Editor’s Note: Scott McGann from Emmett, Idaho, is part of the Mossy Oak Western States’ Big Game Pro Staff. “My wife, Kami, and I are both on the Mossy Oak Big Game Pro Staff and have been for 9 years,” McGann says. “At the beginning of elk season, I do the calling, and Kami does the shooting. Once Kami fills her elk tag, I get to hunt.” Together this team has taken 17 elk. Kami has been bowhunting for 8 years and has harvested four elk. Scott has been hunting 25 years and has harvested 13 bulls.
My wife, Kami, and I were hunting mule deer during November, which was the rut time for the mule deer out here where we hunt. Kami never had taken a deer with a bow. This was only her second year of bowhunting. We found a herd of deer, and I taught Kami how to stalk up and get close to the mule deer. As she was moving close on the herd, a big doe stepped out in front of her. She made a beautiful 24-yard shot on the doe. I watched the doe run down the hill and tip over. I walked over to Kami and said, “Nice shot.” Kami thought she had missed the deer, but I told Kami, “I saw the deer go down.” We walked about 80 yards from where Kami had shot the deer and found her big doe.
I'm not only Kami’s husband, guide and elk caller, I'm also her meat processor. So, I took off my mechanical release and my daypack, laid my bow down on the pack, rolled the doe over and started to field dress the doe. I had both arms inside the doe’s belly pulling out the entrails when I heard Kami whisper, “Don’t move.” She was sitting by the head of the deer that I was gutting. I whispered, “What’s going on?” With her eyes fixed looking right behind me, she said, “A buck is walking up right behind you.” I said, “Oh, no. Hand me my bow.” My arms were bloody from my finger tips to my elbows. Kami handed me my bow, and I saw a nice buck sneaking up the ridge behind me. I don’t know if he could smell the dead doe, but he was sniffing the air as he came toward us.
I crawled over to a little pile of brush and put an arrow on my bowstring. Then I realized that my release was somewhere over by my pack. I whispered to Kami, “Can you see my release?” She answered, “No. Where is it?” The buck was about 18-yards away, and he was going to walk right past me. I told Kami, “I'm going to shoot this buck instinctively just like I once shot my recurve bow.” I came to full draw and anchored my bloody finger in the corner of my mouth just like I did when I was shooting a recurve bow. I looked right at the spot I wanted to hit and released the arrow. When the arrow hit, I saw that I had a double lung shot. The buck ran up the mountain about 40 yards, then kicked up like a bucking bronco, fell over backwards and rolled down the hill, stopping about 3 feet from Kami. Kami looked at me, and I never will forget what she said, “Are you kidding me? Now, you have two deer that you’ve got to process and carry out.” The buck was only a 2x2 (4-point eastern count). But for Kami and me, this was a hunt of a lifetime.
Doubling Down on Bears
Idaho is one of the few states where you can set-up a tree stand and bait bear. I always put out bear bait every spring. My friend, Kirby Robertson, wanted to go bear hunting with me this year, because he never had hunted bear with bait and wanted to hunt with his rifle. I decided to create one big bait site, and then both of us could hunt the same site. We went out to set-up the stand and the bait. I climbed up a tree to set-up my tree stand and asked Kirby, “Where is your tree stand?” Kirby told me, “I don’t climb trees, because I'm afraid of heights. I'm going to build a brush blind at the base of the tree where you're putting your tree stand. I don’t leave the ground when I'm hunting.” So, we built a brush blind for him and got all the bait set out.
About a week later, we decided to go bear hunting. The night before the hunt, I told Kirby, “You’ve never killed a bear before, and I’ve killed plenty of them. So, you get the first shot.” Then, I asked him, “Are you going to shoot any bear that comes in, or are you going to wait for a big one?” “I'm going to shoot the first bear I see,” Kirby said. The next morning I climbed into the tree, and Kirby got in his ground blind. We had been on our stand for about 2-1/2 hours before we spotted a bear coming up the trail toward the bait. I looked down at the ground blind. I could tell Kirby didn’t see the bear. When I looked more closely, I saw that Kirby was using his cell phone to read his Facebook messages. So, I scratched my hand on the bark of the tree. Kirby looked up at me, and I pointed toward the bait site. When Kirby looked up, the bear was 12-yards from him. When he saw the bear that close, he was startled at first. Then, he brought his rifle to his shoulder to take this chocolate bear that weighed about 220 pounds. Kirby took the shot, and I watched the bear run off about 25 yards and flip over dead. Kirby stood up and said, “Wow! That was awesome! What do we do next?” I frowned and said, “Sit your butt down in that blind. I've got 2-1/2-more hours of hunting time left.”
About 1-1/2-hours later, I looked off in the brush and spotted a black bear sneaking through that brush toward the bait pile. I decided to let this bear go, because I was hoping to take a big bear. I scratched on the tree again to get Kirby’s attention, but he didn’t look up. So, I pulled a little piece of bark off the tree and dropped it down on Kirby. Finally, he looked up at me, and I pointed in the direction of the bear. Kirby whispered, “Are you going to shoot him?” When the bear walked into the bait, I picked up my bow, nocked an arrow and drew the bow back. I knew Kirby was excited. He'd never seen a bear taken with a bow. So, I decided to go ahead and take the shot with my bow and made a double lung shot. The bear jumped over a brush pile, stood up and fell backward right into the bait pile. Kirby looked up at me and said “I can’t believe how quickly that bear went down.” I responded with, “Putting an animal down quickly and effectively is one of the great reasons I like hunting with a bow.”
To learn more about hunting, check out John E. Phillips’ new eBook and print book, “Bowhunting Deer: Mossy Oak Pros Know Bucks and Bows.” You also can download a free Kindle app that enables you to read the book on your iPad, computer or Smartphone.
For information on making jerky from your deer to provide a protein-rich snack and recipes for cooking elk and mule deer, you can download free books from http://johninthewild.com/free-books.