Shoot Like a Girl review for Caldwell AR-15 Brass Catcher
As I was preparing for a trip to an outdoor range I decided to try the Caldwell AR-15 Brass Catcher. The range has screens to stop the brass from hitting your neighbors and a lot of brass ends up in the dirt around the tables. I like to keep my brass in hopes of reloading and I don’t like to chase my brass around the range. The Caldwell AR-15 Brass Catcher is a simple but effective design. A Velcro strap about 2 inches wide wraps around the hand-guard for the barrel and holds the adjustable wire cage that keeps the opening wide around the ejection port. The mesh bag is a synthetic that withstands the hot brass and allows the brass to cool. It caught about 60 rounds before it missed an empty shell. I tightened the Velcro strap and continued to shoot without any more problems. The directions say the bag will hold approximately 60 rounds before needing to be emptied. I shot about 100 rounds in total before emptying the bag. This is an accessory for anyone with an AR! I will defiantly be using this product again.
Shoot Like a Girl!
8th In The Series Of Traditional Bowhunting:
The Hunts: Successes of the Bass Pro Sage Takedown Recurve
David Williams, Bass Pro Archery Cabin Gurnee, IL.
What defines success in a hunt?
To many, it’s the trophy of the rack or bone on the wall… not that these hunters are not ethical hunters, it’s just the way they measure their personal successes. As a traditional hunter I believe measure my hunt differently by choice. I chose to hunt with traditional equipment and even primitive equipment; I choose to hunt spot and stalk methods; I choose to hunt with and without modern camo clothes and methods for the challenges, frustrations and rewards often never having pulling and loosing the arrow.
Success, Failure or Adventure in the hunts as definition is up to the hunter and the goals and choices you set for your hunt. My choices are mine and mine alone thus making everyone’s own personal choice to hunt the way they do, making hunting so stimulating and rewarding for each of us.
Time in the woods going one-on-one with Mother Nature is an adventure each time no matter how well studied and equipped you are for the hunt. Some feel that not getting an animal is a failure or mark against them. It’s not. There is always a story in adventure to pass long at those campfires, share with friends or fellow hunters and last but not least a lesson from Mother Nature herself.
I am a meat hunter. I am lucky may family enjoys the venison brought home making my harvest even more rewarding also, depending on the local State rules means I can harvest a doe instead of a buck, and sometimes like this year both a buck and a doe. Back to measuring success to many it’s posting pictures on Facebook, having a head mount made, sharing their version of venison jerky or chili with others. All of which I have done but the one I cherish and handed down to me is saving “the Blood Arrow.”
The Blood Arrow, what is it? The blood arrow is the defining scale of the hunter. It shows the hunter just how good he or she is at the moment of truth. It’s not the trophy size that that defines the bow hunter, it’s the arrow that all telling quality of the shot. That testament of the hunt lays in the color of the blood on the arrow. The bow hunter cannot hide from the facts of color on left on the arrow. I keep every arrow they are my true trophies. By saving these arrows they also become markers in a timeline. A timeline is a great mirror in which we can rediscover how truly marvelous our journey has been in bow hunting.
Our hunting season never really starts on opening day of the deer season it started months earlier. None of us, with the exception of those we watch hunt on TV, get as much time to hunt as we would like. Time seems so short pressures have a successful harvest.
My pressure began with customers and co-workers coming into the Bass Pro Archery Cabin with pictures of their harvests right after the opening of the season. It seemed like there would be no deer left by the time I got into the woods. When I got the chance to get out, Mother Nature moved her first piece in the game with warm and windy weather like last year.
2015 so far, I have harvested 2-Bucks and 2-Does and still have til mid January to hunt in Missouri. My hunting with the Bass Pro Sage Recurve I have harvested 2-Bucks and 1-Doe with 3 different arrows and 3 different broadheads.
Just a note on me, I love making arrows to hunt and shoot with and every year I make new arrows to take into the woods. This year I did make 4 sets of arrows for the Sage Bow, 3 Carbon and 1 Wood. 2 complete arrows came from Bass Pro.
All the following deer were harvested with the 45# Samick Sage Takedown Recurve from the 1st Blog:
Marsh doe was harvest in western McHenry County, IL. She was a mid day deer on a warm 50 plus degree bright day. It was a light wind was from the Southwest as it had been for early November and in my face.
December buck was harvested the week before Christmas in Western McHenry County, IL. He was mid day and mid week deer on a 50 degree bright day. Windy swirling in and out of my face from the Southwest as I sat.
Second Season, buck was taken just before the New Year on private land on the Chain of Lakes, IL. Early afternoon temps in the low 30’s and slight Northeastern wind. He actually came in to work an active scrape.
This year also includes one World Class miss thanks to my impatience that an arrow has become a very nice perch in a tree. Every time I have walked that tree there’s a bird sitting on my arrow.
Time in the woods bow hunting, good or bad, can be especially fulfilling. As we get older, we get maybe more poetic or spiritual about the experiences. For instance the ‘Marsh Doe’ surprised me and I thought she had seen me, proof that you should always have an arrow nocked when stalking. The ‘December Buck’ I spotted and went behind me out of sight but I could hear him and the out of nowhere he came into range for a shot. And last but not least is the ‘Second Rut Buck’ that ran by me then stopped to work a scrape I hadn’t noticed.
Every animal I harvest is personal and a moment stamped in your memory of joy and sadness. I put a tremendous pressure on myself to release only that arrow for the best and humane shot. Only when I have heard the animal go down, pick up see the blood on my arrow and then lastly touch the harvest do I relax. The joy comes with dragging the harvest back to the truck and thinking I getting too old for this…then smiling Hell No I’m Not Too Old…on my drive to the butcher.
I was very fortunate this year to harvest the deer I have compared to days that add up to months with either seeing deer and never having a shot at one or, years of never even seeing deer.
The next and last blog in this series will be all the little tuning things.
Check out the previous blog in the series: Traditional Bowhunting: Camo
5th In The Series Of Traditional Bowhunting:
Broadheads and Arrows
David Williams, Bass Pro Archery Cabin Gurnee, IL.
It was quiet and there wasn’t the slightest breeze. A bear passed by, probably 50 yards away, and I could hear every step. Then the music of an amorous buck came through the forest looking for his mate. I have spent over three hours spot ‘n’ stalking, finding a good trail. I sat as still as possible, listening, enjoying the sounds of autumn, and waiting patiently for something to happen.
My sitting stump was positioned along an old field in which gave me an unlimited view in either direction. Just as I was beginning to think the amorous buck must have found his interest, an antlered head emerged from the shadows, this time staring at another buck from the other side. The deer’s ability to move through the forest silently is truly uncanny. The younger of the two bucks started to move towards the older and larger buck, within seconds he was 8 yards away and stopped.
A smooth full draw I anchored, and aimed naturally slightly back off the shoulder to compensate for the quartering away angle, and released. My arrow hit and the fletching burrowed through the buck. In a blur the buck jumped sharply forward, and bolted away. A second or two later an unforgettable death moan echoed through the Wisconsin forest. The buck had fallen a mere 15 yards from where it stood at the shot. My arrow downed that buck in about three seconds. Impossible you think to bring down the deer that quickly? For a quick, ethical, humane, harvest like this experience, we need the last, most important and controversial tool added to our arrows…the broadhead!
To-date we have stayed within our original ~$300 or so budget to hunt this year. Now in order to harvest our game we will need to focus on the specific tool in order to ethically and humanely harvest our game.
At Bass Pro Shops we literally have pages and isles filled with different types of specifically designed broadheads. Then looking at all the broadhead manufacturers that are available outside of Bass Pro Shops can make choosing a good hunting tool for our traditional arrows quite daunting and overwhelming to say the least.
In the BPS Archery Cabin we want to make sure we know what and how you’re going to hunt so we can help you choose the right broadhead. In this case we already know we are hunting traditional with recurve and carbon arrows. Simple? Volumes have been printed, emotions run high, opinions…well everyone has one, even when it comes to traditional broadheads. Yep, even me… have you ever had a favorite truck conversation?
First and foremost, NO Mechanical Broadheads these are strictly for compound bows. Period.
So, this then narrows our choices to Fixed Broadheads. You’ll still find variety enough to make you scratch your head. Here’s where knowing your state hunting broadhead requirements in cutting inches, bow poundage, arrow length, weight, and your abilities come into communication with the BPS Archery staff. Here’s where the experience and your goals come together in making the choice of a good broadhead.
We have been practicing out to 25-30 yards and we are hitting the target consistently but we are dead on at 10-15-20 yards meaning all our arrows are within a 10-inch circle. Being an ethical hunter is being honest with us in choosing a broadhead. Mother Nature will thank you when she gives up her bounty to you.
In this blog, remember the fun about traditional bow hunting is the dynamic simplicity of our equipment. One other comment before I start, the broadheads discussed will be the fixed blades we carry at Bass Pro for the purpose of this blog.
How A Broadhead Arrow Works
Generally speaking arrows tipped with razor sharp broadheads harvest by cutting major blood vessels, both arteries and veins. This causes massive blood loss, reduced blood pressure, and loss of oxygen to the brain. An animal needs to lose about one third of its blood volume for this to happen. This process can take from seconds to several hours depending on where an animal is hit.
The best placement of the shot is by puncturing the lungs. When the lungs are punctured the lungs collapse. The collapse of the lungs is known as a pneumo-thorax, and interrupts the exchange of oxygen in blood. When this happens the supply of oxygen to the brain is immediately interrupted and death comes within seconds. Since the aiming point on all big game animals is the lung area, most good shots result in a combination of these three factors. If you hit the lungs you will automatically slice through numerous veins and arteries, causing death within seconds.
Range, Shot Placement, and Self Control
The effective traditional bow range of most hunters is within 25 yards. Of course, this varies by hunter. I consider effective range whatever distance an archer can put 10 out of 10 arrows inside 10-inch circle or a paper plate is a good example to use represent a whitetails lungs... Some hunters have to limit themselves to shots less than 20-yards. In my own hunting experience most of my actual shots are less than 20-yards, with my average around 15-yards. The closest shot I ever took was five yards, and the farthest forty-four. Hunting animals so close you can even smell them is one of my main attractions and challenges of traditional bowhunting.
Even when game animals are at such close range the shot isn’t guaranteed. A bowhunter must wait for the correct angle before shooting. The most common shot position is having game standing broadside. This gives the archer a clear shot to the lung area. The most effective shot angle, however, is quartering slightly away. An arrow shot from this angle almost always enters the heart lung area causing a quick death. A well-placed arrow in either of these positions will generally pass completely through the animal leaving a large blood trail to follow. Most other shot angles generally speaking shouldn’t be taken with bow and arrow, or at least not without a great deal of experience. It is also important that bowhunters take shots that enter just behind the shoulder on most animals. The heavy shoulder bones of animals can sometimes stop arrows, so it is simply best to avoid them. I have often had large mature animals well within shot range only to let them pass without letting loose an arrow because a good shot angle never presented itself. Being patient, knowing your limitations as an archer, and waiting for good shots, is a major part of Traditional bowhunting.
Practice taking in consideration of angles like shooting from a tree stand, BPS has 3-D targets will help with shot placement. Practice taking different shot angles at varied distances. The season is just around the corner.
