Friday, July 25, 2008

Planning For October

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Do you realize there is just a little bit more than two months before the bow season opens? It hardly seems possible, but August and September will zip by, and Oct. 1 will soon be staring us in the face. And you know what? I’m ready for fall.

Are you ready? If the season opened tomorrow, I’d be ready. I shoot my bow almost 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, enough 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 anglers. Anticipation is 90 percent of a hunt (or fishing trip), and participation makes up only about 10 percent. That means we spend most of our time looking forward to an October bow hunt but only a little bit of a year is spent in the woods.

That means mental preparation. 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 that high level of interest 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 get distracted. We’re thinking of a steak dinner, wishing we had a cup of coffee, chewing ourselves out for not using the bathroom before we left to go hunting.

There we sit, accustomed to working and thinking and doing, but 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.

We have just over two months to counsel ourselves in being ready. 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 are holding their bow in such a way that it is instantly ready but it puts a strain on their hands, wrists or arms. They may appear to be half-asleep but they are well aware of everything around them.

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

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 in over and release. Or, some people start their draw high up on the body, and bring the sight down until it is in the right 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 is 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, our muscles aren’t as strong and accustomed to holding a bow as they are after months of practice. Whichever method you use to drawing and aiming, stick with it.

As you practice, develop a attitude of minimal movement. Always sit or stand in a 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 precious seconds in getting lined up for a shot.

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

Posted by Dave Richey on 07/25 at 04:40 PM
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