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Taking Hunting on the Road

Out of state hunts, particularly when they are for multiple species and/or include fishing require careful packing to make sure all of the needed materials are taken along.

  As a person who writes about hunting and the outdoors, I often have several hunts a year that are out of state. Although I fly to Africa and Europe on occasion, the majority of my trips are in the U.S.  Given sufficient time, I most often drive, rather than fly.

  The advantages of taking a vehicle are that I can take more “stuffs” with me to do a variety of hunts on one trip and get the meat home. The more hunts I do, the more material that I can generate for future articles. However, these hunting (and sometimes fishing) opportunities require taking more gear with me  and putting together at least a “base set” of absolutely necessary things to keep my muzzleloaders, crossbows and bows shooting  under a variety of weather conditions.

  At the moment my trip includes an Idaho muzzleloading and/or crossbow hunt for bear and turkey along with some pick-up bowfishing on the way back home. I had finished up a Georgia turkey hunting and bowfishing trip  the day before I was to depart. In a single afternoon, I had to put my boat away, get all of that material out of my truck and repack.

  I used the same muzzleloader and one of my bowfishing bows. This simplified things somewhat. I still had to wash my dirty hunting clothes and gather all of my additional gear. Got that done.

  The next morning at 8:00 A.M. I was on my way. Twelve miles from home, I started a mental inventory, and I found that I had not put in the cleaning materials for my gun. I continued driving. I would be hunting with others and could borrow what I needed. My previous hunt had left me too rushed and too tired to think of quite everything.

  Usually when I start a hunt from scratch, I do a better job  by packing my muzzleloader in a hard case and putting my accessories in the case with the gun.  This time I did not have that mental crutch to fall back on. Nor did I do what I frequently recommend and make and check a list for each hunt.  This is the surest way to make sure that nothing vital is left behind.

  Best method:  “Make a list. Check it twice.” You and your buddy, if there is one, keep and eye on what is loaded and talk about it to make sure nothing vital is left behind. You can always pick up some things along the way when you make a cross-country trip; but it is expensive and irritating to have to buy things that you already have three of in your closet at home.

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Low Cost Bowfishing Information

Simple equipment like this old Bear recurve bow, Muzzy reel seat, closed-face spinning real, line and arrow along with an old boat can get the job done. Once in 4-hours the author put 300-lbs. of fish into this boat bowfishing by himself.



Click on symbol to order book.

All too often bowfishermen start off by themselves. Trying to find out something about the sport, what equipment to get, where to go, how to do it and what to do with the rough fish that they take is a real problem. This is exactly why I wrote my book  Practical Bowfishing – Wm Hovey Smith. I went through exactly the same process.   Ultimately, I found others who were doing the sport and joined the ABA (American Bowfishing association).

Although I am not a tournament fisherman, I enjoyed visiting the events, taking a few fish and getting to know the principals of companies like Muzzy,  Retriever Reels, Cajun Archery and Sulley’s Bowfishing Stuff.

The bowfishing that I most often do is “solo bowfishing” – just me, the boat, bow and the fish. This is an inexpensive way to enjoy the sport because it can be done close to home, when you have the time to do it, and can result in your gathering a good number of good-eating fish.

The author’s book is a complete treatment of the subject and the only book available.

Muzzy has what is perhaps the best reel seat on the market and have just introduced a new bowfishing reel, that is similar to, but much stronger than, the once-standard Zebco 808. These components plus a spool of 200 lb. bowfishing line and some white fiberglass bowfishing arrows and that’s all you need to bank fish or go in the water after them in sneakers or waders.

The least expensive way to get the book is by going to my website and activating the PayPal button below the book description. The book may also be ordered by mail by sending a $20 check to Whitehall Press-Budget Publications, 1325 Jordan Mill Pond Rd., Sandersville, GA 31082. Or, you may purchase from for about $55.00. The book is now out of print, and prices from various venders have ranged to over $100.


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I Did It Anyway Bowfishing

Bondo Boat and author with a carp. Although this photo was from a lake in Tennessee, it shows the author's boat and outfit.

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 I will do a short video on this theme, but the backstory is interesting. Georgia’s Department of Natural Resources has cut its budget to the extent that staff is short and facilities are being closed or operated for briefer periods. 

 Since December I had been trying to relicense “Bondo Boat,” but although it had been registered every year for more than a decade, the serial number scratched onto the fiberglass hull by the manufacturer was no longer considered sufficient. A new number had to be assigned by a ranger who needed to visit my house and see the boat. By the time all this was done and I could legally operate the boat, more than a month of good bowfishing had already passed. The day after the boat was “legal” I got my stuff together and went to one of my favorite areas at the Oconee Springs State Park in Central Georgia. 

