Posts Tagged ‘bowhunting’

Intro to 3D Archery

June 4th, 2017 by BTC Editor

Off season blues? No problem! 3D Archery is a great way to keep you occupied while waiting for your next hunting season. If you’ve never shot a 3D archery range then keep reading, this post is for beginners and what they will need to know before starting 3D archery.

I started competing in 3D tournaments this year to challenge myself, to continue shooting my bow during the off season, and to keep myself active outside. Not only do these tournaments help with my consistency but they have also helped improve my ability to judge yardage. Depending on your location, you could probably look online to find a local archery organization. If you can’t seem to find one online usually your bow shop can help you out by referring you to a few.

Once you find an archery association/organization you can then ask them for a copy of their tournament schedule if it’s not listed online. You will also need to know that specific organization’s available shooting classes, rules for shooting and what scoring system they will use.

I want to mention all the necessities you may need to start shooting competitively.

Essentials:

  • Bow (obviously)
  • Release aid
  • Quiver or archery stool that can hold arrows, keys and accessories
  • Binoculars (I love my Vortex Viper HD’s in 8x42mm –Has plenty of magnification and lets in tons of light in order to see targets efficiently)
  • A bow kick stand that stands bow upright so you don’t have to lay it down on the ground
  • At least 5 arrows, possibly more if you believe you will miss targets or damage a few on other shooters’ arrows
  • Pencil (if one’s not provided)
  • Rubber boots as a backup in case your range is muddy
  • Tick/Mosquito spray (We like to spray Scentblocker’s Tick spray on our shoes the day before and it usually last a few weeks)
  • Sports drink to keep you hydrated (I prefer Mtn Ops Yeti or Enduro)
  • Snacks are usually available at a small cost but it’s probably a good idea to bring either a granola bar or PB cracker type snack
  • Water (This is usually provided for free throughout our range but sometimes they’re all gone by the time we go through the course)

Before you shoot in a tournament it may not be a bad idea to find someone that actually shoots them first and just do a walk through with them while they shoot. I did this to make myself more comfortable in knowing how things ran and how the targets are scored. I was less intimidated when I actually shot in my first since I knew how everything worked. If you can’t find someone to walk through with, no biggie, shooters at 3D tournaments are usually very nice and encouraging. I can honestly say I have not ran into a single person that wasn’t willing to help a beginner. It was very calming to be able to get advice from people that not only shot in them regularly but seemed to not be bothered at all by a newbie trying to figure out how the tournaments worked. Again, this is part of the reason I have fallen in love with archery. The archery community is so supportive and educational.

Most 3D tournaments have a variety of classes to shoot in based on your level of skill and your bow setup. For example, the tournaments I have been shooting in have:

  • PeeWee
  • Cubs
  • Longbow
  • Traditional
  • Youth
  • Women’s Youth
  • Women’s Bowhunter
  • Women’s Open
  • Novice
  • Bowhunter
  • Bowhunter Outlaw
  • Senior Open
  • Open Class
  • KNOWN 45
  • Pro Class

Each class will have general rules for being able to shoot in it and will also have different colored stakes to shoot from at the archery range.

Some rules to keep in mind: (Rules may vary slightly depending on the archery club)

  • Each club will have a max arrow speed and also have the right to chronograph any shooter at any time
  • Rangefinders are prohibited unless shooting in the KNOWN class. All other classes require distances to be judged by the naked eye.
  • Binoculars/spotting scopes may be used determining shot placement
  • Bowhunter class is restricted to a 12” or less stabilizer, screw in or glued in tips, and may shoot a movable sight (but it must be a HUNTING sight with NO magnification)
  • Bowhunter Outlaw class is restricted to bowhunter equipment ONLY with hunting sights and NO magnifications. This is the only class with no max speed limits
  • Exchanging yardage information is strictly prohibited
  • Each shooter must be touching the appropriate shooting stake for their class with some part of their body
  • A “controlled letdown” must be verbally announced
  • Once your sights are set and bow has been drawn you cannot reset your sights after a controlled letdown

 

Here are a few tips I would recommend doing before tournament day:

  • Make sure your sight pins are sighted in to ranges that vary for your shooting class
    • For example, I shoot in Women’s Bowhunter and the ranges will vary but usually the farthest distance is 25-30 yards at our specific archery club
    • There are also moveable hunting sights that are great for 3D tournaments so you can easily adjust the distance per target.
  • I practiced at home shooting the distances my pins were set at and really looking at the animal to help myself with judgement of distances. Sometimes I would walk at a random distance, look at the target and guess in my head and then use my rangefinder to see how close I am to guessing correctly. I continue to do this until I am comfortable with my guesses
  • Make sure gear is all together and ready to go
  • Make sure to get plenty of sleep the night before
  • Make sure to eat a healthy breakfast before

Upon arrival:

  • I usually sign in/register and get my score card
  • I then head to the practice bags and shoot at each one that I have a pin set up for to make sure they’re all sighted in. I double check my arrows, release and bow to make sure everything is in good shape
  • We usually shoot in a group with friends and “draw cards” for our shooting order. We will mix them up (faced down) and get one person to draw one card at a time and we will use that as our shooting order. This helps keep it fair because some targets are harder to see where to aim and being the first one to shoot those types of targets can be a little tough. Some shooters will have bright colored fletchings so that makes it easier for the next person to use as a guide on aiming.
    • Side note: Our group sizes vary from 3-5 but I personally believe a group size of 3 is the best. Groups of 5 tend to take longer shooting each target and going through the whole course in general

When shooting at a target I usually go through a series of steps to help myself make a good shot. I like to going by these steps in order to be consistent. These steps may be a little different for each person but once you start doing things in a way that works keep doing them the same way EVERY TIME. I promise they make a difference.