Note the angle difference of the broadside on the ground versus the broadside from a tree stand.
100-grain Broadheads Versus 125-grain Broadheads
The real difference here for many new bowhunter is a heavier arrow flies slower than a lighter arrow so a 100-grain arrowhead will shoot a flatter trajectory than that of 125-grain arrowhead. When the BPS Archery staff set up your arrows initially they may have determined 100-grain was the way to go for you. If so, the weight has been determined thus narrowing decisions.
There’s more to follow on arrowhead weights and their affect on arrow penetration.
2-Blade versus 3-Blade Broadheads
The afore mentioned hunting harvest I used a G5 Montec, 3-blade broadhead, 125 grain weight, with a 1 1/8th inch cutting diameter on a Beman carbon arrow with 5 1/2-inch feathers shot from a 63 pound bow. The draw weight of your bow will dictate the number of blades and weight of your broadheads.
I will be hunting with Sage 45 pound bow, my draw is 29-inches making my draw weight 48 pounds (Measured in the BPS Archery Cabin), and the arrow of choice is the Blackout X3 Hunters with 4” feathers and 125-grain arrowhead weight.
When it comes to broadheads more blades are not necessarily better. The dynamics of our arrows is to capture and deliver the energy transferred from our bows to the arrowhead/broadhead thus meaning penetration at the animal. Our goal is always to obtain complete pass through of the lungs. Hence the controversy over broadheads 3-blades cut more creating more trauma than 2-blades do. However, the 3rd blade creates more drag or takes more energy from the bow for penetration. Make sense?
Ok, we’ve established the one undisputable fact that the arrow delivers the bows energy. This energy is referred to as Kinetic Energy. We are Stick ‘n’ String traditional Bowhunters here so all we want is an arrow to hit hard. There are two ways of accomplishing this; the weight of our bow and the weight of our arrow at our effective distance. Being honest with how we shoot is key in discussing options with the BPS Archery Staff!
My personal preference has always been a harder hitting arrow (even on my compound bows) so I naturally will gravitate to the heaviest arrowhead I can effectively shoot at my ideal hunting range of 20-yards and under.
Now the Sage I am hunting with this year is 15-pounds lighter in draw weight than the recurve I shot the 125-grain, 3-Blade G5 Montec with…so choosing a 125-grain (I like heavy arrows), 2-blade broadhead makes mathematical sense to obtain my goals. We will be fitting our arrows with any one of the following Muzzy Phantum, Magnus Stinger or Steel Force Broadheads. Now in order to get to 125-grains the manufactures have added what is called bleeder-blades…(wait Dave you just said 2 are better than 3 now you have just added 2 more blades making this broadhead a 4-Blade!) Yes, it’s true however bleeder-blades are smaller in size so the primary 2-blades deliver the energy cut which is wider first, while then smaller bleeders cut more tissue and veins. The bleeders being smaller slide around bone easier too.
I am a firm believer in the 3:1 ratio rule when it comes to broadheads (3” long x 1” wide) for the best flight and penetration. At BPS we don’t carry any broadheads with in this rule so…I will shoot the longest Broadhead BPS carries to achieve my goals. As a traditional archer there are some mathematical rules that help and make our arrows perform to the best albeit 3-blade or 2-bade the closer to 3:1 the better off you are.
Once you make the decision on your broadheads my advice is to purchase another set arrows and have the BPS Archery Staff put them on for you and keep them in an arrow box. This will make tuning them to you bow easier if need be.
Tuning Your Broadheads
Here’s where the 3-blade broadheads like the BlackOut FXD Cut-On-Contact, G5 Montec and NAP HellRazor shine. They are already spin balanced which makes them easier to tune to you arrows and bow. The 2-blade Muzzy Phantum, Magnus Stinger or Steel Force broadheads require a little more attention when tuning and you BPS Archery staff will guide you through it if you choose to shoot the 2-blade like me. Note BPS has added the Magnus Black Hornet and Black Hornet Ser-Razor to our product line. These are like the 3-blades in that they are spin-tested for accuracy. I have not gotten my hands on these yet…but. Who knows, we may shoot two different broadheads this season. I can harvest 2 deer; one from Wisconsin and one from Illinois.
The Overall Importance Of The Arrow
The arrow is the single most important part of any bowhunters gear. Most bows can be tuned to launch the right arrow with accuracy, but the wrong arrow won’t fly well from any bow.
I’m assuming you and the local BPS Archery Staff have arrow selection basics down already. But just in case you are doing this remotely be sure to match your arrow shaft size to your draw weight, draw length and shooting style.
The Correct Hunting Shaft
The Hunting Shaft Selection Charts are great starting points, but it is only a reference point, not guaranteed to be an EXACT match for your bow. Again discussing with the experienced BPS Archery Professional and/or testing are important at this time. Up to this point has been working on form and shooting. Now you’re moving into the details that insure an ethical humane harvest. This process as frustrating as it sounds separates you from an arrow slinger to a hunter!
Drawing back an extra-long arrow to full draw and having someone mark the arrow one-to-two inches in front of the handle determine
1. Determining the Correct Hunting Arrow Length for traditional bows. Bow draw length is measured at full draw from the valley of the nock groove to the back (far side) of the bow. Actual arrow length and draw length are only the same if the end of the arrow shaft is even with the back of the bow (far side) at full draw. BPS recommends adding at least 1" to draw length for a proper arrow length.
2. Determining Actual Peak Bow Weight for Your Recurve
Actual Peak Bow Weight for traditional bows should be measured at your draw length. Using an accurate bow scale draw the bowstring until you hit your desired draw length and hold. Observe the weight on the scale. This can be done in the Bass Pro Archery Cabin/Department.
Fletching angle matters. Fletching that’s glued on the shaft at an angle (helical) will spin your arrow. Tests by TruFlight Arrow Company have shown that best broadhead accuracy is achieved when an arrow spins one complete time during 30-36 inches of forward travel. This means the arrow makes 20-24 complete revolutions before it hits a target 20 yards away.
Unlike a target point, a broadhead has flat blade surfaces that tend to drive it off course. This phenomenon is called “planning.” When an arrow spins, it constantly corrects a broadhead’s tendency to plane, and this ensures an accurate shot. Most good hunting arrows are fletched for proper spin. Before you buy complete arrows or fletch your own, be sure that the fletching is angled slightly along the shaft to spin it through the air. You may have discovered this already and discussed this with your BPS Archery professional.
The arrows I am using for this blog all had straight fletching and I refletched these arrows to achieve my desired results. Here at the Bass Pro in Gurnee, IL we will refletch traditional arrows for a fee.
Max your penetration.
All else being equal in traditional bowhunting, a heavier arrow from your bow leaves with more penetrating energy and retains that energy better downrange than a faster, lighter arrow. The difference directly in front of your bow isn’t huge—about 2½ percent for every 100 grains you increase a 100-grain heavier arrow reaches 40 yards, it possesses an energy advantage of 8-10 percent, which can be significant on large animals such as bear, elk, caribou, and moose. I can see no penetrating advantage in a smaller-diameter shaft. Arrow penetration tests through foam, ballistic gelatin and other artificial materials are meaningless. In a real animal, the broadhead cuts a large hole and the shaft—regardless of size—slides along behind with little or no friction. Flesh springs away from the wound, and body fluids such as blood help to lubricate the passage of the shaft. By comparison, broadhead design is everything in penetration. This is where broadheads designed in the 3:1 ratio rule show their advantage.
The same arrow from the same bow will pass completely through a deer with a cutting-nose broadhead attached. Older-style, fixed-bladed heads such as the Bear Razorhead, Zwickey No Mercy, Muzzy Phantum or Magnus Stinger or Steel Force Broadheads and all possess cutting noses and have a reputation for penetrating well.
Note: Smaller diameter arrow shafts benefits show up in less wind and cross wind resistance.
In general terms, broadhead tuning is done by first shooting a group of arrows with field points into the target, and then by shooting a group of arrows with broadheads. The two groups are compared and the appropriate adjustments are made.
The field points should be as close in weight and FOC as possible to the broadheads. Because it is necessary to first establish a good group with field points, broadhead tuning can be done only after acceptable tuning has been established with field points.
Shoot a group with field point’s set up a suitable broadhead target at a distance of 20 yards or your comfort range. Using a set of field-tipped arrows that have been tuned with your bow, shoot a group of 3 arrows into the target. Take care to shoot as good a group as you are capable.
Shoot a group with Broadheads Using identical arrows tipped with broadheads shoot a group of 3 arrows into the target. Use the same aiming spot that was used for the field points.
The shot group is the key. If you are satisfied you have shot a respectable group based on your ability, then compare the position of the two groups. Make the adjustments listed below to your setup and shoot both groups again. Keep adjusting and shooting until both groups (field points and broadheads) group in the same area.
Adjustments sometimes effect more than is expected. It is best to always make the up/down adjustments first. Once the two groups are on the same horizontal plane, then make the left/right adjustments.
The main purpose of an arrow quiver is solely transporting and making available your arrows. The style is one of personal choice albeit back, hip or on the bow quiver.
If you choose the on the bow style quiver you will need to check out how your bow shoots and will quite possibly have too re-tune it.
6th In The Series Of Traditional Bowhunting:
Scouting for Game
David Williams, Bass Pro Archery Cabin Gurnee, IL.
It’s getting close to the beginning of our season. To date we’ve been practicing, fine tuning our equipment, getting in shape physically and mentally for our hunt. We know where we are hunting but we don’t know where the deer are or will be when we want them. Now what?
From a lifetime of hunting, the one thing I suggest you do every year, besides practice, is to get out and scout. Check out what’s changed since last year that can affect the deer’s patterns. Things like weather, changes in the forest, floods and wind blow downs. Also look at man made changes patterning from planting, cutting trees, putting in new roads or a new landowner.
In traditional bowhunting we derive great pleasure of being in the woods and close to our game, the opposite; because we want to get close changes in the woods are in favor of our prey. We cannot assume things will stay the same year to year. The guys and gals with permanent stands often get frustrated when they no longer see game.
There are no guarantees of a harvest every year when we hunt. You have heard the term “hunting hard” well I like to “hunt smart and hard.” Hunting smart is using all the tools and knowledge available to you before, during and after the season. One of my favorite hunting quotes is from Theodore Roosevelt, “Hunting is not a Game. In a game both sides know what’s going on.” I don’t know if I agree with this statement in these times. I believe due to the numbers of hunters, deer definitely have been educated and are more sensitive. To overcome and take the advantage we need to get wiser every year.
Scouting Starts By Getting Familiar With The Woods
I talk to many deer hunters every year that start their scouting just weeks before they hunt or feel they are secure in the same place as last year. You owe to yourself to get into the woods as early as possible. August is a good time to start checking game trails that lead to water or fields. These won’t change much as we enter the season. There will always be activity by water or fields. You just need to know when to expect the activity. All knowledge of walking the woods you are going to hunt helps you.
Tools For Scouting
We live in a technology world so let’s take advantage of these tech tools as well as some tried and true:
Long Distance Scouting with Google
You have permission to hunt a relative’s property you haven’t been to before and its hours away this is where using Google maps gives you your overview of the property and ideas of how to hunt it.
