Woods and Water — The basics of archery: Taking the next step

Woods and Water — The basics of archery: Taking the next step

Posted: Thursday, July 31, 2008 10:14 pm
By: Rob Somerville

In part one of this series, we went through the steps of consistent shooting at targets and your basic bow set up. In this article, we will get you ready for an actual deer hunt. Any experienced archer will tell you that shooting an arrow at a live deer is quite different than shooting at a foam block or deer target. For one thing, your target is now moving. For another reason, a certain malady tends to kick in, known as “buck fever.” Why are my legs shaking and my heart beating so fast? All deer hunters have experienced it and we all still do, to some extent. I guess when the day comes when seeing a deer doesn’t get me excited, that will be the day I quit. The first deer that I took with a bow was a doe. This “up close and personal” encounter left me with legs that were so rubbery that I could not even stand up for several moments. Deer hunters experience mixed feelings upon the harvest of an animal so beautiful. Pride, sadness, and pure joy can bring you through the full spectrum of emotions. Later in this article, I will relate some ways to somewhat keep “buck fever” under control, but first let’s get ready for the deer woods. Tools of the trade When you are shooting a bow at the target range, or in your backyard, noise does not matter and after a period of a couple of weeks you should be skillful enough at shooting an arrow {equipped with a field-target point} that you are damaging the fletchings on your arrows when shooting groups at a distance of thirty yards. But, to humanely and legally harvest a deer with bow and arrow, you must shoot arrows tipped with a broadhead and you will want to have a quiet set up. In my opinion, speed is overrated. I feel it is more important to have a quiet and accurate shooting bow and to use stealthy movements, when attempting to draw it. Sims Technologies makes a product that is called Limbsavers. These patented, stick-on devices, take the “twang” out of your bow when firing it. I also use “string silencers” to quiet the vibration. The ST-1 bow stabilizer, made locally by Joe Goade, is the last piece in my silencing arsenal. “In -Expansive” broadheads – the cutting edge The next item you must decide on is a broadhead. Many people shoot expandable, open-on-impact broadheads, and have harvested many deer with them. I choose not to for several reasons. First of all, anything that is mechanical can fail, so why take the chance. Secondly, I have had two bad experiences with these types of blades not opening. A broadhead should be sturdy, have a superior cutting and penetrating point, and possess razor-sharp blades. The only broadhead I have found in years of field tests that consistently maintains all of these necessary ingredients, is made by Muzzy Products. A package of these tips comes with a practice broadhead, which allows you to tune your bow to hunt. Hunting broadheads fly differently than field tips and you must fine tune your bow to their travel, prior to hitting the woods on an actual hunt. In the stand – comfort and safety are the keys A treestand should be comfortable to prevent you from squirming around and allowing the deer to catch you moving, but first and foremost it must be safe. If you are using a climbing style, or strap-on stand, practice with it at home until you are comfortable with using it. If a ladder stand is preferred, ensure that it is securely attached to the tree. Whatever your preference, practice target shooting from your stand, in both standing and sitting positions. Do not “over trim” shooting lanes. Choose a tree that gives you foliage around you, to help you avoid detection. Always be alert and have your bow ready, with an arrow nocked and your bow within easy reach. When a deer approaches, move only when it will not detect you and be prepared to hold at full draw for several seconds, until you can get an ethical shot off. Becoming the ultimate predator If you remember that you are hunting an animal that has been hunted by both man and beast for centuries and has developed super-charged senses of survival, you will realize the need to be as scent-free and stealthy as possible. Camouflage your entire body. Wear a head net or camo paint to conceal your face. I like to cut the thumb and forefinger out of the glove on my shooting hand to better feel my release. There are several great camo patterns on the market. I like to wear a different pattern on the top and bottom of my body to help break up my outline. Getting rid of the shakes The sun reflects the glint of antlers. You hear the crunch of approaching footsteps, as the deer’s hooves crunch through the autumn leaves. You carefully pick up your bow and begin to draw. All of a sudden, your foot starts tapping spasmodically and you feel like you are going to hyper-ventilate. This is buck fever and it can be devastating to a successful harvest. It can make you suddenly forget all of the basic shooting skills you thought had become second nature. There is no sure-fire, cure-all solution. But, here are some tips that can help. When you are in your deer stand, mentally envision a deer coming down the trail and you drawing back and shooting it. Another trick is not to look at the deer, especially if it is a large-racked buck. Instead, focus on its vital area and imagine the bull’s eye or balloon that you practiced shooting at in your back yard. Breathe slowly and carefully through your nose. Do not jerk on your release. Gently put pressure on the release, to sling your arrow. Another trick I use use, to silently repeat to myself, “Take your time, steady, follow through, and aim low”. All of these tactics help calm your mind and distract you enough to allow you to follow through with your basic shooting form you have programmed yourself into. Summary There are many other important factors in being a successful archery hunter. Scouting, stand placement and blood-trailing are just a few. But, we will save those for another time. The important thing is to enjoy the outdoor experience that the Good Lord has blessed us with. If you take a deer, consider it “icing on the cake.” Good luck “slinging those sticks” and always remember that our kids are our most precious natural resource. They are our future. See ya, Rob Published in The Messenger 7.31.08

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