Editors Blog

Buffalo County: Getting Dialed in to Hunt Big Bucks, Part 2

block and field logic targets

Backyard shooting ranges are a must for any serious bowhunter. It is crucial to shoot before each hunt, because it helps improve muscle memory and reinforce good shot choices. (photo by Dan Schmidt)

by Daniel E. Schmidt

I love opening day. Doesn’t matter if it’s bow season in September or gun season in November. Or even muzzleloader season in December. Opening day never gets old.

Bow season’s opener is most special to me. Perhaps it’s that first hint of cool weather; or the golden cornfields; or the sound of acorns plopping to the forest floor. All of this stimuli puts a chill down my spine. Can’t get enough of this stuff. It is just so darn cool.

Last weekend’s bow opener in Wisconsin included all of this and so much more. As we arrived in Alma, Wis., and met Mark Schuh at his remote Outpost hunting location, we knew it wouldn’t be an easy hunt. The weather was unusually warm and windy. That didn’t deter us, however, from maintaining high hopes. To take the edge off, I immediately went for my bow case and my Mathews Heli-M. There’s nothing better than slinging some good arrows to take your mind off of what you might encounter in the woods.

To me, it’s extra important to take some practice shots before every hunt. I’m a good shot, but I don’t credit that to my physical abilities. To me, good equipment makes me successful. Consistent practice is what helps put it all together in a lethal combination.

My routine for practice before a day’s hunt is to shoot about a dozen arrows. I try to shoot at those tweener distances — the ones in between the comfort zone of my pre-determined pins. My Tru Glo Apex sight has five pins, and I’ve spent all summer practicing at those distances: 20, 30, 40, 50 and 60 yards. I would never shoot at a whitetail with those last two pins. Those are for building confidence on the practice range.

So, when I took aim at Mark’s Block Black and GlenDel targets, I purposefully arranged them at 17, 27 and 36 yards. I wanted to be extra sure that my bow was still performing the way I think it would (and that I wasn’t guessing wrong on the odd distances).

archery targets for deer

Nothing builds bowhunting confidence like an accurate arrow. Take a shot before each hunt just to be sure your sights are still spot on. (photo by Dan Schmidt)

Whack! Bull’s-eye. Whack! Bull’s eye. Whack! Bull’s-eye. The first three Carbon Express Maxima Hunter KVs all center-punched the vitals. This helped push my confidence to a new level. That’s what it’s all about.

It’s also important to use at least one broadhead or broadhead practice point during these shooting sessions. I’m shooting the new Rage Xtreme broadheads this fall. I’ve found these broadheads fly almost identical to my field points, but I have sacrificed one of them out of the first pack to use as a practice point. I just want to be extra sure that my Maxima Hunters fly true when the moment of truth arrives. Call it cheap insurance for a lethal bow shot.

With everything in working order, all I would need now is to get in the woods and get a nice buck in front of me. That chance would hopefully come in a couple of hours. It is now time to put the bow back in the case and put the finishing touches on my scent-control plan for the afternoon vigil in the tree stand.

Up next: Dan and DDH-TV cameraman Nate Winters climb into the stand for their first hunt of 2012.

The series:

Part 1: Arriving at a Big-Buck Hunting Paradise