Traditional Bowhunting: The Hunts

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.

Macintosh HD:Users:kylewilliams:PICS:iPhoto Library:Modified:2015:Jul 25, 2015_3:1988_4M7S_640.jpg

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.


  • Macintosh HD:Users:kylewilliams:PICS:iPhoto Library:Modified:2015:Dec 29, 2015:11-1-11 022.jpgArrow: Carbon Axis Spine 500
  • Arrow Fletching: 4” Left Wing Parabolic Feathers
  • Broadhead: Blackout 100 grain 3-Blade
  • Broadhead Insert: Brass 50 Grains
  • Shot Distance: <10 Yards
  • Shot Placement: Lungs with Pass through
  • Recovery Distance: <20 Yards
  • Hunting Style: Spot and Stalk
  • Camo: ASAT


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.


  • Macintosh HD:Users:kylewilliams:PICS:iPhoto Library:Originals:2015:Dec 18, 2015:9Point2015.jpgArrow: Carbon Blackout X3 Spine 340
  • Arrow Fletching: 5” Left Wing Shield Cut Feathers
  • Broadhead: Steel Force 125 Grain 2-Blade with Bleeders
  • Broadhead Insert: Brass 100 Grain
  • Shot Distance: 15 Yards +/-
  • Shot Placement: Lungs with Pass through
  • Recovery Distance: 25 Yards
  • Hunting Style: Sitting on the ground
  • Camo: Ghillie Suit


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.


  • Macintosh HD:Users:kylewilliams:PICS:iPhoto Library:Originals:2015:Jul 25, 2015_13:images.jpegArrow: Ash Tapered Spined @ 80#
  • Arrow Fletching: 5” Parabolic Feathers
  • Broadhead: A Vintage Howard Hill 2-Blade 160 Grains
  • Shot Distance: 18 Yards
  • Shot Placement: Lungs with Pass Through
  • Recovery Distance: 25 Yards
  • Hunting Style: Sitting in Corn
  • Camo: Ghillie Suit


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  


Traditional Bowhunting: Broadheads and Arrows


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.

Macintosh HD:Users:kylewilliams:PICS:iPhoto Library:Originals:2015:Jul 25, 2015_13:images.jpegMy 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.

Macintosh HD:Users:kylewilliams:PICS:iPhoto Library:Originals:2015:Jul 25, 2015:wildlife_deer_organs_diagram.jpgThe 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.

Macintosh HD:Users:kylewilliams:PICS:iPhoto Library:Originals:2015:Jul 25, 2015_9:Deer-shot-angle-overhead-1024x602.pngMacintosh HD:Users:kylewilliams:PICS:iPhoto Library:Originals:2015:Jul 25, 2015_6:images-4.jpegEven 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.

Macintosh HD:Users:kylewilliams:PICS:iPhoto Library:Originals:2015:Jul 25, 2015_7:images-5.jpegPractice 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.


Broadhead Tuning

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.

  1. If the broadheads group above the field points, move the nocking point up.
  2. If the broadheads group below the field points, move the nocking point down.
  3. If the broadheads group to the left, they are behaving as if the shaft is too stiff (for a right handed archer). Any, or several, of the following can be done to correct the point of impact.
    1. Increase the poundage on the bow or brace height.
    2. Change to heavier broadheads.
  4. If the broadheads group to the right, they are behaving as if the shaft is too weak. Any or several of the following can be done to correct the point of impact.
    1. Decrease the poundage on the bow or brace height.
    2. Change to lighter broadheads
  5. Multiple adjustments
    1. First move nocking point
    2. Make spine adjustment


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. 




Traditional Bow Hunting: Scouting the Game

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:

  • Google Earth
  • GPS
  • Phone Apps
  • Trail Cameras
  • Binoculars
  • Talking to the Local Game Warden
  • A Topographic Map
  • A Compass

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 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.

  • Is it wooded?
  • Are there crops?
  • How many access roads are there?

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.

Macintosh HD:Users:kylewilliams:PICS:iPhoto Library:Originals:2015:Aug 4, 2015_3:IMG_0223-2.PNGMacintosh HD:Users:kylewilliams:PICS:iPhoto Library:Originals:2015:Aug 4, 2015_2:IMG_0221.PNG







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.

Measure Distances                                                                   

 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. 

Macintosh HD:Users:kylewilliams:PICS:iPhoto Library:Originals:2015:Aug 4, 2015_4:IMG_0222-2.PNG

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

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.

Phone Apps                                                                                          

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                                                                                    

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.



Backcountry Fly Fishing Association Presents "The Legend Series"

Steve Huff"The Legend Series" highlights some of the pioneers of the fishing world, and the Backcountry Fly Fishing Association along with Hell's Bay Boatworks is bringing a true industry trailblazer, and Florida Keys expert to Orlando to teach us a few things that will make our time on the water more productive and maybe a little more enjoyable.  Flip Pallot was set to be the original speaker for this event but will not be making an appearance due to unplanned circumstances.

Captain Steve Huff is one of those guys that seems to have seen and done it all when it comes to fishing and exploring the Florida Keys and the Everglades, which is saying a lot considering how many square miles of land and water we're talking about.  He's professionally guided for over 47 years (almost more years than I've been alive) and surely has forgotten more about saltwater angling than most of us will ever pick up by fishing only on weekends and holidays.  He along with Del Brown developed the Merkin Crab which is undoubtedly the quintessential permit fly that also produces well on species they hadn't even planned on, ultimately proving the versatility of the pattern and the ingenuity of the designers.  Steve has led numerous anglers to tournament wins in the Gold Cup, the Islamorada Invitational Bonefish Tournament, and the Islamorada Invitational Fly Bonefish Tournament, as well as many world record tarpon, bonefish, and permit including a 41 1/2 specimen on 8 lb tippet.

Captain Huff's inventiveness and constant search for perfection has proven invaluable time and again when the industry has asked for his expert guidance in developing more advanced flats skiffs, bow platforms, knots, and a myriad of other flats-fishing essentials.  He developed the Huffnagle Knot (I just got the connection) for joining light class tippet to a heavier bite or shock tippet, which is absolutely necessary when pursuing large tarpon such as the ones he chased in the Homosassa region on Florida's Gulf coast.  Steve's 186 pounder back in 1977 would have eclipsed the standing record by more than ten pounds but he never submitted for recognition because he felt that records should be left to anglers.  That's just the kind of guy he is.

Captain Steve Huff was inducted into the IGFA Hall of Fame in 2010, for his many contributions to the sport, but you'd never see this gentleman, whom many would consider to be "The Guy," hold himself in higher regard than others that enjoy the sport.  Humility, commitment, and enthusiasm are evident every time he welcomes an angler onto his boat, and he's surely converted more than one conventional-tackle angler to the fly rods as a patient and adept instructor for the Florida Keys Fly Fishing School.

I'd highly recommend taking a little time out of your busy schedules to attend the presentation.   

No-motor Zone RedfishSpending the night of September 10th with the Backcountry Fly Fishing Association at "The Legend Series" sponsored by Hell's Bay Boatworks is your chance to hear the stories first hand while possibly learning a few things that'll make you a better angler.  Becoming involved in a club made up of a bunch of guys who share your love of fly fishing, fly tying, or just spending time on the water can't be a bad thing in itself.  The club helped me to develop as a fly angler, ultimately leading me to writing about and sharing my love of the sport.  I'm no John Gierach, or Norman Maclean when it comes to storytelling but we all share something in common with Flip and his friends, and that's passion.

Make plans to spend the evening with Steve and some new friends (and possibly some new fishing partners) on Thursday, September 10th.  It's sure to be a gathering you won't soon forget.

Brian "Beastman" Eastman

White River Fly Shop

Outdoor World Orlando 



Traditional Bowhunting: Instinctive Shooting

2nd In The Series Of Traditional Bowhunting:

Instinctive Shooting

David Williams, Bass Pro Archery Cabin Gurnee, IL.



Man using traditional bow for huntingWe 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?


  • First, anything recommended in the first Blog is open for discussion between you and the BPS Archery Staff. This is about your success so ASK Questions!


  • Why the Fred Bear Bow Stinger when there are others to choose from? I believe that this bow stringer is the safest and best for either longbow or recurve bow available on the market today.


  • Why the Calf Hair Finger Tab instead of the Shooting Glove? I confess this is a matter of personal experience and preference for me. Hunting in the upper part of the country we experience cold climate at hunting season. A finger tab works well for me with fingerless wool gloves and mittens.

Getting Started

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.


Man shooting recurve bow at cameraShooting 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.

  1. Make a fist using your bow hand, representing holding your bow exactly as though you are shooting. 
  2. Choose a spot on the wall like a picture.
  3. Aim using your closed fist with simulating the arrow sitting on top of your fist as with the arrow rest.
  4. Now canting your fist to the right 90-degrees (assuming your right handed / left handed would be opposite).
  5. Notice the arrow simulation is still pointing at the spot.


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:

  1. The Stance, most popular with shooters: is left side towards the target, feet parallel and spaced comfortably, head turned 90 degrees with chin touching, or almost touching, the left shoulder.



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

  1. Aiming: when we think aiming in today’s terms we associate it with tools or devices, a mechanical system. Aiming in instinctive shooting certainly is mechanical, it’s concentrating on your target. At first aiming will be difficult because we all have a tendency to look where we want our arrow to go as in spot 1 in following sketch. With practice you will see where your arrow is going as in spot 2.


   Seeing versus Aiming where we want the arrow to go.

  1. The Release: the release is affected by letting go of the string… allowing the arrow suddenly leave your fingers. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. When this is done with your bow and arrow. The bow arm is pushing forward as the string is pulled back… two opposing actions.  As long as you continue to push the bow arm forward, the release hand will easily let loose the string. Your bow hand must be pushing forward and your release hand pulling back. It is a push-pull method. One last thing, the term “hold” is a misnomer… you do not hold in traditional instinctive shooting.