Steve Nelson bowfishing from Bondo Boat in Sprague Lake, Washington. This design with its molded-in side stabilizers is one of the few boats that is stable enough to stand up in and bowfish.

  I did it anyway bowfishing 

Got off to a late start – went anyway. 

Oconee Springs Park closed – went anyway. 

Terrible, narrow, rocky launch area – launched anyway. 

Boat motor would not start – went anyway. 

Bowfishing area two miles up the pond – paddled up anyway. 

Had new bow and reel – used anyway. 

Could not hit fish – tried anyway. 

Shot a good carp. Line tangled on underwater branches – recovered anyway.  

Long paddle back against wind – got there anyway.

Ice cold beer covered in carp slime – drank it anyway.  

Late getting home – put boat away anyway. 

Got dark – cleaned fish anyway. 

 Done – anyway I had to do it. 

  Daylight solo bowfishing is labor intensive. Many shot opportunities are lost because of the need to put down the paddle, pick up the bow and shoot. Wind helps and hurts. The chop makes it more difficult to see the fish.  If you are having to paddle hard to make headway, you will often approach the fish too fast to shoot. The best method is to get upwind and let the boat drift over the fish. 

  This is not high-production bowfishing, but is fun and “good sport” while providing some useful upper body exercise for an older guy (me) who needs it. For those who don’t want to get this “physical” a foot operated trolling motor works well. 

 For more information check out my book, “Practical Bowfishing,”  on my website, The book is out of print, but you may order using the PayPal link below the book description. Prepaid mail orders will also be processed. Send a check in the amount of $20.00 to  Wm. Hovey Smith, 1325 Jordan Mill Pond Rd.,  Sandersville, GA 31082,

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4-Minutes About Crossbows

Author shooting BowTech's Stryker Crossbow

   Crossbows have become increasingly used as hunting tools in North America. These historic instruments have thousands of years of evolutionary history which I briefly sketch in the video. Shown in the video are Bernard Horton, David Barnett and Bill Troubridge with some of the modern crossbows that they invented for today’s hunters. 

  By far, hunters in the United States buy and use more crossbows than anyone. These have been demonstrated to be effective on all classes of game, including elephants, as well as the more usual North American species such as whitetailed deer, wild hogs, bears and alligators. 

  My book, Crossbow Hunting, takes the reader briefly through the crossbow’s history and then discusses the hunting capabilities of the crossbow, how to hunt with them and concludes with chapters on cleaning and cooking game. I also include some stories from other hunters like Bernard Horton and Excalibur’s founder, Bill Troubridge, who most often hunts with his wife, Kath.
  If you have difficulty in viewing the video here there is also a copy on YouTube at . 

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Hunting Big Game with Muzzleloading Pistols


Traditions' Buckhunter Pro and Thompson/Center Arms' 209X50 Encore are two handguns that the author has used to take big game animals.


  There are, and have been, only a  handful of muzzleloading pistols that can generate sufficient energy to ethically kill big-game animals when used as a primary hunting tool.  A few more are sufficient for very close-range shots at crippled animals or when the animal is only feet, or inches, from the hunter. 

  I enjoy the challenge of hunting with a muzzloading pistol and have taken deer, wild hogs, gators and warthog with them. The best that I have shot is the Thompson/Center Arms Encore .209X50 when used with a charge of 100 grains pelletized Triple Seven powder, a felt wad and 370-grain MaxiBall bullet. This bullet will penetrate 27-inches of tough hog and did a double-lung finishing shot on a Blue Wildebeest. The reason this gun works is that it has a long, about 15-inch, barrel and sufficient weight to help tame the gun. 

Davide Pedersoli Bounty pistol with added barrel weight.


  In flintlock, the only gun that I would recommend is Davide Pedersoli’s .50-caliber Bounty which has a 14-inch barrel. I used a load of 85-grains of FFg black powder in this one with a 295-grain PowerBelt bullet to kill a nice Florida buck deer.  It was necessary to tape a bag containing about a pound of lead shot to the front of the gun to keep it from flying from the hand with each shot. This load exceeds the plinking load recommended by the manufacturer and must be approached at the user’s own risk. 

  Common to the pistols mentioned is that they (and the T/C Scout) are shortened versions of equivalent rifles and the Pedersoli flintlock is proofed to muzzleloadng rifle pressures. The reason that only a low-power load is recommended is that handgun hunting is illegal in Italy,  and the manufacturer could see no need for recommending a  more potent load.   

Muzzleloading revolvers cannot combust sufficient powder to be effective on big game at little more than point-blank range.

