Twenty Five Tips To Success

August 11th, 2009 / Posted by edersbow.com
Twenty Five Tips To Success

“Bowhunting,” says Wayne Meritt, the archery pro and general mangager for Genesee Valley Taxidermy and Shooting Supplies in upstate New York, “is a lone-wolf sport. You can read all the books and articles on the market you want, you must still enter the woods alone, and then hunt alone-all season if need be–until you get your shot.”

Meritt is right of course–experience is the best teacher. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t learn a trick or two by listening to the advice offered by others. Take these two gems for example, gleaned from a conversation I recently had with John Grab, co-owner of NorthCountry Expeditions, a “dream factory” for sportsman based in Stowe, Vermont.

“Each year,” said Grab, “we get hundreds of inquiries from archers looking for good bowhunting camps. We know that bowhunters have special needs, but we also know that not every “bowhunting” camp is suitable for the serious bow & arrow hunter. You see, some outfitters invite bowhunters, but in reality they know no more about bowhunting than the man in the moon. They just figure that if a bowhunter wants to hunt from their camp, they’ll let ‘em!”

“Fortunately,” added Grab, “a good booking agent will know which camps are best for bowhunters. Remember, his business depends on many satisfied customers. Aside from that, bowhunters should check an outfitter’s references carefully by asking lots of questions. And they should keep asking questions until they are satisfied the outfitter does indeed understand their particular bowhunting needs. You don’t want to arrive in camp and find your tree stand 100 yards off a game trail!

“Secondly, bowhunters should not balk at the extra costs involved in attending a bowhunting-only camp. Outfitting is often a numbers game, and for an outfitter to make a living by catering exclusively to the relatively small number of bowhunters, he has to charge a couple hundred dollars more per man.”


Finding Bucks
Larry Myers is one of those fortunate men who has a job that compliments his love of deer hunting. Larry is a retired regional wildlife biologist for the state of New York, and as such has some interesting data to share with the landowner/bowhunter who wants to manage a few hundred acres of whitetail habitat.

“Radio tracking studies have shown that does have smaller home ranges than bucks,” said Larry. “In fact, an adult doe is often the dominant deer within her home range. It has been found that these mature females commonly push yearling bucks around until the bucks are forced to establish their own home range–usually at some distance away from their birth place.

“Now,” said Larry, “consider thephilosophy of some landowners that forbid the shooting of adult females. What are the ramifications of such a practice? Well for one, if some of these older does were removed, yearling bucks might stand a better chance of staying in the area; i.e., they would not be driven away to area farms by the dominant doe. Ironically, the periodic harvesting of mature does might give landowners what they really want-more bucks on their property.

“Of course,” adds Larry, “that same research has shown that bucks have more extensive home ranges than does, and that during the rut bucks will move great distances in order to find a hot doe. Now, if you are after a particular buck, your chances of success are probably greater during the prerut when that deer’s daily feeding and bedding schedules are more predictable. Once the breeding season gets underway, a mature buck could be miles away for days on end servicing estrous females.”

If bagging a particular buck is “easier” during the prerut, how do you go about pegging one in the absence of rut sign? The key is food. During the lazy days of summer, herds of deer can often be found feeding in lush farm fields and wide open meadows. However, by early fall deer often leave the fields and turn to other food sources, such as acorns, beech nuts and apples. The trick is to find these new preferred food sources btfore the deer do! How? Try a pair of binoculars. Let me explain.

Apple trees blossom in the spring, a time when you can easily locate dozens of these potential fruit- laden trees simply by glassing hedgerows, old farmsteads and abandoned orchards for their distinctive pink and white blossoms. Binoculars can likewise be used to keep track of the local mast crop. Here in the east, you should glass hill sides during mid summer to insure your prime hunting grounds are not over run with gypsy moths. Keep in mind that two years of heavy caterpillar infestation can kill a mature oak. Finally, I like to walk through known stands of oak and beech just before the season opener, and glass the tree tops for growing nuts. Deer flock to these areas as soon as the mast starts to fall– usually with the season’s first big wind.

