Friday, May 24, 2013

Helping Hunters - A Letter from a New Bowhunter

Al Quackenbush giving one of his many hunting seminars in 2012.

Every once in a blue moon I receive an email from someone who attended one of my Bass Pro Shops seminars in the past couple years.  It's an honor to be giving the opportunity to share my knowledge and experience in the hopes someone will learn something, get outdoors and have fun. The email I received from Keith Johnson a couple days ago had me grinning from ear-to-ear and not just because he took part in a seminar, but because his story he shares is exciting! I loved reading about his experience and I hope you do, too!


Here is the letter from Keith followed by my response to him.


I doubt very much you remember me, but I contacted you just before the fall turkey hunt last season asking for info. Long story short I found tons of birds, but wasn't able to get one in to shooting range. That was still ok because I had lots of fun. This spring I was able to hunt them closer to home (Bakersfield) and found birds. On Easter Sunday I was hunting alone in the Kern River Valley area and was able to call a hen and a jake in to me. I was sitting next to a large oak tree as they came walking right at me. The hen was no more then 20 feet from me at one point. As luck would have it she was walking between me and the jake so no good shot ever presented its self to me as they both walked away. Being that close to a hen and a jake cutting and clucking was probably the second coolest hunting experience I have had. Second only to my first dove season when I was a kid. I was at Bass Pro in Rancho and randomly sat in your bow hunting seminar, did some research, and started hunting. Needless to say my archery hunting experance has been influenced by you, your class, and your website. THANK YOU!!!

Today after work I was talking with a customer about deer season this year and remembered that I needed to apply for tags by [June 2nd]. This will be my first deer hunt ever and I'm already excited about it. I put in for [these zones]. My second tag I put in for [a different zone]. I also purchased five open zone deer app's. I know the area in all these places kind of well but could use some tips and techniques to hunt deer. For example I'm I better of [spot and stalk] hunting or setting up a ground blind or tree stand? Is there any equipment you would recemond like calls, sent cover, or estrogen sent?

Hunting packs: Just before you did your review on the last Badlands pack I purchased a [different brand backpack] that I'm not very happy with. The pack is ok for turkey hunting because it lets me move free, but the belt and shoulder straps are so big it's hard for me to get the pack tight to my back. I'm not a big guy at all (5'5" about 165 lbs) but the pack should still fit better then what it does. I will not be using it to hunt deer this year. I would like some advice on what you would recommend for me in the $150 to $200 range. I would prefer the pack had a boot so I don't have to carry my bow or rifle in to hunt. The area I will be hunting does not have a ton of road access so there will probably be plenty of walking.

If there is any thing I didn't ask that you think I should look in to please let me know. Like I said this will be my first hunt and I don't known exactly what to expect. Thanks for your help and advice.

P.S. Do you know any thing about the deer herds in the zone's I put in for. I'm hoping they are ok. I'd like to see some deer this season.

Thank You,
Keith Johnson


Here is my response to Keith and my advice.

Hi Keith!

I do remember you and your emails! Sounds like you had an exciting hunt! It's great to hear stories from the field like this and getting feedback on my seminars is always welcomed. I haven't done a seminar since last year because I am now required to have insurance for me to talk to you guys. [I am thankful I was able to share what I could when I could with you all!]

As far as deer hunting, scents and such can be ok, but honestly a good cover scent works best. If you have a good area where you know the deer are coming frequently then a blind or stand is great, but I don't really use them out here. Why? The deer are seemingly always on the move! Last year I took a guy out and I spotted deer first thing in the AM. They stayed put, so we hiked an hour and a half just so I could let him put a stalk on them. He got to 80 yards and they smelled him. You really just need to glass, play the wind and be able to shoot well!

Backpacks - funny you should ask, but I stick with one and only one brand - BADLANDS! I have owned two Badlands packs for years and they are incredible. I use them for training, hunting and scouting. I have a Badlands 2200 and a Hybrid. When I was giving my seminar I had the Hybrid with me [see the photo above]. It's perfect for those day hikes and turkey hunts. For deer hunting I break out the 2200. You can find deals on the 2200 on [quite often]. I am on the Badlands Pro Staff and will be testing some of the new packs in the next couple months. I packed out my elk last year using my 2200. It has a boot for a bow or a rifle and it is my go-to pack. [You will love it, Keith!]

Best advice I can give you on deer hunting this year is get a good set of binoculars and get a great pair of boots! I am using the MINOX 10x44 binos and wear Schnee's Wilderness boots. I would recommend anything by either company. If you are on a budget (which most of us are) feel free to let me know what gear you are looking at and I will do my best to point you in the right direction.

Feel free to give me a call sometime if you have any questions or want to talk hunting. Thanks for sharing your hunt story and the kudos. I appreciate the feedback!

Al Quackenbush 

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