The Thrill Of The Hunt is a weekly blog about all things hunting. Each week our hunting expert Ralphy will discuss a different hunting related topic. Ralphy lives in Montana and has hunted everything in the state for over 35 years. So tighten up your boots, make sure you have plenty of water, and expect to improve your success in the field.
Hello fellow hunters. My name is Ralphy and I will be your guide for this hunting blog. With the multitude of season dates for different species throughout the USA I will try my best to discuss topics that are relevant to your state’s seasons.
I would like to disclose right up front that I am not compensated by any of the hunting retailers. I will only suggest products that have worked for me in the field.
In my home state of Montana we are right in the middle of turkey, antelope, deer, and elk archery seasons. Fall is my favorite time of year and with so many species available to hunt I don’t know what to do.
Generally speaking I only hunt turkeys in the spring. Turkeys are fun to hunt in the fall and very challenging, but big game hunting normally wins. This leaves me with antelope, deer, and elk to choose from to burn some boot leather.
For my first couple of articles I will discuss archery and gear in a general nature. Once we are outfitted with the proper gear I will start to discuss hunting individual species.
First and foremost with archery preparation is extremely important. I shoot year around to keep my skills honed. There is no way around practice. Practice makes perfect. An archer has to be deadly accurate and practice is the only way to achieve this accuracy.
I normally shoot at least 20 arrows a five days a week in my yard to stay sharp. My effective range is 50 yards. I have determined my effective range by consistently being able to keep my arrows in a paper plate size group at that range.
It is very important that you determine your effective range and do not try to exceed it for any reason. If your effective range is 20 yards then respect the animal your hunting enough to only take shots up to 20 yards. DO NOT try a “hail Mary” 50 yard shot at that big buck or bull.
A month before a season starts I began shooting with broad heads. Practice arrow are fine, but the do not fly the same as broad heads. I number my arrows and keep a log of how each arrow is performing. My quiver holds four arrows, so I will take my four most accurate arrows on the hunt. I don’t have separate practice and hunting arrows. All of my arrows are potential hunting arrows and have to prove themselves before they are allowed in the quiver.
If you have any questions how to properly shoot I highly recommend Bernie Pellerite’s Idiot Proof Archery. In my opinion it is the Bible of how to shoot a bow properly.
Another thing I do year around to prepare myself for archery season is exercise at least three days a week with resistance bands by simulating the bow pulling motion. Several companies make resistance bands specifically for bow hunters. It is very important that an archer can pull back his or her bow cold at any time.
While we are on the topic of exercise it goes without saying that you need to be in shape to hunt effectively. I generally walk four or five times a week at varying distances. When possible I walk outside and try to walk over rough terrain and up and down hills. If I can’t make it outside I use a treadmill. Also be sure to carry a pack as much as possible to get body used to the extra weight.
If you have the time weight lifting can be very effective for hunters. I am not saying you need to look like Arnold, but some general weight lifting will certainly help all aspects of your hunting. What exercises are the best? Depends on how much time you have and your experience level. The basic three exercises bench, squats, and dead lifts are a great way to start.
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So at this point we can assume you are in shape and you are shooting accurately. Let’s take a look at the gear you will need. I like to follow the K.I.S.S. principal in regards to gear. Keep It Simple Stupid!
Archery is filled with amazing gadgets. However, archery is a sport that takes place in a rough environment. You gear needs to be able survive a variety of temperatures, moistures, sun levels, and dirt levels. With elements in mind I try to pick the simplest, toughest gear possible. Of course weight of the gadget is always a factor as well.
Let’s start out with bows. Honestly every major bow manufacture makes a bow that will easily kill an animal. What is important with a bow is that is setup with the proper draw length, draw poundage, and it is quit. I shoot a 20 plus year old PSE Thunderbolt. There are a lot of bows on the market today that are more advanced. However, I feel very comfortable with this bow and that is what really matters. Get a bow that you can shoot well. Keep your bow tuned, lubed, and quit.
In regards to arrow rests I love the whisker biscuit. It is simple, quiet, and has no moving parts. When the pressure of making a shot is on the line I simply have to slide an arrow into the rest and there is no way it can fall out. I keep a spare bristle ring with me at all times. I have never had a problem with this rest.
I am a huge fan of the Winner’s Choice bowstring. This string is pre-stretched and does not require any plastic tubing to keep the string straight. I always keep a spare string and field bow vise in the pickup just in case.
Releases, if you use one, are a very individual item. Basically choose one that fits you and you feel comfortable shooting. Once you find a good one buy a second one exactly like it and always carry it in your pack. Be sure to keep them oiled.
I use carbon arrows. I love the fact that they are either straight or broken. Just be sure to pick the right weight for your setup. Regarding fletching I use Quick Spin vanes. They perform well with broad heads. I have used Thunderhead broad heads for years and never have had any complaints. They are simple and do the job. Be sure to install new blades before every hunt. I am pretty anal in this area, but I replace the blades every couple of days even if the arrow never leaves my quiver. If the arrow leaves my quiver I change them at the end of the day.
Finally I use a metal pin site. I keep a spare pin in my backpack and duplicate site in my pickup. A lot of guys use the fiber-optic sites. Personally I have never seen a fiber optic site that looks sturdy enough to take to the field. My metal pins are nearly indestructible and simple. I paint the end of my sight pins alternating florescent colors. Basically the only advantage of fiber-optic sites is that they give you a better sight view in low light conditions. I am more than willing to sacrifice this advantage to have a sight that is rock solid.
Taped on the side of my metal site is a bracketing gauge specific for the animal I am hunting. I use simple paper brackets because I hunt several species of animals. Several companies make bracketing gauges and they are really handy for quick yard estimations.
In summary make sure you shoot a lot, are in the best shape possible, and have reliable, simple gear. Follow the tips in this article and I will guarantee you a more successful hunting season.