The numbers prove it. Realtree fans north, south, east and west live and breathe deer hunting. These guys do, too. Hansen’s from Michigan, Brantley’s from Kentucky, and chances are their version of hunting whitetails is a lot like yours.
May 29, 2012 | By Will Brantley
This morning, I had to step away from my desk and stare outside. It was finally raining, if only for 10 minutes. It’s dry around here—western Kentucky was in moderate to severe drought conditions as of May 22, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. No doubt, many of you are in the same boat. In the Southeast, including Realtree’s home base of Columbus, Georgia, drought conditions ranged from “Extreme” to “Exceptional.”
A long-term drought can have big-picture effects on deer season, including severe EHD outbreaks. Kentucky and many other Midwestern and southern states lost thousands and thousands of deer during the particularly dry summer of 2007. Hopefully we’ll dodge the bullet on that this summer, but only time will tell. A similar outbreak devastated the Milk River herd in Montana last year.
My more immediate worry is the impact to my food plots. The areas we plant are rugged and remote, meaning they’re great for hunting, but a royal pain in the arse to plant and maintain. In the past, we’ve relied on the rain gods to get them to turn green.
But if this season’s weather trends hold up, some form of irrigation will be in order if I want my plots to live. Here’s my situation: a decent-sized creek winds along the edge of the fields where we do our planting. It’s within 50 yards of the closest plot, and a solid 200 from the others. Though it tends to get low and stagnant by August, I’ve never seen it run completely dry. So I’m thinking of investing in a pump and some hose to keep water on my plots. I don’t have the means to do anything on a bigger scale, and I have no idea how well this would work (but if some of you do, let me know in the comments section).
At the end of the day, I hate to be too doom and gloom about the drought. We have a little rain in the forecast for this week. Tropical Storm Beryl just dumped a ton of water along the East Coast. But July and August are still on the horizon, and history shows that droughts can be tough on deer. How are things shaping up in your neck of the woods?
If you make only one major change to your hunting bow this summer, make it a drop-away arrow rest. I can think of no other single tweak to an existing bowhunting outfit that will make as big a difference to accuracy and bowhunting efficiency. The drop-away rest makes any bow more accurate. By its very nature such a rest design also makes any bow more forgiving.
Here's why: In terms of accuracy, drop-aways allow more aggressive fletching attitude. The very point of drop-aways -- eliminating fletching contact -- means you're no longer forced to fletch arrows straight-fletched, as essentially required by old-style launcher rests. With drop-away rests you can adjust fletching jigs for maximum helical, or even use bigger fletchings if you wish. This spells maximum broadhead control through faster, more stable arrow spin rates. Translated: Added bowhunting accuracy.
Drop-away rests are also more forgiving. The same drop action resulting in 100 percent fletching clearance also means arrows contact the bow less. Depending on design and adjustment, this can mean 25 to 50 percent less contact -- meaning flinches, bobbles or dropping the bow arm to watch your arrow away are 25 to 50 percent less likely to affect arrow flight and impact. Total-containment arrow rests demand rock-solid and unfailing follow-through after release because rest brushes/arms contact the arrow tip to nock during every single shot. Drop-aways also seem to be more forgiving of slight variations in arrow straightness, spine and tip weight because arrows flexing during launch are less influenced by rigid rest arms.
Besides, the newest drop-away designs offer total-containment assurance and complete fletching clearance combined. Models such as the Quality Archery Designs Ultra Rest, Ripcord, Trophy Ridge Revolution, VaporTrail Pro-V or New Archery Products Apache, provide absolute arrow control plus drop-away action. Even without containment features, the drop-away design is by its very nature is more bobble-proof than conventional rests of old. Extra-deep launcher forks found on the Octane TripWire, Trophy Taker Shakey Hunter or Trophy Ridge DropZone, as examples, make it difficult to bump arrows off the launcher during hurried or bumpy draw cycles. Most also include arrow cradles to hold and position the arrow while waiting for the shot, so you're always ready for action.
To get the most accuracy out of the average drop-away, it should be adjusted to support the arrow as long as possible before dropping from beneath the shaft. In other words, ideally it should support the arrow right up to the very moment fletchings arrive, dropping away to allow fletchings to pass untouched. This is normally a matter of trial-and-error tuning. Set up the rest according to manufacturer's instructions, get the bow rough tuned and sighted and then begin experimenting with activation cord tension and/or length until arrow groups tighten.
I've yet to fully isolate why bear baiting raises so much ire with some hunters. I remain in the dark because when I try to have a rational conversation with someone opposed to bear baiting, it quickly devolves into infantile name-calling.
To wit: I recently posted a blog on another forum, one regarding West spring bear hunting. I researched available opportunities, separating non-baiting states (indicating spot-and-stalk or hound hunting, depending on state, as some don't allow hound hunting either) from states allowing baiting. I wasn't promoting a particular hunting style, only offering insight into potential prospects.
Of those who commented, all focused directly on the baiting aspect, and invaribly the word "coward," among other words, were hurled my way. We've no way of knowing if these people were actual hunters, but I've certainly been involved in these conversations before. Invariably, the anti-bait nimrod attempting to shame the pro-bait hunter -- at least making it clear they'd never participate in a baited hunt -- has exactly zero experience in the subject at hand. Come to think of it: Ever notice how those who argue most shrilly normally possess the least amount of hands-on knowledge relating to the subject of their distain?
Bickering between hunters always strikes me as silly. Bowhunters looking down their noses at rifle hunters; traditional archers waxing superior before modern compound shooters; and on and on and on. These are typically arguments of personal perferences and not ethics, and I always find it fascinating that people can't simply enjoy the sport on their own terms and accept that some prefer to do things differently.
