Elk hunting vital zone. Patience Elk Hunting in New Mexico pays off.
One of the many things we love about the hunting community is that we feel connected to so many of you through our TV Show, through the feedback we get from you on social media, and to the hundreds of you that show up for our in-person events. That was exactly the case this month at our annual Antlers in August event, held at the Raised Hunting headquarters in Winterset, Iowa.
We are so thankful for the hundreds of you that showed up to get ready for deer season. We enjoyed hearing from each of you and having a chance to share stories about scouting for deer and how our TV show Raised Hunting, and our Raised Outdoors App have helped you with your hunting strategies, and made hunting more affordable.
Thanks also to Iowa Ag Radio Network for the great video you shared from the event.
For those who were unable to attend this year’s Antlers in August, here are a few takeaways from the event that can help you prepare for deer season this fall.
- At our seminar, Using Rubbing Trees to Put Your Buck Where You Want, we shared the importance of thinking outside the box. When they won’t come to you, make them! When they do come, capture them, on camera of course! Make just a couple tweaks to how you set your trail camera during pre-season to learn more about the whitetail you have your eye on.
- We had a panel of three hunters who had each killed a 200-inch deer. The odds of taking a deer of this caliber are one in a million. So, we had lots of questions for the panel members. Their stories all had one thing in common – strategy. They each spent a lot of time planning their hunt, doing their homework, watching videos, and practicing.
If you missed Antlers in August this year make sure to mark your calendar for next year. We look forward to seeing all of you there.
Early Season Hunting Tree Stand Placement
Deciding where to hang tree stand early in the bow season can be difficult. Deer seem to be everywhere eating as much as they can from the grain fields and food plots. But, sometimes all this food can cause a hunter to second-guess the best location for a tree stand. Add to this the fact that fall home ranges and acorns can cause even more problems by the time season rolls around. There are several things to take into consideration as the season approaches, but generally knowing where and what the deer are eating, and where the available water sources are located should be your biggest concern. These can be found through summer scouting and trail camera tactics. Once you have these two things considered out, it is then time to start hanging your stands.
Think About Concealment
Early in the season when the trees are still full of leaves, hunters can get away with not climbing high just to find cover. Concealment ranks high on the priority list of most hunters when choosing a tree to hang a stand in. Hunters don’t want to pick a tree that is bare, but also don’t want a tree that will prove difficult to climb. Most trees in the whitetail’s range offer 12 – 20 ft high hanging opportunities, but most hunters want to be less than 23-25 ft. high. A hunter might get lucky from time to time if they hang on the low end of the spectrum (12-15ft), but more times than not they will get busted before a deer ever presents a shot opportunity.
Another way to stay concealed is to pick a tree with multiple trunks. Not only will this provide that all-important cover, but it will also give you the hunter plenty of places to hang your gear.
If you cannot find a tree with cover, or multiple trunks, and you would rather not climb to 22ft + all is not lost. Consider hanging your stand on the backside of the tree that is along the trail you want to hunt. Stand in your tree stand facing the tree keeping an eye on the trails in front of you. This will allow you to hide behind the tree above the deer while still giving you shot opportunities.
Hunters need to take into consideration the angle in which the stand is going to be placed. For right-handed shooters, place the stand so the prevailing wind hits the left side of your body, and vice-versa for left-handed shooters. This will make it easier to draw your bow on any animal upwind of your stand.
If the ground you are hunting has a water supply do not ignore it. While the weather is warm whitetails will get thirsty throughout the day. They will not only visit it at midday to quench their thirst, but also in the mornings as they return to their beds and again in the afternoon before they start to feed. Place your stand downwind of the trail leading to the water supply. It doesn’t take a lot of water to pull a deer in. If there is a small stream running through your property, find where the deer are crossing it. The white-tailed deer is an animal that likes to do things the easy way. Rather than cross where it is steep they will walk out of their way to find an easy crossing. Often, before they cross the creek they will usually pause for a few seconds giving you time to get a shot off.
You might notice that the deer are not going to the fields and food plots as early as they once were. You can probably blame acorns on that. The deer are still visiting the fields, but only after an appetizer of acorns. Deer prefer the sweet tasting white oak acorns over the bitter red oak acorns. But, if the reds are dropping fruit and the whites are not, the deer will go to the red oaks. When both the white and red oaks are dropping fruit, the deer will devour the nuts from the white oaks before moving to the red oaks.
The best advice a hunter can get is to set up close to a hot oak that puts you within shooting range. Deer will mill around as they feed on the nuts. Always make sure the wind takes your scent away from the oaks. And as soon as oaks start dropping in good numbers, be ready. It might only last a couple of days, or it could last for weeks.
Don’t forget about the soft mass either. Apple and persimmon trees produce fruit that is well-liked by deer. If you have either tree on your property, hang a stand downwind. Once the trees start dropping their fruit, deer will walk long distances for the sweet treat.
Morning and Evening Considerations For morning hunts, hang a stand on a trail between the food source and a known bedding area like a swamp or thick ravine. It is a good idea to stay within 50 yards from a food source. Any further and you run the risk of bumping the deer from the beds. This is a great tactic to sneak in without spooking deer off the food if any happen to be feeding.
On an afternoon hunt you can often get away with hunting on the edge of a food plot. Try to position your stand about 15 yards downwind from the entry trail or funnel into the food source. Unpressured whitetails will feel safe enough to enter to enter a food source with plenty of shooting light left. Pressured deer may feel the need to stage in thick cover or feathered edges if entering large open Ag fields or food plots.
Early season bow hunting means targeting food and water, yet also playing it safe to ensure you keep the deer herd unpressured. Watch your wind, concealment, entry and exit routes, and shot opportunities. Tree stand placement in the early season is critical for success for those particular hunts and even keeping the deer unpressured for later hunts in October and November.