When shooting at a target:

  1. I find the appropriate shooting stake and place a foot on one of the sides of it. It doesn’t matter where as long as some form of your body is touching it.
  2. I usually go ahead and nock an arrow and prepare my arrow rest.
    1. I then look at the target through my binoculars and try to find where I need to aim. The best way to do this for me is to look for specific things like: the shape of the target, which way it’s facing, if it’s leaning backward or forward, if there are any distinctive parts on it such as areas that are shot up or if it has spots you can use to help as a guiding tool. Aim small, miss small is a very accurate statement in this case.
  3. I make sure my feet are shoulder width apart and as flat as possible.
  4. Draw bow.
  5. Find aiming location in peep and match it with appropriate pin.
  6. I make sure my peep sight meets up perfectly with my sight housing. If I’m shooting uphill/downhill and will have to lean some way I make sure to lean with my waist and not just with the bow as this would affect how my peep sight and sight housing meet up.
  7. Relax bow hand and rest pointer finger on my trigger.
  8. Continue to breath, relax muscles and release.

 

When scoring targets, it’s important to know which scoring system the archery club/organization is using. There are two primary organizations that have their own scoring systems: Archery Shooters Association (ASA) and International Bowhunting Organization (IBO). The tournaments we shoot in only use ASA scoring system and the “Upper 12” can only be called or used if the targets specifically shows it can. Here are a few pictures that show the difference in the two.

 

 

If you’re a beginner or not shooting in a Pro class, it’s important to remember these tournaments are for fun and to help you improve. Bad shots will definitely come and you’ll more than likely miss a few targets. Don’t stress too much about those because they have happened to everyone at some point and they help you learn from your mistakes. So good luck to all you beginners and remember to have fun!

Note: If you plan to consistently shoot year after year I suggest investing in an “archery stool” of some sort. I currently use the Browning Steady Ready Stool with PVC pipe attached to the leg. We taped the pipe with black electrical tape and glued a cap on the bottom so that it can be used as an arrow holder. The stool has a mesh zipper pocket on one side and an insulated cooler pocket on the other. You can put ice and drinks in the cooler but we didn’t want to make the stool too heavy to carry so it’s used to hold our extra accessories (keys, binoculars case, back up release, snacks, etc.).

 

 

Courtney is an avid hunter from Louisiana. She has a passion all things outdoors and is an avid hunter. She is also a team member of Huntress View, an organization formed to help strengthen the ever growing community of women hunters.

5 Summertime Trail Camera Tips

May 21st, 2017 by BTC Editor

 

1- Summertime is when most hunters get their trail cameras out of storage and hang them to start taking inventory of their whitetail herd. It’s also a great time to take inventory of your trail cameras. Make note of how many you have, how many more you may need for the upcoming season, and also keep a list of each camera model and serial number in the rare case of theft. It can, and does, happen so keeping a record of this could help get your cameras back eventually if they do get stolen. Browning Trail Cameras also has a Security Box that makes it more difficult for thieves to take your cameras, if even at all.

 

2- Look at an aerial map of your hunting property beforehand so you have a good idea of where you’d like to hang your cameras. This way, you’re not driving or walking all over your property, disturbing the game and working up a sweat. If you have a weather app on your phone you can easily locate your property via the radar portion of the app. If you don’t have that, Google Earth is what I recommend. It’s probably a good idea to take a screenshot of your property and from there mark where you are placing cameras using the paint/draw tool on your phone in case you forget where you hung the cameras later on.

 

3- Summertime is obviously hot, even first thing in the morning, so in order to be out in the heat as little as possible it’s best to have everything ready to go before you head out. Have your trail cameras already set up with the correct date/time/camera settings, full with batteries and the SD card in so all you have to do is hang them, turn them on, and go!

A Browning Trail Camera feature that really helps get your camera positioned quicker is the viewing screen on some of the camera models. (See photo below.)

 

 

4- Everyone has their own system for transferring and storing trail camera pictures to their computer. I like to stay organized from the start by putting my SD cards in 2 separate cases – one for blank SD cards, and one for  full SD cards – and then loading the pictures to my computer once I’m home. A baggie works just as good, just make sure you label each one to avoid confusion. Some prefer to bring a laptop and transfer the pictures there in the field, but I like to get in and out as quickly as possible and this works best for me.

