Getting Ready for Bow Season

Eric Davis

Mayhood's Sporting Goods

CHENANGO COUNTY Ė Opening Day of archery season is just around the corner (October 1st), are you ready? I know I am and I hope you are too. While there are some obvious preparations to make, there are others things that commonly are overlooked.

Tree-stands and ground blinds should be in place to allow the deer to get used to their presence before you go out to hunt.

When hunting from a tree-stand, always wear a safety harness. Iíd be willing to say more than 75% of hunters do not use a harness when hunting out of a tree-stand and the number shouldnít be that high. Iíve talked to people who have fallen out of tree-stands and their first comments are always along the lines of, ďI wish I had worn a harness.Ē

A fall from any height can cause serious damage to your body but add falling equipment to the mix and you can be in real trouble. All tree-stands come with a fall-restraint harness, as is required, that are dated for 5 years of safe use from when they are manufactured. The harnesses are often very simple in design so that they donít cost the tree-stand company a lot to make. While they do get the job done, you can buy harness systems that offer added features such as gear pockets or being incorporated into bibs or pants so the harness doesnít seem obtrusive to the hunter.

Something that goes hand-in-hand with harness use for tree-stand safety, use a pull-up rope to get your bow to the stand; donít climb the tree with the bow in one of your hands.

Another useful tool when hunting from either a tree-stand or a ground blind, is a bow holder. Having something that holds your bow until its time to use it keeps your hands free so you can use binoculars, calls, a rangefinder or your cell phone. This keeps your arm/hand from getting cold when the bow is cold from it being below freezing or from being fatigued when you do draw your bow to shoot at an animal.

A few years ago, the man I learned to deer hunt from went through and swapped out every old hook bow holder for a folding arm hanger on all of the tree-stands at his familyís farm. Now I donít think I could ever use a plain hook bow holder ever again.

Being able to change the angle of the holder arm so the bow is exactly where you want it and you donít have to turn around to look for it, taking your eyes off the deer for a few seconds. I like the models with a couple hooks on the arms so that I can hang my pack and a call or two.

If you plan on hunting from a tree-stand, practice shooting from an elevated position in relation to your target definite must. Whether its from the deck on the back of your house or an actual tree-stand, practicing shots at varying downward angles will have you ready for when a deer slips in close.

If you donít already own a rangefinder, I would encourage you to change that. Buying a rangefinder is absolutely the best move I ever made when it comes to archery hunting. Being able to know the distance is better than guessing the distance. Using this tool leads to fewer misses and better, cleaner shots.

When I first get into my tree-stand, after hanging my bow up, I take a few minutes and use my rangefinder to range obvious landmarks in my shooting lanes. This lets me keep a mental note so if a deer comes in too fast for me to use my rangefinder, I can remember that the stump to my left is 30 yards away and can judge the distance to the deer in relation to that.

Onto the ďat the shotĒ moment. Lighted nocks have become very popular and are extremely helpful in knowing where your arrow goes when it leaves your bow, especially on todayís super fast bows. The lighted nocks let you see where your arrow impacts the deer, which helps you determine the vitals you might have hit and how long to wait before tracking the deer.

There is nothing worse than trying to track a deer too soon. It can be unnerving to try to sit there and wait after shooting but jumping a wounded deer will cause it to produce adrenaline and it could go a long way before it finally expires, making it more difficult to track the deer.

If you make a less than great shot or you start to track a deer but lose the blood trail, there are people with licensed tracking dogs that will come help track your deer. They donít charge for their service but a donation to their organization is always welcome. With all of the resources available today, there really is no reason for someone not to find a deer if they make a lethal shot with their bow.

Finally, after the recovery of the deer, comes the real hard work. To keep the venison from going bad, the key is to cool down the meat as soon as possible. This means removing the internal organs to allow the body cavity to fill with air and to remove the hide that keeps the warmth in. If the weather is warm, you may need to take your harvest to a butcher who has a walk-in freezer that will cool the meat down before it taints. After all the hard work, you donít want to lose all of your venison.

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