Bow Hunting Gear List
The world of hunting gear and archery equipment continues to grow and each year brings new technology that can help you become a more effective hunter. For most white-tailed deer hunters, the bow hunting gear that they take to the field can typically be broken down into the following five categories: bow and archery accessories, hunting accessories, optics, safety, and comfort.? In honor of the upcoming rut, and countless hunters who will grab their archery equipment and take to the tree, we have compiled a list of our bow hunting gear! Compare our list to your own to make sure you are not forgetting anything vital for the upcoming weeks of hunting!
The Bow and Accessories
This category is fairly straightforward and self-explanatory, after all, what is bow hunting without your bow? Bear Archery bows have become a staple with our family. They are durable, well-crafted, and exceptionally accurate. Besides the bow, the arrows you select and tune can have a huge impact on your season’s success. We trust Gold Tip arrows, a proven brand of hunting arrows that continue to fly straight and hit their mark every hunt.
After arrows, comes the bow quiver and bow release. While obvious, these two pieces of equipment are often left behind on the walk into the stand, especially the bow release. To combat this, make sure you have an extra bow release in your hunting pack. It could save you a trip back to the truck!
Other Hunting Accessories
Although these items are lumped into the Other Hunting Accessories category, that doesn’t make them any less critical to success. These items will always find their way into our bow hunting pack, especially when the rut draws near!
Rattling Antlers & Deer Calls
If you are one of the few archery hunters who have not tried rattling, then you are simply missing out!? Rattling is one of the most effective ways to attract a big, mature white-tailed deer into bow range, and the time to break out the antlers is now!? Many hunters don’t realize just how vocal white-tailed deer are, especially during the rut. If you pair a good set of rattling antlers with the Primos Grunt Call and Snort Wheeze call, you will create a very real situation a buck could believe. Don’t be afraid to be vocal, the rut is the best time of year to do so, and you might just be surprised by the results.
While watching the wind is always an important part of being successful, sometimes you just have to hunt. The wind can sometimes be your friend, but it can also be your enemy. Taking advantage of scent control products, as well as wearing scent control outer layers is certainly one way to help control the variable of scent. Hunting a steady wind is generally not an issue; however, hunting a variable wind is another story. Carrying a product such as the Scent Crusher Scent Grenade and utilizing Scent Crusher scent eliminating products like the Ozone Gear Bag and Wash O3, will help combat the issues you might have with the wind. If you have never employed scent eliminating products before, give it a try this year.
Nowadays, it is much easier for hunters to self-film in the field. Aside from being able to share your hunt, the DIY footage that sportsmen and women capture can help aid in future hunts or game recovery. We pride ourselves on capturing high-quality footage for everyone to enjoy, and because of that commitment, multiple camera arms and cameras find their way into the blind or tree stand every time. Although you may not want to go that in depth when filming your hunt, chances are you’re a little interested.
If you like the idea of self-filming your hunt, a great way to start is to simply purchase two GoPros and some accessories from Fourth Arrow Camera Arms. The Outreach Arm coupled with a GoPro can allow you to capture your experience of the hunt, while a head, chest, or bow mounted GoPro captures the deer and the shot. This simple setup can create great memories in the field or help recover game in a questionable shot situation.
Tree Stand Accessories
Hunting accessories can sometimes be the most important bow hunting gear you can bring to the stand. Items such as extra J hooks, or the GoGadget Tree Arm, can certainly help keep you organized and effective. No one likes clutter, and when you’re in a tree stand, there really isn’t any room to spare. Having the ability to create additional storage space is often an overlooked detail that can certainly help to make your hunt just a little better, and less stressful than it might have been otherwise.
It also helps to have a little extra rope or wire to ensure you have plenty to haul up your gear into the tree. Having something beyond a “pull up rope” that is a little more this century might go a long way in making your hunt easier. The Speed Retract, for example, can drastically reduce the amount of untangling you have to perform under the stand in the dark. Tools like this take away from the stress of taking so much gear into the stand!
No hunting gear list would be complete without a quality hunting knife. A knife that not only serves everyday hunting use but also contains a gut hook can be essential to make quick work of field dressing a deer. One example of this type of knife would be the Lonerock Folding Gut Hook from Kershaw.
No matter if you are hunting the expanses of the west or the rugged wooded ridges in the east, optics are a must. Optics cannot help you locate game but can help identify characteristics that reveal a game’s identity or whether or not they meet your goals for harvest. Other hunting optics such as rangefinders are absolutely critical pieces that are a must for any archer.
Nikon makes an excellent set of binoculars, which are of the highest quality and extremely durable. No matter if you are looking at the 10x42s or the 10-22x50s, having a solid set of binoculars in your hunting pack will not leave you disappointed.
In the world of bow hunting, it is hard to find anyone who doesn’t have a rangefinder in the pile of archery equipment. The number archery tip that is often given out to beginners is to learn how to effectively judge distance, and a rangefinder helps you quickly solve that equation.
Accidents can happen in the blink of an eye, and when you add in some sleep deprivation and fatigue, the probability of an accident increases. Ensuring that you have done all you can to both prevent an accident from occurring and being prepared if and when one does occur is a critical part of planning your next trip to the field.
Investing in your bow hunting equipment is important, but investing in your safety is even more so. If you spend any amount of time hunting from a tree stand, having an effective and durable safety harness and safety rope system is an absolute must. Safety systems continue to advance each year, so stay current and up to speed. Don’t be afraid to upgrade as appropriate, and ensure that you can continue to chase white-tailed deer for many years to come.
GPS & Phone
If you hunt in rugged terrain, away from public contact then having a Garmin GPS unit on your hunting gear list is something to consider. While a GPS unit is obviously very beneficial for marking potential hunting locations, it can also be the one tool that can help save your life should you find yourself injured and lost in the wilderness. Having the ability to know where you are in the world is critical to both success and safety, so if you do not have a GPS in your pile of archery hunting equipment, you should.