 

5- Last but not least, don’t forget the tick spray! So far this year has been one of the worst I’ve seen for ticks. Using a tick spray with Permethrin has worked well for me. Spray down your clothes and boots and make sure they’re dry before putting them on. You do not want this on your skin! For those worried about scent control, this kind is supposedly odorless once it dries. My nose is of course nowhere near as good as a whitetail’s, but I don’t smell it at all once it’s dry and would prefer to be tick free over scent free anyways, so to me it’s worth it. It also doesn’t hurt to spray it on some of your trail cameras to avoid ant infestations, which are very common in the summer months.

 

By Andrea Haas

Andrea Haas is a Pro-Staffer from Missouri who enjoys hunting deer, turkeys, and upland birds. She is also the founder of the Huntress View, an organization formed to help strengthen the ever growing community of women hunters

5 Tips For Bowhunting Turkeys

March 12th, 2017 by BTC Editor

Planning on using your bow to harvest a turkey this spring? If you’ve ever hunted turkeys before then you know it will be no easy task. Hunting turkeys with a shotgun is often enough to drive a hunter crazy, let alone adding the challenge of a stick and string. Successfully harvesting a turkey with your bow is perhaps one of the hardest, yet most rewarding hunts you will ever be a part of.

Browning Trail Cameras Pro Staff members Don and Dan Pickell have been bowhunting for years and make bagging a gobbler with a bow look like a piece of cake.

 

 

Here are a few of their tips for bowhunting turkeys this spring:

1) Scouting

Spend some time in the woods before season starts so you can be as prepared as possible before opening day. Look for roosting sites, turkey feathers & droppings, feeding areas and travel routes. Once you’ve found some turkey sign or what looks like some good locations, it’s time to hang your trail cameras.

2) Trail Cameras

Get your Browning Trail Cameras out now and keep them out throughout turkey season. Trail cameras will help pinpoint the time of day the turkeys are in certain locations so you know when you should target these specific areas while hunting.

When setting up your cameras, keep the location in mind and set them accordingly. For example, you may want to set your camera on Time Lapse mode while watching large fields or new locations where you aren’t sure where the turkeys are entering or leaving. The camera will take images of the entire field, so you will end up capturing game at 200 + yards away, where a conventional game camera would not normally trigger a picture.

 

3) Setup

Pattern the birds with your trail cameras and set up your ground blinds accordingly. If they aren’t coming into your call it’s usually best to just sit and wait them out; Remember, you’re hunting with a bow, not a shotgun, so run and gun is a lot more difficult. More often than not, your trail cameras will tell you where you need to be. Remember what you learned about their behavior while studying your trail camera photos and stick with that.

4) Decoys

A decoy will often help bring the birds within bow range while keeping their eyes off of you, but we have also had toms skirt our decoys at times. When this happens we usually pull the decoys and set up in a proven spot where we have them patterned with our Browning Trail Cameras and ambush them. It just depends on the bird’s moods.

5) Shot Placement & Recovery

With a shotgun we aim at the bottom of the neck to allow for the pattern to cover both his head and neck. With a bow, we prefer a broadside shot through the wings if possible so an injured bird can’t fly off, making it harder to recover. Whether we use a bow or a shotgun, as soon as a shot is made we go after the bird and get a foot on its head, just in case.

Going into turkey season, it’s best to have a positive outlook and lots of patience! Turkeys are fickle creatures and even having the “perfect setup” is often not enough to harvest a tom. Make sure you’re as prepared as possible ahead of time by scouting with your trail cameras and keeping the above tips in mind. Harvesting a big longbeard with your bow is worth all of the hassle. Stay safe and have fun this turkey season!

 

By Andrea Haas

Andrea Haas is a Pro-Staffer from Missouri who enjoys hunting deer, turkeys, and upland birds. She is also the founder of the Huntress View, an organization formed to help strengthen the ever growing community of women hunters.

 

Venison Meatball Recipe

February 26th, 2017 by BTC Editor

INGREDIENTS:

1 lb ground venison

¼ cup half and half

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 medium white onion – finely chopped

3 tablespoons chopped garlic

2 large eggs

1/4 cup dried parsley flakes

1 tsp dried oregano

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

salt and pepper to taste

 

DIRECTIONS

This recipe is by far the best wild game recipe I’ve ever tasted!  I must preface this by saying that up until a few of years ago, I was actually a vegetarian.   Not because I was trying to save the animals.  I did it because I just didn’t care for meat.  However, what I realized when I met my husband, who is a hunter and ultimately the one whom got me into hunting as well, is that what actually bothered me about meat is that I didn’t always know where the meat from the grocery store had come from.  I was growing a few veggies in my backyard, and purchasing the rest through a farmers market or local CSA.  So I have always been aware of where my food came from; but the meat remained a mystery.  Then along comes hunting.  The first time my husband brought a whitetail deer home for us to process I started asking questions.  I began cooking it for my family and realized my kids could never tell the difference between ground venison and ground beef.  Thus began my journey in creating wild game friendly recipes.