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:


  1. Take an 84-90 inch length of string fold the string in half by placing the cut ends in your bow hand.
  2. Hook the first three fingers of your drawing hand in the loop end of the string. The string should be resting in the first joint of line of the first and third fingers and just inside the joint of the second finger.



  1. Release the cut ends from your bow hand.
  2. With the back of your bow hand facing you, close your bow hand around both strands of string 12 inches or so from where your fingers are in the looped end.



  1. Straighten your bow arm and hang it towards your imaginary target now, lift your while facing the target lift your bow arm to eye level.


  1. Draw the string through your bow hand fist by pulling the string toward your face and placing the middle finger on the corner of your mouth. If you do not shooting Split-Finger Style but, shoot Three-Finger Style you would place your index finger at the corner of your mouth. Your drawing hand and arm should be level and above your bow hand and arm.


  1. While keeping your bow hand wrapped around the string, remove your drawing hand fingers from the loop. Use the drawing hand to hold the string where it exits the bow hand.
  2. Now tie a knot as close as possible to this place, tie a second knot a hands width away from the first knot and cut away the excess string.

  1. It’s very important that the “string bow” be the proper length, make sure the bow hand string (with the knots) is place in the hands lifeline. Proper draw length is critical for ethical hunting and the use of the tool like the string bow helps us in its use. Proper Draw Length,


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.

Click here for the first installment

Click here to check out our line of traditional hunting gear.

The 3rd Blog in this series will be shooting tuning equipment.


Traditional Bowhunting: Buying the Bow, Arrows and Accessories

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.


The Bow

Many factors in determine which bow is best for you:

  1. What’s your budget?
  2. Are You Right or Left Eye Dominate?  
  3. What is your draw length?
  4. What game do you want to hunt?
  5. What state(s) are you going to hunt?
  6. What is the minimum draw weight for the bow?

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:

  • The Longbow
  • The Recurve Bow

There is no scientific solution to the choice of whether to shoot a recurve or longbow. Both designs have their merits and drawbacks.

  • Typically longbows can be more forgiving and much easier to shoot.
  • Recurve bows can be shorter, faster, and more maneuverable in the woods. Some models can be taken down for easy storage and transport.

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?

Carbon/Aluminum Hunting Arrow Length and Bow Weight Chart


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:

  • What type of arrow rest or no arrow rest
  • The arrow rest will determine the type if fletching, vanes or feathers.
  • Bow draw weight and length.
  • Arrowhead weight.

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:

The 2nd Blog in this series will be shooting style.


Five Steps To Choosing The Right Bow

1. Measure your draw length. Draw your hands as if you were drawing a bow with your fisted hand against a wall. Measure from the wall to the corner of your mouth. This is your draw length.
2. Choose the correct draw weight. Draw weight represents the amount of physical force you need to pull back the bow string. Draw your bow back 10 times wait five minutes. If you are able to easily draw your bow back 11 times without becoming winded and your arms stay stable this draw weight is okay for you.

3. Pick the best bow length based on your draw length. 
Draw length                              Bow length
Less than 26                              64 in. bow
26-28                                         66 in. bow
28-30                                         68 in. bow
30 or more                                 70 in. or larger

4. Determine whether you need a right or left-handed bow. This is based on your dominant eye, not your dominant hand. Use your fingers to create a circular viewing window. Bring your hands to your face and focus through the window you created. Your hands should naturally gravitate towards your dominant eye.

5. Compare directly drawn versus compound bows. Directly drawn bows require users to provide steady force to pull back and hold the string. Compound bows use a series of gears to assist with this task. For archery and target practice, choose a directly drawn bow. Compound bows are typically used by hunters.

Stop buy your local Bass Pro Shops archery counter to get great advice from our experienced archery associates or visit to browse merchandise and find the store nearest you.


Moveable Single Pin Bow Sight Choices That Will Help You Perform Better

Single-Pin Sights

The Tru-Glo Archer’s Choice Range Rover Pro


$199.99 SKU: 2213935

The Tru-Glo Archer’s Choice Range Rover Pro features PWR-Dot Illuminated Center Dot Technology to help improve long-distance accuracy. The ultra-smooth Zero-In Adjustment Dial delivers precise micro-adjust elevation tuning, and more than 40 pre-marked yardage tapes help make setup faster and easier. The Range Rover Pro boasts an adjustable green LED with 11 brightness settings for plenty of customization. The sight also features a large circular field of view and a glow-in-the-dark shooter’s ring. A quiver can be mounted directly to the bracket via the included quiver mount. Adjustable for right- or left-handed shooters and can be fitted with a 1.87" lens.


The Axcel AccuTouch HD X41

$279.99 SKU 2209617

The Axcel AccuTouch HD X41  gives you the best of both worlds: a single-pin slider sight that, thanks to its revolutionary Accu-Clicks, acts like a multi-pin sight. The user sets each Accu-Click at a specific distance so that the slider stops at the desired point. The Accu-Clicks, combined with a 45-degree rear-facing sight scale, allow the user to set the sight from an arm’s distance away. The Red Elevation Tension Lever lets the shooter choose how easily the sight slides along the elevation bar. In addition, the AccuTouch offers all-axis leveling capabilities. Other features include a Windage Lock Button that prevents the micro-adjustable windage knob from turning when engaged. Models include the AccuTouch, and the AccuTouch Pro, $329.99 SKU 2209618 a dovetail version with a 6-inch carbon bar. This sight can be fitted with a 1.75" lens.

The Trophy Ridge Clutch

$199.99  SKU: 2195405

The Trophy Ridge Clutch blurs the line between a target and hunting sight. Double-sided sight tapes allow for both target and hunting precision with the same bow. The fast, smooth friction drive system creates repeatable movement for precise positioning of the ultra-bright pin. Made from machined aluminum with premium stainless-steel hardware, the Clutch offers micro-click windage adjustment, micro-elevation adjustments for customized base yardage, laser-engraved tool-less windage and elevation adjustments and second-axis adjustability. The Clutch comes with 10 custom sight tapes.  The Clutch can be fitted with a 1.75" lens, not included.


The Apex Covert Pro


$199.99 SKU: 2214009

The Apex Covert Pro with advanced single-pin sight features new PWR-Dot Illuminated Center Dot Technology, providing the user with an adjustable green LED with 11 brightness settings. The Covert Pro offers incredibly smooth, one-handed adjustments and Gravity-Line rotational adjustment that aligns pin movement with gravity. This sight comes with more than 60 pre-marked yardage tapes and boasts a rear-facing, easy-to-see yardage-tape location. With an adjustable second- and third-axis illuminated level, an adjustable yardage pointer and dampened end-of-travel stops incorporated into the bracket, the Covert Pro delivers quick and easy setup and ease of use .Adjustable for right- or left-handed shooters and can be fitted with a 1.87" lens. 


Trophy Ridge React Trio

$249.99 SKU: 2195398

Trophy Ridge React Trio Enjoy the readiness of a fixed 3 pin bow sight with versatility to reach out even further when needed with the Trophy Ridge® React Trio Bow Sight. This unique bow sight uses Trophy Ridge's React Technology to turn your 40-yard pin into a movable pin, allowing you to hunt at extended ranges up to 120 yards. Drive shaft knob on the back of the sight provides fast, quiet, and accurate movement up and down for extended range shots, while the rock solid lock down feature hold sight securely for single distance shooting. Positive stop design at the 40 yard position provides fast 3 pin target acquisition in a hunting situation. Precision installed bubble level and 2nd and 3rd axis leveling help you keep the sight flat and accurate. Tool-free micro windage and elevation adjustments. Contrast Glo Ring helps you effortlessly align the peep to the sight ring, working with the impact-armored ultra-bright, .19" fiber optics for superior low light shooting.

The Spot Hogg® Tommy Hogg

$199.99 SKU: 2116919

The Spot Hogg® Tommy Hogg™ 1-Pin Bow Sight features front control yardage adjustment to give great quiver clearance without sacrificing sight adjustability. The rugged hard mount gives super-stable mounting, and solid 6061 aluminum construction is both ultra-durable and lightweight. HRD technology means no bushings to loosen or rattle.  Micro adjustable 2nd & 3rd axis.  Micro adjustment for windage & elevation are tool-free, and the precision laser engraved sight scale & knobs are very easy to read. Removable rack for traveling. The sight scale is compatible with archery programs. Now includes sight tapes.

Single-Pin Sights

The Archer’s Choice Range Rover Pro ($233) from TruGlo (888-887-8456; features PWR-Dot Illuminated Center Dot Technology to help improve long-distance accuracy. The ultra-smooth Zero-In Adjustment Dial delivers precise micro-adjust elevation tuning, and more than 40 pre-marked yardage tapes help make setup faster and easier. The Range Rover Pro boasts an adjustable green LED with 11 brightness settings for plenty of customization. The sight also features a large circular field of view and a glow-in-the-dark shooter’s ring. A quiver can be mounted directly to the bracket via the included quiver mount.

The AccuTouch ($289 to $349 depending on model) from Axcel Sights (434-929-2800; gives you the best of both worlds: a single-pin slider sight that, thanks to its revolutionary Accu-Clicks, acts like a multi-pin sight. The user sets each Accu-Click at a specific distance so that the slider stops at the desired point. The Accu-Clicks, combined with a 45-degree rear-facing sight scale, allow the user to set the sight from an arm’s distance away. The Red Elevation Tension Lever lets the shooter choose how easily the sight slides along the elevation bar. In addition, the AccuTouch offers all-axis leveling capabilities. Other features include a Windage Lock Button that prevents the micro-adjustable windage knob from turning when engaged. Models include the AccuTouch, the AccuTouch HD with Mathews Harmonic Dampers and the AccuTouch Pro, a dovetail version with a 6-inch carbon bar.

The Optimizer Lite King Pin ($350) represents the third generation of HHA’s (800-548-7812; wildly popular single-pin mover. This new iteration is more user-friendly than ever thanks to interchangeable wheels that make changing tapes easy and let archers use multiple arrow and draw weights. Once the King Pin is sighted-in at 20 and 60 yards, it’s dialed in to the yard out to 100 yards, and a sight tape magnifier allows for adjustment to the 1/4 yard. A “Blind 20” feature allows you to return to your most common predetermined distance – without looking. The optional Blue Burst light makes for fast and easy adjustment in dark ground blinds. This deadly accurate sight has fully integrated second- and third-axis adjustment.

