By Steven E Stillwell
ARE YOU READY? Before heading afield, it’s always a good idea to ensure that your equipment and essential gear are in tip-top shape. If you’re traveling somewhere, the last thing you need is a malfunctioning weapon, dead batteries in your flashlight or range-finder, or a pair of forgotten hunting boots that are still in your closet at home. If you’re prone to forgetfulness, make a list, and check things off as you load them into your vehicle. When you’ve been doing the same thing for decades, you’ll develop a certain routine, but it never hurts to double check yourself.
SHAKE, RATTLE, AND ROCK-N- ROLL. 4-wheeling can take its toll on your rifle, bow, or muzzle-loader, because of the vibration factor. There’s nothing worse than having a scope mount, or your sight pins shake their way loose while you’re traveling back and forth to your deer stands. Rugged terrain dictates frequent inspections! You never know, you might stumble across a Boone and Crocket Buck, and it would haunt you forever, if you blew the opportunity of a lifetime, because of a simple malfunction. It only takes a few minutes to inspect all screws, contact points, and scope lenses. These snap inspections should be routine procedures, before, during, and after each hunting season! Methodical hunters who pay attention to details like this will always be successful, I guarantee it. TAKE CARE OF YOUR WEAPON, AND IT WILL TAKE CARE OF YOU.
Corroded ammunition, bent arrows and bolts should be discarded, because they can pose a serious hazard. Anything that’s questionable should be tossed into the trash-bin. I KNOW; AMMO IS IN SHORT SUPPLY. Here are a few suggestions that will help you conserve your precious supplies. MAKE THOSE PRACTICE SESSIONS COUNT. Dry firing with snap-caps is one of the best ways to keep your senses sharp. Breathing, timing, sight alignment and trigger control can all be accomplished at periodical intervals each and every week until these skills become ingrained. When you head to the range, your ammo expenditure will be minimal, your groups will be tighter and you’ll be confident, because you’ve invested the time perfecting all of your motor reflexes.
THESE ARE MY MONEY SAVING ARCHERY TIPS. In spite of the various shortages, arrows are still available, but they’re expensive, so you want to minimize damaging them while practicing. When you sight your crossbow, compound, or recurve in, try to use only one arrow or bolt. Yes, you’ll have to walk a lot more, to and from your target for retrieval, but you’ll minimize damaging the others, because you’re not taking frivolous shots. NO FOLLOW-UPS, ONE SHOT, ONE KILL, SHOULD BE YOUR GOAL. Hunting is a mental game, so establish these rules, and your harvesting record will increase exponentially.
HOW FAR AWAY IS THAT BUCK? Miscalculating the range is the number one reason why bow hunters miss their game! The same rule applies for expert riflemen who are shooting at long distances. Notice I didn’t say, novices, because they have a tendency to, YANK THE TRIGGER. Like I said, it’s imperative to refine those motor skills, and practicing is the only way to become proficient. ALL OF US WERE NEOPHYTES WHEN WE STARTED, SO REMAIN HUMBLE. In my opinion, commercial range-finders were God’s gift to hunters, and there are numerous makes and models to choose from, so take your pick. Knowing how to strategically use one of these valuable tools will put more venison in the freezer. HERE’S ANOTHER MILLION DOLLAR BOW HUNTER GAME-GETTER TRICK: when you’re hunting in the forest, observe your quarry’s possible avenues of approach, and “RANGE” certain landmarks within these kill zones. When that MONSTER BUCK mysteriously appears and he steps next to that, BIG OAK TREE, ROCK, OR STUMP, you’ll know the precise distance, because you took the time to do your homework!
Not if, but when you take that magnificent Buck on opening weekend, I’d like to hear your story. Join us on Facebook, and tune into our podcast program, THE OUACHITA BUSHCRAFT AND SURVIVAL SHOW. Your comments and suggestions are always welcome.