Now I am extremely picky with how my food tastes.  I do not like having a gamey taste to it at all.  This meatball recipe is so perfect.  Every time I make it, it gets better and better as I modify ingredients.

Begin by preheating your oven to 425 degrees and coating the bottom of your 9×12 baking dish with olive oil.  Next, place 1 pound of ground venison in a large mixing bowl.  Add ¼ cup half and half (regular milk works as well, however I have not tried this recipe with dairy substitutes) and then set this bowl aside.

 

In a medium skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat.  Add 1 diced onion and 3 tablespoons of chopped garlic to the skillet.  Be sure to dice your onion into very small pieces.  Saute until the onion is clear.  I tend to like a lot of onion, so this may look like more than 1 medium onion. Never enough onion or garlic in my house!

 

 

Then, add the onion mixture to the ground venison bowl.  Add 2 eggs, ¼ cup dried parsley flakes, ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, and 1 teaspoon oregano to this same mixture.  Salt and pepper to taste.  You are now ready to mix with a wood spoon or your hands. I typically use my hands, but am careful for the hot onion/garlic mixture.  Don’t burn your fingers!

 

 

Using the same medium skillet as you cooked the onions (as you can see in the photo I do not clean out the skillet), add 2 tablespoons olive oil and turn on heat to medium.  Roll meat mixture into 1” diameter meatballs.  Don’t look to close at mine.  They are never perfectly round because my kids are always starving.  Place meatballs into heated skillet; browning on at least 2 sides.  You are not cooking them all the way through, just browning the edges.  This makes the outside of the meatballs yummy and slightly crispy.  Once you have browned the meatballs on 2 sides, place meatballs into your greased baking dish.  Bake 20 minutes, turning once after 10 minutes.

 

 

My husband and I tend to eat them plain (that’s how good they are) or dipped in barbecue sauce.  My kids like to put them on Hawaiian rolls with cheese and barbecue sauce.  Either way, I think you will love them! Enjoy!

 

By Tammy Bashore

 

Tammy Bashore is an outdoor enthusiast from South Dakota. She is a professional photographer, the wife of a professional walleye angler and the mother of 2 kids, plus one fur baby, a GSP named Bentley (pictured above). Tammy is also a member of the Huntress View team, an organization formed to help strengthen the ever growing community of women hunters.

Late Season Trail Camera Placement

December 11th, 2016 by BTC Editor

As deer season is winding down and will soon be coming to an end, now is the perfect time to re-position your trail cameras and change your game plan for hunting late season whitetail bucks. As the seasons change, so does a whitetail’s pattern as they shift their focus from the rut to food once again. Here are a couple of tips on trail camera setup and placement to help you get the most out of your cameras before deer season closes.

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Camera Location: Pinch Points and Travel Corridors

While I move most of my cameras to new locations post-rut, I still like to leave one or two at prior locations like pinch points, known deer trails and travel corridors to catch any bucks that may still be out cruising for does. As the fawns come into estrous late in the season, often referred to as the “Second Rut”, these locations are great for catching buck movement in the daylight. It appears to me that is exactly what is going on in the next series of pictures.

1632:120416:45F:0000:ANDI :2E[097:0494]G[024:0x0016]

 

1700:120416:45F:0000:ANDI :2E[099:0453]G[024:0x0016] 1704:120416:45F:0000:ANDI :2E[097:0494]G[024:0x0016]

 

My Setup

When placing my cameras at the above locations, I like to set them up on burst mode to make sure I don’t miss any deer activity. For example, say I had my camera set up to take a picture every 5 seconds, but in normal mode. If this buck would have been trailing this fawn right on its tail, I may not have gotten a picture of him. In burst mode the camera takes several images, one after another, before stopping to reset.

 

Camera Location: Food Sources

Moving trail cameras to the remaining food sources is a good strategy for late season scouting. By now most of the acorns have either rotted or been eaten, so I like to move more of my cameras from the woods to our food plots in the fields. We have a couple of fields planted in winter wheat, clover and chicory, and another one planted in turnips. These have proven year after year to be the hot spots on our property for hunting late season bucks, and this year is no different! After checking my cameras this weekend, this buck has shown up in the daylight hours almost every day in one of our wheat and chicory plots.

 

1440:120616:52F:0000:HAAS :2E[142:0070]G[008:0x0006] 1615:120816:29F:0000:HAAS :2E[140:0076]G[008:0x0006]

 

My Setup

The Timelapse mode on my Browning Trail Cameras is perfect for watching bigger open areas, like our food plots. For the most part, we know where our deer are entering this field, which is why I put this camera where I did. But, deer will often be in that same location and you’d never know it because they are too far away to trigger the camera. Timelapse Mode solves that problem since it can capture game at 200+ yards away. Plus, you can easily view a full day’s worth of pictures in just minutes, thanks to the Buck Watch Timelapse Viewer Plus software that is included with every Browning Trail Camera.