- See more at:

Sizing up a Compound Bow

So you are looking at your first Compound Bow or upgrading the one you have had for 20 years.  Wheels, cams, stabilizers, risers, let-off,  limbs. What does it all mean? Choosing the best bow for compound archery, whether backyard shooting, hunting, tournaments on 3-D targets or paper punching.  Learn how we do it at Bass Pro Shops.

Shop our extensive Archery selection at!

Eye Dominance:

The fancy name for this is “ocular dominance,” which basically means that your brain prefers visual input from one eye over the other. Your brain considers that eye’s input more “true.”

You dominant eye is usually the same side as your writing hand. But “cross-dominance,” is not uncommon. Some right-handed archers shoot left-handed because their left eye is dominant. I have found about 15% of our sales are to this type of archer. You can determine your dominant eye in three easy steps:

1. Place your hands at arm’s length, and press your thumbs and forefingers together to form a triangular opening.

2. Keeping both eyes open, look through the triangle and center it on something, like a doorknob.

3. Now close one eye, then the other. If you can’t close one of your eyes by blinking, have someone cover it for you.

Notice how the doorknob stays in place with one eye but “jumps” with the other eye? Your dominant eye keeps the doorknob centered in the triangle. Archers who are right-eye dominant should shoot right-handed. Archers who are left-eye dominant should shoot left-handed.

Another easy way is use the buddy system:

1. Place your hands at arm’s length, and press your thumbs and forefingers together to form a triangular opening.

2. Keeping both eyes open, look through the triangle and center it on top of your buddies nose.  Have your buddy tell you what eye he or she sees and that is your dominate eye.

Determine your Draw Length:

Your local Bass Pro Shops can measure it quickly and precisely.  Here is an easy way to estimate your draw length on your own:

First, measure your wingspan. Stand up straight with both arms and hands extended to your sides, forming a “T.” Have a friend measure from the tip of one middle finger to the tip of the other middle finger in a straight line. Divide that number by 2.5 to estimate your draw length. An archery pro will need to measure you again for accuracy and precision. You don’t want to buy a bow with a draw length that’s too short or too long. 

Keep in mind a half inch off on your draw length can be all that is keeping you from holding steady.

ATA or Axel to Axel Length:

The axle-to-axle measurement is the length between the bow’s cams– the wheel-like devices that help power the bow – attached to the bow’s limb tips.

Why does this measurement matter? It’s important for the axle-to-axle length of your bow to fit the type of shooting or hunting you’ll be doing. An extremely long bow, for instance, might make hunting in a tight blind or single-seated tree stand difficult. If you’re roaming an open course, scouting turkeys from the ground or hunting deer from a tree stand with open platforms, you can probably get by with a longer bow. It might even be beneficial. Why? Typically, the longer a bow’s axle-to-axle measurement, the more forgiving it will be when taking longer shots. Though with today's technology the shorter ATA bows are very forgiving and easier than ever to shoot.  Try a few before making your final decision.

Draw Weight:

There’s no magic formula for determining draw weights. Start with a low-poundage bow, especially if you’ve never drawn one before. The more you use your bow-shooting muscles, the more weight you’ll be able to draw, and the farther you’ll be able to shoot.

These days it’s easier than ever to find quality bows with larger amounts of adjustable draw weights.  This means you can easily change your draw weight as you develop your shooting skills and archery muscles.

Keep in mind that most of today's bows set at 40 pounds of draw weight can easily produce enough kinetic energy to pass through an animal with the proper broadhead tipped arrow.

Take a lesson:

There are many archery coaches and classes offer around your area.  Take a few hours or a day and take a lesson from your local pro.  He or she can teach you the little things that will help you hold steadier and hit your target more often.


City Girls

I grew up in the city.  The only hunting I ever did was in a store.  I fished, hiked, did quite a bit of outdoor activities, but never hunted.  Fast forward many years and now I love hunting.  The one hunt that really sticks out in my mind was not the first time I sat in a stand, its not the first kill I made either.  The hunt that sticks out to me, is the first time I drew my bow on a deer.

There I was sitting in my stand, freezing, waiting for a deer to make an appearance.  I thought I had experienced every adrenaline rush I possibly could for my timid lifestyle. I was wrong. Training day in and day out with the bow and I was not prepared for this. All of the strength in my arms was gone. I am standing there in my stand and barely have the power to pull the bow back.  Finally, I get it pulled, now to aim.  I am panting.  I cannot breathe.  I think to myself, get it together and breathe slow, but all I can hear is my heart thumping.  It reminded me of the slow motion scene on a movie, everything slowed down, but nothing was clear.  My vision was blurred.  Was it the cold?  Were my eyes now frozen over?  I have sat in a stand and observed hunting for 2 years now.  This is day 3 or 4 that I have sat in my own stand.  Watching, waiting for the deer to come out of hiding. My anticipation never faltered.  I remained enthusiastic about what could be.  Now look at me. Here I am, fumbling, blinded, shaking, and panting.  I start pulling it together, my vision clears up long enough for me to take a shot.  Miss. I have to remain stealth, this deer is going to hear me.  I get another arrow in position and draw.  The deer is looking at me.  No time to rethink if I am ready to kill a deer, I must shoot.  I wait until she looks away and release my arrow. Miss. She hears the rustle of the arrow hitting the tall grass and she is gone. All of my practice and I have missed twice.  I am left with my sweaty palms, racing heart, and shaking hands.  It is cold, real cold.  I feel dizzy like I may fall from the stand.  I take my seat and instantly call my significant other and try to tell him what transpired.  I should have waited until I had gathered myself completely because the phone call was misleading for him.  He heard "I shot a deer", I actually stated "I shot at a deer".  In his defense, I was panting.

There I am, left with my thoughts.  Wondering if I am the right person for the stand, wondering if this is a sport for me.  I love waking up at 4am and preparing for the hunt.  I love having a thermos of coffee.  I love the open air and the mind cleansing I get.  Then I realize, all the rest will fall in place with repetition.  Now, I don't wonder.  Now, I know, I love to hunt.


Crossbow Emergence

Crossbows have emerged as a major force in the hunting industry. In recent years the advancements in crossbow technology have been simply amazing. One of the premier brands in crossbows is TenPoint Crossbow Technologies out of Mogadore, Ohio.

TenPoint traces its origins back to Horton Crossbows. In the mid-1990s, Rick Bednar grew dissatisfied with the direction of Horton and left to form a new company, which eventually became TenPoint. Bednar’s plan was to produce the highest-quality bow he could. One of the newest models from TenPoint, the Stealth SS, is one of the best crossbows I’ve had the pleasure of hunting with.

Stealth SS specifications

  • Length (with stirrup): 34.4 inches
  • Axle-to-axle width: 17.5 inches uncocked/13.5 inches cocked
  • Power stroke: 12.6 inches
  • Weight: 6.8 pounds
  • Draw weight: 185 pounds
  • Velocity: 352 feet per second (370-grain bolt with 100-grain field tip)

TenPoint reduces the chance of getting “crossbow thumb” with these slick rubber flaps that guard your hand from getting in the way of the string while shooting.

The Stealth SS has a bullpup design, making the bow very compact. The grip is very comfortable and is of a thumbhole-type design. The main rail is aircraft-grade, fluted aluminum which is very strong, yet lightweight. To reduce the chances of you giving yourself a case of crossbow thumb, the Stealth has TenPoint’s rubber thumb guards helping you keep your thumbs from getting in the way of the rapidly-advancing string when you shoot at a big buck. As one of my relatives found out, that has a way of ruining a hunting trip. It can also put a damper on your hitchhiking career. There is an additional guard included with the bow to help train yourself not to do something stupid during practice. Crossbow companies are being pretty proactive in preventing this condition.

The bow is decked out in Mossy Oak Break Up Infinity camo. It’s topped with TenPoint’s three-power multi-reticle illuminated crossbow scope that is screaming-accurate right from the factory. Most of the fine details you’d expect from a higher-end bow can be found on the TenPoint—everything from swivel studs for a sling to a rubber-coated stirrup for cocking. You can add on silencers to the string and vibration dampers to quiet the bow down if you need to.


Like all TenPoint bows, the Stealth SS is offered with two different cocking aids: the AccuDraw 50 and the AccuDraw. Both aids take the form of a cocking rope that is built into the buttstock. It retracts into the stock when not in use and makes cocking the bow quick and easy.

The AccuDraw 50, which my bow came equipped with, reduces the cocking draw weight by 50 percent. The only drawback to my test bow was that the rope came a little un-sprung during testing and I had to disassemble the entire mechanism and rewind the rope. It wasn’t a big deal in that it still functioned flawlessly, but occasionally the string hook on one side wouldn’t retract all the way when I was in the field. This could have been an issue if I wasn’t watching for it and it made noise when a deer came around. Again, it never became a serious issue. I’d still get the AccuDraw 50 without hesitation. It is the best cocking aide I have used of any manufacturer.


TenPoint’s AccuDraw 50 cocking mechanism reduces the draw weight by 50 percent. It is one of the best crossbow cocking aids you can get.

The top cocking aid that TenPoint sells is the AccuDraw. It is very similar to the AccuDraw 50 but it goes a step further—it has a crank that does all of the work for you. Simply set the hooks on the string and crank up the AccuDraw until the bow cocks. If you need to, you can use a cordless screwdriver to do it. For a hunter with disabilities, this would be the hot ticket. I’ve tested the AccuDraw system in the past and it is slick!

A big plus for the Stealth is the compact feel of the bow. For those of you who hunt from a ground blind, this is one of the best bows you can get. It is compact, fast, and accurate.

