A Few Tips to Consider For a More Successful Archery Season
By: Todd D. Larson
With the “Dog Days” of summer upon us here in Wisconsin, I can’t help but let my mind wander a bit and think of the cooler days to come. More specifically, I look forward to when archery season opens up in the middle of September and carries us through the first part of January. For those of us with a passion for shooting bows and letting arrows fly, September 17th, 2016 can’t get here soon enough. And, when January 8th, 2017 comes to a close, it will find many people dragging their feet and just plain wore out from pursuing the most commonly hunted big game species in North America, the whitetail deer. Some hunters will find success early because they will have done their homework and others, well, they’ll be the ones eating their tags walking around like zombies.
In my 41 seasons of chasing these smart and crafty creatures with a bow, I’ve come to understand a few things that I thought I might share to help others be more successful. Here’s the short list…
Purchase what you can afford. Buy a quality bow within your budget that feels good each and every time you shoot it. Spend a little more money if you need to in order to get the right fit and don’t buy a particular bow just because of the brand name on it. Remember that this is an investment and something that you will have to enjoy for many years to come. The first step is to decide on the type of bow you are wanting to shoot, (longbow, recurve or compound). Take your time and shoot as many different styles of bows as possible from the various manufacturers. You can narrow it down pretty quickly once the shooting starts. Go to a quality archery shop that is more interested in fitting you with the proper bow rather than how much money they can talk you out of. Most reputable places will spend as much time with you as needed during the selection process. These are the guys that will take care of you when it comes to tuning your bow, cutting arrows, finding the correct release, arrow rest and quiver and any other accessories that you will need. Their job is to get you set up for success and take care of you quickly if something should happen to any piece of your archery equipment.
This is as important, if not more important than the bow you purchase. Shoot regularly and consistently; especially when first getting your bow. Many archery shops now have indoor and/or outdoor ranges which allow you to shoot at different distances and at many different types of targets. It’s a blast and challenging all at the same time. Not only that, but you will meet some great people, all with a common interest who are more than willing to help you out. Remember that proper form is key and having a seasoned archer help you get everything dialed in is really important. It certainly will help take away the frustration associated with learning something new.
Another tip; don’t overshoot. What I mean is simply this: Don’t shoot a hundred arrows the first night in your excitement of getting your new bow. You’ll be too sore to even shoot your bow anytime soon after that, thus making the experience less than enjoyable. Keep in mind that you will be using muscles in your arms, neck and back that will need time to strengthen. As those muscles get stronger, shooting more arrows becomes easier. Your draw weight will increase as well, but keep in mind that you don’t need to shoot heavy poundage.
Shoot a draw weight that is comfortable for you. The way that bows are designed today, the arrow will still get there quickly enough. And, a smoother and quicker draw is the one that will increase your chances of success. When I was younger, I shot a draw weight of 70 lbs. or more. Today it’s around 63 to 65 lbs. It makes sense to me to shoot an arrow more comfortably and more consistently. I’ve also come to realize that a faster arrow is not necessarily a better killing arrow. I don’t shoot as many arrows each night as I use to. I would rather shoot fewer arrows and leave on a good note than shoot too many arrows and have them hit all over the target.
Having confidence in your ability and in your shooting distances is key. Be patient, be consistent and have fun. Each and every shot needs to be your best shot. There have been very few times that I have ever had a second chance at killing a deer that I may have missed with my first shot or have made a poor shot on to begin with. Take your time, breathe, relax and visualize the shot before you release the arrow. Make each and every shot count as you only get one first shot.
Practice shooting in various positions. Standing, sitting and kneeling are the most popular. Keep in mind the type of hunting you will be doing, but practice shooting in different positions and situations. If you are hunting from a ground blind, practice sitting on a chair, inside the blind. If you’re going to be hunting from a tree stand, be sure to practice at the height that your stand will be and always, always, always, wear your safety harness. Be certain to clip into a guide rope as you climb up and down from your tree stand. Learn how different angles affect arrow placement when shooting from above and don’t forget to enjoy the view. Hunting from a tree stand is my favorite type of hunting and has been the most productive for me in Northern Wisconsin. Now that we have your bow picked out and you’re shooting like Fred Bear, let’s take a look at your hunting property.
You have two choices, public land or private land. If you’re fortunate to have a piece of property that you own or have been able to lease, fantastic! I prefer hunting private land or a lease for a good number of reasons. Here are just a couple.
