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Home > Shop > How To/Pro-Tips

How To/Pro-Tips


Before You Practice

Practice with your bow early and often. However, before serious practice, get your outfit in shape. Check out everything that might have put your bow out of tune in the off-season.
With older bows check the draw weight. As they age, bows with laminated limbs gradually lose power. This happens so slowly that it's barely noticeable, but it can be corrected. It's a problem only if you remain unaware of it and fail to compensate.
Check the bowstring for both stretching and wear. A few twists will correct a mildly stretched string, but if there's fraying, it's time to replace the string. I like to start a new season with a new string and a backup in my kit. Check for loose nocking points and string wear under the nocking points. This is one of the places where string wear can slip up on you.
Check your wheels and axles for proper alignment and smooth performance. Lubricate them before they start to squeak and groan.

Proper Practice

Both archers and gun hunters should practice their shooting, but regular practice is critical for bowhunters. Archery is more demanding of both physical strength and good reflexes and only regular practice will keep those skills honed.

Start light to keep from getting sore. I like to practice at full hunting weight and break point, so my first sessions are very short until I get my muscles in shape. Even then, short sessions are best. Five shots a day for a week are much better than 35 shots on Sunday afternoon.

Shoot with friends. There's nothing like a little peer pressure to keep you sharp. Once again, short sessions keep you focused.

Shoot from realistic hunting positions, including sitting down and from elevated stands if that's how you will be hunting this fall.

Once the season begins many hunters focus on the deer and slack off the shooting practice. Continue practicing. It doesn't take a long layoff to lose that critical edge a once-in-a-lifetime shot might require.

Cold Front Trophies

Several weather patterns affect deer movement and hunting success. One of the best, from the hunter's point of view, is a high-pressure cold front that drops temperatures slightly below normal. Deer, that are already in their winter coats and laying on insulating fat for the coming winter are invigorated by the cooler temperatures and tend to move more.
The first couple of days after a cold snap are good days to be on stand and the closer to the rut that the temperature drop occurs, the better. One downside of a cold front is that these systems often include wind.
High wind diminishes the deer's ability to scent or hear danger. With its two primary defenses impaired, deer are prone to move less. When they do move they are unusually jumpy and skittish.
Extreme cold or heavy snow or rain also depress deer movement. After a bout of extreme conditions it takes a day or so for the deer to return to normal movement patterns.

Duck Hunting Safety

Duck boats are usually operated in remote areas, often in the dark and in rough weather. Staying safe is imperative.
Resist the temptation to overload. Big bags of decoys aren't heavy but they do take up a lot of room and if piled too high can obscure vision. Big, active dogs and small boats are a bad mix, particularly on rough water. Have your dog under control, not lurching all over the boat. If in doubt, make two safe trips rather than one risky one.
Wet plus cold equal potential hypothermia. I carry a change of warm clothes and fire-starting materials in a waterproof bag stashed in my boat. Have Coast Guard Approved personal floatation devices. They make these in camouflage, so there's no excuse not to wear them while the boat is moving.
Carry a compass and consider a two-way radio or a cell phone. Most importantly, tell someone where you are going and when you expect to be back.

Fools Rush In

My No. 1 rule for taking a trophy buck is to not allow the trophy buck to know I'm intent on taking him. This requires extreme caution and it also requires not hunting in what others might consider to be the most promising spots.
I start by studying the buck's habits from a distance and from sign. I try to learn as much as I can about his pattern.
The last thing I want is to encounter the buck before I'm ready for him. Avoiding his core area or sanctuary is a top priority. Staying well out of his primary scraping or breeding area is also important. A buck is very sensitive to such intrusions.
I start off trying to ambush him along his trails but even then I don't sit right over the trail but rather off to the side. Even if the buck gets wind of you near trails, he will not be as much alarmed as he would be in his breeding and core area.


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