I started out shooting at 15 yards with a 390-grain bolt and a 100-grain field tip. Bull’s-eye on the first shot. I then backed up 10 yards, and got the same result. I finally stopped hitting the 10-ring on my target when I hit 67 yards. That is pretty confidence-inspiring. Would I ever take that far of a shot while hunting? No, but it’s nice to know that at ranges I would shoot at, I’m pretty sure I could hit the target. The speeds of bolts put out by the bow combined with the right broadhead is a very lethal combination.


Beginning Archery for Ladies, Part 2 - Proper Stance

Beginning Archery for Ladies - Bass Pro Shops AltoonaBy Alicia Bricker
Gun Vault Specialist
Bass Pro Shops Altoona

Now that you used my tips in Beginning Archery for Ladies, Part One, and have your bow picked out and set up, we need to work on the proper shooting form. Then watch for Part 3 next week, where we explore some of the accessories mentioned here in a little more detail.

StanceRight-handed archery stanceBeginning Archery for Ladies - Stance

First, you want to stand with your feet about shoulder width apart with the back leg a little more forward to give you a steady base. If you are shooting a right-handed bow, then your right foot will be in the back. Right-handed bows are held in the left hand and left-handed bows are held in the right. The front of your body will face out away from your target with your dominate hand on the opposite side of your body away from the target. The hand holding the bow will face the target. Everyone will stand a little different and you will develop your own stance over time. This is just a place to start when first learning.

(Right handed example)

When you are drawing back your bow to shoot, be sure to keep your arm just slightly under fully extended to keep it from extending into where the string will travel. I have noticed, especially with women, that our arms tend to extend past straight and this causes issues when shooting. Be sure to keep:

  1. Your arm straight or slightly bent,
  2. Your wrist straight, not bent,
  3. Your elbow rolled under.

< Incorrect - The elbow is Incorrect forearmextended into the path of the string.Correct Arm for Bow




Correct - Arm is straight, elbow slightly

bent to keep out of string’s path.>




Here is an example of how you can hold your bow when you are at full draw. The wrist sling, shown in the photo, keeps theUsing a wrist sling bow from falling to the ground, once the arrow has been released. When you grip the bow, you want to keep your fingers loose, so that you don’t jerk the bow with a tight grip. By keeping your fingers loose, you allow your bow to follow through with the shot. Allow the arrow to completely leave the bow before gripping it again. The wrist sling will allow the bow to roll forward, but it is around your wrist, so it won’t fall completely. Also, you don’t keep your hand loose for very long, after you have released the arrow, just long enough to follow through with your shot. You don’t want your bow to fall too far before gripping it again.

Anchor Point

The next thing to be conscious about when shooting is your anchor point. You want to draw your bow back to the exact same spot every time to keep your shots consistent. Do this by making a conscientious effort to place your hand at the same spot on your face every time you pull back your bow. If you are a finger shooter, it will be towards the front of your jaw and closer to your mouth. If you are a release shooter, it will be back closer to your ear. Every archer is different on this, and you will have to practice and find what works best for you to keep your shots accurate.

When you pull the stringAnchor Point back, you want to put the string up against the side of your nose and the edge of your mouth. For beginning archers, I recommend a kisser button like shown in the picture. This will help you feel where your string is when you are pulling it back, so you know it is the same every time. This photo shows where the string should land when you are pulling it back and where to anchor your string against your face using a release. All archers will be slightly different on this, so keep that in mind when you are starting to shoot. You will figure out your own anchor point, over time.


The key to accuracy is to be as consistent as possible, doing it the same every time. When you pull the string back, you will learn by feel where your hand needs to be anchored in order to shoot the best. After a while, it will just become second nature and you won’t have to think about it. A good habit, when first starting out, is to make a mental check list. Go through and ask yourself:

  • Do you have a solid base, so your balance is steady?
  • Once you pull your string back:
    • Is your arm straight, but out of the path of the string?
    • Is your wrist straight?
    • Is your grip loose on the bow, so you don’t flinch the bow?
    • Is your string against your face in the same place, or the kisser button in the corner of your mouth?
    • Is your hand anchored in the right spot and the same place as before?

These questions will become unnecessary as you progress, but in the beginning it will help you increase your consistency and accuracy every time you shoot. Eventually,  you'll know what works and doesn’t work for you. Your stance and how you draw your bow will become second nature. Everyone develops their own style and knows what feels right for them. These are just a few tips that can get you started down the right path!


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Preparing for Your Elk Hunt Part 3

Practice Your Shooting

It really doesn’t matter what you shoot, whether if it’s a rifle, muzzle loader or bow (compound, re-curve, or long bow) you need to shoot year round. I know it gets very expensive to shoot a rifle or muzzle loader all the time but to stay proficient you need to shoot more than just a couple times a year. That’s not really the case with archery, we can shoot our arrows over and over unless you are a beginner and then you ruin a lot of arrows practicing. I can shoot my Carbon Express arrows over and over as long as I don’t miss and jack up an arrow which very rarely happens unless we are getting stupid and trying almost impossible shots.  Another advantage with archery is I can shoot in my back yard and no one cares, but if I started popping off with my 30-06, oh man look out, the cops will be there in a heartbeat with their guns drawn and aiming right at me. For the rifle and muzzle loaders if you can’t shoot a lot during off season you need to at least get out once a month or every other month before season and make sure your gun is still sighted in, plus if your gun is in a gun safe for extended periods of time you might start to have a rusting problem. When you do go shoot you may find something is wrong or broke or something breaks while you are at the range, if it does you can get it fixed before you go on your hunt. I had this happen a few years ago, I hadn’t shot my bow for a couple months because of an injury and when I pulled my bow out of the case and started waxing my string, I noticed that my cable guard slide was broke. I don’t know about you but most of the places I hunt it’s a long drive to a town that may or may not be able to fix the problem. If I wouldn’t have caught that broken slide I would have had a very long drive to find a place that would have one for my bow. The bottom line here is to shoot as much as possible so when that moment of truth comes along you’re ready.

Staying Organized

Keeping all your hunting equipment organized is one of the most import things to do that I can’t stress it enough. A lot of hunters when they get home throw everything in the corner of the garage, clean their gun, put it away in a gun safe and they're done until their next hunting season. Well the next hunting season arrives and you are going through everything trying reorganize and make sense of everything when come to find out, you left a pair of used socks in one of the bags, and the worst part of it all is there’s no laundry detergent made on this earth that’s going to take that smell out of everything you had in with those socks. This may be a little over kill but I think you get the picture.

I’m not much different but when I unload my truck I put everything into three different piles. One pile is all my hunting clothes, another is my regular clothes and then the third pile is all my other hunting stuff like my bow, boots, and that sort of stuff. My hunting clothes go straight into the washer and are washed with Hunter’s Specialties Scent-A-Way Laundry Detergent and then hung out side to dry. When it has all dried completely it is all folded and put back into my Hunter’s Specialties Scent Safe Travel Bags with one Primetime Fresh Earth Scent Wafer in each bag. Now I’m ready for my next hunt. I go as far as all my shirts are in one bag, my pants in another, and my coats in another. Each bag is marked so if I’m looking for a pair of pants I don’t have to go through all the bags to find them. While everything is washing I’m putting all my other stuff away down in the basement where it all has its own place, this way when I go looking for something I know where it is. Now my wife will disagree with this but at least I know where it is.  If something is broke I will fix it right away and if it’s something I can’t do I’ll get it to someone who can. There’s nothing worse than having something broke and forgetting about it and then as you’re getting everything out and ready for your hunt and you find it, well I know the words you’re going to use because it happened to me and it was a good thing there was no kids around when I found it. If you can fix it, fix it, but if it’s one of those items you can’t fix take it to someone and get it fixed right away.

Everything I have talked about organizing so far has been all about when you get home. Don’t forget about staying organized while hunting. I’m just as guilty as the next when it comes to staying organized. When I get back to camp after hunting all day all I can think of is getting something in my stomach and going to bed. Now the next morning comes and I’m scrambling to get a lunch made, make sure my hydration bladder has water in it and off I go with a pop tart in one hand and a soda in the other.  It's really frustrating when you’re about a mile from camp and all of a sudden you hear a bugle and you go to grab your cow call that normally hangs around your neck and it’s not there along with the rest of your calls. Been there, done that, but it only took that one time for me to learn that lesson the hard way.

Check Off Sheet

A check off sheet is something I feel every hunter should have, get one of those generic ones that you find in magazines or at the game and fish department and modify it for you. A rifle hunters check off sheet would be different then a bow hunters as would a muzzle loaders. Some of the items will be the same like your licenses, GPS/Maps/Compass, but a bow hunter doesn’t need blaze orange and a rifle hunter doesn’t need camo. I have my list broke down into categories, day pack, hunting clothing, camp clothing, camp accessories, and camping equipment. Like with my day pack, I have a list of everything I carry in it, my camp clothing is what I wear around camp and it’s broke down as far as how many pair of socks and underwear I bring.  It took me quite a while to come up with my lists, but I started with one of those generic lists a long time ago and went from there. Sometimes I may add to the list or I may remove some thing. Once you start don’t stop unless you feel everything you have is sufficient. I’ve been using these lists for a long time and things are constantly changing as to where I’m adding and subtracting all the time. I even have a needs list and a want list. The needs list is stuff I need before next year’s hunt. My want/wish list is a whole lot longer than all my other lists combined. I don’t think I need to explain what kind of list that is but you know, like a new AR15 to whack a few coyotes. Maybe if I’m real good this year Santa might bring me one.

Hunt Hard & Shoot Straight

Mark Campagnola







Beginning Archery for Ladies - Part One: The Bow

BrickerBy - Alicia Bricker, Gun Vault Specialist

Ladies, are you interested in archery, but aren’t sure where to get started? Don't have someone who can take you out and show you the ropes? I'll get you started. Archery is a fun and exciting sport and anyone can get involved.


The Bow

First off, you'll need a bow that fits you - you need to be comfortable with how it feels when you shoot it. Go out and try several different bows. I suggest a bow that can grow with you as you get stronger. Two aspects that are important are the draw weight and the draw length. They make a variety of bows with different draw weight variations that you can try.

Draw weight - The amount of weight you will have to pull when drawing back your bow.