The same can be said for bringing your phone. Whether you are simply looking to pass the time, or take some pictures of wildlife, having your phone with you can help save your life if and when you find yourself in trouble. You never know when trouble might hit, so consider purchasing an external battery for your phone as well. This can ensure that you have extended battery life and keep you in contact should an emergency arise.
Often overlooked, the aspect of comfort can really be one of the most important considerations you make. A decision which can often directly equate to success.
Durable Hunting Pack
This article has focused on hunting gear and archery equipment that can help you be effective while bow hunting, however with gear comes the need for a durable and dependable pack. It is sometimes hard to appreciate just how much easier it can be to haul a large amount of gear in an out of the field with a comfortable and durable pack. Spending a little extra on a hunting pack that fits, has plenty of storage space, and can help distribute the weight of your gear can make hunting day in and day out much easier.
Part of comfort is staying dry. This means not only incorporating moisture wicking materials into your layering system, but also trying not to sweat. It is also important that you carry backup rain gear. The weather might not be calling for a lot of rain, but pop up rain showers can quickly ruin a hunt yet provide ideal conditions just after. Make sure you pack rain gear, stocking cap, extra gloves– clothing that can all help keep you comfortable.
In any hunting situation, it is always a good idea to pack extra layers of hunting clothing. Most camo clothing companies offer essential base, secondary, and outerwear options. It is a good idea to follow this model when packing gear for bow hunting. Start with warm thermal base layers, building up to fleece or a warm secondary layer, and finishing with a tough water resistant or waterproof outer layer. Also think about including a layer that could give you a insignificant advantage while hunting. Hecs Stealthscreen layers block your energy field, eliminating the chance that an animal detects you.
Everyone has their own approach and method in regards to the hunting gear and archery equipment that they choose to bring to the woods. At the end of the day, it is all about what works best for you. However, if you find yourself wondering how you might be able to better equip yourself for the upcoming fall, consider the information above. This bow hunting gear list is the items we trust to be dependable and everything we need before, during, and after the hunt!
You can help Raised Hunting further their efforts to raise awareness for breast cancer one pink arrow at a time! As hunters, this relationship is broadened to other hunters, outdoorsmen, and women. Each hunter feels the joy, the frustrations, and the sadness that comes with hunting and life together as a group. When someone, whether a friend, a family member, a mother, or a wife is affected by something as painful as breast cancer hunters, as a united, compassionate, and responsible group, has the ability to take action. Get your pink arrow wraps today and show your support!
Hunting Technology | Hunting Ethics in the 21st Century
The hunting lifestyle that we enjoy in this century is a far cry from the world that our parents and grandparents enjoyed. Without question, the biggest impact to the sport of hunting is the way we as sportsmen and women utilize technology. Technology’s impact on hunting continues to grow each and every year, and while there are many cases where this can certainly be seen as a positive, for many there can be a limit to the benefits that advanced hunting technology can provide. One such cap is the duty of hunters to define what is and what is not ethical. As technology inches us closer and closer to this internal dispute, a moment should be taken to step back and debate it out loud.
The Very Real Debate of Hunting Technology
To really argue whether or not recent advances in hunting technology are ethical, hunters need to understand what technology is out there. By far the biggest developments is the ever expanding scouting technologies. Technology such as pinpoint accurate aerials, GPS units, mobile game cameras, and personal drones are now creating difficulty for every hunter. On one hand, the technologies help us get closer to game, they keep us busy in the stand, and they instantly connect us to what is happing in the woods when we are not around. On the other hand, there is no mystery left in hunting, no giants in the woods we don’t have a name to, and no hidden locations left to discover. These are the difficult questions associated with this debate. At what point or technology do we simply draw the line at?
If you really want to know just how big technology’s impact on hunting has been, you need to look no further than the average, everyday trail camera. Without a doubt, trail cameras have changed the world of deer hunting over the past few years. What began as 35mm cameras enclosed within a semi-durable case has now turned into cellular enabled devices that have the ability to Livestream your hit-list buck right to your smart phone. If that isn’t a revolutionary change, it would be hard to point to something that is. Trail cameras, GPS systems, aerial imagery and even your smart phone are all pieces of hunting equipment that are helping outdoorsmen and women not only enjoy the sport of deer hunting, but time spent afield chasing a wide variety of species. They have shrunk the world in many ways, and have given you the power to be able to better plan and strategize your approach to the game you are chasing, and by default have assisted many in finding success. The future of hunting certainly appears to be speeding up, and it can be hard to imagine what the next five years will bring. In particular, one area of scouting technology is the most frightening. The recent advances and commonality in aerial drones are not only concerning for scouting game but hunter harassment. Do we draw the line at mobile game cameras? After these cameras Before drones? Or do we draw a line at utilizing any of these recent advances including cell phone apps and scouting?
Scent and Detection Technologies
By far scouting technologies such as the drone and mobile game cameras are the biggest hot button issue when it comes to hunting. However, we as hunters must note other technologies that simply push the boundaries of limiting the game’s advantages. In particular, the scent management, and game detection technology has taken a far leap in recent years. Odor eliminating products such as Scent Crusher ozone activated technology now gives hunters an edge in taking away an animal’s greatest defense scent! On the other end of the spectrum, advances have also been made to virtually eliminate a game animal’s sixth sense. Hecs hunting garments block electromagnetic fields that every living being emits. This blocks the animal’s ability to sense these signals, allowing hunters to get very close to game. These technologies combine to give a hunter advantage over the far more developed senses game animals possess.
Firearm and Archery Technology
One important aspect of technology that we should also take note of would be the ever-expanding limits of today;s firearms and bows. With a host of optical improvements in scopes, rangefinders, and binoculars, hunters are now able to see animals further and more clearly. This allows hunters to shoot even greater distances. It’s not just limited to rifles and other firearms, however. Compound bow advances such as bow sights, releases, and broadhead developments have allowed archers to push the limits of ethical shooting.