That's the problem with bear baiting -- perceptions. Terms like "coward" and "shooting fish in a barrel" often accompany indictments against baiting because of common misperceptions. Even in the hinterlands of Northern Canada or Alaska, where bear numbers are phenomenally high and hunting pressure nearly nonexistent, there are still many challanges involved (including difficult logistics, nightmarish biting insects, unstable weather, and inevitable nerves while making the shot -- compounded by perceptions of black bears as dangerous game and because such hunts represent once-in-a-lifetime experiences for many). Baiting on your own? Well, let's just say it involves long hours of back-breaking work.
If "sporting" is to be judged by range alone, then pursuing whitetails from elevated stands must be deemed unsporting. If hunting over food is unethical, where should we stand on guarding a food plot, even the isolated water hole during hot early seasons? My guess is that baiting remains controversial because bears are cute and fuzzy, first of all, and because the presence of a barrel or pile of stale donuts is aesthetically displeasing. For so many, manliness hinges on getting down on the ground and meeting their prey eye to eye. Many also believe that we kill bears only for their hides (which is untrue; bear sausage is delicious).
If anyone has a rational opinion to offer on the matter, I'm certainly interested in hearing it.
May 25, 2012 | By Tony Hansen
In 2006, Wisconsin hunter Johnny King killed a huge 6X6 buck that could have challenged Milo Hanson's all-time typical record. But the buck has never been officially entered into the Boone and Crockett records because of controversy over how the buck should be scored. A point on the buck's right antler was determined by a Boone and Crockett official as being non-typical, dropping the buck's final net score from potentially eclipsing Milo Hanson's mark of 213 5/8 to somewhere in the mid-180s.
Deer and Deer Hunting magazine broke the story last fall and has been hot on its since. Today, they released a post on their site about a new video that shows long-time Wisconsin Bear and Buck scorer Marlin Laidlaw explaining exactly why the King buck should be scored as a typical.
This story just keeps getting stranger and stranger. Last week, according to D&DH, Boone and Crockett fired two of its longtime scorers because they spoke out against the Club's position on how the buck should be scored.
I'm not an official scorer for any organization. But I have to say that Laidlaw's explanation is very clear and convincing.
Looks like this story is far from over.
Silence of the Limbs
Modern compounds are quieter than ever out of the box. Many now include complete silencer kits installed at the factory. Polymer-lined, locking limb pockets eliminate sources of noisy vibrations found on many past models. String suppressors, such as those on Hoyt, Bear, BowTech and Elite bows, for example, allow the option of shooting without standard string silencers. Martin Archery adds Vibration Escape Chambers (VAC) beneath limb pockets. Silence seems to have surpassed speed as the new industry obsession.
Still, there's no such thing as a bow that's too quiet. This is especially true of extraordinarily jumpy whitetails (Idaho whitetail, hunted relentlessly by cougars and wolves, are more tightly wound than a Belfast valet parking attendant). This also makes Coues whitetails notoriously tricky targets. Animals approaching water, pronghorn most notably -- and African plains game subjected to predation -- are normally extremely twitchy.
String suppressors make an excellent example of good made better. I have a Bear Archery Anarchy that's sufficiently quiet out of the box, but adding string silencers near the speed buttons (half a Cat Whisker tied with an overhand knot) turns each shot into a mere whisper. This was also the case with the BowTech Invasion I shot last year -- all for the sacrifice of, maybe, 5 fps arrow speed. If your bow comes from the factory without string silencers this is an obvious focal point. Cat Whiskers remain a favorite, though Sims LimbSaver String Leeches, BowJax or E.W. Bateman & Co. Puff Silencers are also excellent choices.
Many consider stabilizers balancing tools, but "active" models also act as vibration-absorbing accessories. Rubber couplers supporting outboard weights, shifting silicone powder, oscillating weights suspended in polymer gels or rubber webs, or stabilizers molded entirely of vibration-squelching rubber are all worthwhile. Test several models to find one that works best with your bow.
Limb and cable guards can also be sources of shot noise and vibrations. I find with split-limb designs clamp-on or wedged limb silencers often help bows shoot better, limbs working in unison instead of independently, though even solid limbs benefit. Sims' LimbSaver started this trend, BowJax and Alpine Archery also offering wothwhile limb silencers. Carbon cable guards have all but eliminated chattering, squeaking draw cycles, but I still prefer all-Teflon slides, and always add vibration-absorbing silencers if they aren't installed at the factory.
Many neglect to address tuning-fork hums and vibrations originating from sights and rests. The first step is assuring all screws and bolts are locked down and will stay that way. Even a loose pin-guard screw can cause annoying buzzes without affecting accuracy. Sims' Mini LimbSavers are excellent for taming humming accessories, while I've also applied trim-to-fit patches of Sims Bow Wrap where drop-away rest arms contact riser shelves and to accessory surfaces to eliminate shot noise. Something as simple as stretching thick rubber bands around a sight aperture can also do the trick.
These are offered as ideas. The trick is to listen carefully while shooting and ferret out points from which bow noise originates and apply necessary products to assure the quietest shot possible and fewer string-jumping animals.
- » Coming Soon: Last Chance Bucks
- » Lighted Nocks: Lessons Learned From a Bad Shot
- » Is The Rut Really Ready To Rock?
- » How to Kill a Good Buck on a Small Farm
- » In The Thick Of Things
- » 'Tis the Season for Sexy Witches, First Dates and Doe-in-Heat Pee
- » Want To Improve Your Hunting Land? Ask This Guy.
- » Yep. I Shot My Wife's Buck.
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