If you still have a deer tag you’re trying to fill, utilize your trail cameras as best you can. They are a deer hunter’s most valuable scouting tool! I shot my biggest buck to date on the last day of Missouri’s 2014 archery season as he was making his way into our turnip plot. Had I not been watching and patterning him with my trail cameras, I may have picked a different stand in that food plot and missed my chance at him.

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Aside from avoiding tag soup, there are other benefits to keeping your trail cameras out during late season. Use them to help take inventory of what deer survived the season, determine your buck to doe ratio, and age of your deer. Looking over this season’s pictures, as well as pictures from prior season, will help you determine your game plan for next season. Another benefit to keeping your cameras set up so late in the year is to aid with shed hunting. Once you start getting pictures of bucks dropping their antlers, you’ll have a better idea of when and where to start looking for sheds.

1609:012016:23F:ANDI002 :3

 

Deer season isn’t over until it’s over, so if you’ve already taken down your game cameras for the year, I recommend getting them back out! The above late season trail camera locations and setups have helped me fill my deer tags in the past. Even if I don’t fill my archery tags this year, I have already gained some valuable information to carry over into next season, thanks to my Browning Trail Cameras!

 

By Andrea Haas

Andrea Haas is a Pro-Staffer from Missouri who enjoys hunting deer, turkeys, and upland birds. She is also the founder of the Huntress View, an organization formed to help strengthen the ever growing community of women hunters.

A Hunter’s Widow, Married to a Hiking Widower

December 4th, 2016 by BTC Editor

jessidrew

Southwest Missouri resident Jessi Dreckman, who is married to an avid hunter, says deer season for non-hunting spouses shouldn’t be spent inside as “the hunter’s widow(er).” Instead, she urges those individuals to learn to love their spouse’s passion for hunting, and to get outdoors and find their own passion.

I’m the type of woman who has been known to spend 15 minutes, tupperware container in hand, trying to trap a red wasp that had wandered itself in my bathroom in order to take it outside and release it safely.

I’m the type of woman who has been known to spend the morning cooking warm oatmeal and delivering it to the hen house out back when there is two foot of snow on the ground, just to warm the bellies of my little egg producers.

I’m the type of woman who releases fish I catch. Even the really, really big ones.

I’m the type of woman who has been known to relocate the snakes I find in our yard down the road a ways instead of taking the shovel to them.

So, my love for hunting may not be immediately apparent to those who first meet me. But in addition to being that type of woman, I’m also the type of woman who fell head over heels in love with a hunter – and therefore, hunting itself.

My husband Drew and I have been together through thick and thin for 13 years, ever since our first date when I was just 16 years old. We’re opposites in many ways, but our mutual avid love for the outdoors that unites this opposites-attract couple in a way nothing else can.

So when the air turns cool and crisp and the leaves start to brown, I try not to hark on the fact that the season of being a hunter’s widow begins. Don’t get me wrong, the time my husband is home during September through February is minimal, but hunting season is also backpacking season. So it’s a time of adventure for both of us in different ways.

So, while Drew is waking up before dawn to find his way to a tree, I’m waking up shortly after to the trail head. When his heart jumps to the sound of the crinkle of leaves beneath him, my heart is pumping from hiking fifteen miles with a 30 pound pack on my back. When he is in his deer stand, close to the heart of nature, I am on my feet under the treetops, heart just as full. And when we do have precious moments together, we spend it with one another in the outdoors. My heart-pumping orienteering trip through the forest is an opportunity for Drew to scout for deer. His trip to put up a deer stand is an opportunity for me to tag along and test out my new hiking boots. And when he’s made a kill and we sit down to butcher and process deer, we share our separate stories of our adventures with one another. And we love every minute of it.

The truth is, although we spend our time in different ways, our hearts are very much the same. Through our time outdoors we’ve developed patience, determination and passion – and our love has only grown.

So to all of you fellow non-hunting spouses out there, please don’t spend hunting season alone focusing on your partner’s lack of presence. Instead, use those precious moments to go do what you love. Because when you find your own way to feel that same passion and fire, you realize it isn’t specific to any one hobby – those traits translate to life and love too. Get out there and find what makes your soul come alive!

 

What’s In Your Hunting Pack?

October 30th, 2016 by BTC Editor

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In two days, a couple buddies and I are heading to Pike County for a four-day bowhunting trip… No, not THAT Pike County, but it’s close. In fact, it’s right across the river from it. Both my pals are fairly novice bowhunters, and this is the first full season for one of them. Seeing as how I’ve been on several 10-day, DIY excursions to Colorado chasing my beloved wapiti, they’re leaning on me heavily to provide guidance as to what to bring. It’s actually not that uncommon a question from even veteran bowyers, as I see the “What’s In Your Bag?” query on the bowhunting forums quite often.

After well over a couple decades’ worth of bowhunting, with most of that time consisting of over 100 stand sits annually, I’ve definitely settled on a list of “must-haves” as well as items that have found their way into and out of my fanny pack. I’ll break down below exactly what I carry with me, and the use for each item.

