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 Home > Shop > How To/Pro-Tips
How To/Pro-Tips

Proper Practice

Both archers and gun hunters should practice their shooting, but regular practice is critical for bowhunters. Archery is more demanding of both physical strength and good reflexes and only regular practice will keep those skills honed.

Start light to keep from getting sore. I like to practice at full hunting weight and break point, so my first sessions are very short until I get my muscles in shape. Even then, short sessions are best. Five shots a day for a week are much better than 35 shots on Sunday afternoon.

Shoot with friends. There's nothing like a little peer pressure to keep you sharp. Once again, short sessions keep you focused.

Shoot from realistic hunting positions, including sitting down and from elevated stands if that's how you will be hunting this fall.

Once the season begins many hunters focus on the deer and slack off the shooting practice. Continue practicing. It doesn't take a long layoff to lose that critical edge a once-in-a-lifetime shot might require.

Timing the Thermals

It's not just wind that can betray the hunter's scent to deer. Normal air currents called thermals can also do you in. These are caused by the air warming and cooling during the day. It's a simple fact of basic physics; warm air rises and cool air falls. If one of these thermals carries your scent to a wary buck, he'll be gone.
Thermals are particularly pronounced in mountainous country. Typically, as the day warms up, the thermals rise. In the evening, the cooling air "falls" into the valleys. It is usually recommended that you place your stand site higher on the mountain or ridgeline for morning hunting and at lower elevations in the evenings.
Another quirk of mountain air currents is that the steep topography often causes the wind to swirl. Even if the prevailing wind is from one direction, the air around you may be going in another. Keep your eye on wind direction and thermals when hunting in the mountains.

Reflections on Rattling

The tactic of clashing deer antlers together to lure in a competitive buck has enjoyed mixed success across the country. Rattling started in Texas and was soon tried in other areas.

Different areas showed different degrees of effectiveness. The key words are "competitive buck." In well-managed areas with a low doe-to-buck ratio, the bucks must truly compete for the available does and both rattling and other forms of deer calling are more effective. In areas where there are too many does there is usually a strung-out rut and both rattling and calling are less effective because the bucks are less competitive. Basically, with plenty of does to go around, the bucks don't have to be so aggressive.

Timing also has an influence. The most competitive periods associated with the rut are the immediate pre- and post-rut periods. Both rattling and calling work best at this time. However, even at the peak of rut, a buck without a doe can be vulnerable to rattling and calling.

Be a Duck Locator

The easiest way to successfully call ducks and geese is to set up where they want to land. This requires scouting. Spending lots of time watching birds with binoculars pays dividends when you go to shoot.
In every marsh or swamp there are favored "duck holes." Some remain the same all season long and sometimes year after year. Others may change as the season progresses. For consistent success you should know which is which and where they are. Having several promising areas is good insurance.
Field feeding geese can be troublesome because they follow the abundance of fresh food. Snow geese are particularly bad about changing feeding locations on short notice. When you find a favored feeding spot, get on it quickly, while it is still hot.
I have several portable blinds that I use to keep up with current waterfowl usage patterns and to avoid over-shooting a good spot. Even a perennial hot spot can be cooled off by constant shooting.

Long Shots

These days there is much fuss about shooting whitetails at extreme ranges of 400 yards plus. Truth is, the technology is available to do this. Another truth is that most of us don't have that technology or the requisite skill to use it if we did.
It takes more than a super-fast cartridge clocking 3,000 feet per second plus. It also takes a super-accurate rifle that shoots one-inch or less groups at 100 yards. Every once in awhile we luck on to a from-the-factory rifle that shoots that well but usually such accuracy is the result of some fairly expensive tweaking by a professional gunsmith.

It also requires the best scope money can buy and we are talking pretty big money. Absolutely precise range-finding ability is another requirement. This is beyond "eye-ball it and guesstimate" range and requires a laser rangefinder accurate to within a few yards at a quarter mile.

Combine all this technology with well-honed shooting and wind-doping skills before dialing for long-distance bucks.





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