The first and most important reason is safety. You know (for the most part) that you and/or others you may have given permission to should be the only ones on that property. I’ve had some great leases over the years that I shared with my family and friends. It’s fun, comfortable and safe. I have to say that getting these leases wasn’t very easy. I did acquire most simply by calling on a piece of property that was for sale or by knocking on doors in areas that were of interest to me. Always be kind and courteous, thanking them for their time. Be sure to leave your name and number with them. They may not want to lease this property to you this season but that may change down the road. Be able to face rejection when they tell you “no,” but keep in mind that’s all part of the process and all it takes is that one person to say “yes” to your request and you’ll be on top of the world. Hunting property is getting harder and harder to come by so be patient and put in your time.
The second reason is deer management. You will have a direct impact on the deer that reside there. I’m a firm believer in the Quality Deer Management program that more and more property owners and their neighbors are embracing. If you give these deer a chance to grow and keep a healthy buck to doe ratio in the mix you’ll experience hunting like you’ve never seen. The key to making this work is to get your neighbors involved. Experiment with food plots that will hold deer and create bedding areas for the deer, if space allows. For ten months out of the year, all a whitetail thinks about is a place to eat and sleep that is relatively safe. The other two months are spent chasing or being chased around because of the rut. This is certainly the best and most productive time of the year to hunt. And, when it’s kicked into full gear these are my two favorite weeks of the year. Be sure to put your time in on the stand to increase your chances of success. I guarantee that you will see more than at any other time of the season.
Public land is always a gamble. I will say that a good number of deer are harvested on public land. The key to success here is to get off the beaten path and go find those places that other hunters have no desire to be in. You’ll be farther away from your competition and be closer to where these big deer like to hang out. They like solitude, safety and comfort next to a feeding area. Find that place and you’ll find success. Check the laws for using and hanging stands or putting up ground blinds on public property. Know that you are not going to be the only hunter out there and be willing to accept the fact that others may wander in what you like to think is “your area.” Remember that it is public land and that’s just part of the deal. I’ve been there and done that and yes, it is frustrating, but make the best of it.
There is certainly a lot more that I could talk about in regards to increasing the odds of being successful bowhunting this fall and winter. Trail cameras, stand placement and cover scent are just a few more things to consider. Do your homework and prepare yourself to the best of your ability. Read as much as you can and don’t be afraid to ask questions. I have learned, however, that the best lessons come from just taking that first step and getting out and into the woods. Enjoy each and every moment that you’re there and I promise that you will be amazed at what you will learn and see.
One other thing to remember…don’t base your success as a hunter on the size of the deer, the harvest or lack thereof. Enjoy the hunt and the people you share it with. The harvest is just the icing on the cake.
Good Luck this season, be safe and have fun!
OnX Mapping Update!
A must read article from Bowhunting.com that helps out anyone looking into OnX Maps!
Click here to see more from bowhunting.com
Tackle Organization 101…Class is In Session
By: Glenn Walker
Many anglers spend their time during the winter and early spring getting their fishing tackle ready for the next year, while others are just getting their tackle all set for this fishing season. Regardless of the scenario you fall into, there is never a bad time to look over your tackle and make sure it is all organized.
As a tournament fisherman I have found an organized tackle box is one of the most important things to help maximize your time and efficiency on the water. The time you spend in the offseason organizing tackle will aid in you finding the items you need quicker next fishing season, resulting in more fishing time.
To keep my tackle organized in my boat, I use a variety of Lure Lock plastic cases to customize each case for certain bait styles and bodies of water. This way I can easily re-rig rods in the evening before a fishing trip and even more importantly find that key lure when I’m on the water.
For all of my hardbaits – like crankbaits and topwater plugs – along with terminal tackle items like hooks, weights and jigheads, I use the Lure Lock cases that have the proprietary blue gel in the bottom of the case. This gel secures items to the bottom of the case, so as I’m running down the lake, my baits stay in place. The result is fewer damaged lures, or lures with boat rash, and your hook points won’t rub on one another or the side of the plastic case and become dull. Heck, I can even turn the case upside down with tackle in it and they won’t fall out.
Sorting and separating
I organize my crankbaits by how deep they run and style of crankbait. Now if I have a lot of a certain style, I have one case for one color palette and a separate case for another. This is similar for lipless crankbaits as well. I have one case for shad-colored baits and another Lure Lock case with crawfish and chartreuse-colored baits.
