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How To/Pro-Tips

The Bowhunter's Tool Kit

Archery tackle is well-named. There are few serious bowhunters who don't have a tackle box full of specialized tools for adjusting their bow and arrows. Often the box is a large one. But what goes on hunting trips and what stays home? I have three separate archery tool sets. In my shop, I have everything I need to do every job that I need to do on my bows. My traveling tool kit contains the basic tools to do the most common jobs necessary on an extended trip. Most of these "traveling" tools duplicate my shop tools but that's fine. I don't want to have to continually sort and re-sort my tools and perhaps forget to pack a critical item before a big trip. My traveling kit stays packed. In the traveling kit is my "field" kit. This small belt or pack compatible kit holds the tools I actually carry while hunting. The larger traveling kit stays in camp while the field kit goes to the stand.

Strutting Ground Set-Up

In the middle part of the turkey season, gobblers often get accustomed to meeting their hens in a certain place. If, morning after morning, a gobbler answers you from his roost and then flies away, he is probably going to where he usually finds hens. If you can find that spot, your chances of finding him are good. Watch where he flies and then later in the morning slip into that area. If the season is getting along, perhaps you can catch him alone after the hens have left. He may not gobble so much now but he is likely to respond to your calling. Stealth and caution are required to play this game. Gobblers like to strut in open areas, often on a small rise of land. You can often find gobbler tracks in a circle with wing-drag marks paralleling them in a strutting area. Their visual display is the final courtship act that leads to actual mating.

When To Back Down

A prime calling tactic for old boss gobblers who have heard it all and are tired of hearing it is less calling. Loud, aggressive calling, including cutting, cackling and even loud yelping, has a place in turkey hunting, but so does the "change-up" pitch. After dealing with heavy hunting pressure, gobblers get fed up with loudmouthed "hens" that lead to trouble. Old-time turkey hunters called softly and cautiously to take the wary toms of yesteryear. It works just as well today. Late in the season, gobblers really can get call shy after a few bad experiences. For a wary old gobbler, just seeing a hunter in the woods is a very bad experience. They also have heard a lot of loud, raucous calling. A few soft yelps or a series of simple clucks might be just what a shell-shocked old gobbler wants to hear but not much of it. Knowing when to tone down the calling is a great "late-innings" play for wary, hunter-wise gobblers.

Consistency Counts

Bill Jordan is a sucker for good bows. He owns several and each has some performance feature that he particularly likes. However, he learned a valuable lesson a few years ago while completing a successful Grand Slam on gobblers by bow. Sticking with one outfit for the whole season makes the most of your bow-shooting skills. He made some outstanding shots, primarily because he was comfortable with that one particular archery set up. Shooting the same outfit -- bow, let-off, arrows, release -- eliminates equipment variables and develops shooting consistency. You might want to adjust your draw weight and let-off a bit for your early practice sessions in midsummer. But as soon as possible, get your bow set up and tuned the way you want it for hunting. The same goes for arrows, points, bow releases and all of your other archery equipment. Bill says that his coach at Ole Miss used to say, "you play like you practice". With archery and bowhunting, experience with your equipment means a lot.

Pondering Penetration

Super high-speed bows, over-draws and slimmed-down arrows all produce more arrow velocity. Velocity affects trajectory, which in turn affects hunting accuracy and limits range. However, understand that there are trade-offs. By going super light for speed, you diminish penetration. Just as with rifle bullets, light weight means more velocity and flatter trajectory. Heavy weight bullets or arrows penetrate deeper. The heavier projectile retains energy better and that's what produces penetration. Also beware of trying to equate target penetration and practical penetration on game. Foam targets and flesh are not the same. Foam "grabs" the arrow's shaft; natural tissues do not. Slim carbon shafts that go deep into foam offer no particular advantage on game. Behind a good cutting broadhead, any arrow shaft penetrates about the same. Style and sharpness of the hunting point and arrow energy are the prime players for deep penetration in the field. Balance your needs for flat trajectory with the need to get the broadhead in deep, where it needs to go.

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