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How To/Pro-Tips

Find the Funnels

Deer trails are a good bet all during the hunting season and one of the best trail types is the so-called "funnel." This is where habitat or terrain narrows a deer's movement options to a relatively small area.

One type of funnel is found in farm and woodlot country where a strip of cover crosses open areas. Deer, and particularly bucks, are going to stick to cover as long as they've got it. The strip may only be a thin row of trees or brush but if that's all that is available, you can be sure the deer will use it to their best advantage.

The other funnel occurs where difficult terrain makes a certain path the easiest or most convenient. "Gaps" in ridges or mountainous country can be real hotspots because they offer the easiest route to the other side of the hill. However, under heavy hunting pressure, deer choose safe over easy and, if cover allows, may start using more difficult trails.

Duck Hunting Safety

Duck boats are usually operated in remote areas, often in the dark and in rough weather. Staying safe is imperative.
Resist the temptation to overload. Big bags of decoys aren't heavy but they do take up a lot of room and if piled too high can obscure vision. Big, active dogs and small boats are a bad mix, particularly on rough water. Have your dog under control, not lurching all over the boat. If in doubt, make two safe trips rather than one risky one.
Wet plus cold equal potential hypothermia. I carry a change of warm clothes and fire-starting materials in a waterproof bag stashed in my boat. Have Coast Guard Approved personal floatation devices. They make these in camouflage, so there's no excuse not to wear them while the boat is moving.
Carry a compass and consider a two-way radio or a cell phone. Most importantly, tell someone where you are going and when you expect to be back.

Fools Rush In

My No. 1 rule for taking a trophy buck is to not allow the trophy buck to know I'm intent on taking him. This requires extreme caution and it also requires not hunting in what others might consider to be the most promising spots.
I start by studying the buck's habits from a distance and from sign. I try to learn as much as I can about his pattern.
The last thing I want is to encounter the buck before I'm ready for him. Avoiding his core area or sanctuary is a top priority. Staying well out of his primary scraping or breeding area is also important. A buck is very sensitive to such intrusions.
I start off trying to ambush him along his trails but even then I don't sit right over the trail but rather off to the side. Even if the buck gets wind of you near trails, he will not be as much alarmed as he would be in his breeding and core area.

Before You Practice

Practice with your bow early and often. However, before serious practice, get your outfit in shape. Check out everything that might have put your bow out of tune in the off-season.
With older bows check the draw weight. As they age, bows with laminated limbs gradually lose power. This happens so slowly that it's barely noticeable, but it can be corrected. It's a problem only if you remain unaware of it and fail to compensate.
Check the bowstring for both stretching and wear. A few twists will correct a mildly stretched string, but if there's fraying, it's time to replace the string. I like to start a new season with a new string and a backup in my kit. Check for loose nocking points and string wear under the nocking points. This is one of the places where string wear can slip up on you.
Check your wheels and axles for proper alignment and smooth performance. Lubricate them before they start to squeak and groan.

Get The Point?

There are a huge variety of good hunting broadheads out there, but none of them will work any better than the thought you put into their selection and use. Balance is the key. What you are trying to accomplish is an "agreement" between your bow, arrow shaft and hunting point.

The starting place is a compatibility chart at your bow shop that matches bow strength and arrow spine. This is pretty straightforward but when you get to head type and weight, you have choices, possibly many. Pick two or three different head types and weights that are somewhat different. One of them will likely shoot better than the others.

Now go back and pick a couple more that are only slightly different than the one that performed best. One of these may outperform the other two. This way you let your bow tell you which head it likes.

As long as you stay with the same setup, you won't have to go through this process again.

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