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How To/Pro-Tips

Monsters of the Midday

The first hour of dawn and the last hour of dusk are magical and highly productive deer hunting times. The whitetail deer prefers the low-light periods surrounding sunrise and sunset. However, under some conditions, hunting in the middle of the day or all day long can be very effective.
Deer move or feed several times over a 24-hour period. Under a full moon, deer are active during the middle of the night. This may stimulate a corresponding period of movement during the following day. Essentially the same thing occurs when heavy hunting pressure forces much nocturnal activity. Also, many experienced hunters suspect that wary bucks pattern hunter movement patterns and are well aware that most hunters are loafing around camp by 9 or 10 a.m.

Severely cold weather also seems to get bucks off to a late start with more midday activity. Likewise, cloudy and rainy days, which keep the light turned down all day, promote daytime feeding and movement activity.

Tune Up Your Tackle

Getting and keeping your compound bow in tune is critical to accurate archery performance. A major tune-up prior to season is great, but remember, keeping your bow in tune is an ongoing process throughout the hunting season.
Wood-core laminated limbs can stretch and relax, resulting in diminishing draw weight. (Solid fiberglass and combination fiberglass/synthetic synthetic laminates don't do this.) This minor and gradual draw-weight drop-off will probably not be noticed by you but it will eventually show up in your shooting. Use a bow scale to check your bow's draw weight every year and tune accordingly.
Use a bow square to properly set your nocking point and brace height. Measure the position of your peep sight and arrow rest. Once you've got everything squared away, record the measurements of the positions and critical relationships. Use this record to compare to later checkups.
Only a slight slippage of any of these critical dimensions can throw your accuracy or point of impact way off the mark.

Shafted for Bowhunting

Selecting an arrow that matches your bow is just as important as selection of the bow itself. The best bow in the world won't shoot well with an improperly matched arrow.
Today, with different shaft materials, a great variety of head weights, over-draw bows and increasingly sophisticated compound wheel setups, proper arrow selection is critical.
Look at six basic factors when matching arrows to your bow. Your bow's maximum draw weight, your own personal draw length, weight (in grains) of your hunting points, what synthetic material the bow string is made of, what kind of wheel setup your bow has and what type of release you will use. The first three determine overall shaft stiffness or spine. The last three relate to rate of initial acceleration, which has become important with modern high-speed bows.
Plug these six factors into a shaft-selection chart at a good archery dealer or pro shop to get a good start at selecting the appropriate arrows that will perform best for you.

Getting the Range

Basically a bow is a short-range weapon. Compared to bullets and slugs, arrows from even the most modern, high-speed bows fall fast and fall short.

The steeply gaining curve of arrow drop limits the archer's maximum effective range. It also requires precise range estimation and aiming calculation at various points within the bow's effective range. For instance, the aiming points on a 20-yard buck and on a 35-yard buck are very different sight pictures.

With steep, angling shots from treestands, another geometric factor comes into play. With a steep-angle shot, the straight-line diagonal distance to the target doesn't matter. The projectile (bullet or arrow) is affected only by the actual horizontal distance. Thus a buck that is 20 yards away from and 45 degrees below your stand is only 14 actual horizontal yards away and that's how you should hold.

Understanding angles and a good rangefinder, coupled with a bow having multiple range pins and pre-sighted from an elevated position, will increase your stand-shooting percentage.

Good Sense About Scent

The less of your scent you leave in your hunting area, the better the odds for your success. This goes for both scouting and hunting.

Take pains to keep yourself and the area as scent-free as possible. Regular bathing helps. The new "no-scent" soaps help even more. Wash your hunting clothes in no-scent soap and put them in air-tight bags, away from smokers, household odors, campfire smoke and such. Putting aromatic but natural vegetation such as pine or cedar in the bag doesn't hurt a thing.

Wear rubber or rubber-bottom boots in the woods and try not to walk on the deer trails. Avoid touching or brushing up against brush, particularly along trails. Everything you touch will hold your scent for a while.

Take your climbing stand or seat cushion out of the woods with you. These items absorb a lot of human scent. Leaving them in the woods leaves your scent there too, preventing your hunting area from "resting" even when you are not hunting.

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