I’m a DIY (Do It Yourself) hunter by choice and necessity. Around 20 percent of my hunting this fall will be done on public land. The rest will be on small pieces of private land in heavily hunted areas. To harvest deer, I have to find areas that concentrate deer movement while offering some measure of relief from hunting pressure. In other words, I’m going to hunt places where deer feel comfortable, and where terrain features force them to walk. And all of this can be done with help of Google Earth and Google Maps.
Most people have used Google’s mapping at some point, if only for directions to go out for dinner.
Scouting Using Google
But if you haven’t ever used Google Maps, go to Google.com and type in the name of a location, such as your hometown. On the right-hand side of the results page, you’ll likely see a map of the area. Click on that and you’ll be sent to Google Maps.
Depending on how your Google preferences are set, you’ll see either a standard map that shows roads and bodies of water or a full-featured aerial image.
For scouting, you are most interested in the aerial “satellite” view. If you don’t see it, click on the box in the upper right corner that allows you to toggle between the “map” view and the “satellite” view. The satellite imagery will not only show you roads, but will also show you an aerial image of the area you intend to hunt. And that’s what we are looking for.
Using the basic Google Maps system, you’ll be able to zoom in on your intended hunting area and see a ton of detail.
Google Maps, on its own, will give you a great start on long-distance scouting. But it’s just the start to really do some serious long distance scouting you’ll want to install Google Earth. It’s a free. Once installed you can start focusing in on spots to harvest your deer this season.
In the upper left corner of the Google Earth window, you’ll see a “Search” area. Then, type in the name of a location near where you intend to hunt. If you’re hunting a state game area or other public area, you should be able to type in the name of the location and the system will zoom right to it.
Learn The Topography
Once you’ve found the general area you wish to look at, zoom in. The system will act very much like Google Maps did. But, once you’ve zoomed into a certain level, the perspective of the map will change, and you’ll be given a three-dimensional view of the area’s topography. Using the adjusters on the upper right of the map, you can change the angle and viewing level to really get a feel for the lay of the land. Scouting areas with hills, streams or mountains has never been easier. Much of the area I’ve been looking over this summer for a January hunt, for example, is located Noth-North-West of St. Louis Mo., is farm land and I know from conversations with the farmer that he will be planting beans. Finding saddles and benches is critical to finding areas of key deer movement. Using Google Earth’s 3-D imaging, I’m able to locate those features without hiking miles terrain.
Mark the Sweet Spots
Google Earth allows you to mark locations with a digital “push pin” and save them for future reference. Each pin will also tell you the exact longitude and latitude coordinates for that location. You can take those coordinates, plug them into your GPS unit and walk right to the spot, even in the dark.
Familiarize yourself with the system’s tools. It’s incredibly worth it. They make long-distance scouting more productive and simpler. For example, I use the system’s “Ruler” tool all the time. As a Spot-N-Stalk hunter, this feature in Google gives me insight to the times of day I want to work in and out of a spot. Simply choose the tool, choose the unit of measurement you want to use (miles, yards, feet, etc.) and then click on your starting point. Now drag the ruler line to your destination. The ruler will measure the distance as you move. It’s an invaluable tool for determining how far the hunting area you’ve selected is from all potential access points. And, with your preferred route of travel marked, zoom in to the 3-D image view level. Rotate the screen around a bit and you’ll see the line you drew will lay to the contours of the land. This will tell you exactly how many hills you’ll be climbing on your chosen path of travel.
Map with Your Phone
All of these tools are certainly handy. But what if you want to look at an aerial image on your phone while you’re actually on the ground? One option is to simply install and open the Google Earth app on your phone, where you’ll be able to access the same 3-D imagery and many of the same tools. In areas with solid cell coverage, the app will zip right along. But if the coverage is spotty, be aware that it takes time to download the imagery, and your battery won’t last long.
The better, faster option for many remote hunting areas is to create a custom map overlay ahead of time on your home computer, export that file, e-mail it to yourself, and then open the file in Google Earth on your phone while you’re in an area with good service. Once the map is open, you should be able to use it anywherer. To do this, save the locations that you’d like to transfer in Google Earth on your home computer, and then simply right-click on the selections in the “My Places” area (it’s on the left side of the screen) and click “save as.” Be sure to choose the .KML option if you’ll be using the file on an iOS device.
Does It Work
Last fall I got permission to hunt a new area that I’d never seen before. The landowner told me the parcel’s boundaries weren’t marked very well. So, using a copy of the county plat map as reference, I used Google Earth to draw the boundary lines. I saved them in the “My Places” section, exported the file, and then e-mailed it to myself. Upon arriving at the location, I simply downloaded the .KML file from my e-mail, opened it in Google Earth and bingo; I had my own custom boundary map. As I walked around the property, the Google Earth system showed me where I was, and the red boundary lines I had created were clearly visible on the map. Google Maps and Google Earth may seem like fairly simple systems to use. Aerial photos, after all, are time-tested scouting tools. But the options and power behind these digital scouting devices is awesome. There are far too many uses, tips and tricks that I’ve learned along the way to cover them all here. In fact, I’m still learning something new every time I use it. But this should get you started, and I suspect you’ll soon wonder how you ever scouted without them.
Google Earth can be downloaded at http://www.google.com/earth/download/ge/
Handheld GPS Unit
Working with Google is great as I have stated but a good handheld GPS unit is far better and more reliable in my opinion, especially in heavy timber and out west in the mountains. The options are outstanding today in GPS units. Make sure you look at units that you can download existing coordinates. Make sure you give yourself time to play with and get comfortable with the unit before you get to the woods. The GPS unit is great for scouting now as you work the game trails you will always have reference point throughout the season.
As the saying goes there’s an app for everything and I think every year I play with a dozen or so. However, honestly they will never replace my GPS, Topo Map and Compass. Call me old fashion, yes I am but, I have had things go wrong (we’ll call it Murphy’s Law) and cell phones are just not that dependable for me yet.
Now having said this, I have used them when hunting locally which means there are several cell towers close and I will be sleeping in my own bed at night. A good example of what can happen is a few years ago in Northern Wisconsin. I came across 3 hunters that were lost, their phones were on low battery, they had no signal, it was cold and they were turned around going deeper into the woods. It can happen to the best of us. I loaned these hunters my GPS (after I pulled my Sims card) with instructions on where they could drop it off and continued to hunt.
Trail cameras scout when you’re not there. They have become an essential to many a hunter. Are they worth it? It depends on every hunter’s situation. Can you get to the trail camera often enough to make it worth your while? If you have to travel long distances then a trail camera becomes a different scouting tool.
I am a big believer in the use of trail cameras. They help me get an idea of activity on the trails of both wildlife and human depending on where I’m hunting. As I had mentioned earlier, I will be hunting in eastern Missouri late in the season, so the use of a trail cam will give me another view while I hunt one area. I will put the trail cam on another that I had found through Google Earth. On my way out of the woods I will pick it up and check out activity that night.
Trail cams will show you times when deer are moving, whether the deer are nocturnal or moving mid-day which can change before the rut. Get a trail cam that gives you good range and information like weather, moon, date and time.
One last comment on trail cameras: you must be scent free as possible. A good tip would be to use latex gloves when you put them up, as well as being as stealthy as possible in order to not disrupt the trail.
Binoculars Are A Must
Mine are always with me whether I am scouting or hunting! We want to see the deer or game first and binoculars are our best option for this. This is a hunting tool of importance and value so discuss the best available for your budget. The BPS Hunting Professionals can help you find clear clean optics that will give you the advantage of spotting bedded game, ears or antlers in tall grass.
Talk To The Local Game Warden
Call and introduce yourself. These men and women want the best for both the game and the hunter. You’ll be able and get valuable information on winds, feeding and sometimes more, like when the locals hunt or don’t hunt.
I have NEVER had a bad conversation with these men and women. By introducing yourself, you are showing your interest in hunting ethically and after who better to get a last double check on understanding a rule.
A Topographic Map and A Compass
These are my never fail standbys and are in my fanny pack and in my pack along with some other essentials. I would go as far as recommending an Orienteering Class sometime in your future especially if you ever go out west to hunt without a guide. You can get Topographic books at Bass Pro Shops or order them. They are an excellent back up to technology.
7th In The Series Of Traditional Bowhunting:
Camouflage Ergo: Camo
David Williams, Bass Pro Archery Cabin Gurnee, IL.
Camo is the use of any combination of materials, coloration, or illumination for concealment, either by making animals or objects hard to see (crypsis), or by disguising them as something else (mimesis). Examples include the leopard's spotted coat or the battledress of a modern soldier. A majority of camouflage methods today aim for crypsis this is often through a general resemblance to a common background, the background and high contrast colors, eliminating shadow, and countershading.
Wow, too much information on Camo…all we want from camo is to hide from the game. True.
But we need to understand the value of camo as hunters not, that camo is the uniform of the American hunter. To be camo’ed is to self-identify (badge) as a hunter.
A huge segment of the hunting industry is deeply committed to the necessity of camouflage. I’m going to kick the can (old man reference) I don’t believe in camouflage per say. Why? I have hunted successfully without camo! This is subversive talk Dave.
Understanding the Deer We Hunt
In fact, billions of dollars are spent on camo and its development.
If you’re a deer hunter who likes to wear blue jeans while you’re scouting or to your stand, you might as well hang a bell around your neck to let whitetails know you’re in the woods. Or if you wear camouflage with many subtle colors, it may be doing you more harm than good. At the recent QDMA conference, researchers from the University of Georgia’s Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources presented findings from a new study on whitetail vision.
It’s not my purpose to delve into the sciences of color and human versus deer vision. However, there are some things that in order to understand “camo or no camo” you should know…
Deer are essentially red-green color blind like some humans. Their color vision is limited to the short (blue) and middle (green) wavelength colors. As a result, deer likely can distinguish blue from red, but not green from red, or orange from red.
The lens in a deer’s eye also can’t adjust to objects at varying distances. These factors give deer less visual clarity than humans have. An object a deer is looking at straight on is equally in focus as something out to the side. So don’t assume that because a deer isn’t looking at you that it can’t see you. More than anything else, a deer’s eyes are designed to detect movement.
It’s been found that deer see blue colors best and red colors the worst. Deer can also see greens, yellows and UV light (wash your camo in the right detergent), but they can’t differentiate color shades to that extent that humans can. What this means to a hunter is that you should avoid wearing anything blue. You should also avoid wearing camouflage with a lot of white, because white reflects all colors, including blue. And because deer can’t perceive color shades very well, a hunter wearing camouflage containing many subtle shades of green and/or brown looks just like one big blob to deer. Instead, wear camouflage that breaks up your outline and move as little as possible to avoid being busted.
But camouflage has become highly tribal, and, it seems, mutually exclusive: If you are a Mossy Oak acolyte you can’t belong to Team Realtree. If you sport Sitka you can’t wear KUIU or ASAT.
I’ll tell you it isn’t so, but in saying that I feel a little like the candid boy who disclosed that the emperor was stark naked. But I have a few exhibits to trot out in my defense.
How many whitetails never saw my Grandfather with his Savage 99, wearing a red-checked mackinaw jacket or, many Atlantic ducks, have been shot by my Father wearing oilskin over their ragg wool sweaters? Not to mention Fred Bear the father of modern bow hunting.