I feel organizing your baits in a layout like this is beneficial because you can grab the cases you need for a particular fishing trip and leave the others at home. This way you limit the amount of tackle you are bringing with you, which 1) reduces the amount of clutter and weight in the boat, and 2) keeps you focused on fishing and not always looking for that next lure to tie on.
For my terminal tackle items, I only want to bring enough weights or jigheads to get me through that day on the water, as I can restock that evening. A handful of weights in each size will easily stay secured to the gel in my cases and keep from coming in contact with each other and chipping off the paint chip. The same goes for my shaky head and jig-worm heads. A few heads in the needed sizes will keep the weight in my boat down.
Layout Duck Hunting
By: Jim Klein
If one has never experienced layout boat hunting, it is definitely an experience that must go on the bucket list. We hunt the Bay of Green Bay in layout boats for diver ducks. There is something about having ducks come barreling in at you a foot off the water. It is truly something that must be seen to believe.
The Bay of Green Bay has become a diver duck hunter’s paradise. People are now coming from all areas near and far to hunt the bay. For example, last year we had people from 12 different states come to the bay to hunt. The main reason the bay has become such a magnet for ducks is the zebra mussel. Ducks will fly into the bay and fuel up on the zebra mussels before taking off for their southern destination. The ducks use the bay as a preferred layover spot on their long fall trek.
Layout boat hunting on any body of water can be a challenge, but it is also exhilarating. It takes time and commitment to be successful as there is a lot of work involved. Not only is good equipment needed, but an extensive amount of time is spent scouting for birds every day. When hunting big water like the Bay of Green Bay or Lake Winnebago, good equipment is a must. The weather in the fall can be very tricky and can change at a moment’s notice. Add to this the fact that the temperatures can hover just above freezing. Poor equipment just adds the chances of there being problems. But once you gain experience, learn the area, and spend some time, the payoff hunting using this technique can be HUGE!
If you would like to set up for layout boat hunting, here are a few of the things you will need. First, a tender boat, which is used to transport the layout boat in and out of the hunting area. It is also setup away from the layout boat to retrieve any ducks that are taken. The layout boat is either placed inside the tender boat or on top of it for transport. The tender boat is also the hub of the entertainment-common phrases such as, “Oops, missed again,” and “Another swing and a miss,” can fill a morning as the shooter in the layout boat blasts away trying to fill a limit. The tender boat is oftentimes more fun than the layout boat (of course that depends on your group).
Of course, a layout boat will also be needed, and there are a few that are commercially made or there are plans for the do-it-yourselfer to make one. The layout boat is very important in that it needs to be of quality, comfort and durability. Be sure to do your research and, if possible, try one out before purchasing or building.
Last, but not least, are your decoys. You will need a variety of decoys depending on the species of ducks you wish to hunt. My personal rig has bluebills, canvasbacks and goldeneyes. The most effective way to rig the decoys is what we call gang rings or lines. These are lines that can hold between 10 and 15 decoys per line and can be set and retrieved in a fairly quick manner. There is an anchor on each end of these lines that hold them in place.
The layout boat is usually set with an anchor off the stern and an anchor off the bow. Your decoys are then set according to what shooter is in the boat. What I mean by that is if you have a left-handed shooter, the decoys have to be set so that he or she can easily swing over them, just the opposite of if you have a right-handed shooter. Your decoys should not be farther than 25 to 30 yards from the shooter. Any further out than that and your chances of crippling the ducks and not being able to retrieve them increases greatly. It is very important not to have your decoys too far from your layout boat. This also allows your shooter to judge the distance of the birds he or she is trying to shoot.
The layout boat and the tender boat should both have handheld radios and individuals should be in constant communication with each other. The handheld radios and communication are essential to have both a safe hunt and in being able to retrieve all the ducks that are shot. We also like to have a flag in our layout boat in case there would be a problem with a radio so that the hunter can communicate with the tender boat. There are many other ways to have a successful layout boat hunt, but this style and setup have worked consistently for us over the years.
If one would like to try layout boat hunting before making the investment, it would be wise to hire a licensed guide. Many of my clients have set up their own rigs after hunting with us one or two times. Many people hunt this way once or twice a year just to experience the thrill of shooting ducks at very close ranges. So remember in the fall if you have a hankering to shoot bluebills, redheads, canvasbacks, goldeneyes and even shovelers- give layout boat hunting a try.
If you have any questions or wish to book a hunt, please contact Captain Jim Klein at Bills and Gills Guide Service 920-680-7660.
