BOW SEASON OPENER AT HAND
With whitetail archery season on the horizon, we bow hunters are making last minute plans to arrow that woods-savvy old, whitetail buck or fat whitetail doe. I plan to begin the season in a ladder stand, strapped to an isolated oak tree, situated in an grove of red oaks that have already began dropping acorns. The “work” part has all been done; the stand I will be hunting from has been in place for the past decade. From it, I have arrowed several bucks and multiple wild hogs. This is a spot where I keep a mineral block “year round,” and rather than use a corn feeder here, I “hand bait” the area around the oaks with corn. The little grove of oaks is situated deep in the woods, in a long strip of hardwoods, sandwiched between a creek on one side and a pond on the other. It’s a natural travel route of deer and hogs. A couple of trail cameras strapped to trees tell the story: there are some bruiser bucks in the area and they are still running in bachelor groups. In a month or so, when the hormones begin to flow and rut begins, these “good old boy” bucks will break away and actively pursue does in estrus. When this annual breeding ritual begins, the whitetail herd, especially the bucks, can be likened to dominoes being shuffled. The bucks abandon their pre-rut patterns that were so easy for we bow hunters to decipher a few weeks earlier.
For the first few weeks of archery season, the bucks will be in pre-rut and much, much easier to pattern. Their daily habit of traveling from bedding areas to staging areas, to feeding areas will remain almost as constant as the Polar Star. I like hunting bucks during the rut But I LOVE the pre-rut when things are a whole lot more predictable.
The invention of the trail camera has revolutionized the way many of us hunt whitetail and educated a bunch of us “old” hunters as to when deer truly are up and moving. Granted, the moon does play a big part in predicting when to be on stand. I’ve learned this, through osmosis if nothing else, after hunting deer more than five decades. When the moon is shining brightly, it’s a good bet that deer hunting will be best during the first thirty to forty-five minutes of daylight, when the deer are heading back to their staging and bedding areas to digest the food they spent the night eating. Close scrutiny of my trail cameras proves that, when the moon is bright at night, deer bed up earlier in the morning, but they are often back up feeding around midday. Hunters that remain on stand during midday often harvest the biggest bucks in their camps. I have a real problem with sitting all day in a deer stand. I can stay put until around mid morning, but by 10:30, I’m ready to head back to camp and enjoy a cup of coffee. I just HAVE to be on stand well before first light, regardless the moon phase. When hunting during a full moon, I am convinced hunters like myself would do better to sleep in and get in their stand around 10 in the morning and stay put until early afternoon, then head back to camp, relax and get back on stand in time to catch the deer when they get up to feed during late afternoon.
We who love to hunt deer with archery tackle, are sticklers for practice. All aspects of good shooting form are perfected through practice. It’s one thing to pick up a center fire rifle that’s properly been sighted-in once every month or so, and achieve accuracy. Shooting a bow is different. The muscles in the back and arms used to draw a bow, are usually not used in other endeavors. Shooting regularly is the only way to keep these muscles strong, and to prefect the skills of settling the sight pin on the proper spot and releasing the arrow.
Even if you have not had time to practice much lately, there’s still time to get ready for the opener. It’s always a good idea to take your bow in to a qualified bow technician and have the string, cables, and other parts checked thoroughly. Shoot as often as possible and make sure to practice from positions you will encounter under actual hunting conditions. If you will be hunting from a tree stand, make sure to spend plenty of time shooting from elevated positions. Know where to place that sight pin under every conceivable angle and distance that’s practical.
AFTER ARROWING OVER 60 HEAD OF BIG GAME ANIMALS THROUGH THE YEARS, HERE’S A FEW TIPS THAT LUKE CONSIDERS IMPORTANT:
MAKE POSITIVELY SURE YOU KNOW WHICH PIN TO USE AT EVERY DISTANCE FROM 5 YARDS OUT TO YOUR MAXIMUM SHOOTING RANGE (USUALLY AROUND 30 YARDS).
KNOW WHERE TO SET YOUR SIGHT PIN FROM ELEVATED POSITIONS, AS WELL AS GROUND LEVEL.
CONSIDER SETTING ONE SIGHT PIN DEAD ON AT 25 YARDS. ON MOST MODERN BOWS, THIS SETTING WILL SUFFICE FOR A “CENTER OF SHOULDER” HOLD ON GAME FROM POINT BLANK OUT TO 30 YARDS. MAKE SURE AND CHECK YOUR POINT OF IMPACT AT ALL DISTANCES.
WAIT 30 MINUTES BEFORE TAKING UP THE TRAIL. THIS CAN BE TOUGH TO DO, BUT IT’S THE BEST POLICY TO AVOID SPOOKING GAME.
CONSIDER “CRANKING DOWN” YOUR BOW. TODAY’S BOWS ARE MUCH FASTER THAN THEIR COUNTERPARTS OF A DECADE AGO. THE DARTON MAVERICK TWO THAT I SHOOT IS SET AT 55 POUNDS AND SHOOTS ARROWS AT JUST OVER 300 FPS. MY BOW SHOP FRIENDS TELL ME THAT 55 POUNDS DRAW WEIGHT IS NOT THE STANDARD.
Listen to “Outdoors with Luke Clayton and Friends” on radio stations from Nebraska to Texas on weekends or anytime online at www.catfishradio.com.