The reality is that camouflage does give us an edge. But, it especially helps in close-quarters archery hunting. And it helps break up our outlines and lets us blend into our surroundings. But, I believe some hunters rely too much on the garment and not enough on our own skills.
As modern traditional bowhunters we cannot turn our backs on the improvements made to camo garments. They keep us warmer, dryer, and better concealed. But our dependence on camouflage obscures one truth it’s not the clothes that make the hunter, but rather our abilities.
How to use Camo and what have we learned?
Any more it makes more and more sense to have camo patterns that fit where you hunt.
A good camo will help keep us from silhouetting ourselves on skylines or in open fields. We see the examples in manufacturer ads all the time. But, its up to us to put the wind in our faces, our scents down, and minimized our movements or the best camo in the world will not work.
I’ll always have camo in my wardrobe, mainly because it’s my warmest, most field-friendly outerwear, and I have choices for where I will hunt and when. My patterns run from 1960’s military to and modern digitized or pixelated camo patterns and last but not least good old fashion red and black plaids. We all have our favorites, they’re our favorites based on the success they bring us and they are hard to give up on. Remembering our goal as traditional bow hunters is to get as close to our game as we can for an ethical harvest. We should always be looking and researching the best camo available. This will then bring us into the new materials and scent control materials.
I like my Viet Nam era tiger stripes for conifers and the cedar swamps because of the horizontal pattern and the open pattern of my ASAT for most everything else because of the browns. Then there’s the buffalo plaid in my wool; the big plaid breaks up your outline too and wool has the quietness…in my opinion.
But the icing on the cake (old man reference) is to do these last 2 things: Wear a brimmed boonie styled hat whenever possible and wear a leafy or ghillie suit. The point is to break up our outlines and leafy or ghillies do that and provide movement similar to Mother Nature’s slight breeze through the woods. The leafy suit works just as well as the ghillie suit does. The great thing about these suits is that its your camo…you can wear camo under them or choose not too. Its your choice. It does not trake to much time to learn how to shoot traditional bow with a 3-D suit like these. Just notice where you either trim or wear an arm guard when shooting your bow. At the end of the day the ghillie suit is a great investment for the traditional bowhunter.
What about our bows should they be camo’ed? Normally traditional bows are either brown or black which will naturally fit into the background of the woods. This changes when we hunt the plains or desert flats, you can put sleves or a camo tape on your bows limbs to break up the silhouette.
In closing, you have choices regarding camouflage today and there is no wrong on your choice, even if you choose to break up your silhouette with plaid. Always remember to wear either face paint or mask and gloves. Our skin has blue in it making us easier to see (the following photos representing what deer see.)
Remember when you shop that “Deer are essentially red-green color blind like some humans. Their color vision is limited to the short (blue) and middle (green) wavelength colors. As a result, deer likely can distinguish blue from red, but not green from red, or orange from red.”
1. What We See What Deer See
2. What We See What Deer See
3. What We See What Deer See
4. What We See What Deer See
5. What We See What Deer See
Next Up: The Hunt!
This year, my friends and I decided we wanted to go camping. Like many kids in the Midwest, we have gone to summer camps, gone camping with our parents, and just have a natural love for the outdoors. Although we hadn’t been camping in years, let alone without parental supervision we thought, “how hard could it be?” We planned for about a month and a half; booking the sight, buying hiking clothes, planning our hotdog menu, etc. We thought we would be set! For the week prior I religiously checked the weather as often as I could. Of course; rain in the forecast. I kept telling myself “Surely it would change! There is no way it will storm all weekend. The weather can change in a matter of hours and we have a week for it to change… We have days for it to change… we have a few hours for it to change… It didn’t change.” At least, not in the way I wanted it. So it stormed and this is what I learned.
Bring lots of different weather friendly clothes. The temperature seemed to go from hot to muggy, to breezy, to rainy, to monsoon, to cool, to chilly, to frigid all in 24 hours! The day before I left for the trip, I bought an Ascend Storm Shield Jacket for Ladies. It fit me perfectly. Holy cow was I glad I bought that jacket! While we hiked up and down muddy trails and paths, we were pelted with rain and muck. My soggy hiking cohorts wore raincoats or ponchos and were soaked! When we got back to the visitors center my entire torso was dry and I was happy. I also brought some thick hiking socks. The Ascend Women’s Hiking Sock to be exact. It was comfortable and kept me dry, until I jumped into an extra deep puddle. Also, I would recommend bring extra sweats. After it rains, the nights are much colder in a tent than you might anticipate. I slept in double the pajamas and curled up the entire night.
Wear “workout” gear when hiking. This is a tip I heard from a co-worker and I was glad I used it. When you wear clothes made from cotton and other similar materials, they can absorb moisture and can weigh you down. When you wear moisture wicking clothing, it helps keep you dry and cool. I wore some inexpensive workout pants and although I won’t say that I was “dry,” I was definitely more comfortable than if I wore jeans or shorts. I was not hot and I didn’t feel like I was being weighed down by my clothes. I hardly noticed they were wet which made for a much more enjoyable hike.
Bring warm comfort food: When prepping for this trip, we decided we wanted fast and easy food. We had way too much planned to worry about tinfoil dinners and Dutch oven stews. We decided, granola, and bananas for breakfast, cold cut sandwiches for lunch, and hotdog/grilled cheese for dinner. We used a nifty cast iron grilled cheese press like the one from Bass Pro Shops.
*Note that you should read the directions BEFORE your trip. There is a lot of prep when it comes to cast iron that we just ignored and we ended up burning our sandwiches. I mean, it might have been because we put the cast iron directly into the fire…but could be either.
We were fine with the cold rain when we were moving and hiking, but once we stopped for dinner, the cold set in. We felt we were literally chilled to the bone. It was still raining a decent amount while we tried to cook our dinner. One thing I was glad I brought were the Mountain House freeze dried meals. We just waited for the water to boil, poured it into the bag, waited a bit and we had warm spaghetti with meat sauce in our hands. It was hot and really tasted good. I still felt numb from the cold but I felt it was more comforting than anything I could have made in the cold rain on a less than par camp fire. Which brings me to my next topic…
Don’t buy gas station firewood. Ok, I guess we can’t rule out all gas station firewood but we have definitely learned the difference between quality burning wood and leftovers sold at half price. We just picked up some cheep firewood on our way into town at a local Shell Gas Station. It seemed fine but when we bought it, but when we burned it; it didn’t give off much heat and was extremely smoky. Now I know what you are thinking, “Um, it is FIRE! Fire is hot and that equals heat and of course a campfire is going to be smoky; anything that burns will give off smoke.” I thought the same thing too. Until a nice camping neighbor offered some of their campfire wood. It was completely different. The blaze was higher and hotter and it was more heat than smoke. We were basking in the warmth as if we were on the beach enjoying the summer rays. We learned the difference and will be more cautious next time. Check out this list of different types of wood to find what works best for your camp. http://www.troop-372.org/scoutskills/safetyskills/firesafetyandfiremnchit/campfirewoodtypes
Be prepared for the worst. Now, as a former girl scout, I have always been proud of the fact that I am usually prepared for most “disasters.” I had all the first aid, flashlights, batteries and emergency whistles I could need. One thing we didn’t plan for was a car breaking down. On the way to a trail in the park, my boyfriend’s car started to make a weird noise. We called parents and family members, took picture and tried to figure out if it would make it home the next day. We decided it was too big of a risk and took it to a shop. On the way to the small town auto body shop, something popped and smoke was in the engine. Thankfully we made it to the shop in one piece, but because we were in rural Illinois, everything in the town and neighboring towns were closed for the weekend. We had to leave the car there till Monday. After some phone calls we made sure everyone had rides home but it definitely put a damper on trip. Lesson here, get cars checked before trips away from home and also be mentally prepared to call mom and dad for help.
Overall we had a fun time, learned a lot and are busy planning and saving up for our next trip. Let us know your camping trials in the comments and help save us and others from some more disasters.
Remember, a professional was an amateur at one point.
By: Anamarie Lynch, Promotions Department
3rd In The Series Of Traditional Bowhunting:
Tuning Your Bow
David Williams, Bass Pro Archery Cabin Gurnee, IL.
Well we’ve been practicing our form, concentrating and shooting for groups. By now you have experienced that one arrow that came off your bow effortlessly hitting the target will making you smile. Thinking, how this is going to be so much fun and how this recurve bow is such a simple thing. You just shot the perfect arrow with not much more than a piece of wood gracefully curved at each end and a string tying the two ends together.
In a world of technology and complexities this is just about as simple as it can get when it comes to hunting. It’s a nice uncomplicated machine, with the right amount of labor, and some dignified beauty added. All you have to do is pull to the anchor and let fly. Right?
Like all machines once we get to know them we hear and or feel things that might not be quite right. Rightly so, in comparison to current compound bows, your recurve is simple beyond modern technology terms. But, you didn’t pull it out of the box and just start shooting it and hitting everything you shot at. The Bass Pro Shops (BPS) Archery Staff gets you up and started but it takes shooting to break in and tune your bow. In tuning it’s slightly complex but, just slightly. Here’s where the knowledge of the BPS Archery professional helps with a few pointers, a few adjustments that are necessary until you gain your own experience.
Traditional bows can be adjusted and they need to be from time to time. Your bow can be tuned to your style and arrows if you choose. Your bow can be over adjusted too!
In a traditional bow (either longbow or recurve) the difference between a properly tuned recurve bow and an untuned recurve can be huge. Remember our discussion regarding ask questions…tuning your recurve is a simple subtle response to arrow flight, feel, and sound. This is not hard work, it’s reasonably straight forward that will affect your ability to shoot your bow more accurately and increase your experience, success and enjoyment.
In any traditional community there are a myriad of styles and advice regarding how to and what to do’s that come from experience you have yet to have. Our goal at BPS Archery as mentors is to start your experience with the least amount of complexity and the best success.
Important to remember… We want you to understand and know the basics of tuning so that you may move forward on your own. Understand that ANYTHING you do in the future effects tuning so it is important to know how you want set the bow up for the way you intend to use it. If you tune your bow and later add a bow quiver, it changes the tuning, change string silencer styles or position, changes the tuning, add limb covers or tip protector, changes the tuning!
The closer to a center shot your bow is the easier it is to tune. Shooting off the shelf is one of the many reasons we chose the Sage Recurve?
Brace Height and Nocking Point
The nocking point and brace height are the two major areas impacting your bow and arrow performance. Nocking point and brace height work together. As increasing or shortening its distance to the bow by lengthening or making the string shorter the nocking adjusts the brace height point moves up or down.
Your Sage’s recommended brace height is 7½" - 8½". You can see it has an inch in adjustment. The BPS Archery staff has more than likely put it at 8” as the starting point until you shoot 50-100 arrows to break it in.
If your brace height is too low, arrow flight will be erratic and confuse where your nock point should be…as you learn you will get the feel for it. You’ll kind of do the nock point and brace height together.
Understanding the Bell Curve
For any given bow, arrow, archer combination, there will be a "best" arrow that will give the best flight characteristics. This is the bell curve and you should understand it before you begin the tuning process.
