With serious whitetail season upon us, the last thing you want to do is rush off to your favorite stand and find out that some little thing you never anticipated turns that “gimme” shot into a “goner.” That’s why final preparations are so important.
By Bob Robb
The key is to anticipate problems before they happen and solve them at home. To that end, here are some things you may not think about much … until it is too late.
1. Fine-tune your arrows
Before hunting season, make sure you have a dozen broadhead-arrow shaft combinations that fly like laser beams. Shoot every one of them at least a couple of times to ensure they are flying right and also impact where the sight pins say they should. Weigh the fletched shaft and broadhead, both separately and together, the goal being to have a quiver full of finished shafts that weigh within 3 to 5 grains of each other. When it’s time to hunt, either re-sharpen your blades or replace them with scalpel-sharp blades from a new pack.
2. Sight in with broadheads
Beginning in late summer, I quit shooting field tips altogether. If you have been using field tips and are just now switching to broadheads, make sure you practice with exactly the same arrow/broadhead combination you will hunt with. This means first shooting them through paper to make sure the bow is precisely tuned with this combination. You’ll probably have to make some arrow-rest adjustments to achieve this. Then re-sight the bow using the broadheads. Do not be satisfied with a bow that is only “sort of” tuned!
3. Check your bowstring
Check the string and cable system for wear, paying attention to those areas where it rolls through the wheels and, if you do not use a string loop, where your release attaches directly to the string. Then lightly wax it.
4. Peep closely
Do you use a peep sight without a rubber tube that forces it back into the proper position every time? Then make sure yours does turn back the right way. Even new bows with those supposed “no-stretch” bowstrings will have the strings minutely stretch at first, which, of course, rotates the peep into a different position after a while, so check it, fix it and then use an indelible marker above and below the peep to mark its exact position.
5. Lock it down
Check all the screws that secure accessories to the bow, including your quiver and sight, and make sure they are locked down
6. Lubricate it
It’s time to lubricate the bow’s axles and also the moving parts of your release aid. I do so with a graphite product that will not freeze when the weather turns bitter.
7. Pad it
I pad the heck out of everything that has even the smallest chance of making noise on stand with stick-on moleskin or fleece. The bottom of my bow sight, the arrow shelf, arrow rest prongs — they all get covered up. I also have covered my entire laser rangefinder in moleskin, then covered that with a layer of the same tape hockey players wrap their sticks with. Hockey tape is an awesome product for bowhunters because it is tough, quiet and, best of all, does not get stiff when temperatures drop below freezing.
8. Try specificity training
This is a term coined by exercise physiologists when training athletes to perform to their maximum potential at specific tasks. For example, a sprinter trains his legs and cardiovascular system so he can run his fastest, and doesn’t spend a lot of time lifting heavy weights with his upper body. For bowhunters, that means replicating in practice as closely as possible those shots you will most likely get at deer. That means that, while standing at a target line on the range is great practice, shooting from an elevated platform is much better as a final tune-up for tree-stand hunting. If you hunt from a ground blind, practice shooting from the sitting position. As it gets closer to hunting, I like to wear my hunting clothes, put my binoculars and laser rangefinder around my neck just as I would when hunting, then play games with myself as I go through my mental shot checklist.
9. Pack smart
Organize your daypack to the point where you know exactly where everything is located, from snacks and drinks to deer calls to spare clothing and equipment. That way, you won’t be missing a vital piece of gear before heading afield.
10. Stand and deliver
If the last time you looked at your tree stands was when you pulled them last season, the time to check them out before this season is right now. Make sure all the bolts, screws and straps are in good working order, and lubricate any joints or moving parts that might squeak.
11. Power up
Is there anything worse than heading to the woods and have a flashlight battery burn out? Or have the range-finder not fire at the wrong time because the battery is too weak? Spend 10 bucks now and replace all of your batteries.
12. De-fog optics
To help keep water and fog from wrecking my vision in bad weather, I simply use the same RainX I use on my car windshield on optics lenses. It works great.
The preceding was an excerpt from Deer & Deer Hunting’s Guide to Better Bowhunting.
Want to know how you can become better bow shot, improve your consistency, increase your range, what gear will make you more effective and how to avoid bowhunting’s most common bugaboos? Deer & Deer Hunting’s Guide to Better Bowhunting is packed with the very best tips and strategies from our No. 1 archery expert. Inside you’ll find shooting advice, insights on critical gear, bowhunting techniques and tons of helpful hints for in-the-field archery success. This cutting-edge information is presented in a straightforward, no-nonsense, quick-hitting guide that is easy to digest and understand whether you are a beginner or seasoned archery veteran. This guide highlights all the little things archers can do to get more out of their archery gear, and it offers real-world examples of how the latest products can help you in the woods. And, right now, you can purchase the book for only $5.99!