The upcoming archery season is fast approaching. So where to begin?
Here is a list of the top ten things to do to prepare for the upcoming season:
1. Hunting Land
Here in the Midwest we are very lucky to have tons of public land to hunt on. I have people tell me all the time that they don’t have private land to hunt, so they are unable to achieve success in obtaining their harvest. This is a common thought by many. Don’t be one to fall victim to these same thoughts. Some of my go to, most productive hunting spots, are on public land. The biggest mistake that most hunters make, is that they don’t put in the work to scout and to get off the beaten trail.
Start by figuring out the area you wish to hunt. Take the time to look at success rates online. Study topographic maps. We have many great smartphone apps that cater to hunters. Use one to mark some of the spots that peak your interest. Now jump in the truck and investigate them in person. There are also opportunities to hunt private land. The biggest tip I can give you for obtaining permission to hunt private land is to ask at a convenient time for the landowner, be respectful, grateful, and be willing to help them with some of their chores for the opportunity.
2. Trail Cameras
You have found some spots that you believe are good hunting spots; but do they hold the game that you are going after? The best way to find out is to use trail cameras. Most of us who have hunted prior to this season, have found the advantages of using trail cameras.
Take the time to make sure your cameras work, and you learn how or remember how to use them. Also, make sure you have the proper SD card, and that it also works. There is nothing more frustrating than going to check your trail cameras and they are not working right.
Make sure to spend the extra money to buy quality batteries for your cameras. Being out in the elements takes a toll on less expensive batteries.
The biggest tip I can give you for using trail cameras is to place them in high traffic transition areas like forest/field. Make a separate trail to check them and limit the times you go to check them.
3. Ground Blinds
Take the time to get your blinds out and make sure they are safe, check out what needs to be repaired or tended to. Set your ground blind up at home, make sure you have all the stakes, all the tie-down ropes, and you have all the poles. Also, check to see if you have any holes that need to be patched and that the window cover loops are there. When you go out to set up your blind, take the time to blend it in and make it look like it’s supposed to be there.
4. Tree Stands
Pull your tree stands out of the rafters before you are going out to hang them. Take the time to inspect the platform cables, make sure all the welds are intact. You may need to use paint to touch them up. Lightly lube the pivot points. Inspect your ratchet straps for flaws, make sure they work smoothly and have no tears in the straps. If your ratchet straps are more than a couple years old, remember your safety is worth it and buy new ones. Safety harnesses can save your life! Take the time to know how to use them correctly.
The biggest tip I can give you for hanging a tree stand is to have the sun at your back, the wind at your face, and to blend into the skyline.
Pull your hunting clothing out of the closet and take the time to try it on and make sure it still fits, that it is comfortable, and you are mobile. Inspect your clothing to see if needs to be mended or patched. The biggest mistake I see fellow hunters make is not matching the hunting outfit to the terrain they will be hunting in. Make sure that you wash all your clothing with a good scent eliminator. After washing your clothes, it’s always a good option to store them in plastic totes to help keep them out of the elements.
Get your binoculars out and clean the lenses. Make sure they function properly. Make sure the batteries for your range finder work and that it is reading the proper range, also make sure you can see clearly through it. Make sure your headlamp and your flashlight have good batteries and work properly.
Inspect your arrows to make sure they are not cracked or damaged. Look over the nocks and inserts for wear or damage, replace if needed. Check to see if all your arrows are the same length. Spin your arrows on an arrow spinner to make sure they are all straight. Weigh each arrow and make sure they are all the same brand, model and spline size.
8. Bow Maintenance
Take the time to go through your bow and inspect it. If you do not feel comfortable knowing what to look for, bring it into a local archery shop and have them look it over. You will want to lube the bearing on the cams and the rollers on the cable slide. Look over your cables and strings. If they are nicked or frayed or you haven’t had them replaced in the last couple of years, replace them. If you have a drop away rest, make sure to lube moving parts also. Make sure all the accessories on your bow (the bolts or fasteners) are tight. Make sure the arrows you are using fit in the quiver snuggly.
Make sure all your broadheads are put together properly, sharpen all the same grain and functioning correctly. The most important thing most hunters fail to do is to shoot and tune their broadheads to work with the arrow, not fight it.
10. Shooting Your Bow & Working on Form
Now that you have taken the time to make sure all your equipment is in good working order; you need to work on your form. Make sure the draw weight your bow is at a comfortable setting. If you have not been shooting your bow regularly, it is not uncommon to have to turn your draw weight down and work it back up as your muscles begin to strengthen. Know your limits. If you cannot group 5 arrows in a 6-inch circle, you should not be shooting that far at an animal.
Practice shooting kneeling, sitting down, standing, sideways and twisted 180 degrees. Put on the clothing you will be wearing out hunting to get used to shooting in it. If you are hunting out of a tree stand, also practice at the same height off the ground and the same angles you may encounter. If everything on your bow is set up correctly, you should be able to stick your bow arm straight out, close your eyes, draw your bow back smoothly, open your eyes, and everything should be lined up without you moving. The most important tip I can give you is to keep practicing.
Robert Rohrer Outdoors & The Bearded Redneck