  • A small Ziploc bag (for weather protection) holding a good amount of toilet paper, plus hunting licenses. Also included in this bag are small zip ties for affixing the licenses to the deer’s back legs, a tube of chapstick (seems my lips are prone to drying out on windy days while on stand), and a handful of cherry cough drops (nothing worse than getting that tickle in your throat when you’re set up within 100 yards of that big buck’s bedding area!). I also put a nice lensatic compass in the bag, to keep the glass lens from getting scratched all up by the other items in my pack.dsc_0015-copy

I’ll give you a tip about the toilet paper before moving on… I carry quite a bit of it with me, and obviously you probably realize one of its primary purposes. But I also lean on it just as heavily when tracking a deer at night by propane lantern. I tear off little half-squares and place every couple feet along the blood trail I’m unwinding… it’s remarkable how you can hold up your lantern and see those white squares trailing off into the blackness, and they’ll really help you get a “line” on the direction the deer’s traveling and where to look for next blood if you’re having difficulties. An added bonus is that when you’re done, you don’t have to go back and retrieve all of them — just let the next rain dissolve all of them for you.

  • A mini-mag flashlight… the triple-battery version. I often end up in hairy places after dark I’ve never been through before, and I like to see what I’m trying to wade through – be it thorn bushes or a small creek. The version I like to carry just fits into my fanny pack from end to end, and utilizes three “AA” batteries.

 

  • A headlamp. Sometimes, I’ll opt to turn my cap around backwards and slap on the headlamp. It’s especially helpful when I’m assembling my stand at the bottom of my tree after I get down in the pitch black, or when I’m gutting a deer after dark.

 

  • A Leatherman multipurpose tool, the small kind. It contains a three-inch knife blade that I’ve used to gut over 50 deer, antelope and elk with. And on the off chance I need a pair of pliers, they’re included too.

 

  • Limb saw… to trim shooting lanes with, and more importantly to cut off small branches on the tree I’m going up with my climber.

 

  • My pull-up rope. I bought a commercial one with the plastic swiveling ends and hooks on it, cut those off and attached those to 30’ of parachute cord. Packs much tighter than the commercial one I bought.

 

  • Rattle bag. I’ve got a very nice set of real rattling antlers that sound awesome, but they’re a pain to carry all the time. My rattle bag fits nicely inside my pack and is always there from the third week of October until December.

 

  • Bleat can. I can’t attribute any single deer to coming in to the can call, but I’ll mix it into my rattling sequences any way; the hope is it’ll sound like the estrus doe that the two bucks are fighting over.

 

  • True Talker grunt tube. This has accounted for more deer riding home with me than any other single piece of equipment.

 

  • Ninety percent of the time, my shot opportunities are limited by heavy undergrowth and are 30 yards or less. Every once in a while though, I’ll sit a field edge where the rangefinder comes in handy.

 

  • Diaphragm turkey call in a clear case. Archery deer tags come with two turkey tags included, and I won’t pass up an opportunity to call to a passing flock. I’ve got a wall-full of turkey fans above my desk that were all taken with my bow in deer season.

 

  • Extra release. In case I leave my main one at the truck or it falls out of the tree for some reason.

 

  • Four bow hooks. My bow goes on one above my left shoulder, and my fanny pack hangs from one around seat height on the same side of the tree. The other two are spares.

 

  • A Kwikee Quiver caddy with my Octane quiver holder attached. I screw this into the left side of the tree, and affix my quiver upside-down so if I shoot and need to reload quickly, I simply reach behind me without looking and pull another arrow out.

 

  • A hand-held Magellan GPS. This is a recently new addition to my pack, and one that I’ve come to value. I shoot a lot of deer just before dark as evening hunts comprise 98% of my trips afield (I’m just not a morning person). Usually, by the time I recover the deer and head back to my vehicle to get my game cart, it’s pitch black once I return to the scene of the crime. Having marked where my deer is laying via the GPS sure does make it a whole lot easier once everything looks completely different in the dark – and a whole lot easier to get out of the woods.

You could ask me any day of the year, and that’s what I’ll have in my fanny pack. It’s the main component of a system that I’ve fine-tuned for over 20 years of bowhunting, and it’s what enables me to grab my gear extremely quickly when I get home and be on my way to the woods in just a few minutes. I’m never scrambling around looking for this item or that; I simply know exactly where everything I need is.

Now, if it was only that easy to know where that big buck was…

 

Greg Staggs is the former back-page columnist for Inside Archery, and his writing regularly appears in such magazines as Outdoor Life and Petersen’s Bowhunting. Staggs loves introducing his two boys to all things outdoors, including fishing, trapping, canoeing and camping, and has been chasing turkeys and big game exclusively with archery equipment for over 20 years.

Early Season Bowhunting Tactics

October 2nd, 2016 by BTC Editor

By Greg Staggs

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I turned and idled gently up the drive, palms getting clammy even as my breathing became shallower. Easing my truck to a stop, I quietly reached down and turned off the ignition and allowed the silence to envelope me. Going over my planned routine seemed to settle me a bit, and I took one last deep breath and opened the door. I had been thinking about this moment for weeks and it was finally here. Sliding off my seat, I walked as confidently as I could up to the door, knocked and asked if my date was ready.