THE DOG DAYS OF SUMMER
It is very important to know that your furry best friend does not necessarily enjoy the extreme heat this time of year. How hot is too hot you might ask. Anything over 70 degrees in the direct sunlight may cause your dog to overheat. Dogs with longer, thicker coats, black in color, dogs that are out of shape, or overweight have better chances of overheating. It is our duty as good pet owners to make sure our dogs are in a ventilated crate or dog carrier with good air movement. If your dog needs to be outside in this kind of heat, placing them in the shade is best. I like to train in areas where there is a big tree that will keep me out of the direct sunlight. The direct sun has a lot of power that really makes a hot day a scorcher.
If dogs and heat were not an important subject, we would not make it illegal to leave our animals in extreme heat or cold conditions without proper ventilation. If you ever see a dog in a vehicle that has all the windows rolled up and the dog is locked in without water or proper ventilation, please call the police and rescue this animal. I would hate to know the outcome of this incident if you did not.
When we are working with our dogs, we are typically just walking. In the summer heat, I try to avoid running most of the time. Spring and summer air is full of pollen, rag weed, and other pollutants that can make it difficult to breathe. You yourself may experience seasonal allergies in spring causing heavy breathing, runny nose and itchy, watery eyes. This can be similar for dogs when they get into the thick, tall, covered foliage. The air can be very dense making it very hard to breathe and obtain oxygen. The dog starts to use his or her mouth more than their nose; similar to us when we are “stuffed up.” This dense air causes the dog’s tongue to hang out making it very hard to use their natural capabilities, like scenting the bird. When they do find a bird, the dog must use their mouth to pick it up. This may be more difficult for them because they are already panting. Panting actually is the dog’s way of helping himself cool down.
Another great way to cool your best friend down is to do a little water training. I like to use fresh or frozen birds to prevent dogs from blinking or chewing them. A nasty bird, when used for training, can make it worse for you and also create a bad habit. Chomping and chewing on birds is just another habit that can be avoided. Before a big run, or after, to help cool them down is your best chance to create a much better water entry for your dog. Or, you may have to get in and assist in teaching them to swim.
Believe it or not, young dogs need to learn to swim. It just doesn’t happen overnight. Some dogs just do not like water at all. If possible, walk in with them to let them know it’s safe or let another friendly dog out that likes to swim to show that it’s ok. Shallower, less deep water is also certainly better than a huge drop-off. What commonly happens is that a dog is doing what I like to call “puppy paddling” which is when the dog is just trying to touch the bottom with the hind legs while the front two legs are paddling at the top making more splashes and the dog is looking up. At some point, the dog will have to learn to level out. There are some tricks to teach that, but let me get back to dogs and overheating. Things to watch for in cases of an overheated dog are vomiting, drooling, being wobbly and falling over. If you notice any of these symptoms in your dog, you must get them in a cool place and cool them down. You should immediately give them water. Also try to pour water on chest, stomach, and hind legs, to cool them down. A good way to check on this is to check a dog’s temperature to see how hot your dog really is. A normal temperature should be 101 degrees. When you see a rise in temperature by a few degrees, it’s time to cool down. If the dog doesn’t seem to be cooling down, you should call your vet to get your dog in.
When working with your dog in the summer months, the best time to work with him/her is early mornings or late evenings. Sometimes, if it’s really just way too hot; stay home. Work on training inside where it’s cool. You can work on obedience, place board, or delivery to hand items in and out of the mouth anywhere you would like. Doing these trainings inside will make the field work better in the future. The trouble of this is, a dog will work and work until you stop them because all they really want to do is please you. If you don’t make the correct decision of recognizing when your dog has had enough, he or she will end up overheating. If you are questioning your time limit, better to be safe than sorry. It is in both of your best interests to make sure you are keeping them safe and cool. Below is a list of signs to watch out for to keep your dog safe.
Signs to watch for so your dog does not overheat:
In conclusion, by following some of my tips, I know that you and your best friend can have a safe and productive summer! It’s more difficult to fit it all in as you need to do shorter sessions, but making sure that you are consistent with your training in the summer will ensure a very happy fall for both of you.
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Whats up. Im Todd. I like my dog, boats, the open water, the American flag and guns. Some might describe me as a "basic bro", but I'm really just a down home country boy. And a country boy can survive! Im usually out on the water in my fishing boat or canoe with my dog drinking a beer. Stuff on here is stuff I like. Cheers.