 Additional work which is now on-going has caused me to change my mind to the point where I am now deer hunting with the Ruger Old Army and Cabela’s stainless steel Buffalo revolver with Triple Seven loads that approach or exceed the usual 500 ft. lbs. of muzzle energy needed to reliably take on deer-sized game at close range. I have a seven-part series of videos on this point up now on the Percussion Revolver. Segments 1-6 are now up. Both the test guns are strongly built with adjustable sights that enable reliable work to be done with them, although still having the drawbacks of  using percussion caps and being SOBs to clean. These loads are not recommended for brass-framed guns of any design.  

As a back-up pistol for precise shoots delivered at close range the Ruger Old Army revolver was use to finish off alligators at the side of the boat at a range of 4-inches. Here not too much power was wanted to keep from sending bullet or bone fragments through the boat’s aluminum hull. No black-powder revolver yet made can contain sufficient powder, or has sufficient barrel length, to combust the large charges necessary to generate sufficient energy to be reliable performers on game. The old Colt Walker come closest, but this gun has such poor sights as to be very difficult to make reliable hits beyond a few yards. With the Walker the ramrod needs to be taped to the barrel to keep it from binding the cylinder. 

  There is a tiny market for such guns. Look for guns with long barrels,  the best sights of their type and/or the ability to mount a scope. Traditions now discontinued Buckhunter Pro was the least expensive, really workable pistol for a period of years. Traditions introduced a new break-barrel muzzleloading pistol to replace it at the 2010 Shot Show, but I have not had the opportunity to work with the gun. 

  The key to success with these guns is to allow the game to approach close to the gun and take only very deliberate shots. With one exception, which was bad shot placement on my part, all of the game I have taken with these guns has been one-shot kills. In any event, you have to really know your gun and load. All depends on proper placement of what is apt to be your one, and only, shot opportunity. 

  My forthcoming book X-Treme Muzzleloading: Fur, fowl and dangerous game with muzzleloading rifles, smoothbores and pistols,  has much more detailed discussions about big and small game hunting with muzzleloading pistols. Advanced orders are now being taken for a pre-publication price of $17.00 (shipping included). For more information go to and look for the book’s cover at the fourth entry on the page.

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Road Kill Deer Roast Internationale’

Deer Roast immediately prior to taking up. Brown rice has been added and roast is allowed to rest for a few minutes.

 This is a simple, elegant recipe drawn from a variety of cooking traditions. I took ideas from South Africa, Italy, France , Mexico and the U.S. to derive  both the dish and the name. From South Africa came the concept of laying-on components, rather than mixing them. From Italy I took the use of garlic and olives. France contributed wine, Mexico added raisins and walnuts and finally an avocado and tomato from the U.S. was used to top of the dish.  

  I started with a flat cut from a rump roast from a road-killed deer, that weighed about 2.5 pounds (about 10x4x2-inches). This meat was a muscle mass from an uninjured leg.  The roast was washed and rubbed with a mix of salt, pepper and garlic powder. It was then placed into a foil-lined baking dish. Next I added 3/4-cup of  diced potatoes put around the roast, then two tablespoons of chopped garlic on top of the roast followed by 1/4-cup of chopped canned ripe olives. About 1/3-cup of olive juice was poured in the pan. One-half cup of diced onions came next sprinkled over the entire pan, which was followed by one sliced avocado, one sliced Roma tomato , 1/4-cup of raisins and a tablespoon of chopped walnuts. Finally 1/3-cup of Burgundy wine was poured into the sides of the pan.

  After the ingredients were added the roast tented over with aluminum foil and sealed. It was put into a 350 degree oven and baked for about 2 hours. In the meantime I cooked a cup of brown rice. When the roast was done the cooked rice was mixed with the fluids surrounding the roast and the dish put on a platter and served.

Deer roast sliced and ready for eating. Cooking in foil allows the product to remain moist. Browning only dries out the meat.

  The result was a tender, juicy roast that sliced well and yielded blended international  flavors without marination. Serve with Burgundy or a similar full-bodied red wine.

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Can I Hunt with Grandpa’s old 1903 .30’06 Springfield or Japanese 7.7?


These two rifles represent what most knowledgeable shooters would consider the best and worse of ex-military guns to use for hunting. The Springfield was made late in WWI, and the receiver cut so that it could use a .30 caliber "pistol" bullet shot from a semi-auto conversion unit.

  Former old bolt-action military guns such as the Springfield 1903, Japanese 7.7  Model 99 Ariskar, British 303s and Mausers from a host of countries can be used for hunting deer and similar-sized game, provided that the guns are sound and modern expanding ammunition is used. 

  The ready availability of .30’06 and 303 British sporting ammo provides a significant advantage to North Americans using these guns over others chambered for European calibers and the 7.7.  For decades Norma has been the principal source for European calibers and the 7.7, although this ammo may have to be special ordered from most  retailers. 