Bow Tuning

Steve Van Zile, a hunting advisor for PSE, advises all archers to tune their bows to broadheads as soon as possible.

“To get the best performance from your bow,” says John, “pick a model that maximizes your draw weight. For example, if you’re comfortable drawing 60#, then choose a bow that peaks at 60#. That is, one with a 45-60# range–not a 60-75# range.

“Bowhunters should also make sure all their hunting equipment is attached to the bow before tuning begins–and then they should not make any changes. “Perfect” arrow flight can quickly go awry if at the last minute you switch from a cable slide to a speed slide, alter the angle of the cable guard, or even add some “muff” to the arrow rest.

“Finally,” says Steve, “bowhunters should sight their bows in only after achieving wobble free arrow flight. Trying to tune arrows to an existing set of sight pins is often nothing more than an exercise in futility.”

Steve Lamboy, VP at Realtree Camouflage and past president of the Sight-Right Company, a manufacturer of spcecial deer targets just for bowhunters, agrees with Van Zile.

“Once your bow is properly tuned and sighted in,” says Steve, bowhunters should practice on life-size animal targets. This helps them hone their yardage estimation skills, and teaches them to pick a spot before shooting. Too many deer are missed because an archer was deficient in either of these two skill areas.

“In addition, bowhunters should avoid head-on and quartering-in angles,” says Steve, “and opt instead for a broadside or quartering-away shot. These latter two angles really expose the heart-lung region –especially if the deer’s near fore leg is fully extended.”

Hunting Tips

Bill Page of Page Archery Pro Shop in Hamlin, New York, believes bowhunters would get more shots if they used greater care approaching their tree stands.

“Deer are very sensitive to any intrusions into their bailiwick,” says “So much so that it often only takes one mistake to ruin a good stand. In fact, scent and unnatural sounds can spook an unseen buck as fast as a near MISS with a scatter gun.

“Therefore, the last thing you want to do,” explains Page, “is to let the deer know you’ve been snooping around. To keep the upper hand in this matter, always wear rubber boots, and choose a route to and from your tree stand that deer are unlikely to cross. These two steps will go a long ways towards reducing your ground scent.

“To minimize the noise factor,” adds Page, “try sneaking in and out of your tree stand under the cover of darkness. Deer feel more secure then, and sounds are not as disturbing.”

My pal Mike Bleech, wildlife photographer, outdoor writer and columnist for the Warren Times Observer likes to have water near his tree stands.

“Even a small puddle.” says Mike, “will suffice. I wash my hands and boots there, and then apply some Dr. Juice Hand and Lure Soap to keep my human scent at-bay.

“For a cover scent, I prefer apple. I have found that deer sometimes bolt when sex and other food attractors are used, but the aroma of apple seems to be universally acceptable. I have never had a buck shy away from the odor of apple.

“In fact,” adds Mike, “I like apples so much I stuff a few in my pockets to help keep me on stand as long as possible. They satisfy my hunger, quench my thirst and clean my breath, too.”

After The Shot

Jim Poole, the archery pro at Creekside Gune Shop, one of the largest sportsmen’s facilities on the east coast, believes the real hunt doesn’t begin until after a broadhead has been released.

“The biggest mistake bowhunters make after taking that hard earned shot,” says Poole, “is going right after the deer. They see a lot of blood, and immediately assume their trophy is laying dead in the leaves some fifty or sixty yards away. Unfortunately, that’s not always-the case. For example, the blood trail from a gut shot buck often peters out rather quickly. If you happen to push that deer too soon, he may just run off into a distant thick and disappear forever.

“What should you do? Well, there is much disagreement as to what to do after a broadhead has drawn blood,” says Poole, “because every shot is a little different. There are however three things you can do to minimize losing the blood trail altogether.

