Trash Hunting

Rules and a Typical Hunt

Fall is here and, at least up at the pass elevations in the mountains, winter is fast arriving. My favorite stump shooting spot has already seen it's first dusting of snow. Fortunately, we got a weekend break, with temps back up to the low 60's and sunshine. We headed up the mountain again. This time I was taking a new J. D. Berry bow and had a new orientation... in addition to enjoying stump shooting, I wanted to get serious about hunting wild trashes. Having shot a wild trash on my first expedition, I was eager to go back to the woods and make a real effort to hunt them. Fortunately, they are considered a pest species in Washington, with no season and no license required.

If you checked out the link to the new Berry bow, you know that I had high hopes for this one as an open woods shooter, since it seems to be fairly fast and flat shooting within my normal range of 30 yards. My shooting with it the day it came (yesterday, actually) was without a nock point. For this trip, it had a nice wrapped nock point and was truly ready to go show what it could do.

We got up to our spot in perfect conditions and I strung the bow and started off into the woods. The first few stumps fell with absolute precision... beaurtiful shots at mid-ranges. I was able to pick specific spots on the stumps and nail them! This made me feel so good I started stretching... I found I could pretty much nail stumps out 35 yards... long for me. I even made one shot at 41 yards! With that kind of result, I shifted from stumps to actual trash hunting.

Now, I need to pause at this point and explain a bit about trash hunting. Many bowhunters have been limited to traditional animals in their hunting. However, as with other species that have either been introduced to our woods and waters from foreign lands, or were domestic but have become feral, wild trashes have proliferated in our woods and become a genuinely huntable species that offers great opportunity for bowhunters. While in most states there are no regulations and no licensing requirements (even out of staters can hunt with no special fees), there are some rules that are generally accepted as representing the standards of "fair chase".

Here are a few basics to help you get started:



- Any bow is appropriate. There are no weight limits, but light is generally better than very heavy, as trashes are usually found in areas where stumps and rocks are common, and excessive poundage can result in stuck and/or broken arrows. In good areas, you can get a lot of shots at trashes, so again, too heavy a bow can be tiring.

- Smoothly joined arrows are a must. Many trashes have stiff skin. If the joint between the point and the shaft is not smooth, i.e. there is a ridge between the shaft and point, it will be harder to pull it out of the trash. I favor aluminum arrows with nib points of exact matching diameter to the shaft. Arrow removal is a cinch.

- Wild trashes vary greatly in size. You may want to wear a large but light back pack, lined with a plastic garbage bag, for carrying out your game. Very few people actually consume trashes, though some will take them home for their goats. However, it is not considered good form to leave shot trashes behind.


Trash Hunting Ethics:

- That you should take your game out of the woods with you has already been mentioned.

- Taking your own domestic trashes to the woods to shoot is very much bad form... rather like staking a domestic cow out in a field to shoot. If you want to go to the woods to target shoot, that's one thing, but hunting wild trashes is something else. It should be an honest hunt.

- While hunting, it is not uncommon to find gathering places of what you might think of as "semi-wild" trashes. In reality, these are usually domestic trashes who have been taken to the woods and abandoned. These places can often be recognized by the presence of rings of stones and concentrations of other miscellaneous species or items not native to the woods. Some trash hunters carry extra plastic bags and may even keep a rake in their cars to gather up and remove these from the woods. However, because of their concentration, the otherwise legitimate wild trashes in such a location should not be shot. It is just not a "fair chase" situation.

- This rule is perhaps the most important... wild trashes have relatively thin hides and are quite shootable. However, wherever trashes are found, wild glasses are also found. Glasses do not merely die when shot... they shatter and pieces of their stiff, sharp hides remain in the woods quite literally forever, with great risk to other species.

- Good form requires that you shoot wild or feral trashes as you encounter them. Unless a shot is obviously out of range or carries with it a high chance of arrow loss (over a blind ridge, into a river, etc.), you should, in golfing terms, "play it as it lies".

The above "rules" are pretty simple, and, if followed, can provide you with many a day of wandering the woods and enjoying the experience of hunting.


And a Warning

Any activity in the woods carries some degree of risk. All of the usual precautions re being in the woods apply, plus a very special one that is important: Be sure you identify your trash! Most times, no problem... pop bottle, cup, etc. However, if you really aren't sure what it is, best do some stalking. I heard from one trash hunter who didn't shoot a milk jug... and was very glad he hadn't when a closer appoach showed it to be a human skull, which he reported to the police. As he commented, imagine trying to explain to the police why your arrow was in a skull!

Beyond this admittedly not likely occurence, it is a simple and unfortunate truth of our time that we do have strange folks doing strange things with strange chemicals in our woods these days, and/or dumping the waste from their operations there. I'm not sure what an arrow would do to some of the chemicals involved in meth production and I honestly don't want to find out!


A Typical Trash Hunt

I discovered trash hunting as a sport on my first stump shooting expedition, when I encountered a wild trash totally unexpectedly. I managed to pull off a good shot and realized that while I do not hunt game in the normal sense, here was the opportunity to be out in the woods hunting at any time, with a high probability of success. (See "My First Stump Shooting Experience")

As I mentioned at the start of this page, I have just gotten back from a pretty typical outing in the woods, the North Cascade Mountains in this case, shooting stumps and also staying alert for the opportunity to shoot any feral trashes that I might encounter. I didn't take any stump pictures this time, since a stump with an arrow in it looks pretty much like a stump with an arrow in it. One of the joys of trash hunting is the wide variety of forms this species takes once it has gone wild. Here is a collection of game pictures from this outing:



My first sighting was one I really couldn't do anything about... a mother bottle hiding in her nest under a stump, with fat little twin bots. I left these to mature for next year...


I quickly made up for passing on the earlier shot by nailing this cigarette box...


and a plastic bag...


and a single bottle...



I doubt that any venture into the woods fails to produce some impressive sight... we came on this large tree that seeded itself in an old rotting log and developed this impressive root structure.



Another shot of that unusual root...


This beef jerky bag didn't stand a chance...


This bottle actually leaped into the air when hit and fell dead immediately.



You have to be alert when hunting wild trashes. This one was hiding under the ferns at the edge of a down log.


This one was invisible behind this log... until I passed it and then turned around and looked behind me.


The rarest find and toughest shot of the day... a wild plastic paint ball pellet. You can see its green blood marking the place where it fell. These are very tiny... hard to see and harder to hit.



Paint ball pellet before removal from arrow.



So, there you have it... a great time in the woods... Interspersed with my trash finds were many great stump shots. I really though I had exceeded myself when I decided to try two more shots, at a stump that was 47.5 yards away. My first shot was clearly low. I lost the second in the shadows under the trees, but I really thought I'd gotten the stump. However, much to my disappointment, when I approached I saw that the arrow was actually about one foot in front of it in the ground. Oh, well... maybe next time.

Captain Dick