Vacation – Stretch band!

I’m just back from a couple weeks of vacation with my family. Prior to leaving ,the thought of bringing my bow, briefly crossed my mind, but it really wasn’t practical, and bringing it, would have very likely detracted from the memorable family adventure we ended up having.

I did have some concern about losing ground on the work I’d been putting towards my form though, so I packed a stretch band.

Stretch band in hand 2 (1)

This turned out to be a great solution, It took minimal space, was light and it allowed me time in front of a mirror in the early mornings to practice. I discovered that the mirror/stretch band combo gave me good feedback, and helped me identify posture issues and inconsistencies in my draw.

photo 3

Me, while on holiday, looking a bit serious for the camera.

On the travel end, we didn’t check any bags, and I carried it onboard in my backpack with no issues from the airport security folks, although halfway through the flight I did consider tying up one of my kids with it…

Kiddos aside, the stretch band worked well for me, I found it helpful and an easy peasy solution to a bit of archery in your bag, travelling or otherwise.

C.

 

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Fall Turkey

I came home yesterday in the late afternoon after having had a bit of a trying day, grabbed my compound bow and rangefinder and made my way out to the backyard target.

I had taken the rangefinder because I wanted to practice at 30 and 40 yards and I had not marked the distance. I warmed up at 20 yards then stepped back to 30 yards. I shot a few ends at 30 yards then heard heavy flapping on the other side of my house next to my driveway, I managed to look quickly enough to catch a turkey flying up to it’s roost. I walked further around the corner and switched from a target field tip arrow to a broadheaded  arrow, fortunately my quiver was attached to the bow.

I then spotted a 2nd turkey walking towards the same patch of woods where the first had roosted. I had my rangefinder so I quickly ranged a tree just ahead of him, 30 yards, the single pin sight was already set at that distance, so I drew, waited for the turkey to clear a clump of brush and loosed the arrow.

I hit my mark cleanly in the vitals and with it had my first ever successful hunt. Laurel and the kids arrived shortly thereafter and there was much excitement and the kids and I went down to the country store to tag him. I’d never tagged anything before so it was all novel. I later cleaned it, which was new too, YouTube showing me the way.

It is so interesting the changes we undergo as people, I would not have thought in prior years that I’d be a hunter, fascinating the paths we’ll take and the growth we can experience when we permit it.

C.

The hunting puzzle

It has been heart lifting to be outdoors lately as the temps have been warm and the fall foliage is in the full throes of its seasonal metamorphosis. I often forget how a little time in nature can re-charge one’s batteries and reset your outlook if you’re finding yourself a bit skewed by life.

The fall foliage is of course the most obvious change this time of year but there are others, for example the great amount of mushrooms to be found in the woods this time of year. they are interesting to see and find, like gnomes hiding in the woods.

The oak trees are turning and dropping acorns, which in turn feed the forest to include deer, squirrels and other critters.

The area I live in is oak full. Which in my view is a plus and a minus. A nice boon because it is a food source for deer which means that they’re around, but with so many oaks it is difficult to pinpoint where they’re feeding and where to locate them.

Oak

Acorns – all over the woods behind my house right now.

On the hunting front I’m starting to figure out why the call it hunting and not “getting”. Fortunately for this greenhorn there is a lot more season ahead to make up for the steep learning curve.

I did have an interesting experience while in my treestand in the pitch with just some moonlight out, as I sat,  I spied  green eyes digging at something in the ground a mere 12 yards away. The green eyes had a very faint glow to them, surely reflecting the bit of moonlight out. I thought back to the trail cam pics and how two does frequented this area at about this time, I could barely see the movement of bodies down there, too dark to tell, also not legal shooting time even if I could see. I stood stock still waiting for daylight only to find that they had slipped away in the darkness.

When I climbed down from the stand, I went over to the spot where they’d been and found a mostly nibbled mushroom. Interesting info in my education of whitetails.

Mostly eaten mushroom

I’ve also been finding some signs of a buck in my area. There is an area of saplings that has rubs on it from previous years but I also found some new rubs, see pic.

Rub!

What I’ve found about hunting so far is that it is very puzzle like.There are hints all over the woods left for you to decipher in order to put together a picture of what is going on. How successfully you form that picture and the decisions you make in reaction to your information plays a big part in how you fare out there.

I would also say that this puzzle solving process is an enjoyable one and it constitutes a big part of this endeavor. I’m new to this but I would venture to say that preparing, practice,  research, scouting, interpreting information, then setting up situations based on the knowledge gained is most of the experience. I would put the rest of it as waiting or being patient, good hunters are a patient bunch. The actual encounter with an animal is the smallest part of this, probably falls in the minutes and seconds category for most.

I believe this equation probably changes with experience and technology. A trail camera for example can be your eyes while you’re running your life. Someone who has hunted the same patch of woods for 30  years probably has a lot of accumulated knowledge of the habits of their local quarry and can shorten the process if they so choose.

You can also hire knowledge in the form of a guide or an outfitter if your time and access are short. With our busy lives I’m sure this makes sense for many.

Lastly there is luck, always plays a part. I just need it to play it’s part for me before the season is out!

Fall, walk and scout.

I worked Saturday, so missed a chance to give hunting a go again.

Sunday in Maine is a closed day to chasing critters, it also rained which was threatening to keep me home all day, which given enough time would probably make me a crank, so after some calls to friends I got permission to stroll through their properties, look around, hone my new found scouting skills and just be outside in these early fall days.

Beaver dam area

Because I was in a beaver area, 1st thought was beaver tracks but not convinced yet.. any thoughts??

Turkeys

Turkey scat

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..

Jamey Willis – Archery Coach

While in Colorado Springs for my cousin’s wedding a few weeks ago, and with some free time on my hands, I looked into taking an archery class.

I had been having issues with my release and suspected some flaws in my form and wanted to improve.

I’d been practicing at Bill Pellegrino’s Archery Hut and asked them about it. They referred me to Jamey Willis and although he was down in North Carolina doing an archery program with vets, he took a little time to talk to me and we made an appointment for that Monday when he’d be back in town.

We met at the range and I felt I was in good hands from the get go. Jamey was relaxed, easygoing and a comfortable in his own skin type of guy.

He helped me with the release issues and also took time with improving my shooting posture, back tension, relaxed bowhand and some mental tips.

Jamey is also a competitive shooter, after the class we spent time just sending arrows downrange. Here are some pics of Jamey in action.

I would not hesitate to recommend Jamey. He is very capable and an easy to get along guy, if you’re considering coaching in the Colorado area he can be reached at:

pettitwillis(at)msn.com    – just substitute (at) with @ and you’ll be all set. You can also call him at 719.213.5503