First dates in high school probably provided as much nervous anticipation as anything I would experience for the first part of my life… until I started bowhunting. Today, I still idle gently into my parking spot. My palms may not be as clammy, but my senses are definitely heightened as adrenaline courses through my veins, thinking about the possibilities, the “what-ifs”… And my planned routine? It’s down to a science.

Chasing whitetails across the Midwest in September and October is truly a love of my life these days. Here are three things that have become a part of my routine that’s led to years of punched tags and filled freezers early in the season.

  • Scout with a light footprint. Amazingly enough, I don’t spend a lot of time in the woods in the summer. Most of my whitetail hunting is done on public land with miles of corn and soybeans backing up to the woods. I’ve spent many a night tucked into a fence row on the opposite side of a field glassing to identify which corners the deer are using to enter the fields.

 

  • Stay away as much as possible. If I can place a trail camera there on one visit and retrieve a card from it a month later, it’s harder for the deer to pattern me but I’m gaining valuable reconnaissance the whole time I wasn’t there. Taking it a step further, even my trail-camera placement leaves little presence. Ever walked into the woods and noticed a camera staring at you at eye-level? It can be obtrusive and stick out like a sore thumb. I’ve had deer think the same thing; I can tell by their reactions I’ve captured. A lot of times these days – especially on public land – I’ll take a lightweight climber with me and angle my camera down from twelve feet or so. It also keeps honest people honest, as my Dad used to say.
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  • Hunt with a light footprint. The first couple months of archery seasons in the Midwest can be downright hot. Deer don’t like to travel any farther than they have to, which means they’ll often bed less than 100 yards inside the woodline. If you plan to dive deeper in the woods this time of year, plan on bumping some deer. I’d rather sneak in and out of the edge a few times than blunder up once and alert every deer in the woods to your presence – especially a full month ahead of that magical November time-frame.

 

Greg Staggs is the former back-page columnist for Inside Archery, and his writing regularly appears in such magazines as Outdoor Life and Petersen’s Bowhunting. Staggs loves introducing his two boys to all things outdoors, including fishing, trapping, canoeing and camping, and has been chasing turkeys and big game exclusively with archery equipment for over 20 years.

 

Archery Tips with Levi Morgan

September 18th, 2016 by BTC Editor

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BTC: What steps do you go through mentally when you draw back on an animal to ensure your form is right and to help calm your nerves?

Levi: You know it’s funny, I don’t think. I think it’s all in practice when you do that because everybody, including myself, when you get out there in the woods and that buck of a lifetime steps out, no matter how hard I try or how much I tell myself, “Hey, I’m going to really slow down next time and I’m going to think about what I’m doing”, I look back and go “Man, that was a blur. You know, I don’t even remember that.” I don’t remember what I did, I don’t remember why I did it, so I think It’s so important to not just get your bow and go out and shoot just once every couple of weeks or get it & take it out 3 weeks before season, because you have to create that muscle memory and teach yourself to slow down and practice.

One thing I do is hunt with a caliper release. When a big deer would come out, I would draw back and get in such a hurry that when my pin got there I would just press the release off. I wasn’t really freaking out or anything, but I was rushing the shot every time. I was afraid the deer was going to run or it was going to see me, I was just nervous. So when I need to slow myself down, I started hunting with what’s called a back-tension release, or a hinge release, which forces you to slow down. You can’t shoot it fast or it’s an epic fail, so it forced me to slow down.

I really feel like it’s easy to say, I’m going to think about all these different steps when a big buck comes out. But the truth of the matter is, I really feel like people are going to do what comes naturally to them, which is why I think it’s so important beforehand to be prepared and have your equipment fit you perfect. Really get to know it and shoot it all the time because when you get nervous and everything goes blank, you’re going to revert back to what you do naturally with that bow and the way you practice with it. I really think that’s the best way to be prepared for the moment of truth.

Also, when I’m sitting in the stand or when I’m out hunting sheep, I imagine opportunities happening. For instance, if a buck comes down that trail, where am I going to shoot him at? Where am I going to stop him at? How is he going to be angled if he’s on that trail or if he walks out into the food plot? I try to imagine every scenario that could happen to me while I’m sitting there or while I’m hiking so when it does happen I’ve already kind of played it out in my mind that I’m going to stop him here and he’s going to be perfectly broadside or a little quartered away.

Obviously in hunting, you never know what’s going to happen, but that has helped me before. Nothing is as important as just being really prepared.

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BTC: A lot of archers and bow hunters struggle with target panic. What advice do you have on how to overcome this?

Levi: Target panic is probably the most common thing in archery. I think almost everybody has been through it at one time or another if they’ve shot a bow long enough. There are so many causes of it and because of that there are a lot of cures. I think some of the main causes of target panic are too heavy poundage, too long of a draw length, or not having equipment that fits you. Also things like your peep being too small and things in your sights that are making you too uncomfortable, for example your pins being too small to see, the target being blurry…All of those things can cause it.