   The temptation is to buy up a bunch of full-metal-jacket military ammo and practice with it and save the more expensive soft-nosed rounds for hunting. Much of the military stuff is corrosive (particularly the old 303s), and if these barrels are not immediately cleaned after the guns are shot (even once) they will quickly rust and pit. This is a hint to always check the barrels before using or purchasing the guns. 

  Sights on old military guns vary from crude to finely adjustable with the older Springfield ’06s being the best, in my opinion. Many military guns will shoot high at close range, even with the sights set at their lowest positions. This is something that will only be discovered by shooting the guns with the ammo that you plan to use. 

  The key things are to make sure the guns are safe (have them inspected by a gunsmith if necessary), purchase modern hunting ammunition of the correct caliber, shoot the gun sufficiently to learn how to operate it, discover how it shoots and finally, be patient enough to take close-range shots (under 100-yards) using the iron sights. 

  If your gun is complete and in original condition, do not  refinish it,  sporterize it or mount a scope.  You will be better served to purchase a used sporting rifle, than try to convert an old military gun to sporting use. Already-converted guns can also be found on the used gun market.  Many military rifles were “sporterized” after World War II when the guns were inexpensive and civilian sporting arms were scarce. 

  I took a Dahl sheep in Alaska with a sporterized Springfield mounted with an old Lyman Alaskan scope after I graduated from the University of Alaska. I had better guns, but they had already been shipped home. I bought what I could find as inexpensively as possible and filled an empty slot on a friend’s sheep hunt after his would-be partner dropped out.  I no longer have the gun, but my  38-inch Dahl sheep is on the wall.

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An Inexpensive Meal from Rutabagas, Carrots, Onions and Wild Hog (Boar)


An inexpensive Spring meal from root crops and wild hog meat.

 Spring vegetables are expensive at the moment (April, 2010), but root crops are very reasonable. Using a half-pound of fat-removed smoked wild hog shoulder (any commerical lean pork product will do as well), a 7-inch rutabaga,  four carrots and a large Spanish onion, I made a very tasty meal at little costs.

  Dice the carrots into about 1/2-inch slices and start to boil, as these take longer to cook. Peel and chop the rutabega into hunks about 1-inch square. Add these to your pot with enough water to cover. Dice half a large Spanish onion and put that into boil water along with a half-teaspoon of salt and three tablespoons of margarine.

 Remove excess fat from diced hog meat, brown in frying pan, pour off grease and add meat to pot.  

 When vegetables are soft, drain, reserving the pot liquor, and crush vegetables in bowl. Add pepper, margarine and more salt to taste and serve when hot.

  Pour up pot liquor and allow to cool in refrigerator. When cook remove consolidated fat from top. Heat and drink as a hot soup or tea.

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Bowfishing Across North America


This was the logo that I had on my truck. I was frequently asked, "Can you do that around here?" The answer in almost every case is, "Yes, you can."

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  In 2004, following the publication of my book, Practical Bowfishing, I took a solo fishing trip from South Carolina to Washington State. This 30-day trip included bowfishing in 13 states, the Savannah, Tennessee, Mississippi, Illinois, Missouri, Yellowstone and Columbia rivers as well as a number of lakes. I bowfished where I happened to be at the end of the day’s drive or if I saw a “likely” spot.  Except when someone else wanted to come along, I bowfished by myself. 

  I was using a boat and trailer that I purchased used for $600,  put a new 4-hp outboard on it and shot fish with the old Bear Kodiak recurve bow that I bought years before.  Now, in 2010, I have all of this equipment and use it every year. Although you can trick-out bowfishing boats to the tune of $30,000 and more, simple equipment can get the job done. 

 State fishing laws were investigated in each state, and short-term licenses purchased. Only in the trout waters of the  Idaho panhandle was bowfishing  prohibited. In each state the fish that may be shot are “rough” fish including carp, gar, suckers and others that are not regulated as “game” fish species. With some species, like catfish, pike and paddlefish, laws vary from state to state 

 Often I shot from the boat, but I was also successful  bank bowfishing below the dams on lakes in Illinois and Minnesota.  I often get a higher percentage of hits from bank fishing because I am not troubled by the motion of the boat, putting down a paddle, rising to shoot, etc. 

  Most of the fish taken were either eaten or given away. I took a compact Webber grill along and baked some fish along the way. I also  used a number of recipes that I had included in the book when I had cooking facilities. 

  Orders for my book, Practical Bowfishing,  may be placed from my website by activating the PayPal link below the book description. I sell this out-of-print book for a little over $20 compared to $55 and up on and elsewhere. 

 I bowfished during daylight hours.  I seldom bowfish at night at a place that I have not seen in daylight. The 4-minute video that follows is supplemented by an 8-minute version on that may be accessed with the following link