Take a look at the tuning bell curve. For any given bow, arrow, archer combination, there will be a "best" arrow that will give the best flight characteristics. To each side of the "best" are arrow combinations that most folks would consider adequate arrow flight quickly dropping off to unacceptable arrow flight.
The farther away from the best combination, the more critical a good release and form become. So you can see why we started by practicing form and release while shooting groups in Blog 2. The BPS Archery Staff put together Bow and Arrow combinations to put you into the UPPER Thirds of the Bell Curve.
Finding the right place for your nocking point is easy. The nocking point locates the nock end of your arrow on the string at the same place for each shot. It does not do anything else. So why worry about its location? We want to have the most energy from our bow to our arrow for a humane harvest as well as target accuracy. If our nocking point is too high or too low it causes our arrow to go up and down called “porpoising.”
This is the first thing we’ll be looking for. Porpoising happens when the arrow alternates between rising and “submerging” relative to its intended flight path. The image following demonstrates this in action:
These images illustrate what “porpoising” looks like without fletching or bare shaft.
So now forget about where your nocking point is set. At BPS Archery we start at the rule of thumb: 1/8th inch above 90 degrees. Now your nock point should be put at the point where your arrow shoots the best. Period. The nock should always be above the arrow. There is no right or wrong place for your nock point it’s the best for you. A good example of this is that my personal nocking is different on my 3 traditional bows and on the Sage Recurve we are using in this Blog.
You need to be settled into either Split-finger or Three-finger styles and your RELEASE must be consistent or it can look like a nocking point issue.
Your brace height is the most important adjustment in your recurve bow. Brace height is the distance in inches from the string to the bow when the bow is strung. The Archery Manufacturers Organization (AMO) specifies that the measurement be taken from the string to the center of the plunger hole… this excludes a lot of traditional equipment. Some bow manufacturers measure it from the deepest part of the grip. Your Sage is measured like this so you will measure it this way all the time.
Brace height is adjusted by using a longer or shorter string or by twisting or untwisting the string. Your brace height will affect the following in order of importance:
Most recurve bow shooters I meet shoot their bow too high…after discussion and watching them shoot we drop their bows down as much as an inch. After this find they are shooting better than before. The brace height adjustment can do more to affect the bows performance more than all the adjustments together.
Brace height determines how long your string stays on the arrow or keeps pushing the arrow. So, we want to find the lowest brace height for your bow, arrow and style of shooting. Make sense?
Exactly where the lowest brace height for your bow is varies from bow to bow and manufacturer to manufacturer. Remembering your Sage bow is a recommended 7½" - 8½" inches from the factory based on its design and materials. There will be a specific brace height at which your bow will feel and perform its best.
Now generally speaking lower brace height will speed up your arrows and pull easier. A higher brace height will make your bow quieter and cure arrow flight problems.
If you don’t want to mess with brace height adjustments and experimenting, just take the brace height to the maximum. For some this is easier, but expect a harder pulling bow and a slower arrow.
Matching your Arrow to your bow. “ The archer and the bow set the arrow on any bow.”
The arrow is more important than the bow. Any bow can be tuned to launch the right arrow with accuracy, but the wrong arrow won’t fly well from any bow.
Remembering that the BPS Archery staff using your draw length and bow poundage chart to best recommended the correct spine for your carbon arrows and practice points. If anything has changed in your style or form you should let the BPS Archery professional know. Why choose carbon arrows? You have probably seen Traditional Shooters using aluminum and wood, but carbon arrows are very forgiving and easier to tune for beginners.
The best thing about learning to tune your bow is that it is yours and once it’s done it’s done. You shouldn’t have to do it again until you add something or change something on your bow.
The tools used for tuning your bow can be found in BPS Archery store or catalog, are as follows:
How to get better once our bow is tuned?
Once that arrow is loosed and on its way all we can do is watch the outcome…and many a traditional bow hunter has come back saying, “how did I miss by that much? Or Crap! My arrow must be in another state by now!” this has happened to all of us.
The key to getting better is practicing.
I advocate shooting and practicing as much as one can do, especially if you’re going to hunt. Going to local clubs for 3-D shoots and/or joining in Leagues is the best shooting practice. Targets at home or local range are good but they are static and noiseless. Shooting in an event or league gives you different ranges and the noise of comrades’ joking and putting the pressure on us.
Cold Shots or First Shots, means shooting just one arrow at the target. Why is it important to start thinking about shooting these shots? We are hunting and want that first shot to count for a humane ethical harvest. That’s what all this practice leads up to…is our success in the field from that one shot.
A lot of cold and first shot issues are mental if we know our equipment from practicing and tuning to achieve that absolute best we can from our bow and arrow. First shot shooting is our mental tune up in focus, concentration and confidence. Some call it “buck fever, nerves or choking.” The worst is blaming your equipment (if you have been practicing your shooting you should know your bow by now). The best way to overcome any of these labels is to be mentally prepared. Period.
Before you start your practice, focus and concentrate on your first shot! Closer to the season, I will go out at odd times of the day like early morning, just after dinner and string my bow and shoot a first shot from different angles; then put my bow away. I will leave my arrow in the target and think about. It’s the old scout in me “Being Prepared.”
Don’t get me wrong here; I still practice shooting lots and lots of arrow through my bow(s) to keep my form and release dialed in and strength up.
“Perfect Practice Makes Perfect!”
Next in this Series: Fitness…
Previous in the series: Traditional Bowhunting: Instinctive Shooting
Visit our online Pro Shop: www.basspro.com/Archery/_/S-12425001000
2nd In The Series Of Traditional Bowhunting:
David Williams, Bass Pro Archery Cabin Gurnee, IL.
We have made and purchased our first steps to becoming Traditional Bow Hunter. The Bass Pro Shop (BPS) Archery Staff will take you through step-by-step setup of your recurve bow and use of the bow stringer. The Archery Staff will cut your arrows and go thru the use of everything else purchased. We want you comfortable with the items you purchased. If you have questions Please Ask! This is your journey and we are your mentors to a successful process and experience!
Why did we recommend this instead of that?
You are ready for the shooting style that matches the Sage Recurve. Think about it, your bow compared to the other bows in the shop has No Sights! How are you going to hit anything? Remember the 3-legged stool? This is the 1st leg.
Shooting Style, Instinct shooting.
One of the great things about choosing to hunt traditional is the ability to see and get a shot off quicker than the compound bow hunter. A traditional bow hunter does not have to look thru the peep and find the right distance pin. With instinctive shooting we see our game, we shoot in a fluid movement, we bring home our harvest. Right? But, not without practice, practice and practice.
Shooting the Bow
How does instinctive shooting work? You can throw a baseball, football, shoot a basketball, bean bags or play darts. These are hand eye coordination that we all develop as we grow. So, you have instinctive shooting in you already. Unfortunately it is not quite that easy, in that it takes time to learn. But, once you have learned it, it is very accurate and you get better in time. It’s very important that you learn to shoot your bow well. As a matter of fact it’s absolutely necessary to in your quest to harvest an animal ethically. Shooting your bow well will be a great feeling. I know it is for me and a lot of other bow hunters.
Shooting off the shelf
Instinct shooting starts with the arrow rest. Getting the arrow to go where we are looking begins with the arrow rest and locating as near to the bow hand as possible. Why is this important? Instinctive Shooting is shooting the bow using only the abilities of eye, body coordination and instinctive memory.
Simply, it’s shooting an arrow where you are looking.
Canting a bow is not as common as it used to be for a couple of reasons; 1st the increase in hunting sights which dictate that the bow held vertically; 2nd elevated arrow rests which requires the same position. Another reason for canting the bow is that it opens up your field of view for a cleaner shot. Here’s a Canting exercise to do.
You can do this exercise holding your bow as well. As you can see, canting your bow when shooting off the shelf does not change much.
Shooting off the shelf greatly simplifies instinctive shooting. When the arrow is down close to your hand, the arrow becomes part of the sighting / pointing system. Your arrow is pointed where your hand/arm is pointed; thus improving your ability to shoot quickly and to shoot where your bow is pointed.
Learning to Shoot
The ability to shoot instinctively is a result of form and practice. No matter what type of bow and arrow you choose to shoot... the basics are fundamentally the same principles.
Those fundamentals are:
2. The open stance is also popular. Similar to the standard stance except the right foot is slightly forward of the left foot and the left foot is turned slightly towards the target.
3. The Draw is the very center of instinctive shooting. The draw includes keys: hand position on the bow, bow arm position, finger position on the string, the draw itself and head position.
4. The Anchor, the anchor is the rear sight on your bow. It’s the tail end or nock of the arrow lack of consistency in the anchor has dramatic impacts on hits. Moving the anchor up or down, right or left will send the arrow in those directions.
3-Finger Anchor Split-Finger Anchor
Seeing versus Aiming where we want the arrow to go.
Here’s a very good tool and exercise to work on these fundamentals in the house, break time at work or during TV commercials… Make a String Bow.
It’s As Easy As This:
See the alignment from elbow to bow hand.
The BPS Archery staff will go through these principles with you when you purchase your bow.
Practicing Your Form And Release
Start shooting by being close 5 to 10-yards to your target and just work on your form, release and concentration. As these get better you will notice your arrow groups will get better, tighter and smaller.
In the archery we say “Perfect Practice makes Perfect” so, take your time when practicing. You will see the results.
The 3rd Blog in this series will be shooting tuning equipment.
1st In The Series Of Traditional Bowhunting:Buying the Bow, Arrows and Accessories
David Williams, Bass Pro Archery Cabin Gurnee, IL.
Why do a Bass Pro Blog on Traditional Bow Hunting?
The trend in big box stores is to meet the demands of today's bow hunter using the latest technologies in bows and arrows. Now thanks to a media presence in TV and Movies that are re-introducing Traditional Style Recurve Bows to the young and stirring memories...
Where to Start?
The Bass Pro Archery Cabin has a range of Traditional Bows, Arrows and support accessories. To the point of being overwhelming...
We are going to start with an entry level hunting bow and arrows that without local taxes will come in right around $300. One of the challenges we faced for the beginner interested in Modern Traditional Bow Hunting is the wide variety brands and prices available. In this blog we are simplifying the choices.
Many factors in determine which bow is best for you:
Each state has a minimum draw weight or poundage. Here in Illinois the minimum draw weight is 40 lbs. and in Wisconsin its 35 lbs. The states draw weight is tied to your draw length that will be measured in the Archery Cabin.
AMO stands for the Archery Manufacturers Organization. Created set of standards.
All bows have the measured AMO poundage at 28" this standardization is important for choosing bow, arrows and arrowheads.
Example: the bow we are using is a Right Handed Sage Recurve 45lbs. at 28". So, if you're hunting in Illinois and have a draw length of 27" have the BPS Archery staff weigh the bow on the scale and you will see, you are still meeting the states requirement of 40 lbs.
My draw length is 29 1/2"; using a “rule of thumb,” of every inch on the bow equals 3 lbs. I am pulling 49 ½ lbs.
We at Bass Pro want to make sure that you are "Not Over Bowed." Many times customers think because they shoot a 60 to 70 lb. compound bow, they will shoot the same in a Traditional Bow at the same draw weight. Being over bowed means you cannot pull, aim and shoot the bow consistently. So, start at 10 to 15 lbs. under your compound weight or if new to the sport or starting again after a long layoff start at your minimum hunting regulations. We want you to be able to enjoy the process, become good, and be able to harvest your game ethically.
