Hunting – Year 2

The novice goes into the woods, year two.

The novice being me of course, year one had a lofty learning curve and the steep curve continues this second year.

In the beginning it often seems that the more you know the less you know. The important thing is to grasp enough of the blocky fundamentals to be effective… or lucky!

I had a lucky turkey last year, I wasn’t hunting and a turkey came to me, I still had to do my part but luck it was.

I also shot a doe, not lucky. That really was hunting, the result of scouting, a setup, and persistence.

Deer track

Prior to getting into hunting I envisioned hunting as stalking, while stalking is a method of hunting, I think that the majority of bowhunters in the northeast and possibly elsewhere rely on some sort of ambush, and a successful ambush takes knowledge of your quarry, scouting, setup and patience.

The patience part means waiting, and waiting is directly proportional to how good your information is. If you know deer pass a break in a fence every day at 5:30, then you can setup for that spot and that time, increasing your chances (think game cameras). If you don’t know that you may have to wait all day for a deer to appear and they may not, they may not show up all week and or all month. Having good info is key.

Scouting your quarry, turkeys scat and found feather.

Scouting your quarry, turkeys scat and found feather.

I hunt with a compound bow, although the rest of the year I shoot a recurve. Why  the compound?

Bowtech SWAT on my elevated practice platform, not the latest and greatest, but plenty of bow for the job.

Bowtech SWAT on my elevated practice platform, not the latest and greatest, but plenty of bow for the job.

I just feel that the size, added control of a bow with let off, speed and my comfort level makes the compound a good choice. I’m also a new hunter with plenty to learn, the greater challenge of using a recurve can wait till I’m a better hunter.

Which brings up practice. I shoot a recurve the rest of the year which means that when hunting season approaches, it is important that I get back on my compound horse and practice up. I don’t have any animal targets but I do have plenty of bag targets.

My 20 and 40 yard targets.

My 20 and 40 yard targets.

This year I started my practice at 20 yards to get all the mechanics back then quickly moved out to 40 yards. My thinking being that if I can hone 40 then 20 and 30 should come easier. Once I’m feeling confident I climb up on my roof and practice at 20, 30 and 40 to simulate shooting from a treestand.

Bag targets at 20, 40 and 30 yards, left to right.

Practicing from my roof to simulate treestand conditions, bag targets are set, left to right at 20, 40 and 30 yards.

Practice paying off, 40 yards from elevated position.

Practice paying off, 40 yards from elevated position.

I also tried running to the target and back to get my heart rate up and then shooting to simulate the increased heart rate and adrenalin boost you get when the game you’re hunting shows up.

That is indeed a special moment, when you practice even in challenging situations you are more aware of your form, your bowarm is firm, bowshoulder down, your grip is relaxed and you’re releasing with backtension. When “your” deer shows up, it may fill you with enough buck fever that you pay little to no attention to the shot sequence, form or anything else. The idea is to hone it through enough practice that muscle memory takes over and you make a good shot.

If I have the good fortune this year to draw on a deer I plan to try and focus on form and shot sequence as a way to stay calm. Of course, these things are easy to say, the action of the moment is a completely different thing, so it will remain to be seen.

This is where I’m at on my 2nd year. I’m learning new things, I don’t know what is useful yet, but, we’ll see what proves out over time.

Good luck to all who choose to hunt with a bow. May all your efforts pay off.

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Treestands – my first

Sunday, I purchased a tree stand, I got the type you hang not the ladder type, I half wished I’d gotten the ladder type as setting it up would have been easier and in the end  cheaper as you don’t have to buy screw in rungs or climbing sticks to get up there, but I wanted to make it as low key as possible so went with a hanging type.

Ladder tree stand

It took me far longer to install than I thought it would, first to assemble the stand then to scout for the right tree on my property, lastly to set it up. I had bought screw in rungs, which screw into the tree, setting these up to 18 ft or so takes a bit, I had an actual aluminum ladder out there with me to help with the process.

Hanging the actual chair was a little less dramatic than I expected but all of it is working at enough height that if you took a fall you could hurt yourself badly. With the chair came a harness and as soon as I could set up a safety line up there, I donned it and climbed up and just sat for a while.

You may know by now that hunting and hunting stuff is new to me so I wasn’t ready after laboring for the respit the stand provided, and how quiet and beautiful it can be up there. I’m guessing half the guys (and gals) are there for the introspection and the hunting is just incidental.

The climb down was a little awkward as I had to do the rung thing and slide the safety prussic knot down as I descended, made me wonder what going up there in the dark was going to be like. There will certainly be a lot of new and firsts in the coming weeks. I’m excited to experience it.

More to come..

Bowhunting Whitetails – Getting ready

The archery deer hunting season starts in Maine on September 27th which is a scant four days away, it has taken me a bit by surprise, I thought it started in October! I will have to get into high gear to be ready.

Fortunately I have been scouting the land around my house for months and months, I’ve also been asking for advice from hunting neighbors, reading up, and just getting in the flow of the season, as I’ve mentioned before I am new to hunting so everything is fresh and eye opening.

One of the fascinating things I’ve discovered in the hunting world are trail cameras, for those that don’t know they are motion sensitive, weatherproof cameras that you can mount in areas where you suspect activity and gain valuable information about the movement of your quarry.

I went well intentioned to buy the cheapest available a week ago, about $ 65.00, but was successfully talked into a bit of a better model by the hunting salesfolk, spent about twice what I had planned, $ 140.00, then also had to get accessories, memory chip and batteries, another $ 30.00 or so.

You pre-set the time and date on the camera then hang it in the woods, it comes with a strap that you can put around a tree and then you’re ready.

The totally captivating part of all of this are the photos of course:

My first picture!

A lot of does around my area.

The photos provide date, time, temp and moon phase. Here is a daytime picture, same location:

If you look carefully there are two deer in this picture, one is on the very left edge of the frame, hidden in the foliage. You can click on the photo to get a bigger image.

I don’t have a tree stand as of yet, thinking I had more time so this morning I’m off to do that. Then scout for a good location for it.

More to come..