As you navigate these technologies be sure to take notice of what is actually being changed, your ability at hunting, or the ethics of hunting!
Stay True to the Sport
Hunting technology, whether we are talking about hunting equipment like those previously mentioned, or advancements in firearm and archery technology are all fascinating ways that technology has impacted the sport of hunting. These advancements generally lead to an increased level of success, comfort, and lower the level of difficulty when taking to the field. Often times these technologies allow us and others to enjoy the sport of hunting.
One of technology’s impacts on hunting, while certainly not intended, is often one of philosophy. Simply put, we can become so engrossed with technology and its application to the sport of hunting that we can get lost in it. We might forget why we run to the outdoors in the first place. The sport of hunting has never been about number of game harvested or the size of the rack. The sport of hunting is about connecting with nature and getting lost in the wilderness. It is about allowing your imagination to run wild. This philosophy is obviously at odds with technology’s impact on hunting, and the future of hunting in general.
At the end of the day, it is all about balance and remembering that too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. Just remember why you enjoy this sport in the first place. Now think of how your children or the next generation of hunters will view hunting as. Will it automatically involve technology, or will the roots be placed in what really matters the outdoors? As you debate this question internally just note that the outdoors is one item that will never need an upgrade!
Bow Hunting Turkeys | Turkey Gear Tips
Bow hunting turkeys adds another challenge to the often times difficult feat of harvesting a spring tom. Most hunters know the number one reason why bow hunting turkeys is so difficult?the draw. A turkey?s eyesight is its best defense, and a hunter drawing a bow back is more than enough movement to spook a bird. In the face of a challenge, a solution usually reveals itself. Bow hunters pursuing spring turkeys now use specific turkey hunting gear that makes this challenge a bit easier with a lot higher success rate. Watch the video below to see the top three things a bow hunter needs when bow hunting turkeys!
Three Things You Need When Bow Hunting Turkeys
Turkey Hunting Gear for Bow Hunters
When bow hunting turkeys, these items are an absolute necessity! Each piece plays a critical role in the success of your hunt and without one, the other items and your hunt might render useless.
Most of the time, a multiple decoy setup will create the ideal turkey decoy setup to bring in toms. However, adding extra elements of realism to the setup increases the attraction to a bird that might potentially hang up out of range. The Primos B-Mobile? turkey decoy offers an aggressive reaction with the addition of movement! This paired with realistic hen decoys creates the ideal setup to bring a tom within range for a bow shot.
Again, the hardest thing about turkey hunting with a bow is the point in the hunt where the hunter must draw back. The keen eyesight of a tom, especially with multiple birds is covering that draw up. A spacious ground blind with plenty of room and cover, combined with a black shirt, hat, and facemask will allow you to become invisible to a turkey.
Other key features to look for when searching for a blind to hunt out of would be the ground blinds function on the hunt. A quite, light, and easy to set up blind creates an ideal scenario when turkey hunting.
Whether you favor turkey mouth calls, pot calls, or box calls, having a turkey call that you can effectively simulate a seductive hen with is perhaps the most important piece of turkey hunting gear you can have. Your turkey calling does not have to be perfect by any means, if you can at least get the correct cadence down, your turkey decoy setup should do the rest!
If you plan on walking into the turkey woods this spring with a compound bow in hand, remember to bring these three things with you. A turkey blind, turkey decoy, and turkey call all work together to optimize your chance for success when bow hunting turkeys this spring.
Raised at Full Draw | Bow Hunting Camps
By: Emily Katner
Anyone who has truly been raised hunting knows that it’s more than just filling some tags once a year – it’s a way of life. It’s about sharing a passion for the outdoors with family, adopting an active lifestyle, developing a conservation ethic and consistently honing those hunting skills.
And that’s what David and Karin Holder are teaching kids through their Raised at Full Draw youth bow hunting camps.
Fifteen years ago, David began working with a camp in Montana where kids learned elk calls, and he eventually started incorporating some hunting tips into the instruction. With insight from his sons who were attending the camp, David learned that the kids were most interested in the practical lessons they could apply in the field.
So, the Holders formed their own bow hunting camp Raised at Full Draw and are now entering their fifth year in Iowa and have expanded to Illinois and Montana…
Read more: Full Article
Perfect Archery Form Through Perfect Practice
Most people don’t think of archery practice throughout the winter. The weather’s not exactly great for outdoor sessions and it can get old practicing indoors (if you even have a barn or shed big enough to do that). In most cases, bow hunting seasons also just ended and there are tons of winter activities to keep us busy. Plus, it’s always nice to take some time off between bow hunting and jumping right back into offseason archery practice. But before too much time passes, it’s best to practice a little before your archery form slips. Letting too much time go by is a recipe for small mistakes and form issues to creep into your routine. If you let those small problems go unaddressed until mid-summer, it can be too late to really fix them before hunting season starts back up again in the fall. So if you’re wondering how to shoot a compound bow the correct way, read on.
To really stay in good archery form throughout the year, you need to address physical strength and conditioning, archery gear, and your specific archery technique. If you can dedicate some time each week (starting now) to each of these areas, you will be more prepared for hunting season than you’ve ever been. Why is that important? First, your body will be more capable of longer sits in the woods or dragging a deer out of them. You’ll also be more confident in your shooting abilities, and will be much more likely to make a great shot on a deer even in poor conditions. While all of those will help you on any standard hunt behind your house, they will also prepare you for a trip to some place new. Even if you don’t plan on it, it doesn’t hurt to be willing and able. Let’s dive into the specific archery form preparation steps you should take right now.
Physical Strength and Conditioning
You’ve probably heard it from your doctor more times than you care to admit, but staying in good physical health should always be a priority commitment. It’s not only important for general health purposes as you get older, but it’s actually a very critical part of hunting. Whether you are hiking to your tree stand in the morning or climbing up into it, field dressing a deer or dragging it out of the woods, having a good physical base level is important no matter how you look at it.