Draw length - The length you will draw your bow back. This varies with your "wing span" (length of your arms) and you will want to get this calculated before picking out your bow. Your draw length is determined by measuring the distance between your arms and you will need someone to help you measure.

1. Hold your arms straight out to your sides, palms facing forward.

2. Measure from the tip of your middle finger to the other tip of your middle finger then divide by 2.5.

This will give you an estimate of your draw length, but it may need to be adjusted depending on how it feels to you when shooting. Our archery experts can always help you determine what the best draw length is for you.

A couple of good beginner bows, both of which offer quite a bit of growth in draw weight are:

The Quest G5 Radical, which ranges as low as 15 Lbs up to 70 LBS draw weight with a draw length of 17.5” up to 30”

The Diamond Infinite Edge which ranges all the way from 5 LBS up to 70LBS for draw weight and a draw length from 13” up to 30”

As an adult, your draw length will stay the same.  However, kids that are still growing will be able to take advantage of the draw lengths being so versatile in the above listed bows allowing them to get comfortable with a bow and get it adjusted as they continue to grow.

The varying weights are a plus for women. It allows you to start out at a lower draw weight as you begin, then increase poundage as you grow stronger and more used to using those muscles as you continue practicing with your bow. There are many bows to choose from, but one of these could be a good place to start as you are learning the sport.

I suggest buying a bow package. That way everything you need to get started is already with the bow, instead of  buying each individual item that you need. Packages vary with the bow models, but will typically come with a: rest, quiver, sight, peep sight, wrist sling, and possibly a whisker biscuit. Some will come with a stabilizer and string stop as well.

You don't necessarily need these items on your bow and can always add them later on if you decide that you do want them. Let's take a look at what each of these do.

A stabilizer will help balance the bow and even out the weight in the front of the bow. The string stop is just what it sounds like. It stops the string from going forward after you release the arrow reducing some of the string vibration. This, in turn, seems to help reduce some of the excess noise. Neither a stabilizer nor string stop are must-haves, but are more of a personal preference.

String Stop                                 Stabilizer

string stop                         Archery - Stabilizer


Trophy Ridge Whisker BiscuitA whisker biscuit is a good idea to use as a rest for beginners. It holds the arrow in place, so there is less chance of the arrow slipping off the rest. You can change this out in the future for a drop away or other type of rest once, you get more comfortable shooting. The whiskers of the rest will eventually wear out as you shoot more arrows through it, so eventually you will need to replace it or buy a different rest.



The Sight - Before we talk about the sight on your bow, we need to talk about YOUR sight. You need to determine which is your dominant eye. Your dominant eye is the one that is dominant over the other when focusing on something. This will be the eye that you use to sight in your target. There is a simple tick that you can use to determine which eye is dominant.

1. Hold your hands out in front of you in a triangle placing your two index fingers together and your thumbs together.
2. Keep both eyes open and focus on a target or object about 10 yards away.
3. Close one eye then open it and then close the other then open it. The eye for which the object stays in the same place is your dominant eye.

If you have trouble with this exercise, try holding your hands in the same position as you just did and focusing on the object again with both eyes open. This time keep them open and slowly move your hands to your face while you are focusing both eyes on the object. The eye that your hands naturally go to is your dominant eye.

Your dominant eye may be the same as your dominant hand or you may be "cross eye" dominate. These means you are right-handed and left eye dominant or left-handed and right eye dominant. If you are dominant on the same hand and eye then that is the bow you will need. Ex: right eye and right hand = right handed bow. If you are cross eye dominant, you may want to try getting a bow that goes with the eye that you are dominant with, since it is easier to train your hand than your eye. If you try this, but cannot get used to it, then you will have to train your eye if you opt for a bow for your dominant hand and non-dominant eye. To do this you will have to make sure that your dominant eye is either closed when shooting or covered so that your other eye is able to focus.

Beginning Archery for Ladies - Cobra Bushwacker SightA sight has pins in it that you will use when shooting a target at different distances. The top pin will be for the closest distance and the bottom pin for the furthest distance. Different sights offer a different amount of pins. You will set the pins for about 10 yards difference in each. Some people set the first pin at 10 or 20 yards. You can also start at 10 yards and then later adjust it to 20 yards, once you become more accurate. Sight pins are typically fiber optic and some are even lighted, which helps in lower light settings. Some come with a bubble level, so you can judge when you are tilting your bow and when it is level. When you first set up your bow you will need to adjust the pins for the distances that you want, which means you will need to shoot from each distance to set each pin. Our archery experts can help you get this set up and will get the pins set as close as possible, but some tweaking may be necessary once you start shooting more accurately. Then you can tell if you are off target either up and down or right and left, which you learn by the grouping of your arrows. Example: If you are shooting tight groups (the arrows all land in the same generalG5 Meta Peep area close together), but they are always to the right of where you are shooting, then your sight needs adjusted.

A peep sight is set up in your string and is just a small circle with a hole in it. When you have your bow at full draw, it should line up at eye level, so you can look through it and line it up with the pin on your sight. There are different colors and styles to choose from on these.Quiver



A quiver is what holds your arrows when you are not shooting them. You can get one that stays attached to the bow or one that is detachable. There are also quivers that you can sling over your shoulder or clip onto your hip. Most bow packages include a quiver that mounts to the bow. The amount of arrows that a quiver can hold varies usually around 4 to 6. They just clip in fletching down with the point up in the foam to keep the tip or broadhead from cutting anything.

A wrist sling also usually comes with a package, but is not a necessary accessory. This can help prevent the archer from torquing the bow with their grip when shooting. You want a loose grip when at full draw with your fingers open and the bow resting between your thumb and index finger - resting on your palm, so you don’t flinch the bow with a tight grip. The wrist sling is attached below the grip on the bow and goes loosely around your wrist. You still want to grab your bow before it fully falls, but this allows you to let your arrow leave your bow before you grip onto your bow again (follow through). Grip it while you are pulling it back but relax your hand before you shoot your arrow.

How to grip bow

A kisser button is not a necessary accessory, but is an inexpensive one that you can add in order to help build your consistency when drawing back your bow. It helps you anchor your string in the same place every time when shooting. I recommend it for a beginning archer, since it helps you feel where your string is anchored and will get you used to anchoring in the same place. An anchor point is where you rest your hand or release every time you draw back your bow. Consistency in anchoring is important since that will increase your shooting accuracy. When drawing back the bow, you will want to place the kisser at the corner of your mouth. The person setting up your bow will set this where it needs to be for you. It will be placed above your D-loop on your string. 

                                                            Kisser button

(This picture shows the placement of the kisser button at the corner of the mouth.)

A D-Loop is something that not all archers have put on their strings, but is something that most release shooters use. It is just a small loop added on the string where you will nock your arrow and then use the loop to hook your release onto. The arrow will nock between the two knots holding the D-loop to the string.

Our archery experts can assist you in chosing the right bow for you as well as setting everything up and getting you ready to shoot. All the accessories discussed here come in a variety of styles and colors as well. Do some research on different bows and all of the other items to see what you like first, before making a final purchase. There is a lot of information available to help you make a decision on picking out what is right for you. You can also come in and talk to one of the archery experts and they will help guide you on this first step of your journey.

The example below will help show the different accessories I've discussed and where they are located at on the bow, once it has been set up.

Bear Siren set up

Next up - The Stance


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Grandpa's Buck


BY: Dominic Sabatina

     Every weekend for the first six years of my life was spent with my grandparents. On the weekends that my father’s parents would come to visit I was always excited because I knew that those weekends meant two things; Saturday Fishing at the local pond with Grandpa Max, ice cream following and Church on Sunday followed by our traditional Italian feast! When I was just seven years old my Parents moved from great state of Ohio to “the valley of the sun”, Peoria Arizona.  After moving across the country the traditional weekends went away. Well, at least the fishing and ice cream did. My Father ALWAYS worked hard and did not have the time to be an avid outdoors-man like Grandpa Max was.

     Throughout my childhood and teen aged years I was only able to visit my grandparents twice, once at age 10 and once at the age of 18. During the last trip I found out that my Grandpa Max was a World War Two Veteran of the 244th Field Artillery Battalion in Patton's Third Army. His battalion earned 5 battle participation stars for Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes and Central Europe. He was at the Battle of the Bulge. He was a walking piece of American history!

I was about to start a military career, following in his footsteps, and didn't even know it. This was also probably the last time I would see my grandmother, Elizabeth. She suffered from Alzheimer's disease and unfortunately passed away during my first year in the Navy. When I retired from the Navy I knew it was my time to get back some of what I lost during my younger years. I made regular trips from my home in Illinois to Ohio to visit my grandfather who was still alive at the age of 98.

During my time in the Navy I became a fisherman and developed a true passion for bow hunting. Over the years, when I had time away from the Navy, I would trek out to the woods, climb a tree, hope for the best and I got lucky a few times. I have harvested five black tailed deer in Washington State, A mule deer and antelope in Wyoming and in my new home in Illinois, two white tailed deer. All of these deer have been harvested with arrows that I have built myself and part of the process for me is a sentimental one. Each year I place the initials of the people I care about (family and old hunting buddies) on one of the fletchings on each of the arrows in my quiver. This gives me the feeling that I am not alone, and that I have part of them with me on every hunt. While I am out there alone, braving the elements in hopes of getting the opportunity of a lifetime, I pull an arrow from my quiver and dedicate that hunt to them. Just for old times’ sake.

     The last week of September in 2013 finally came after a long off season of checking camera footage, picking spots and hanging sets. The opener (October 1st) was getting close and my level of excitement was quickly rising. On September 29th I received a phone call from one of my older sisters. Accompanying that call was the worst news I had heard all year. My Beloved Grandpa Max, WWII walking piece of American History and the last of that generation in our family had passed away due to natural causes at the age of 98. I was crushed. My father no longer had living parents and I was not able to get back near the amount of time with my Grandpa as I wanted.