Many of the Bass Pro Staff will know the local hunting requirements. But, it's up to YOU to know them and to have your Hunter Safety Certificate.
There are 2 primary classes of Traditional Bows:
There is no scientific solution to the choice of whether to shoot a recurve or longbow. Both designs have their merits and drawbacks.
I have chosen the Sage Takedown Recurve, Right Hand 62” long and 45 lbs. at 28”.
Why choose the Sage Recurve?
The short answer: this is the best bow that I have ever shot in the “up to $200″ price, Sage is the most bows for our budget. The 62" AMO length allows for stable, smooth shooting for almost any draw length. The no-tools takedown is one of the easiest to use methods on the market. The Sage Recurve is great for a beginners bow or even as a backup bow for those traveling to hunt big game.
The draw is really smooth, there are no noticeable vibrations at all during release. It’s exceptionally quiet - which is really important on a hunting trip. Due to the bow’s length it is really accurate, and can even (to a certain degree) compensate for stance and form issues that the archer shooting it might have.
The 62" AMO length allows for stable, smooth shooting for almost any draw length. The no-tools takedown is one of the easiest to use methods on the market. The Sage Recurve is great for a beginners bow or even as a backup bow for those traveling to hunt big game.
What about arrow flight?
This will obviously depend on what drawing weight you choose. The higher the drawing weight, the straighter the flight of the arrow will be and the more deadly its on-hit effect. The Sage is available in 35, 40, 45, 50 and 55 lb. versions. For the best performance, I recommend getting 40 lbs. or 45 lbs. weights. You’ll be able to shoot targets from as far as you need to, and expect tight arrow groups from well over 25 yards.
Is The Sage Good For Hunting? As long as you get the 40lbs. or 45lbs. draw weight models, you’ll have the ability to harvest deer from 20+ yards without any problem depending on your abilities and arrow choice. For larger game (elk for example) you might need to go slightly beyond that 45 lbs. and get a 50 lb. version of the bow. The Sage is definitely not the smallest recurve on the market, but it’s still small enough to make it easy to carry around and maneuver in the field.
Just keep in mind that the suitability of any bow for hunting will depend not only on the draw weight, but also on your draw length. The longer your draw length, the more kinetic energy your arrows will carry and hence the deeper they will penetrate your target. As such, if your draw length is 26″ or less, you will likely need to make up for it by getting a heavier version of the bow if you want to hunt (45lbs. minimum, even for deer).
What about Arrows?
Once we know our measurements from the bow we can now match and choose our arrows and arrowheads. The general rule of thumb for arrows is to match the spine or flex of the arrow by looking at your draw weight and draw length.
However with traditional bows we need to take in consideration:
Our goal is to deliver as much energy through the arrow as we can to have a successful ethical harvest of our game at the distance of our ability to shoot accurately. Look at this like a 3-legged stool with each leg representing part of the process. The archer being 1st leg, the bow being the 2nd leg and the 3rd most important is the arrow resulting in all of our hard work.
I will be setting up either the BlackOut X3 Hunter arrows or Beman Centershot Carbon arrows, with 4” feathers and 400 spine or shaft; arrowhead weight will be starting at 125 grains for FOC. You will learn later FOC (Front of Center) on an arrow is important to the arrows performance.
These carbon arrows give us great performance, mid – level price, good durability and ease of tuning to our bow. We are shooting with 4” feathers because our bow does not have an arrow rest. We are “shooting off the shelf” and plastic vanes would cause the arrow to bounce off the bow.
Materials Purchased to Begin our Quest to Deer Hunt 2015
And be sure to check out our online selection of traditional archery gear: www.basspro.com/Hunting-Archery-Bows/Subcategory-Traditional-Bows/_/N-1z0ux53Z1z0tmuh
The 2nd Blog in this series will be shooting style.
Hunting with ThermaCell
By: Mike Reynolds
It’s mid October and it’s time to start hunting deer again (finally!). The problem is it’s still warm and bugs are still active. For me the evenings are the worst because of mosquitos. Some nights they are horribly distracting. What can you do? Bug juice is out because of the smell. Some cover scents claim to repel bugs but are usually too weak to be really effective. For me the only thing that truly works to chase mosquitos and keep them away is the ThermaCell brand of repellents.
I first heard of ThermaCell in the mid-2000s while hunting in Mississippi. I had won Primos Hunting Calls Pro Staffer of the year and was given a deer hunt with Will Primos on his place near Jackson, MS. It was mid-October and still hot in the south. While standing at the base of a tree waiting for my cameraman to get settled in his stand, I was being swarmed by thousands of little blood suckers. They followed me up the tree and were getting ready to ruin my morning when I felt a tap on my shoulder. My cameraman whispered, “Put this under your seat.” He handed something to me. I took it and slid it under my seat. To my amazement all the mosquitos disappeared. Now I’m not talking wandered away, they just flat out were gone in an instant! I was stunned and quite pleased. Now I’d like to finish this story with a great buck on the ground. Sadly the only thing I got that day was introduced to a new product that repelled mosquitos without repelling deer. In fact, I later learned the scent that ThermaCell emits is a man-made version of a smell that comes from chrysanthemums, a naturally occurring scent that deer seem to either not smell or ignore.
I have used and recommended Therma Cell ever since. The unit is easy to carry and fits in your backpack. Once lighted, it repels mosquitos, gnats and black flies for hours Check out your local Bass Pro Shops for this great product. I carry one for at least the month of October and recommend you do too!
Preparing For the Hunt!
By: Mike Reynolds
With hunting season here and the days getting a little shorter, now would be a good time to switch gears in your life and think deer hunting. Once archery opens, its full tilt for the rest of the season. Time, even more than normal, will be at a premium. Now would be a good time to go through your gear. Its way better to find out you need to replace something while you are in your driveway rather than as a deer of a lifetime walks in you shooting lane.
I like to go over each type of gear separately. I have boxes for each species I hunt so all I have to do is grab a box and go. By keeping everything separate, I know everything I need for that hunt is right where I need it to be. Plano Molding makes a great box for this. The Sportsman’s Trunk is ideal for getting everything in a handy portable box. The folks at Plano even put wheels on it for easy maneuvering. I like to take everything out and spread it out either on the floor or on a table. I almost always find something broken that I tossed in the box last season and forgot about. By getting everything out you will be able to make sure it’s all in working order and ready to go.
Make sure clothes are in good repair, not ripped or faded. I have found that sometimes over the summer clothes shrink while they are sitting in the box. I’m not sure how that happens but it does. I like to get those shirts and pants replaced. Now is the time to wash your deer clothes in scent-free laundry soap. Once I get them washed I like to put them in a giant Zip-Lock bag. The camping dept. has a great selection. This will keep them as scent free as possible. Once you have your clothes taken care of, it wouldn’t hurt to make sure your favorite boots are in good shape. Nothing can ruin a hunt faster than cold wet feet.
Last year’s boots can be fine so long as they still fit and haven’t sprung a leak. Everyone hates breaking in new boots but there’s good news-most boots now have a very short break in period if any at all. I love the RedHead brand of boots with Gore-Tex. This makes them not only waterproof but also helps keep your feet as dry as possible by allowing moisture to escape. As anyone who spends any itme in the outdoors knows dry is warm.
The last things that need your attention will be the stuff you carry in your pack. We all carry different things so you should make sure all are in working order. I like to take the calls apart and clean any dirt or weed seeds that may have gotten into the reeds. A light rinse in warm water doesn’t hurt either. I also clean out any garbage that I have put in there. It never ceases to amaze me how much trash I accumulate, then again one of the most common items in my pack is food. I always put the wrappers in my pack. I usually find trash that I take out as well.
If you can find the time before season starts to do basic maintenance on your gear, you will have more time to do what we all live for come fall. Every minute spent prepping now will give you that much more time in the stand waiting for Mr. Tender and Juicy.
By: Jerry Costabile
Planer boards have been a part of many anglers arsenal for a long time. Salmon and trout anglers have been using boards for many years on the Great Lakes. Planer boards do so many good things when a trolling presentation is called for. They enable an angler to get lines and baits out away from the boat, which prevents spooking the fish. Boards can be used with all types of line presentations; mono, braid, wire, copper, lead core. They all are used in today’s fishing, and boards help anglers expand their trolling spread.
Boards also make it so much easier to get multiple lines in the water. We can experiment with different colors, running depths, and shapes. This helps us determine what the fish are looking for on that particular day. No doubt about it, planer boards will help us catch more walleyes and salmon and trout.
But, more and more we're learning that planer boards will help us catch other species of fish, fish that we probably wouldn't have caught without the use of boards. Anglers in some areas are learning that perch are very susceptible to a lure behind a board. So are white bass and striped bass in the regions where striped bass live.
I have a friend who put in a good amount of time chasing crappies with planer boards. In many of the lakes that he fishes, the crappies suspend. Sometimes they're eight feet down over twenty feet of water, and they're relating to baitfish. They're very spread out and it would take a lot of time to find them by casting. You can cover much more water by trolling, but if you troll over the top of them when they're only a few feet down, you spook them. By using planer boards and getting the bait away from the boat, you catch them instead of spook them.
Same thing is true for white bass. In some lakes in the summer, anglers watch for the gulls to start diving at shad on the surface. The shad are on the surface because the white bass are feeding on them there. When you see the gulls, you hurry to the spot and start casting. With boards however, you don't need to wait for the gulls, you just keep trolling searching for the bass. Very, very effective way to catch them! That Hornet does a great job on white bass also.
There are several manufactures of planer boards and they all do what they are designed for, catching fish. There are different sizes for different applications, from mini’s to magnum’s.
In fishing, much of the time tools are created for one thing and we find they work equally well, even better sometimes, for something else. Planer boards are one of those tools. If you want to catch more fish more of the time, make planer boards part of your fishing arsenal.
By: Mike Reynolds
Hunting season is fast approaching and with it comes a little preparation. We all go through our gear to see what may need to be replaced. It seems like every year I get something new whether I need it or not. The one piece of equipment I’d like you to really think about replacing is your safety harness. I’m sure everyone uses a safety harness when in their treestand, right? If you don’t I sure hope you can fly! Most of the injuries that happen deer hunting happen by falling out of a treestand. This fact is a shame because it is easily prevented. The use of some kind of fall restraint should always be used when hunting off the ground. There are 2 types of fall restraints: the first is a belt type and the second is a full body harness. Both are better than nothing but the full body is far superior. The belt will keep you from falling all the way to the ground but it will most likely flip you upside down too. The top of your body is heavier than the bottom so, gravity being what it is, you will end up with your head facing down. This will make it very difficult to right yourself and get back into your stand. Bad things happen when we hang upside down for very long so let’s look at the alternative.
The full body harness will keep you right side up and able to get to your stand easily. It will also distribute your weight evenly and not be so traumatic on your body. The harness I started wearing a few years back was the Hunter’s Safety System [HSS]. It is, by far, the easiest harness to put on. I have found through asking guys who don’t wear a harness that one of the most common reasons was the harness was too complicated to get on especially in the dark. The HSS is a vest that goes on easily even in the dark. Its buckles are large enough to secure and hold tight. It is comfortable to wear and doesn’t restrict the motion of drawing a bow. This harness doesn’t cost too terribly much, usually around $160.00. In my opinion this is a small price to pay to make sure you don’t fall. After all, how much is it worth going home to your family after a day in the treestand?
