Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Plan Ahead For Archery Deer Season

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It’s hard to believe there is only about five months before the bow season opens. It hardly seems possible, but May, June, July, August and September will zip by quickly as we get involved in summer things, and Oct. 1 will soon be staring us in the face.

Are you ready? Will I be ready? If the season opened tomorrow, I would be ready. I shoot my bow every day, and the bow and I work together as a team. I come to full draw, aim and stroke the release trigger, and the arrow goes where it is supposed to.

But, so much about me. How about you? Are you mentally and physically prepared for the season? The truth is that most people are not.

An old fishing saying is every bit as appropriate to bow hunters as to an angler. Anticipation is 90 percent of a hunt (or fishing trip), and participation represents only 10 percent. That means we spend more time looking forward to an October bow hunt than is spent in the woods.

That means more mental preparation is required. If only 10 percent, at the most, is spent in a ground blind or tree with a bow in hand, it means that we must be ready and well prepared for a shot at any time. Most people, quite frankly, cannot maintain their interest and concentration at a high level for long periods of time.

They hang their bow on a hook, stretch the kinks out of a sore back, watch a rooster pheasant or ruffed grouse picking its way through the woods, and we become distracted. We’re thinking of a steak dinner, wishing we had a cup of coffee, chewing ourselves out for not using the bathroom before leaving to hunt.

There we sit, accustomed to working and thinking and doing, but instead, we are at a point where we must be motionless and still. We are not mentally prepared for that point in time when a buck steps out only 20 short paces away, and we are fumbling to quietly lift the bow off the hook and prepare for a shot.

We have just over five months to counsel ourselves in being ready at all times. Turkey hunting is a delightful way to learn how to sit still without making a sound. It teaches hunters how to be prepared long before the shot presents itself.

Good hunters have mastered this knack. They can sit still for hours if need be, and never make a sound. Look at them and they look as if they are asleep with their eyes open.

Don’t be fooled. This attitude is one of optimism and preparation. Many of us are holding our bow in such a way that it is instantly ready but this puts a strain on our hands, wrists or arms. We may appear half-asleep but are well aware of everything around us.

An arrow is nocked and positioned perfectly on the rest, and the release is on the string. It requires little wasted movement to bring it up while drawing the string back, and as we achieve full draw, the sight is nestled low behind the front shoulder. From spotting the deer to releasing a well-aimed shot is about one second.

There are two basic ways of settling the sight behind the front shoulder. One is to come to full draw below the deer, follow the front leg up to the shoulder, inch it over and release. Or, some people start their draw high up on the body, and bring the sight down until it is in the proper spot.

Following a vertical leg up seems easier than bringing the sight down through the horizontal part of the body, and then move the sight to the proper location. Try each one until you get it perfect and know which works best for you.

Too many people draw their bow horizontal to the aiming point, and then try to finesse it into the right spot while holding at full draw. Following a leg up, inch it right or left, and release works well for many people.

Let’s face it. If we don’t shoot all winter, and our muscles aren’t as strong and accustomed to holding a bow as they are after months of practice. Whichever method you choose to draw and aim, stick with it if it works for you.

As you practice, develop a attitude of minimal movement. Always sit or stand with your feet properly positioned for a shot. Moving your feet and/or your body when a buck is within range is likely to spook the animal. The movement involves the whole body. Learn to be properly positioned for a shot at all times, and it will save you seconds in getting lined up for a shot.

Planning ahead should be your motto during the next five months before the upcoming bow hunting season.

Posted by Dave Richey on 04/15 at 06:04 PM
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