     All of this still fresh in my mind, October 1st came and I was in the stand, but my mind wasn't. My mind was on an upcoming road trip with my father.  Once again, October 3rd came and I was in the stand but my mind was not there. That was my last hunt before the road trip. My Father and I were driving to Ohio to pay respects to the man that, through God, gave us life.

On October 5th 2013, my father's 65th birthday, we said our last “see ya later” and we buried Grandpa Max.

I came home from that trip and I didn't hunt for two weeks. I decided that my next hunt would be the evening of October 24th.

The evening prior, I was preparing for the next day's hunt and talking with my wife Tiffani. I was checking off all of my gear and making sure I had everything ready to go as I was headed to the farm right after work the next day.  Tiffani wished me luck as she always does and said to me, “maybe Grandpa Max will put your big buck in front of you”.

Now, I have been chasing this certain “Big Buck” since he was 4. He is now 7 and boy is he a dandy!  I kind of chuckled at the thought and then it hit me. I looked over at my quiver and noticed that not one of my arrows had initials on them. I looked at Tiffani and said “I know why I have not harvested a deer yet this year”. She asked me why and I said to her, “I forgot to initial my arrows. With everything that has happened here lately, I guess I just wasn't thinking about it”.

I grabbed a sharpie and started from the end. When I got to the number one arrow in my quiver I looked up at Tiffani. She was waiting there to see how long it was going to take me to write my grandpa's initials on an arrow.  I said to her, “My grandpa gets my number arrow this year”.  M.S. (Matthew Sabatina) got placed on the fetching of my number one arrow.

The next day was a great day all around. Everything when smooth, not one ounce of anything negative happened that day. I just didn't know why but it was probably one of the best days I had at work and when work was over I headed to the farm. I made it to the blind, set up my Boss Buck Decoy and settled down in the blind for a good evening of hunting. 

I pulled an old trusty Carbon-Tech Whitetail arrow with a G5 T3 expandable broad head from my quiver and knocked it on the string of my Strother Infinity. I pulled my Flex Tone Bone Collector Series call from my pack and started calling. I am sitting on a Red Head Blackout 360 degree swivel chair leaned back, bow laying against my chest; call in my shooting hand and my other on the bow grip.  I looked out to the sky and said “Grandpa, Please give me a sign that you are watching over me right now, please let me harvest a deer today”.

My cell phone vibrated, so I picked it up with my grip hand and answered the text from a buddy asking if I had seen anything yet.  I finished answering his question with a “no”. I pressed the send button on my phone and when I looked up there was a buck standing 20 yards away from the blind in the biggest shooting lane I had made. He was not the dandy that I was hoping to see but it was the first one of the year.  Time at this point seemed like it was moving in slow motion. The buck was standing there glaring at my Boss Buck Decoy. My phone and Flex Tone (which were still in my hands) slowly and silently found their way to the dirt. Grip hand on the bow, release connected to the D-Loop, I slowly sat up. I remember thinking,”I can't believe he is still just standing there”.

I came to full draw and anchored the string. While looking though the peep and orienting my 20 yard pin over his vitals he put his nose to the ground and started to move down wind of the decoy. Since I practice scent free odor control and invested in “Ever Calm” from Bass Pro Shops, all he was going to smell was another deer. He only took two steps with his nose to the ground and he stopped, picked his head up and glared at my decoy again. My finger was resting on the trigger and with just a little more back tension my release opened. 

The arrow left my bow traveling 288 Feet per second. When it hit the G5 opened up and the arrow made a clean pass through the deer punching a hole directly through the center of the heart. I could not have asked for a better shot. The deer traveled 10 yards and fell over dead right in front of the blind.  I exploded with excitement! I reached for another arrow and as I did I noticed that it was my grandpa's arrow that passed through the deer. My emotions overwhelmed me and all I could do at that point, with tears streaming from eyes, was look up to the sky and say,”I love you! I love you! I love you! Thank you Grandpa for watching over me and giving me a sign that you were here with me!

The first thing I did was call my Father to tell him what happened.  He simply said to me,” Your Grandpa was there with you and he guided that arrow”.

In honor of that experience I decided that I was going to complete an antler mount dedicated to my Grandpa Max. Here it is. Thank You Grandpa for all of the Wonderful memories. You'll never be forgotten.






Bucks and Barn Cats - Lessons at Season's End

By Christie Moe, Apparel Associate
Bass Pro Shops Altoona

As someone who loves to write and tell stories, the hardest part for me has always been where to begin. Many experiences and influences in my life led to my decision to hunt this past fall. My family has always been an active, outdoor- loving family. I was six when I first went camping and canoeing in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in Minnesota. I grew up doing a lot of camping, hiking, canoeing, and fishing. For me, that was just what you did in the summer. 

I never really got interested in hunting, even after my mom married my step-father, who is an avid outdoorsman and hunter. I started archery when I was a senior in high school, but never even considered going out hunting with my step-dad. At the time, my mom likely wouldn't have allowed it, since I’m her baby girl. She had a difficult enough time with it this season, even though I’m 23 years old and have been married for over a year. However, between my step-father’s excitement to finally have a hunting buddy (neither of my step-brothers have ever taken an interest), and my own determination to go, my mom reluctantly held back her objections.

I spent weeks preparing for the start of bow season. I practiced as often as I could, focusing on improving my ability to hold my bow drawn for an extended period and keep it steady, and spent countless hours completing the online hunter’s safety course. I bought and borrowed all the accessories I thought I would need (my being hired at Bass Pro Shops in late October was no coincidence!). My mom would say I enjoyed the shopping as much as the hunt and that wouldn't be untrue...I love to shop. I enjoy looking good, even if there’s no one but the squirrels and the birds to see me. My husband, a U.S. Navy sailor deployed in the Atlantic, emailed me more than once about what all I could possibly have spent so much on at Bass Pro. I easily won him over with the promise of deer jerky and by saving extra money the next month. 

View from a blindWhen I decided I wanted to go hunting, I daydreamed a lot about the deer I would get; my heart was set on getting a buck. After all, I needed a trophy to mount on my wall and a pair of antlers seemed like a perfect crown for my achievement. A nice little six-point buck didn't seem like it could be too hard to get, and I was hunting with my step-father who gets at least one deer every bow season. Well, deer season has come and gone, and I don’t even have ground venison to show for all my efforts (sorry hubby, no jerky). The most important lesson I learned about hunting is that you can’t shoot what you don’t see and, after passing up more than one shot early on in the season, I didn't see much at all. I had never realized that just being in the right place at the right time is such a huge part of hunting. You can do all the recon you want with your trail cameras and looking for scrapes and prints; it doesn't guarantee that the deer will be there when you are. 

One of the first things I learned was that I am not a quiet person. People who know me might scoff at that, since I’m more inclined to listen than to do most of the talking in a conversation. However, I fidget, stomp, squeak my chair, rustle around in my pack, sneeze, blow my nose, cough, and occasionally snore. These normally inconsequential and unnoticeable habits seem very loud when you are trying to be as quiet as possible and lie in wait for an animal with incredible hearing. I often wonder if the times that we didn't see any deer were because I wasn't quiet enough. Support Pole grazed by Arrow

On one of my first times out I had a beautiful eight-point buck come walking across my sights.  We were in my step-dad’s ground blind and conditions that day were fairly close to perfect. The sun was shining, it was cool, and the wind was blowing elsewhere, but not in the field's edge where we were crouched. The buck stopped about 25 yards away from us, quartering away from me. I drew my bow and took aim, barely able to keep from shaking with excitement. I kept him in my sights, as he took a few steps more, and gently pulled the trigger on my release. One of the difficulties I had with the release was my tendency to punch the trigger, but this time, my pull was smooth as silk.  Everything about the shot felt perfect and right...for about a half of a heartbeat. Then my broadhead grazed one of the support poles on the blind, and my arrow went flying off into the weeds to the left. As I gazed in shocked dismay, my beautiful buck, that should have been ready to keel over, pranced away after a doe. Three hours later, after nothing else came by, my step-dad and I began our search for my arrow. After about a half an hour, we gave up and I was back to Bass Pro to have new arrows cut. The lesson I learned that trip was to be more aware of my surroundings. I should have realized that the support pole was in my way, but I had tunnel vision and only saw the deer.

During another trip, my step-dad and I had nestled our ground blind in amid some tall grass and a deadfall. We knew the area well and spotted tracks that were fairly fresh; we felt confident we would see something that evening. We saw nothing, but I hung in there even though it was a mere fourteen degrees out. Finally, in the last minutes of shooting time, we heard something. I prepared to draw my bow. Suddenly, we heard a buck behind us. Somehow, the buck managed to sneak around us and came upon our blind from behind. We managed to startle each other and the buck took off. We had placed our blind strategically, so that the deer would take the path in front of us. Lesson learned: Deer don’t always stick to the path. Sometimes, they are unpredictable.

I did the majority of my hunting from my step-dad’s ground blind, but there were a couple of occasions when we went out and did some stalking. Later on in the season, we were hunting down by the river. Being goose season, as well as bow season for deer, the spot we picked was not ideal. As the goose hunters got closer to us, we realized that we wouldn't see anything. The noise from the shotguns had likely scared off all the deer off. So we decided to leave the blind and stalk. I got to know the woods pretty well at that time. Thus, when hunting on my own one day, I thought little of going off and seeing if I could find some deer somewhere other than where I was at. I did just fine for the most part, but then, on my way back, I somehow got turned around. I was lost. The big mistake I had made, though, was that I had left my pack at the blind, including my emergency kit, hunter’s license, and ID.  While nothing happened, and I managed to find my way back (slightly worse for wear and a little dehydrated), I did get a bit of a scare and learned a crucial lesson about not being stupid: never ever leave your emergency supplies.