“One, know where the vitals are BEFORE you shoot. Study charts and diagrams provided by your state’s game department or hunter education programs. Be careful however with shots shown on various commercial hunting videos. Once in a while a gut shot or kidney shot is described incorrectly as a lung shot.

“Two, know where your arrow hit. Try to remember what the sight picture was before you released the arrow, and then imagine the arrow’s entry and exit paths. Bright fletching/nocks can be helpful in this regard.

“Finally, if you are not sure where the arrow hit, WAIT at least a half hour before trailing. If you are an inexperienced tracker and don’t find the deer with 150 yards, the best advice is get some experienced help.

Group Effort

Wildlife biologist David Kosowski is one of 45 dedicated bowhunters who work for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) in Region 8. Since 1988, the group has averaged 14 deer per year for an annual success rate of 31 percent. This enviable ratio was achieved despite the fact that some of the archers hunt only trophy bucks, and therefore may not take an animal in any given year.

“To be successful,” says Dave, “one has to master the basics. First, you have to have confidence in your ability to harvest a deer with a bow & arrow. The best way to do that is to practice with your equipment under simulated hunting conditions. For example, I train in my back yard by shooting with broadheads, shooting dressed in my hunting garb and shooting at various angles and distances–including shooting from a treestand.

“Second, you have to understand the biology and behavior of whitetails. You do this by year round scouting, observing deer in the field and by actually hunting. The more time you spend watching deer, the more you learn about them. “Third, you have to respect a deer’s sniffer–it is after all his best line of defense. I try to remain scent neutral by first washing my hunting clothing (three sets) in scent free soap. After airing them outdoors, I place my camouflage in plastic bags with baking soda. The rest of my equipment is then wiped clean with scent free soap and stored in the wood shed. When it comes time to hunt, I take a scent free shower, and then avoid all family pets. When I reach my hunting grounds, I don knee-high rubber boots which are stored with baking soda in a scent free cooler in the back of my vehicle–I don’t wear my boots while driving.

“Finally,” said Dave, “grunt tubes have brought many bucks into bow range for us. We found.that a buck might ignore our grunts one day, and then come in looking for a fight the next. When a buck does come in, it’s important to stay still and take your shot angling away.

Big Wood Bucks

Bowhunters are most successful in farmland areas where deer densities are high, and where bucks can easily be patterned. Conversely, bowhunters are least successful in large tracts of big woods where deer and deer sign are relatively scarce. Ironically, it is in these wilderness areas that some of the biggest whitetail bucks often thrive.

According to Mark Eddy, owner of the Moose River Company in Old Forge, New York (315/369- 3682), bowhunters can consistently score in the big woods–if-they know where to look for deer. “The key,” says Mark, “is food. Here in the Adirondacks, deer feed heavily on beech nuts. Bowhunters who are routinely successful spend their free time checking out the many hardwood ridges for mast. If they can find a concentration of nut-bearing trees, they are often rewarded with not only a relative abundance of whitetails, but a chance to take a trophy size black bear as well.

“However,” adds Mark, “big woods bucks are not as predictable in their travel routes as their farmland cousins. There are no man-made hedgerows in the big woods to funnel bucks onto the hard wood ridges. Instead, these bucks get from point “All to point “B” by traveling through wide wilderness corridors. Therefore, if an-archer hopes to tag a trophy buck in the big woods, he must also learn to shoot accurately at ranges up to 40 yards.

The Most Important Tip!

Every bowhunter I interviewed for this article agreed that bowhunting–and hunting in general–has become a hot political issue. If your state or provincial game management program is led by political appo intees, you must be aware that these people are not necessarily committed to scientific game management programs. You see, there are lot of misguided people out there actively seeking alternatives to hunting, and if they can muster enough votes, hunting will be outlawed. Why? Political appointees rarely back a trained biologist’s opinion in the face of overwhelming adverse public opinion. The solution to all the anti-hunting propaganda however is simple: get involved. Join a nearby club, join a national pro hunting organization, join the NRA. Join something–or these 25 bowhunting tips could soon be ancient history in your neck of the woods.

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