The nice thing about archery exercises is that you don’t have to dedicate your life to them to see some benefits for hunting purposes. Granted, the more effort you put in, the better results you will see. But there are two things that a bow hunter needs most: a good aerobic capacity and a strong core and upper body.
Basic conditioning exercises will help you develop your aerobic capacity, which is your ability to bounce back from increased heart and respiration levels. When you stress your body (through dragging a deer or hiking with a loaded backpack), your heart beat and breathing increases, right? If you train for this capacity, you can basically raise the level of activity at which your body starts getting more labored. This is important for archery form when you have to hold your bow for a long time. But shooting with an elevated heartbeat and breathing also simulates shooting at a deer with high adrenaline levels. To get your body used to this, try combining your conditioning exercises with shooting your bow. At the Holder obstacle course, we combine running with strength exercises that will all build our aerobic capacity and increase our agility and strength. At the end of the obstacle course, we shoot at our 30 yard 3D archery targets from Delta McKenzie?. After running through the course, your heart is pumping, your lungs are gasping, and your muscles are shaking, which almost simulates the nerves you get from shooting at a mature buck.
From an archery standpoint, having the strength in your back, shoulders, and core is vital. Obviously, you use your back and shoulder muscles to raise, draw, and hold your bow. The more you can develop these archery muscles for that specific purpose, the better off you will be. You can eventually raise your draw weight to provide a little more punch or hold your bow for longer in those situations where a deer pauses behind some brush after you draw. Having strong core muscles (abdominals and lower back) is critical for holding your bow at full draw, climbing into your stand, or general stability.
You can set up a similar training course in your back yard to practice this summer. But right now, focus on building your conditioning and strength however you can. Do a combination of pushups, pullups, rows, squats, and planks to build your muscles. Burpees or jogging are good ways to build your aerobic capacity.
Archery Equipment Problems
The next category of things that can affect our archery form is our actual gear itself. Shooting a compound bow that doesn’t fit your body can produce some pretty sloppy and inconsistent shooting. If the bow itself is too big, it will be hard to hold steady. If the draw length is too long, you will have to overextend your bow arm to fully draw it to the back wall; whereas, if it is too short, you will have to stop awkwardly and hunch up your body. These issues aren’t easy to correct after buying a bow, so do your best to get the right fit from the start. This is especially important for youth hunting, but it’s also critical if you buy a new bow. If you suspect your bow doesn’t fit you quite right, you can measure your perfect draw length at home. Check out the video below for some easy ways to measure your draw length and determine your eye dominance too.
As you can see, it’s important to determine your eye dominance before you buy a bow. If you get that wrong, you will always fight your bow and that will make shooting accurately an issue. It’s also critical to consider your archery accessories. You should include a quality bow stabilizer on your hunting bow if you’ll likely take long shots or hunt in an open area (most western hunts come to mind for these conditions). While stabilizers are usually more associated with target archery, they offer a tremendous benefit to western hunters too. LimbSaver? stabilizers balance the bow and keep it steady throughout the shot, which will help you make a more accurate shot and keep the bow from jumping out of your hand.
Archery Form Problems
The last and probably most critical issues that affect your shooting form have to do with your actual routine. If you practice the right moves, you will shoot more accurately in the field. If you have a sloppy archery form, you will shoot poorly. Check out the following archery shooting tips to tighten your groups before next hunting season.
Start with your archery stance, which is the very base of your stability. An improper stance will put you off-balance and introduce a lot of error to your archery form. Generally, you can use the following archery practice tips to fix your stance. Your feet should be shoulder-width apart, which provides the most stable base for you. You should also practice on different contours (where one foot is higher than the other) so you can get used to adjusting your feet in hilly areas. Each person is different in terms of shooting preferences, but usually an open stance (quartering 45 degrees to your target) will produce the best shots. The leg on the same side as your bow arm should be in front, with your other foot shoulder-width away. Consciously think about keeping your torso upright and straight so you don’t hunch over. The more consistent you can keep your body, the less likely you will be to miss the shot. Try to hold your bow using back tension instead of your arms because your back is stronger and will keep you more stable, while your arms will start to shake. Keep your knees slightly bent so you don’t lock them. Locked knees will make you tipsy after standing still for a while, but bent knees allow you to adjust your core easily.
Similarly, your bow arm should be slightly bent (not locked) for the same purposes. The archery elbow position is an often neglected area that most people don’t think about. Focus on keeping your elbow rotated up and down, instead of giving into the tendency to rotate the inside crook of your elbow up. If you don’t keep your elbow up and down, the bow string will more often than not slap your forearm as it fires. That will get old quickly if you practice in a t-shirt. But if you have your hunting clothing on, which is bulkier, it can get caught in the string and cause some more archery form issues.
Your archery grip is really important too for making consistent and accurate shots. Most beginning archers tend to grip their bows tightly because they think it makes it more stable. While that makes sense at first, the truth is actually pretty counterintuitive. When you grip your bow tightly, you essentially introduce a small amount of torque that twists the entire bow to one direction. While the string will still be anchored at your face, the bow frame will be twisted one direction, which will cause your Gold Tip arrows to wobble like crazy when they leave the rest. Instead of tightly gripping it, try this instead. Make an L with your thumb and pointer finger on your bow arm. Your bow grip should rest right on the meaty part of your thumb below the inside corner of the L. You can loosely wrap your fingers around the grip as you draw it to make sure it doesn’t move. But after drawing your Bear archery bow, let the grip rest against your hand in the position above and relax your fingers. Basically, you will use your archery release to hold the bow in position without grabbing the bow grip.