My step-dad and I made a few hunting trips down to my uncle’s place near Indianola. My uncle has a decent amount of land to hunt on, and he and my cousin both managed to get large bucks early in the season. On our first trip down, I drank a decent amount of coffee, as traveling down there meant we had to get up an hour earlier than normal. Suffice it to say, the lesson I learned here was that a hunter never wants to drink too much coffee before going hunting, especially as it gets colder out.Hunting Cat

The cold is one of the things I do not like about hunting. I might get bored while waiting, but I don’t mind being bored. I hate the cold though. During bow season, I easily went through two large packs of hand warmers and three large packs of toe warmers, not to mention a ton of the large 18-hour body warmers. I like things that keep me warm. My uncle, like most people who live out in the country, has a few outdoor cats. On one particular trip, one of the kittens followed us down to the food plot. My step-dad positioned himself at one end of the field with me at the opposite end.  The little kitten was not inclined to leave us, and we weren't inclined to try and bring her all the way back up to the house, when she would likely just follow us back down again. To make a long story short, the kitten ended up in my coat. To keep her out of the way, I just quickly stuffed her inside and zipped it up. She ended up sitting right on top of my body warmers, and only poked her head out on occasion. She was more than content to stay in my coat and out of the way (for those wondering, no her incredibly loud purring didn't keep the deer away). I learned that sometimes sharing the experience with a friend makes the trip a lot more pleasant. Especially when you don’t get anything.

While I never did get a deer this season, I truly enjoyed the experience and learned a lot. I am continuing my outdoor adventures currently by hunting squirrel and rabbit with pellet gun. I haven’t got anything yet, but hopefully my next hunt will be more successful than my last. The thing I've enjoyed most about hunting is having some bonding time with my step-dad. The whole experience has made me appreciate the outdoors and his knowledge of it even more.  


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"A Season of Memories"

A Season of Memories

By: Jerry L. Costabile

It’s been a memorable deer season so far; the Costabile’s - 2 and the deer - 2. After practicing all summer, the bow season was to open the second week of September in Wisconsin and I couldn’t wait! This was to be the first season that my two youngest sons were going to bow hunt and I could only hope that they would get an opportunity to harvest their first whitetail with a bow and arrow. I was thinking back to my first hunts with my Bear 55# recurve, I’ll just say that I have taken more fish with that bow than deer! I tried to get good with it last year but the fence in the back yard told me that I better stick with my Ross compound.

The boys were shooting pretty darn well by the time the season arrived and they were both excited for the first hunt of the season. Kyle, my youngest had the first opportunity. It was opening weekend and he was sitting in the stand that I was very successful in the previous season. I knew he would see deer and if he could keep his nerves controlled, we could have the first venison of the year. At last light on his first bow hunt, Kyle let an arrow go on a nice buck well within range. The shot was low and the deer ran off unharmed. Deer -1, Us -0. Kyle’s disappointment that evening made me want to work harder to help him be successful, but the memory of his excitement will live with me forever.

We bow hunted thru September and October with numerous deer seen, passed on a few, and had a few that just didn’t give us that ethical shot we all strive for. Then with the first week of November upon us, we were ready for the love sick bucks to make mistakes. There were does around to bring the bucks, we just needed the rut to fire up! But it was a strange season for the rut; it never showed itself like we expected it to in early November. There were just a few scrapes and rubs, the does were walking around without a buck behind them, and the bucks were just not acting like they should.

We continued to hunt and watched as the action stayed the same every day, the does were around, but the bucks weren’t chasing them. One of the strangest early Novembers I have seen, one for the memory.

Jake was going to college and working two jobs, so his time in the stand was limited. He came home for a weekend at the beginning of November and was ready to get out to his stand. On the evening of the 7th, right at last light, a nice buck came into view on his left. In a matter of seconds, Jake was presented with a broadside shot at his first deer with a bow. With it all happening so fast, he didn’t even have time to get nervous, once the deer was in front of him at 17 yards he drew back and let the arrow fly. His practice paid off, a perfect double lung shot put the 9 pointer down at about 50 yards. His first bow harvest is a nice buck! I happen to be hunting with him that evening so it was exciting for me to be part of this. As we were dragging the buck back to the truck, I looked over and realized that the boy that had helped me many times before with this job was now a man. He didn’t see the tears of pride that I shed in the darkness as we made our way to the truck, but I know that this memory will live with me forever. Deer – 1, Us – 1.

Gun season arrived and the cold of winter right along with it. Opening day found us with subzero wind chills and snow cover. The boys and I hunted for three days in the north woods of Wisconsin, we saw deer, but the deer didn’t read the script as to how to cooperate. After a couple of close calls, we headed back to the southeastern part of the state without firing a shot. I think the boys were more disappointed than I was, but I reminded them that we still have a lot of season left and we’ll get another opportunity to fill our tags.

The three and a half hour drive back, gave me time to reflect on the last three days I just spent with my two youngest sons. The memories we had just created were much more valuable to me than the harvesting of a deer. Sure it would have been awesome if they would have gotten a deer, but to me, it was a success just because we were together. There were laughs at the motel room, laughs in the truck, and laughs out hunting. The laugh out hunting was at my expense, I had a bottle of water in the back of my vest that partially froze on an evening hunt. As I made my way out of the woods in the dark, I kept hearing a noise behind me that sounded just like something walking on the frozen snow covered leaves. I must have looked like a dog chasing his tail as I spun around in a circle, with my gun at ready, trying to find the creature chasing me! When I realized it was the frozen water sloshing in the plastic bottle, I laughed at myself out loud, and glad no one saw me. When I told the story to the boys, they laughed hysterically! Those memories will live with me forever.

Upon getting back home from our trip, we unloaded all of our gear and without any time wasted, the boys grabbed their bows, jumped into my truck and headed out to their stands. I guess they weren’t done yet! I’m always a little nervous when they are out there and I am not with them. They know to keep in touch with me; I want to know when they are up in their stands and when they get down. I guess texting isn’t so bad! I sat in the living room, tired from an early start that morning hunting, and the long drive back. I was doing my usual worrying and wondering about the boys and it had been dark for a few minutes and I hadn’t heard from them, so I called Jake. When he answered the phone, I could tell by the excitement in his voice that something happened. “Dad, I just shot at the biggest buck I have ever seen!”  “Did you hit him?” I asked. “I don’t know, I saw the Lumenoc when it left my bow, but I can’t see it now.” Jake explained with excitement. After I thought for a minute, I said, “Let’s leave it alone tonight and we will come back in the morning when we have good light.” Jake had a long night thinking about his shot, Morning came and we took up the track the buck left in the snow, with no sign of a hit. I told Jake, “The good, he’s not injured because of a bad shot, the bad, you missed him cleanly. He is still out there and we have a lot of season left.” My words didn’t help the feeling of a miss on a big buck for Jake, but I could only hope he would get another chance. I remember all of the misses I made in my deer hunting and they are memories I relive every season. The deer now 2, and we were still at 1.

The boys and I hunted every chance we had, work schedules, school, sports, all limited our time in the stands. With snow on the ground, we could see there was good deer movement  and felt confident that it was just a matter of time before the next opportunity presented itself.

On December 3rd, I would have a chance to get into my tree stand for an afternoon sit. I got myself ready and was headed out the door with my bow in my hand, but changed my mind at the last minute and decided to use my shotgun instead. I wish I can explain why I changed my mind, but I can’t. It was just one of those moves a hunter makes without knowing why. It was a very foggy afternoon, there was snow on the ground and the temperature was above freezing making a good recipe for fog. After I got into my stand, I realized how thick the fog was. I couldn’t see 100 yards in any direction! I knew that if I were to see a deer, it was going to be in range and appear very quickly. This means that it would disappear just as quick. These thoughts were going thru my mind for the first hour and a half as I was trying to stay mentally ready so nothing slipped by without me seeing it. Around 4:00pm, I had one of those hunter intuitions, I thought to myself, “I could see a big old buck using this fog to slip out of his bedding hideout.” Ten minutes later I looked to my right and sure enough, there he was slipping from the bedding area that the deer have been using all season. If I would have brought my bow, I would have had to watch him disappear into the fog. I could see he was a good buck , so I got my gun ready found him in the scope and with a grunting sound from my mouth,  I stopped him in mid stride. I centered the crosshairs on him and squeezed the trigger only to see him drop straight down and not move again. Big buck down!! After watching for any movement for about fifteen minutes, I climbed down and walked the 75 yards to where the buck went down. As I approached him, I could see that he was a REALLY good buck and got a little excited! Not only did he have great headgear, but his body was huge. This was going to take more than just me to get him back to the truck for sure! I validated my tag, attached it to his antler, and started making phone calls. I took a picture with my phone and sent it to Jake and Kyle, I wanted them to know first even though they weren’t there. After I called some friends for help, but before I started the not so fun job required when you harvest a deer, I lifted his head with my hands holding his antlers and admired him. He was a beautiful example of a whitetail buck, a mature, heavy 9 pointer. “I’m very fortunate” I told myself,  and with closed eyes, I said a silent thank you.

Within a few minutes of sending the picture out, I got a text back from Jake, he said this wasn’t the deer that he missed, and it was bigger!

As of this writing, the score between the deer and the Costabile boys, is tied at 2, but we are not done yet! Our late bow hunting season runs until January 31st and it will take some toughness to sit in January weather, but we’re up to it! Kyle has been hunting hard and he is determined to take a deer with his bow. There were chances to hunt with a gun but I got “no dad, I want to use my bow!”

No matter what the end results are of our deer hunting season, I will have made irreplaceable memories with my two youngest sons that no deer could compare. I hear hunters complain about what they didn’t see or didn’t kill without even thinking of the memories that they lived. Remember it isn’t about the game taken, it’s about the memories made.




"A Daydream Come True"

A Daydream Come True

By: Jerry Costabile

Going back to when I was a young boy growing up on the shores of Lake Michigan, I was fascinated by the late season divers that would appear in late December and January.

Hunting in the southeastern Wisconsin, I saw and hunted mallards, teal and occasionally we would see a diver or two late in the duck season. But I couldn’t wait until those later months when the big water divers started showing up on the lakefront and in the harbors. Goldeneyes, Buffelheads, Redheads, and the duck that fascinated me the most, the oldsquaw.

When I saw a beautiful drake oldsquaw, I watched him dive and reappear 20, 30, 40 yards or better away from where he disappeared. I don’t know why, but I would watch him dive over and over, always hoping to one day to be able to hunt them.

