you think about …”
Well, here are my answers:
1. Who is the best hunter on TV?
Tough question. Lots of possibilities for answers. I’m going to limit my choice to the folks who I’ve actually seen on TV quite a bit, and those who I’ve actually had the opportunity to share a camp with. This whittles the list down some, but one name always pops to the top of the list: Mark Drury of Drury Outdoors.
If you want a PhD clinic in shot placement, watch Drury’s video hunts. He is a master at waiting for the precise moment to release his arrow. He invariably waits for the perfect shot angle and contains his emotions before the shot better than anyone else I’ve seen.
He is also astute at watching the deer after the shot and observing post-shot animal behavior — critical to recovery — and a true sign of a master hunter.
2. Who is the best at hanging a tree stand?
I really should cut and paste the sentence that followed the first question. Again, very tough to answer. However, again, there is one guy who absolutely amazed me when I watched him scout the woods, pick out a tree and hang stands without having to barely touch the habitat with a pruning saw. He is Tom Indrebo of Bluff Country Outfitters in Buffalo County, Wisconsin.
Tom is one of those guys who truly knows deer behavior. He knows where deer will walk — precisely — and when they will do it. He has been guiding hunters to book deer for more than two decades. He is a true whitetail master.
3. What/who is the best rifleshot you’ve ever seen?
That’s an easy one. I can’t remember the exact year, but I believe it was somewhere in the mid-1990s. I was on media hunt sponsored by Browning and U.S. Repeating Arms, and was in camp with some of the industry’s top writers and hunters. A gruff-looking guy with a thick Eastern accent took me under his wing and let me share a deer blind with him. His name? Bryce Towsley. Yeah, that Bryce Towsley.
We were squished into a box blind, hoping to shoot some does as the sun dipped toward the horizon. Deer were nowhere to be seen, but a rodent scurried down a distant cattle road and stopped.
“Think I can hit it?” Bryce asked.
“No way,” I said. “I can barely see it.”
He raised his .30-06, settled in and touched off the shot. Dead rodent.
The distance: 325 yards. I was stunned.
“I will never doubt you again, sir,” I humbly replied.
4. Can a slug gun really be something more than a pumpkin lobber?
I never thought they could be. Then I met Dave Henderson, the slug-shooting guru from New York’s Finger Lakes region. Dave is possibly the one man in America who actually enjoys bruising his shooting shoulder. After all, he has shot thousands of slug through hundreds of combinations of deer hunting slug guns over the years.
Over the past two decades, he has proven to me that slug shooting is indeed an art, and one that can be perfected. While hunting with him in Arkansas many years ago, I learned exactly what he meant by a “tack-driving” slug gun. Dave had brought along one of his prized Tar Hunt slug guns. During a shooting session at the range, he coached me through the proper technique for shooting one of these high-end, bolt-action shotguns. When the session was over, I was keyholing slugs into the target that was 130 yards downrange. Incredible. He definitely made me a believer in the slug gun’s usefulness as a relatively long-range gun in the deer woods.