Where you decide to place your archery anchor point (or points) will determine how consistent you shoot. An anchor point is usually where your draw hand or bowstring rests against your face, and it is a really important part of good archery form. While one anchor point is a must, having multiple points is even better because it really dials in on the specific position. By having very clear and consistent anchor points, you can easily repeat good shots. One very common anchor point when using a bow release is to put the crease between your thumb and pointer finger along your jaw bone or at the corner of your mouth. Another common one is to rest the bow string on your nose, which puts the archery sights right in line with your eye. One of the best archery secrets for consistency is to keep your anchor points rock-solid on every shot, practice or hunting.
Finally, as you squeeze your archery release to fire an arrow, make a conscious effort to hold your bow arm still until after the arrow reaches your archery targets. It’s a common problem for hunters to quickly drop their bow arm after they fire. It’s a natural tendency; after all, we want to see where exactly our arrow went. But this can create problems too. We start to anticipate dropping our bow arm, and even start to do it as we hit the release. Even though it’s only dropping for a few milliseconds, it can affect the arrow’s flight path after it leaves the bow. One way to combat this tendency is to count out loud. After you shoot an arrow, count out loud to five before you drop your bow arm or move your draw hand from your primary anchor point. This will help you develop some muscle memory that will carry over into a hunting scenario.
Tackle Your Archery Form Now
Even though we still have months left until spring weather returns, you should start practicing your archery form now and keep after it throughout the summer with specific archery practice drills. Most of these exercises above can be started indoors. If you don’t have anywhere to shoot your bow right now, simply practice your stance or drawing your bow until you can get outside and start shooting again. It will go a long way to helping you prepare for next fall.
Youth Hunting | When Is the Right Time to Take Kids Hunting
Doesn’t it seem like each fall disappears in a crazy blur? Between schools starting back up, getting ready for winter, and of course hunting seasons, it’s easy to lose track of time. As a result, we tend to push some things off our plate, resolving to do them in the mythical “later” category. But “later” might not happen. That’s why it’s important to dedicate time now to life-altering things like taking your youth hunting. Think about it; if you go hunting with a child and patiently pass on your outdoors knowledge to them, you will theoretically create another grounded and responsible adult who’s connected to their food source and the world. Hunting teaches ethics, responsibility, patience, and respect. What more could you want for your children?
So it’s obviously important to get your kids in the outdoors when they’re young. How young? That depends entirely on you and your child. Some kids are ready to go afield much younger than others. It can be challenging to teach them everything, but family hunting is also a great way to spend more time with your kids doing something you love. In this post, we’ll look at some common signs your child may be ready for youth hunting, and some tips to help you teach them what they need to know.
Signs They May Be Ready for Youth Hunting?
If you notice the following behaviors about your son or daughter, they may well be ready to head to the woods with you. First, if they’re asking to come with you on a hunt, it’s definitely time to start doing some kind of outdoors activity with them. Even if you’re just doing a mock-hunt (discussed below), it’s a great time to get your youth outdoors.
Similarly, if they routinely ask a lot of questions about hunting-related activities, show them in the field instead of simply telling them. Better yet, put them in situations where they can learn the answer on their own without having to explain it. If they are going on make-believe hunts on their own, they?re probably ready too!
If they are intensely curious when you bring a wild game animal home, they may be ready. Encourage them to hold or handle the hide, antlers, feathers, etc. and teach them throughout the butchering/processing task. Some people worry their kids may be too sensitive to see a dead animal. If they seem to be bothered by it, explain the emotions you feel when hunting and that you’re respecting the animal by eating it around the table.
General Rules of Youth Hunting?
One of the best and most important things you can do to teach your child about hunting is to be patient. Kids are going to be too loud in the woods, make mistakes, have short attention spans, and do all sorts of other things that will make you think about quitting. Keep your emotions under control and use any mishaps as teachable moments.
You also may want to start them on smaller animals, such as birds, squirrels, or rabbits. These seem to carry less emotional weight for most kids, and are more their size. As they get used to hunting small game animals, start to introduce larger ones like whitetails.
Try to make every hunt or time in the woods as fun and enjoyable as possible for them. It’s not the time for all-day sits or extreme temperatures either. Keep the field adventures short, comfortable, and enjoyable. The more fun they have, the more likely they are to want to go back. From there, you can slowly introduce reality to them without putting them off.
Emotions of Youth Hunting
Think back to your first successful youth hunt. It may have been exhilarating. Or it may have caused some tears to flow. Teaching your kids beforehand about the emotions they might feel is a good approach. Watch hunting shows with them and show them the wild game you have killed. How do they react? When/if they make a marginal shot and are kicking themselves for it, encourage them. Let them know that it happens to everyone. But as long as they do everything they can to find the animal or exhaust all possibilities, they haven’t done anything wrong. Also let them know that killing an animal shouldn’t be done lightly, and that they deserve a lot of respect by hunting ethically.
First Field Trip?
If they seem like they’re interested in hunting and you have done a few of the steps above, it’s time for your first hunting trip together. Ask them if they’d like to go hunt with you in a ground blind somewhere. Obviously if you’re hunting with kids, you shouldn’t go on a high-stakes hunt after a hit-list buck or you’ll just get frustrated. Instead, simply set up a ground blind in the backyard where you can watch wildlife, even just squirrels or rabbits. Use the time as an opportunity to teach basic hunting skills (e.g., how to be quiet, how slowly to move, how to listen and look for animals, etc.). If they like sitting with you, you could bring a Gamo? .177 or .22 caliber rifle with and have them shoot their first squirrel or rabbit. This is assuming that they have gone through all the necessary firearm safety courses and are legally able to hunt, of course. If they are interested in bow hunting, consider sending them to bow camps for children where they can learn about archery. If they’re really interested, consider getting a Bear Archery? youth hunting bow.
Moving Up to Larger Game Animals?