By luck or fate, in early October, I met a gentleman while walking thru the fishing department who was looking at salmon lures. Being the salmon fisherman that I am, (and I love to talk fishing!) I approached him and we learned that we had a lot in common, including duck hunting. Within minutes of introductions, we were on the subject of hunting oldsquaw! Without a hesitation, my new friend, invited myself and my sons to hunt with him and his son in November. This was too much too believe, I wasn’t going to get my hopes up just yet. I have been here before and could only hope that this stranger was going to take us out on this duck hunters dream hunt.

Well, the first week of November I get a call and it is him with the invitation still alive, asking me when we could come up and hunt. I couldn’t believe it; I was going to get to hunt oldsquaw! When I got home that day, I told the boys that this hunt was on and we were going to go on the hunt in the next two weeks. I showed both of my boys what an oldsquaw looked like and how we were going to hunt them. You see this time of the year, these birds are miles off the shores of Lake Michigan and we would be hunting them in lay-out boats in the open water. This is something else that I have always dreamed of doing. Hunting divers from a boat that is about 10 feet long and is only about 6 to 8 inches above the waterline. Most of the boat is below the surface of the water, this allows the hunter to lay very low to the water and create a low profile helping to hide from the ducks. I was coming apart at the seams waiting for that day to come!

With a phone call the evening before we were leaving, I found out that we were going to have good weather and an ideal wind to hunt the big water. The Dodge Ram was packed and ready the night before and I got no sleep with anticipation of the hunt I have thought about every time I saw a drake oldsquaw swimming in the harbor during the winter for all of those years. We pulled out of the driveway at 2:30am and headed north to Two Rivers, Wisconsin. I had a cup of coffee and pure adrenaline to keep me awake for the 2 hour drive, this was it, I was going to be hunting oldsquaw and it looked like nothing was going to stop me!

Upon arriving at the boat launch, there was our crew setting up the boat and equipment for our hunt. To say I was excited was an understatement, I was beside myself! But I had to keep myself under control because I had two teenage boys who were also on a first time hunt. For my youngest son, this was his first real duck hunt, and what a way to be introduced to duck hunting!  After loading our gear into the boat, we were headed down the ramp and launching the tender boat, a 25 foot Duck Water Ocean. This boat is a beast! Loaded on the tender, is a 10 foot Waterfowl-Works UFO layout boat and a 14 foot Bankes Hercules layout boat.

The boat was in the water and we boarded with excitement! Decoy bags stacked everywhere, camouflaged bags and cased guns tucked under the shelves that line the inside of the boat. There were milk crates lined up filled with anchor line and buckets loaded with 100’ and 50’ decoy lines. This boat was well equipped and ready for work!

  With the sun just making a thin line to the east, we headed out for our spot already marked on the GPS. We were in a two to three foot waves and the boat was cutting thru them like a Naval U- Boat.  I must have looked like a dog with its head out of the truck window, I had my chin up and my eyes closed. At that moment, I was thinking how lucky I am to be there and with a prayer and thanks to the man upstairs, I was ready!

Once we determined what the morning flight pattern was going to be that the ducks would use, we started to set up. Layout boats in and anchored, and then the lines of decoys were stretched out to form a perfect pattern that would later pull in hundreds of ducks. When the man said that I would be one of the first in a layout boat, my heart started racing! This was it, I was about to live out a hunt that I have daydreamed about since I was kid. I was watching thousands of ducks flying all around us and knew that we were in the right location.  I want to confess that I studied Outdoor Life and Field & Stream while I was in school, like a valedictorian studied all of those other books! Even though I had never done this before, my long days and nights of cramming and memorizing was about to be put to a test. I knew I was going to pass this one!

I was given a quick rundown of how to enter the layout, and over the side I went. Once I got in and lay down comfortably, my gun and ammo was handed to me and that fast, the tender boat was gone. The other layout would be occupied by my youngest son Kyle. I was a bit nervous with him about thirty yards to my right and this being all new to him. I guess being a dad and not being there to guide him every step of the way, had me feeling a little uneasy. But within minutes, he showed me he was up for the challenge. He dropped his first ever duck, a drake oldsquaw at that, with a beautiful shot! Man was I pumped, now it was my turn, the first pair came in on my left and banked into the decoys perfectly. As they reached the decoy spread, I sat up, took aim, and missed. Not once, but twice! “OK Jerry, calm down and figure it out!” I said this out loud and reloaded. Then another pair came beautifully into the spread, and flying directly at me. When they got into about twenty yards, I sat up and followed the lead duck and fired. Bingo, first bird down! Just like Kyle had done, I radioed the tender boat that I had a bird down and they pushed the throttle of the 250 hp Mercury Optimax Pro X/S down and raced into scoop up my bird with a fish net and raced back out to about 400 yards to wait for the next downed bird.

This went on for about 45 minutes until we both had three birds. The last bird I shot was a gorgeous drake oldsquaw and when the tender crew picked up the bird, over the radio I heard “Jerry, you will want to have this one mounted, it’s a beauty!” If my day would have ended right then, I was happy. The one duck that I had wanted to harvest since I was a young boy was now waiting for me.

After the next two guys got in to the layout boats, and I was on board the tender boat, I held in my hand, this amazing bird that I had so much respect and admiration for. I bowed my head and thanked its creator for allowing me to fulfill a dream with this beautiful bird.

The morning finished with a limit of oldsquaw for everyone, and after the gear was stowed in the tender, we headed back to shore. Once pictures were done and everything loaded back in the Dodge, we headed north to hunt the next day in a new location and another species of duck. But that’s another story.

Thank you to my boys, Jake and Kyle, for living this lifelong adventure with me. As I get older, these times together mean a lot to me. I love you guys.

Mike and Greyson, you guys are true ambassadors to the waterfowl nation!

 JJ, of JJ’s Guide Service, nobody works harder to see that the job gets done.






Bow Season is Upon Us

September 28th is opening weekend for bow season this year and it is approaching quickly. This time of the year the archery department is busy seven days a week as people are tuning up bows, honing in their skills and getting prepared for the season. As you hunters look over your gear and evaluate possible upgrades or some adjustments, know that Bass Pro Shops in Garland has well trained bow techs and avid bow hunters working at the counter. We are confident in working on or with any bow you may bring into our shop.  So if you notice that your old arrow rest may look worn or a bit outdated please bring it up to us. Our techs will suggest a rest that is affordable and compatible for your setup. Or perhaps your sight just is not as bright as you may want, we have plenty of sights that are affordable and maintenance free. The convenient features found in these two products allow hunters to make last minute adjustments without having to spend a lot of time setting everything back up. A quick swap of a sight or rest can make the difference in bagging your 2013 trophy.

One rest I would like to mention is the Trophy Ridge Whisker Biscuit. This whisker biscuit is offered in several sizes and either black or camo. At a $39.99 price point, this arrow rest is affordable and features easy adjustability that puts you the shooter back on target in no time. (Prices will range $39.99-$69.99 depending on features and color)

Arrow Rest

 A fiber optic sight I would suggest looking at would be the Trophy Ridge Outlaw 4 pin sight. This sight is light weight and has four .019” fiber optic pins. Other special features include a sight light and it is ambidextrous so it will mount to either a right or left handed bow. This is a tough sight to beat at the price of $49.99 and it makes for an excellent last minute upgrade to improve your odds this season. Come in and see us here at Bass Pro Shops in Garland and let us help make this year’s bow season one of your best. 

Outlaw Bow Sight


Choosing the Perfect Bow

When choosing a bow, the first thing you need to do is research the different bows that are out on the market.  There are many different makes and styles of bows.  A few we carry are the Diamond’s Infinite edge $349.99, PSE’s Stinger $399.99, and Bear’s Outbreak $399.99.  They may have a lot of the same things in common. As you compare all makes and models, you will begin to narrow it down.  You have to decide what your main priorities are.  Do you want speed? Are you concerned with noise? How about comfort?  These are just a few things that you should consider.  Then, talk to people that you know who own bows.  Get their opinions. This will also help narrow the bows down. 

Before going in to pick out a bow, you must determine what your dominate eye is.  This can be done by holding your hands out in front of you.  Make a triangle by overlapping the space between your index finger and thumb with the same space on your opposite hand. Look at an object through the triangle hole made by your hands, preferably something round like a door knob. Focus on the object not your hands. Now close one of your eyes. If you still see the object with your left eye open, you are left eyed dominate. If you still see the object with your right eye open you are right eyed dominate.

Once you have found out your eye dominates the fun part begins. Getting the bow in your hands and shooting.  I would recommend that you try out as many as you can.  Now keep in mind you only want to try a few out at a time, because it can start to get very overwhelming.  Get a couple, and shoot them side by side.  Once you have come down to the bow you want, it has to be set up for you.    

When setting the bow up to fit you, we have to decide what your anchor point is going to be. This can be done by using the tip of your nose.  You can also use the corner of your mouth with a kisser button.  If you can get more than one anchor point, is even better.  This helps in finding out where to set your draw length.  Another thing to think about is will you be using a release or shooting with fingers. It will also help later on when you begin the sighting in process. 

The next step is to find your correct draw weight.  There is no mathematical equation to determine what your draw weight should be.  This is something that must be comfortable to you. Some people opt for a draw weight that is slightly lighter, with the idea that they can hold the bow at full draw longer in a hunting situation.  Others want the increased arrow speed a heavier draw weight can allow. 

Once your draw length and weight have been adjusted, you will have to purchase arrows.  Much like bows, there are many makes out there. Arrows are determined off of what your draw length and draw weight is.  You have to also decide what you are going to do with those arrows.  Are you going to hunt with them, or is it just for target shooting only?  Once that is decided we can measure the arrow to your bow.

As you start this journey in choosing a bow, remember to do as much research as possible.  Shoot the different makes and models. Find your dominate eye. Pick the bow that meets your needs.  Determine the arrows that are going to work the best for you.

Feel free to come in to your local Bass Pro Shops and we will be glad to assist you!