Another major cause is holding your breath when you shoot. I’ve talked to professional fighters and doctors about that. When you hold your breath the first muscle that starts to break down is your eyes. That’s a huge cause of target panic so that’s why it’s so important to keep breathing. I’ve seen people pull back, hold their breath and aim too long and just feeling like they HAVE to shoot now. That’s really all that target panic is, no matter what the cause, is when the pin hits the target they feel like they have to shoot now.

I think the best cure for target panic is to stand in your yard, pull back and aim at the target with your arrow loaded and finger on the release. Put your pin in the middle and leave it there but don’t shoot the arrow. When your pin starts to go, let it down. Take a few seconds to regroup, then pull back and aim at the target and let down again without shooting. Do that over and over for however long you normally practice for about a week or so. All that’s doing is letting your mind know, “It’s ok for my pin to sit there. I’m in control. I don’t have to fire this shot”. Also what it’s going to do, is you’re going to aim at the middle longer and longer, allowing you to build up that confidence and stamina to keep your pin in the middle longer to let you execute that perfect shot.

I think that’s one of the best drills there is. It lets you just focus on aiming, relaxes your mind and lets yourself know that it’s ok to aim at the target and not fire that arrow as soon as the pin gets in the middle.

BTC: What are some of the bad habits you’ve had as an archer and what helped you the most in overcoming them?

Levi: I think my worst habit, as a hunter and shooter, is when I get in a hurry. I go out and practice just to be practicing. Practicing numb is what I call it. I think when you stop trying to get better, you’re going backwards. For me, I think it’s really important to count on myself, even in practice. I don’t go out and shoot at 30 or 40 yards at the same dot every day. I try to challenge myself, whether that’s moving back further distances or trying to hit so many arrows in a row on a certain dot. Whatever games you can play to make it fun for you, that makes you challenge yourself and keep trying to get better every single time you practice and not get complacent. What should be 4 inch groups at 40 yards may be plenty good to go hunting, but it’s not the best that you can do. I think a lot of people say, “Well that’s good enough”. I’ve heard it so many times. It’s easy to do that when you’re shooting good enough but it’s important I think, for me especially, to keep challenging myself and keep trying to shoot better groups at further distances and really keep it fun and interesting during practice.

 

BTC: You’re going to Alaska soon to hunt sheep as part of your quest to complete the Super Slam with your bow. How far are you from completing the Super Slam?

Levi: There’s 29 animals in the Super Slam and I have killed 17 of the 29 with a bow, so I’ve got 12 left.

 

BTC: Which animal has been your favorite to hunt so far?

Levi: Probably my Dall Sheep in the Yukon. It was the hardest. I guess it felt the best when it was over. It was the most satisfying when the hunt was done because of how hard we had to work. We spent 14 days on horseback (The episode just aired the evening we talked on the Sportsmen Channel).

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BTC: Do you have any advice for others who are wanting to complete the Super Slam?

Levi: Yes. Go to their website, www.superslam.org. The first thing I would say to do is to become a member of Super Slam because they give away hunts every month, and these adventure type of hunts are not cheap or easy to go about getting.

 

Also, do a lot of research. These are not your normal types of hunts. I grew up a whitetail guy, hunting whitetail in the Midwest. When I started doing these hunts, going to the Arctic, Mexico, the Yukon and all over the world, it was just a wakeup call on what gear I needed and how little I actually knew about my equipment. I think it really teaches you a lot when you go to those places and you’re riding on a horse for 14 days. You never know when something can go wrong, so get to know your equipment really well, do your research on what you need to take, and don’t cut corners on your gear. The weather is so uncontrollable out there on these adventure hunts.

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Jason Bosaw of Whitetail Freaks – 9/11 Interview

September 11th, 2016 by BTC Editor

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BTC: Do you recall where were you and what you were doing on 9/11 when you heard about the terrorist attack? What type of impact did those events have on you as you watched them unfold?

JASON: Yes, I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing.  I was working on the grain dryer at the farm.  I was just very surprised that something of that magnitude could happen on American soil.

 

BTC: We understand that you are very committed to serving your community as firefighter.  How challenging is it to manage both your farming and your hunting when you could get a call to respond to a call at virtually any given moment?

JASON: I am very committed to my job and my service as a firefighter, as well as to hunting.  I am on call virtually 24 hours a day but my job and the firefighting come first.  Balancing the two is sometimes difficult, but my willingness to help someone or their property comes to the forefront.

 

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BTC: In your work with the Fire Department you have probably learned to stay calm and focused high stress situations. Has this helped you out at all in the moment of truth to keep from getting buck fever?

JASON: No matter how calm I may be able to stay at the response scene, it is nothing like when a big buck walks out in front of me.  My heart still wants to beat out of my chest and my adrenaline level is sky high.  I don’t think I will ever be able to contain that.  They are two totally different scenarios.

 

Jason is one of the original Whitetail Freaks and counts his family and serving his community among his passions outside of his pursuit for the next great whitetail he encounters…