As they get better about hunting small game animals, it might be time to introduce them to larger ones. If they’re not quite ready for a full day in the woods, take them out after you get an animal to help you track the blood trail. After you shoot a whitetail, for example, follow the trail and check to make sure they are down. Then bring your kid out to “help” you find it. Show them where you shot it, and help them stay on the blood trail. With your helpful nudges, they should eventually lead you to the deer. Explain how grateful you are to them and that you could have never found it without their help. This encouragement and the excitement of finding a deer usually cements their interest in youth hunting. Your passion and enthusiasm is contagious with kids, so let them see it in your actions.
After they’ve helped you in the woods, try a few co-sits together, where you’re both actually in the tree stand or ground blind with the purpose of hunting deer. While there’s not a lot of required hunting gear for kids, make sure that they are dressed in appropriate and comfortable youth hunting clothes like Under Armour clothing. Stop by Scheels to load up on any essential hunting gear for them. Offer help or advice to them throughout the trip, but also use it as an opportunity to test their skills and knowledge. If they do really well without your help a few times, they’re probably ready for their first deer hunt all by themselves. If possible, try not to impose too many quality deer management rules on them their first year. Let them take a doe, a spike buck, or a mature buck anything they want. This will keep them interested and lay the foundation for future hunts.
Get Started Now?
Taking kids hunting can be a lot of work, it’s true. But youth hunting is also some of the best quality time you can spend with your child. If you start exposing them to the outdoors and wild game at a young age, they will be much more likely to become confident hunters one day. And you’ll have created one of the best hunting buddies you could ever have.
Drills and Routines to Keep Your Summer Archery Practice On-Target
Summertime means many different things to different people. For most of us, it’s a time for backyard barbecues, hanging out at the lake, and maybe improving your golf swing. But for bow hunters, it’s also a time to get ready for the upcoming season through regular summer archery practice sessions.
But that’s not always the case, is it? All too often, we start the spring months telling ourselves we’re going to practice every week until we can almost shoot blindfolded once archery season opens. But our plans to become the modern day Robin Hood start to lag behind as the kids start summer break, the lawn needs mowing, the fish are biting, and any number of other distractions start to take their toll. Before we know it, it’s already August and we haven’t practiced more than a couple times.
This puts more pressure on you to cram a lot of bow practice in before opening day. The problem with this last-minute approach is that we tend to overdo it. We start flinging so many arrows that our archery shooting form can get worse and we develop bad habits. We also don’t have time to work out any kinks with our hunting equipment or really fine-tune our bows. Worst of all, we expose ourselves to injury when we go from not shooting at all to shooting dozens of arrows a day. A pulled shoulder muscle or rotator cuff issue could put you out for the season. Nobody wants that.
Looking for a simple solution? Start your bow practice now so you can have enough time to truly get proficient again without sacrificing your health or form. Regular archery practice builds muscle memory, so that shooting a bow becomes second nature to you. When the moment of truth comes, you can simply focus on the deer instead of all the micro-decisions about your form and where to aim the pin. As you’ve heard before, only perfect practice makes perfect. Let’s talk about how you can make it perfect this summer.
Start a Summer Archery Practice Routine
The best way to stick to regular practice sessions is to simply create a new routine. If it’s not scheduled into your calendar, it probably will get skipped (just like cleaning out the garage and painting the tool shed). It doesn’t take long to build a new habit, especially if you take a few precautions.
Pick a designated day of the week that you will practice, no matter what. For example, choose Wednesday evenings after work or Saturday mornings before the weekend activities get too hectic. It can really help to get others involved too as an accountability partner. A family member or friend should keep you honest when you don’t feel like going, and you should do the same for them. If the whole family hunts, you can make a new summer routine of practicing your bows together for some more family time. If everyone’s on the same schedule, there’s very little leeway to skip it.
Where to Practice Archery
If you’ve got the room to safely do some archery practice in your backyard (and it’s legal where you are), consider yourself fortunate. The backyard or somewhere very close is the best possible place to practice because it eliminates the primary excuse that most people have. If they have to load their bow and archery practice targets into the truck and drive somewhere just to shoot a few arrows, they’re much less interested in following through. As we said, there are lots of other distractions in the summer.?
But if you can simply walk out behind your garage or shed, where an archery target is already set up and waiting, you have no excuse. Archery practice at home can save you a lot of time. We’ll chat more about the details below, but it doesn’t take many arrows to build muscle memory and work on your form. Just take a few minutes to shoot one quiver, and call it a day to move onto your other activities. Easy.
If you must go off-site to practice, just realize that you will be tempted to skip once in a while. That’s where your accountability partner comes in. Early in the summer, you just need a safe place to shoot without getting too fancy. An open field will work perfectly as long as you get a good target and backdrop. But as opening day approaches, you may want to find a 3D archery range to make practice feel more realistic (more about that below).
Archery Form Is Critical
You’ve probably heard it a hundred different ways, but your form is really important when it comes to making consistent and accurate shots with a bow. Early in the summer is the time to practice and enforce good habits, so that you can focus on realistic bow hunting scenarios later in the year. Here are some pointers to keep in mind as you’re doing the archery practice drills below.
First, find a reliable anchor point for your release arm. It doesn’t matter if you choose your nose touching the string or your first knuckle lined up on your upper jaw. As long as you’re consistent, it should work. Even better, find a few anchor points that you can quickly reference in the field to keep your form consistent.
Many bow hunters also close their non-dominant eye to focus on the pin when they shoot. This limits your peripheral vision and can cost you valuable visual insight. Practice keeping both of your eyes open and focusing on the target instead of the pin, which will help you develop an instinct for the right shot and avoid tunnel vision.
Finally, another common form issue involves your bow arm. Many people drop their bow arm too quickly after a shot. It’s a natural reaction, but you can affect the flight of your arrow if it’s done too quickly. Start off by using a 5-second rule. After the shot, audibly count to 5 before you move your arms. It will feel really awkward the first couple times, but you’ll quickly develop a muscle memory for it and it will become second nature to you.