Any kind of fall restraint is better than nothing but the full body harness is the best choice unless of course you can fly. We all want to go home to share our love of the outdoors with our family and not falling is the only way to do that. When you are checking your gear before this season, please remember to take a look at your harness. If it looks old or worn or is more than 5 years old, please consider replacing it.
By: Jerry Costabile
As an outdoorsman or outdoorswoman, we have had something that was hard to give up or say goodbye to. It could have been for personal reasons, health or maybe it is just time.
That old favorite gun that you have used to hunt everything that is available to hunt, the one that never misses. It may look old and have a few scratches and dings, the sight might be bent or missing, but in your heart there is not another gun that shoots better. Just couldn’t think of hunting with a new gun! But the day comes that you have to retire the old girl, not an easy thing to do.
That old fishing rod that has been on every fishing trip you have ever taken, and caught all of the big fish that have ever won you a bet between friends. You know the one; you just don’t fish without it! Then it happens, you close the trunk of your car or the rod box on the boat, and 6 inches of that favorite rod is still outside, laying on the ground or the floor. This very sight makes your stomach turn. The old girl is not fixable and you will never feel the same with a new fishing pole in your hands.
Maybe it’s even more sentimental, like your old faithful hunting dog that has never complained, always gave you everything no matter what was asked. That special friend can never be replaced, and saying goodbye was so very hard.
Even harder is losing a hunting friend or your fishing partner. The stories that you have shared over the years and the times you have spent together can never be equaled.
If you look at pictures or think about it with your eyes closed and a feeling of loss comes over you than you know what I am talking about.
Recently, a very close friend has had to part ways with a special friend that has been part of his life for 26 years. She has been through many changes, everything from her appearance to the very spot that she occupied for most of her time with him. She has seen so many faces come and go, all of them left with a smile and a special place for her in their hearts. She saw technology change in ways that took so much time for her to understand and respond to.
There have been hundreds of pictures taken of her and of the people who knew her. She has won awards for her service and even been at the front of a parade.
You see, she is a 35 foot Viking Convertible boat with the given name of the “Guest House II”.
This boat has been part of the Port of Kenosha, Wisconsin for all of the years she has had her name. She has run hundreds of trips out on Lake Michigan that brought pleasure and excitement to many of her passengers. She has guided fishermen to so much success; thousands of fish have been brought aboard and put on ice in her coolers.
She has had dignitaries onboard while leading a venetian parade decorated in beautiful lights, boy was she proud!
All of the years of weather, storage, and repairs, never left her looking anything but beautiful. She was always a sight to see at her dock, carefully tied up and always well taken care of. When she showed signs of needing some TLC, she got it!
On the inside, you could see what her main purpose was. She was decorated with everything that was needed to fish the open waters of Lake Michigan. Her ceiling was lined with trolling rods from one side to the other. There were boxes and boxes of lures and tackle; this was not an average fisherman’s tackle box! This was a serious fishing vessel with a lot of fun mixed in. When you look down at the end of the couch, there was an end table with many photo albums on it and under it. These were memories that this special boat had made possible that were placed for all who came aboard to see. On the walls of the galley, were framed pictures of memorable fishing trips. There were pictures of winning catches, good friends, and a special one to me, three boys who had gone thru a very trying time in their young lives. Thanks to this wonderful boat and her caring, giving owner, all three had big smiles and were holding some pretty impressive fish! I will never be able to thank that owner enough for that day.
The owner of the “Guest House” is just as special as his boat. You see, he has given as many memories and good times to many, many people who he invited aboard his boat and never wanted anything in return. I can say that it has been a favorite time in my summers fishing with him and aboard this great boat.
I will always remember how beautiful he kept his dock area. There were planted flower pots all over and it always amazed me on how well everything grew, several different types flowers were blooming and made his dock stand out from all others. I have many memories of the lakefront having grown up there, but some of my best were on that boat with that captain.
Now I want you to know, that she is not gone, she is going to live on. She has a new owner and new memories are going to be made aboard her on the many voyages ahead. When I found out she was for sale, I cringed at the thought of someone else at her helm. I just couldn’t picture someone who wouldn’t think of this boat as something more than just a boat. I would have bought this boat in a heartbeat, but I just couldn’t afford to operate her. One morning out fishing with two other very close friends, who had also spent many hours on board the “Guest House”, we had a conversation all about how the three of us wanted so much for this boat to go to the right person. With a sigh of relief, I found out that another friend of mine was going to own her. This friend has owned boats for over 30 years; I know he will take good care of her, I know she will still be where I will be able to board her and maybe get to fish from her deck again. She might get a new name but she will always be the “Guest House II” in my heart and in my many memories I have of her.
Jerry D. Guest, I know it was a hard decision for you to say goodbye, but she will live on and we will always think of you with her.
Thanks for the fun, thanks for the memories.
More Than A Fishing Tournament
By: Jerry Costabile
For three days, I was honored to be part of a fishing tournament that was a lot more than just fishing and competition, but first let me tell you about a special young man and what has become a great cause by the means of a fishing contest.
The inaugural PFC Geoffrey Morris Memorial Governors Cup Fishing Invitational was held on June, 17th & 18th at Waukegan Harbor in Waukegan, Illinois in 2005.
PFC Geoffrey Morris signed up for the US Marine Corps in 2002 during his senior year at Warren Township High School in Gurnee, IL. He joined the Marine Corps. for three reasons: to defend the freedoms of this country, to help those who are unable to help themselves, and as he told his father, “The Marines are the best of the best, and I wouldn’t want to be part of anything less.”
Geoffrey strongly believed in the values this country stands for and willingly stood in harm’s way to defend it. He was killed in action in Iraq on April 4, 2004.
This fishing tournament was established in this great young man’s honor. Geoff and his father Kirk loved to fish and spend time on Lake Michigan. Together, they fished tournaments in Racine, WI, Kenosha, WI. and Winthrop Harbor, IL. Although they rarely won anything, they enjoyed the experience and often wondered why a fishing tournament wasn’t held in Waukegan. In a letter home while stationed in Iraq, Geoff wrote about riding in the hot air over the methodic bumps in the road. “If I close my eyes, I feel like I’m on the boat riding the waves heading to the fishing grounds.” Nothing else could be more fitting to pay tribute to Geoff’s memory than a fishing tournament!
First, let’s hear how the tournament works; there are two divisions, Pro and Amateur.
The Pro Division is a two day contest that will fish on Friday and Saturday. Here’s the rundown on the points system that these very experienced captains must set their strategies to;
There is a 15 fish limit for each day per boat. Scoring is based on a points system where points are awarded for species, number of fish, and weight.
The crew gets 20 points per species, (coho, king, brown trout, lake trout, rainbow or steelhead trout. 10 points per fish, and 1 point per pound.
The Amateur Division is one day only and the points system is set up at 10 points per fish and 1 point per pound.
Every year the competition level is at its highest and the fishermen work hard to tally the points needed to be in the money. The pay outs for this contest are awesome; The Pro side pays out $10,000 for first, $6,000 for second, and $5,000 for third. 4th place thru 10th place are paid out on a percentage depending on the boat entry number.
Day one brought foggy conditions and the committee was forced to delay the start to the Pro division buy an hour. When blast off was announced, the fleet of 30 boats all headed out to the fishing grounds that hopefully hold the combination it takes to win. Everything was good and all of the boats arrived at the weigh in safe and on time! I was helping out at weigh in and I was as excited as the large crowd that had gathered at the brand new Illinois Salmon Unlimited pavilion, to see what the captains were bringing in for their day one points. Most all of the boats weighed in a 15 fish limit which made the point standings close! But the few teams that had all 5 species, sat in great shape going into day two. All of the fish that were weighed in on day one were donated to the Hillside Food Pantry in Evanston, IL. Approximately 1,200 pounds of trout and salmon were filleted and donated thanks to a ton of volunteers.
Day two started out just like day one with thick fog, delay of the starting time and 49 boats eager to get fishing! Fishing was good and some great catches came into the weigh in. Amazingly, there were 1,044 trout and salmon weighed in for the two day tournament, which equaled 5,800 pounds of fish.
Day three for me was the best day of the tournament. Day three is a day that is put aside for the veterans in the area. It brought veterans from all military branches and was a day to thank them for their service and sacrifice. You see I am a US Army veteran and my son is also an Iraq Operation Freedom veteran. This was a day I get to give a little back and say thank you to these men and women that I call my brothers and sisters. From the Jones Dairy breakfast, to the great morning of fishing, to the banquet co-hosted by the USO IL, and the Wounded Warriors Fund. It all was something that I felt was the reason that this weekend was is in existence and why so many people volunteered their time, money, boats and lives to give back to our loved veterans. The out pouring of support was emotional to say the least.
I was fortunate to climb aboard “The Memory Maker” with Captain John Anderson and take a crew of five individuals that really put on a fishing clinic. I am honored to call these following individuals brothers; Scott Phillips US Army, Noah Currier U.S.M.C, Aaron Matthews US Navy, Bob Arciola US Army, Steve Ronning U.S.M.C. You guys are and always will be my heroes, thank you for your individual sacrifices. As long as we have each other, we will never have limitations.
By: Jerry Costabile
At some point in our lives we start to see things in a different way. When we are young and ambitious, we don’t look at our life’s adventures as important. Than we reach a time in our lives we realize that those adventures of our younger days were important. It comes to our attention in many different ways, through our children and family, maybe through a difficult time where life gives us a little more than we expected. No matter how we realize it, it becomes part of our everyday thinking. For me, it comes from the outdoors.
I think it started for me when I had an experience in my life that I wasn’t prepared for and it changed the way I thought about what was important to me.
I went down to see my friend who is a charter captain on Lake Michigan one afternoon. It was a bad day for me emotionally, but I knew if there was any where I could lose the down and find an up, it was on the lake front. I saw my friend on his boat and stopped by to say hi and we had a conversation that led to me getting an invite to fish with him the next morning, excited was an understatement! The next morning was just like the rest that I have had, no sleep, no energy, and the excitement of fishing was gone. I still went down to the boat and as we boarded our customers, a feeling came over me and I suddenly felt something was changing. We motored out of the harbor and I was busy on the back of the boat getting line ready so I didn’t get to look to the eastern horizon, something I had done for the thousands of times I have headed out on to the great Lake Michigan.
When I finished what I was doing, I took that look to the east and saw a vision that changed me from that day forward, a sun rising over the water. I saw those thousands of sun rises that I had never really looked at and watched the red turn to orange and then the very top of the sun was showing itself. It hit me; all of the issues that I have been battling were not that bad. As I watched the sun lift into full view I reflected on the entire positive I still had in my life. I have had this experience in the fall too while sitting in my tree stand watching the daylight wake up the entire woods, wildlife making their morning calls, searching for food or just reflecting on a new day.
I learned that when I need that time to reflect on what is meaningful in life, I only have to make my way to nature and the outdoors. It was created for so many reasons, but for me it was created to reflect on why I am thankful to be alive.
