Bowhunting Western Big Game

Question My wife and I are going to colorado on september 3-10th ,and I was wondering if a fred bear badge compound bow set at 48lbs with PSE carbon force arrows tipped with 100 grain steel force broadheads is enough for elk? I went last year ,and killed a 5x5 with the same equipment ,but with a PSE Nova set at 72lbs. Thanks

- Jack Forrester 03/30/2004, ID=2334


I'm a little curious as to why you're dropping from 72-pounds draw weight to 48 pounds. But to answer your question, yes, I think the 48-pound bow will do the job. However, it's none too heavy. I recommend that you wait for a perfectly broadside shot. On a quartering shot, the 48-pounder might not have enough oomph to push the arrow all the way through the vitals.

Best of success,

Dwight Schuh

Question An acquantance of mine says he shoots 3 blade muzzy's, but he takes the the razor blades and a dremel tool and puts a roughed up sharpness on them.

He said this makes wounds not close up.

Does this really work? Have any of you tried this?

- Ken 12/28/2003, ID=2296


Whether it really works, I do not know. And I doubt that anyone can scientifically prove whether it works. It's a theory. Fred Bear subscribed to the same theory regarding his Razorheads. He sharpened them with a file to leave serrations on the blades, believing this would make a wound that would leave the best blood trail.

Personally I don't buy that. I want broadhead blades as sharp as possible, and the sharpest blades have smooth edges.

Truth be known, it probably makes no difference, smooth or serrated. If you put the arrow through the lungs or heart, the animal will die in such a short distance, you won't have to worry about following a blood trail. Bottom line is, I would focus on good shot placement with a razor sharp broadhead. If you achieve that goal, you will achieve your goal.

Shoot straight,

Dwight Schuh

Question Dwight, I hunt elk in southwest washington by MT Adams. Usually the hunting is pretty good. However when it rains, the elk quit bugling and seem to disappear. Is there some general guidelines on how to hunt elk/find elk when it rains.

- Joe Richards 10/29/2003, ID=2242


I've hunted the Mt. Adams area myself. Killed a spike there. The weather was sunny and warm at the time. That's just an aside and has nothing to do with your question.

I have not seen rain deter elk a lot. In fact, it seems to me they like rain and often are active all day in a steady rain. However, I certainly have seen elk disappear when major storms move through, whether those storms bring rain or snow. I suspect it has to do more with a dropping barometer than with precipitation.

One problem with rain is that it dampens sound, so to speak, so that your calling doesn't carry as well and you don't hear as well. You may have to get down in the brush with the elk where you can hear them at close range and where your proximity with them will get them stirred up and force them to respond. In other words, you may simply have to get more aggressive -- get closer and call more.

If a barometric change has shut them up, you may have to wait until the weather stabilizes before they really get cranking again. Sometimes the bugling activity ebbs and flows, and it will be good some days and bad other days, regardless of your efforts. So don your raingear and keep after them. Sooner or later things will break loose.

I hope this helps a little.

Dwight Schuh

Question What is the best way to climb a tree? I've used screw-in steps, but it seems like I'm always sweating by the time I get to the top. Makes me less likely to move my stand when needed. I've been looking at some climbing stands but don't always have a nice tree to climb in my area. Any thoughts on this?

- Al Lunzman 09/15/2003, ID=2232


In my opinion, screw-in steps are the most difficult and most dangerous devices for climbing trees. Not only are they hard to screw into most trees, especially those with solid wood like oaks, but if you ever slip on a screw-in step, you most likely will gut yourself.

I far prefer strap-on steps to screw-ins. They're much easier to install. Using a climbing belt, you can set 10 strap-on steps in a matter of minutes. And they're legal everywhere. Screw-in steps are illegal on many public areas, and some landowners probably don't like them, either.

With all of that said, I far prefer climbing ladders and sticks to individual steps. My favorites might be the Rapid Rails. They're simply small, lightweight, aluminum ladders you secure to the tree with polypropylene rope. Quick, easy, and above all, safe. Three sections will easily get you 15 feet high. I don't have a current phone number for Nontypical Treestands, the company that made Rapid Rails. A company called Hunter's View makes a similar climbing ladder ( I'm sure many other companies do too.

The SwifTree by Summit is an excellent climbing stick. It has closed steps so you won't emasculate yourself if you slip, and you can grasp the central column for security as you climb (

As a general statement, then, I would say the best way to climb is with climbing ladders and climbing sticks, not individual steps. Of course, climbing stands still have their place, and in our lodgepole pine/fir forests here in the West, I often use a climber over a fixed position stand. The Summit Bushmaster is a good one. Also, you can't beat the Lone Wolf ( Ol' Man climbers are also excellent (

One last thing -- use a climbing belt to install any climbing system. And when you get onto your stand platform, always wear a good safety harness.

Safe climbing.

Dwight Schuh

Question I once found a web site that told you what size of an animal it would take to make minimums for pope & young for various different animals, Do you have any information on this? I'm not looking for minumum scores but about what kind of an animal it takes to make it. I'm just looking for some general guide lines.

- Jim Anderson 09/11/2003, ID=2228


Go to the P&Y website at and click on Minimum Scores. You will find them all listed there for quick reference.

Good hunting,

Dwight Schuh

[NEXT 5 Questions]

Submit your Question on Bowhunting Western Big Game
Sorry, the form to input questions has been disabled because there are too many questions in the Queue. Please try back later.

Dwight Schuh
Be sure to visit Dwight Schuh's Website - Dwight Schuh is perhaps the most respected authority on bowhunting Western big game. The author of numerous books including "Hunting Open Country Mule Deer" and "Bugling for Elk" is here to answer your specific questions on bowhunting Western Big Game.