When you’re doing your bow practice with family or friends, they can help critique your form. They’re already watching you and can see what you can’t, which may just help correct a really bad error before it becomes too engrained. Plus, having someone else watch how well (or poorly) you shoot adds a certain pressure. You’ll feel a little nervous, which is how you’ll likely feel in a hunting scenario anyway. If you have children, consider sending them to a bow camp, like Raised at Full Draw to learn important archery skills and learn from watchful eyes in a team environment.
Archery Practice Drills
Archery target practice can get old quick if you’re shooting the same 10 arrows in the same way every single day. Luckily, there are countless ways for you to stay interested in regular summer bow practice. To stay committed to your practice, you need to find new ways to keep it fresh and have fun while you’re doing it. Below, we’ve collected just a few of the ways you can stay addicted to bow hunting throughout the summer months.
Fun Archery Games
Summer archery practice doesn’t have to be all work and no play. In fact, having fun is one of the best predictors of success there is. If it feels like work, you won’t want to do it in your spare time. And if you’re practicing with the family, you almost need archery games for youth to keep them interested so it doesn’t feel like just another chore. Here are a few archery games you can play with family and friends to have fun with archery this summer.
If you’ve played HORSE in basketball before, you can do the same with your bow. Archer A shoots at the target from a place they choose in a way that they choose (e.g. standing, sitting, etc.). Archer B then needs to do the same shot in order to pass the round. If they miss their mark, they earn their first letter (“H”). For the next round, Archer B should shoot first and A will follow. You continue in this fashion until someone has spelled the full word, “HORSE”, and they lose that game. Archery practice games like this are perfect for kids who play basketball since they already know the rules and it adds a competitive edge.
If you’ve got the room for it, one of the most fun archery target shooting games involves long-distance shots. You can challenge yourself or a friend or family member to beat the distance of whoever shot last. It’s addicting to see who can shoot the furthest, but it will also help you in a few ways. Closer (normal distance) shots will feel a lot easier when you’re grouping arrows at 75 yards. But it’s not just for the mental game. Even if you’re not comfortable with long-distance shooting ethics, you may have a situation where you only wound a deer and get a second chance as they bound out to 70 yards. Being able to make that shot on an already-wounded animal may be your only opportunity to kill and retrieve it.
For these games, you can simply use old or cheap arrows for target practice since there is a good chance you could strip the fletching or even split an arrow. You definitely don’t want to use your best arrows for bow hunting. As your practice continues though, you should definitely switch out your arrows for target practice to shoot a few of your Gold Tip hunting arrows to make any adjustments to your bow before the season starts.
Make It Feel Real
If you’re focusing on building muscle memory, you might as well do it under as similar conditions as you’d hunt in as possible. You don’t necessarily need to do these in the beginning summer months when you’re simply getting your body used to shooting a bow again. That time is more about getting your form down again. But as the summer wears on, it helps to put yourself in a hunting simulation, if you will, to prepare your mind and body for the real deal. There are many ways to make your summer bow practice feel like an actual September bow hunt.
Around mid-summer, it helps to start shooting at 3D archery targets, which have several advantages over a 2 dimensional target face. You can find many bow hunting targets for sale that will fit what you’re looking for. They help you form a mental image in your head where you need to aim regardless of what angle the animal is facing. It’s very different than shooting at a 2D surface. If you aimed for the behind the shoulder shot at an animal that was quartering away too much, you probably would,’t get a kill. You need to adjust it further back, usually using the animal’s front leg on the other side as your guide. That mental image also helps to beat your nerves when you see a real animal beyond the pin. After shooting at bullseyes all summer, it’s hard not to get a little jumpy when you see a real deer.
To start adding some realistic details, try to simulate that excited feeling you get in a stand. No matter how many deer you’ve shot, a mature buck can still get your heart pumping (if it doesn’t, you probably shouldn’t be hunting). Since it’s hard to cause an adrenaline rush through mental imagery alone, you can use this physical hack instead. After the deer target is set up, you have a bow and arrow ready on the ground, and your release is on your wrist, go for a quick sprint. How far depends on your physical fitness. It could be a 10 yard dash or a 50 yard sprint. You want to be breathing pretty hard and a little shaky. Run to your Bear Archery bow and nock an arrow, shooting the target as soon as you can. This physically shaky state can partially replicate a real shot. It’s most useful later in the summer when your form is already dialed in and you just need to start preparing for the real deal.
Another way to add more realism to your summer bow practice is to shoot the way you’ll be hunting. For example, if you’ll primarily be in a tree stand, take your shots from a tree stand or other elevated position. This again changes the shot angle, which is easy to see on a 3D target. If you’ll be in a ground blind, practice shooting from one in a seated or kneeling position. You may also want to practice a few shots in low-light conditions, when you’re most likely to see a bruiser buck in the woods. As you get more comfortable in these situations, you eliminate potential surprises that could interfere with the real hunt. While it can be miserable to do in hot summer weather, wearing some of your hunting clothing while you shoot will help to get you used to the different form and technique that’s required.
Finally, you could take it to the extreme towards the end of the season to really get your head in the game. One of the best archery practice tips is to simulate a real hunt as best as you can. Get into a tree stand with your hunting clothing on. Only bring 1 or 2 arrows with you. These are the only arrows you’ll shoot for the day, so you need to make them count without 5 warm-up arrows. In reality, 2 arrows are probably the most you could get before a deer runs out of range anyway. Try to simulate the same feelings and remain as stealthy as possible. As opening morning gets closer, limit your archery practice to only a couple arrows a day. This reduces your chance of a repetitive stress injury right before the season starts, but it also helps shift your mindset to a 1-arrow opportunity.
Summer bow practice is really critical to improving your archery success. It allows you to experience many of the same feelings and situations you might find while hunting with a bow, which helps to prepare your mind for the real deal. Bow hunting is largely a mental game, but there is some physical muscle memory that you can work on too. The sooner you get started, the better your results will be.