By: Dan Hayes
A few weeks ago, I went to a lake in northern Illinois. We had water temperatures in the upper 40’s, reaching between 52 and 54 later in the day. It was wicked cold in the morning (a 30 degree air temperature as we went across the lake). The first thing we did was go to main lake points with steep banks. The water clarity was about 3 to 4 feet. It was perfect for a jerk bait.
I was able to get one small fish at the first point. To be honest, it took better than an hour before I could fish like I wanted because of the cold. It just did not seem like they were there. After some time of slow fishing, we moved to one of the largest bays in the lake. I started in the side with the deepest water (deep being 6 to 9 feet) in a ditch. I think these areas are great for early fishing. Normally these fish will not be in the backs of them until later. Sometimes, early in the year, they will get on the flat in the afternoon, but in the morning they will be ditch fish. So as we started to fish in the ditch, we started catching fish right away using suspending jerk baits. I was using an Extreme 6’6” medium-heavy rod. I like it for this kind of fishing. It’s short and to the point. Some people may disagree with medium-heavy, but I like a rod that can snap a bait. It is common that early in the year a bass will swing or nip at this bait so they will only have the back hook in them. So remember, rod tip down when leading these fish, and be gentle.
I was using 10 pound fluorocarbon line. We had 3-4 foot visibility. I am not going to tell you what brand of line to use for this technique. Just remember that quality costs money. I am a firm believer that top of the line equipment is worth it. As we started to expand on the ditch pattern, things really started to happen. None of the fish that we caught were over 3 ½ pounds except the walleyes. We had 8 of them over 22 inches, and my 9 year-old son had one that was 30 inches long. That fish came on a jig. By the end of the day, we had boated over 80 large and small mouth bass, 35 big walleye, and 10 large crappie. That’s right, I said, “Crappie.” They were eating a jerk bait. The funny thing is all of these fish were in 2 bays that each had a ditch where deep water extended into the bay. One other thing that I learned about cold weather and cold water fishing is that with fluorocarbon you should use a lot of line spray, like XPS Line Conditioner. It makes a big difference in your ability to make long casts. As for the jerk bait, I was using a Rapala X Rap. I like the 4 inch one because it casts better if there is wind.
The week after this outing we had a bass tournament on the same body of water. It worked out well. We won the tournament on the same banks, with the same bait.
It’s spring on the calendar, even if I think I saw a snow flake or two on my way to work this afternoon. Forsythia and tulips are starting to bloom, and a report of a lone nightcrawler was seen last week, frost must be leaving the ground!
Fly Tying Classes:
I’d like to invite anyone interested in fly tying to come in on Thursday nights at 6 PM to learn to tie a fly. We have the tables set up, materials and tools are provided so all you need to bring is some patience. So far we’ve done The Improved Woolie Bugger, crawdads, extend body drake, and pink squirrels. On the agenda will be pinhead poppers, clausers, damselflies, salmon patterns and tube flies.
What to buy when you start tying? First what fish are you going to catch? Where are you fishing, the water conditions? Then decide on the patterns that will be the most successful. Learn 2 or 3 so there is a variety in the fly box and use different size hooks and colors of the same pattern.
Once you learn the basics, you can make just about anything! Over the last weeks we’ve explored the uses of copper wire from extension cords, nail polish, and plastic wrap.
Fly Casting Classes:
Lew is back to host his popular fly casting classes again this year. Lew is a certified casting instructor from the American Association of Fly Fishers, a standard that is recognized internationally. We are lucky to have him teaching here.
If you want to attend, beginner or intermediate level, please call the shop 847 856 1229 and ask for Carol or Frank, if we’re not here, Tyler, Tim, or Bernie can help you out. The dates May 7 and 14, are already filled!! However Lew will give more classes on May 21 and into June if we get sign ups. We will need your full name and phone number and if you need a rod /reel.
Meet in the fly shop at 6, we set up your rod and reel (outfits) for you; some participants like to use different weights and lengths that we have on hand. Remember to dress for the weather, you’ll be outside, and near the nature viewing area, bug repellent is suggested. If the weather is windy or lightening, class will be rescheduled.
The SouthEast Wisconsin chapter hosted a river clean up near the Brewer’s Stadium this month. Pulling out invasive wild garlic and taking trash out of the water was the objective.
Nationally they have a campaign to encourage more women to take up fly fishing. See what they offer by visiting their web site: www.tu.org
Hoping to see you in the shop, tying a fly, or casting with Lew!
Carol and Frank
By: Jerry Costabile
After a long and tough winter, I knew spring was not too far away. I had just finished teaching my two hunter education classes and the Wisconsin youth turkey hunt was a week away. I was going to be mentor a young lady, Emily, who had graduated from my class last fall, on her first ever hunt. I think I was as excited as she was for April 12 to finally arrive!
With the help of her father, she got a lot of good experience in the fall with a successful deer hunt. I received a terrific picture of Emily and her dad and the beautiful 6 point buck she harvested this past November. It was a truly memorable hunt for the both of them, I’m sure. During the safety class that she attended, she had told me that her dad didn’t hunt turkeys and she would like to hunt them. Well, by the time we finished the class, I told her dad that if he would come with, I would take her in the spring to hunt a gobbler! You see, I know what it is like to see your kid absolutely come apart when a big strutting tom turkey come to within 15 to 20 yards, and I didn’t want him to miss it! So we made plans to go this spring to hunt a favorite spot that my youngest son Kyle and a few other young hunters harvested their first birds. I have a youth 20 gauge that is set up with a good turkey choke tube that is deadly on turkeys out to 30 yards. This was going to be the chosen gun for her and we got together one evening before that Saturday opener, and let her shoot the gun. After she fired the first shot, we went down range and looked at the turkey head target, 27 pellets in the head and neck area at 25 yards. Yep, she was ready!
I met my young lady hunter and her dad at 4:00am and after a quick stop for coffee and doughnuts, we headed west to the rolling hills of Richland County, Wisconsin. There was rain in the forecast for Saturday, but Sunday was going to be clear but cold. I have been successful on rainy days, but I was glad that we only got a little rain to start the day. We set up on a field that the landowner had told me in a phone conversation I had with him on Thursday, was holding a good flock of turkeys with numerous toms that had been starting to strut their stuff for the girls. Perfect! I would set up 6 hen decoys and a lone strutting tom decoy about 20 yards in front of our hiding spot. In hunts past, the birds always came out of the hardwoods and into the field and fed from the left to the right. So I put the hen decoys about 10 yards to our right and 15 yards out with the tom even farther out to the right. This would make the gobblers have to pass our ambush to approach the decoys, with the focus on the plastic girl turkeys; they wouldn’t even know we were there!
We got set up next to the only tree in the middle of this field, a huge white oak that had lots of scrub brush growing around its base. It was the perfect cover for the three of us to get into to fool the sharp eyes of these big birds. Decoys were in place and daylight was just starting to make itself visible, when I used a crow call to try and pinpoint the roosting location of the turkeys. In years past, they always roosted on the back side of the woods in some towering pines. I got nothing in return for my calls; I really wanted my young hunter to hear a tom gobble in the early morning, there is something to be said for a returning gobble to start things out! I had confidence that we would see the birds even though there was no gobbling to be heard. We were settled in and ready, but I wanted some kind of guarantee that the birds were there. I grabbed my slate call and started with some soft clucks and yelps, with the sky getting brighter by the minute, I knew the birds had flown down from their roost and were headed out to the cut corn field for last fall. After about fifteen minutes there were a couple of hens coming out to the field, the toms had to be close behind. We watched the hens, six of them; make their way into the field and in our direction, but no toms. I was getting anxious for this to happen and kept reassuring everyone that there had to be a tom with these hens, but was not too sure. A few minutes later, I spotted movement at the tree line, it was him! I could see the colors of his head as he approached the field with caution, a habit of an experienced old tom. He took about ten steps into the cut corn and when he went into full strut, I hear “That is so cool” from my now excited lady hunter! I said “let’s just stay still and see what he does, he may leave the hens to run off our tom decoy.”
And on cue, the tom came out of strut and left the live hens to claim our hen decoys as part of “his” flock. It took him about ten minutes to make his way across the field to get within about 60 yards of us and then he stopped and went into his best strutting dance that he could do. Again I hear “Cool” from my left, I had to smile because I knew that she was getting a great show from the tom and I could feel the excitement from her words. I had all of the assurance from the bird that he would continue into shooting range and give us the opportunity that we were looking for, but that tom didn’t read the script! He stayed out of range for at least 45 minutes despite my best soft clucks and purrs. He would just strut back and forth and never take another step closer; it was killing me to say the least! On his last turn in his strutting pattern, he turned, put his feathers down and headed back to the live hens. I couldn’t believe it! We were so close to getting that bird, but I reassured that there would be another opportunity and we were by no means done for the day!
After watching the bird for another half an hour, we snuck out of the back side of the cover and headed to a backup area down the road. On our walk back to the truck, I listened at the story this young lady was telling of our near encounter. She was going on about how “dumb” that bird was, I agreed with a smile and keep the fact that the bird was anything but dumb in my thoughts. If we don’t get to try for him again this weekend, we have tags for a May season and will be back.
A quick bite to eat and we went to an area of public land that doesn’t get pressure during the turkey season and always has birds up on the hardwood ridges at mid-day. We hiked up to an area that I have hunted before and set up a couple of hen decoys on the logging road. When the toms come out of the field, they head up the ridge to continue to locate hens and use the roads to strut in.
We called a little and after about an hour we heard scratching in the leaves off to our right and spotted a hen feeding about 40 yards out. I didn’t see any other birds with her, but there could be a tom nearby. I looked at Emily and her dad and they were frozen and focused on that hen, it was a picture I wish I could have taken of them. The hen fed within 5 yards of us and gave the decoys a look as if to say “What are YOU looking at?” She fed past us and we never saw anything else in the area, so we headed to one more set up for the day. It was a pasture that always had birds around and was a good early season location late in the day.
I set up with all of the confidence that we would have the opportunity to see birds, but I was wrong. After an hour and a half we threw in the white towel and headed home. On our way home we stopped and had dinner and talked about the day and what fun it was to get so close to getting to harvest a tom turkey. I was disappointed that we didn’t tag a bird, but I was proud of Emily and her attitude towards the day that she had spent in the outdoors and the fact that she spent it with her dad made it a memory for the both of them. She wasn’t disappointed one bit!
When we got back and we said our goodbyes, I knew that there was a young lady that will be looking forward to her next hunt. Dad was ready to take on turkeys with the enthusiasm he had with deer hunting and was going shopping for decoys and calls. I shook his hand and told him that there are a lot of memories to come for him and his daughter and they will be something he will cherish.
It’s funny how even a hunt where we only got close to filling a tag, we all realized it was a successful hunt because of what we learned. For a young lady of 12 years, it was about learning about a “dumb” bird and how smart they can be. For a dad, it was about learning that his hunting experiences were about to change. And for me, well, it was learning about what I had learned a while back, that if we adults don’t give back to what we love to do, there won’t be anything for our future generations to hunt or a place to hunt. I challenge all of you to get involved in the effort to assure the future of hunting, you won’t regret it.