Bow season is about over across the country and many are already planning for next season, and for good reason. Spending quiet time in a tree stand with all of nature around you is a time for men, women and children to learn and observe.
Many types of wildlife go on with their daily life, totally unaware of the camouflaged hunter overhead in a tree stand. You would be amazed how many species will pass by on any given afternoon.
Some bowhunters are sorry to fill their tags and lose their time of absolute peace and quiet. Many live for the time of cool autumn breezes and colored leaves and dressing warm for late-season hunts when snow covers the landscape. Camouflage blends in hunters to become invisible components of a woodlot.
Bowhunters occasionally find a flock of wild turkeys under their tree stand. Some purposely use a turkey call to draw gobblers, hens or young birds in close. Many states allow both wild turkeys and deer to be harvested on the same archery tag.
The best deer hunters who use a rifle are likely bow hunters, too. Deer habits change with the seasons, making the need to learn important for bow hunters. The need for stealth and scouting is constant. Binoculars are important because they allow viewing long distances without actually walking around and scaring deer.
Bowhunters partake of a tradition that traces its roots back thousands of years. Though most modern archers use high-tech equipment, the essentials of the challenge are the same whether your bow features aluminum pulleys or wooden limbs. Arrow release and where the arrow strikes is the same as it was a thousand years ago.
GIST OF BOWHUNTING: You must get within a few paces of a quarry that possesses superb senses. Then you have to place an arrow in an area the size of a dinner plate or a tennis ball on turkeys. If you forget to check wind direction or breathe a little too loud, a wary whitetail will evaporate like smoke in the wind. Turkeys disappear even faster. In other words, bowhunting is an ultimate challenge.
GETTING STARTED: The good news is that practicing with a bow and arrow is fun and relaxing. You can get started by practicing with a simple target, then move on to harder targets.
Beginning hunters should try shooting from tree stands or awkward positions like sitting on the ground or leaning around a tree. Then you have to hit a small target while occasionally off-balance. Deer normally don't provide easy, standing-in-the-middle-of-a-field-type shots. Normally they are surrounded by brush and you have to find an opening in the brush to slip an arrow through.
EQUIPMENT: You will only find out if you like shooting a bow and arrow by doing it. You might be well-served to find a friend who owns a bow, then talk him into a target range trip. This will give you the chance to try bow shooting, and you might even like their style of bow. Buying a bow can bring on problems if you don't know what to look for.
For example, start out light on pull. Many say, you are going to hunt with a bow that pulls back 70 pounds so practice with this weight. But even if you can bench press 200 pounds, learn how to shoot with a lighter draw weight for better control. Then, when you are hitting your target, look into heavier draw weights that will kill deer.
Most who sell bows will tell you, “You might as well buy the best now, because you will eventually anyway.” I can't deny this, but many have spent several hundred dollars to find bow hunting was not their sport. Then the expensive bow is either sold at a garage sale or stashed in the closet.
Some bow shops that have shooting ranges will allow you to try a bow. This allows the opportunity to comfortably shoot from different distances. Some shop owners or employees even give instruction. This is a good reason to consult the Yellow Pages, make phone calls and ask questions.
Then, be prepared to invest in numerous additions to your bow, a deer stand and adequate camouflage to break up a hunter's outline to the point where a sharp-eyed turkey or deer can't see you.
You might become involved in competitions. The popular 3-D shooting involves shooting at life-sized animal or bird targets. You have to estimate the distance and then make the shot. This is extremely valuable practice for hunting.
Bow hunting is not easy. But it is one of the most satisfying sports men, women or children can pursue. Once man shot a bow to survive. Now many survive to shoot their bow.
Kenneth Kieser, a veteran outdoors writer and member of the Waterfowlers Hall of Fame and National Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame, writes a weekly outdoors column for The Examiner. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org