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12 Tips to Help You See More Deer on Archery Opener

August 3, 2018 in General, Hunting

Archery Opener

1) Have Your Eyesight Checked and Improve Your Vision

Often hunters overlook the most critical tool to successful hunting – vision. I’ve always thought if you wear glasses, you can see better than people who don’t, and 20/20 vision and experience in hunting and shooting are enough to make someone a productive hunter. However, no matter how well you see, you can be taught to see better and to recognize what you see more quickly and accurately. According to optometrists I’ve spoken with, vision is the ability to use what you see to perform some task. For example, you use your eyesight to see a truck coming your way, but by using your vision, you know what to do to keep from getting run over.

“Being able to see deer in the woods, distinguishing bucks from does, perceiving direction of flight and then reacting quickly enough to take a shot are learned skills that can be developed and improved,” said Dr. Gary Etting, a developmental optometrist in Encino, California, who has worked with sports vision skills for U.S. Olympic teams.Archery Opener

2) Spend Twice as Much Time Scouting as Hunting

Bowhunter Dr. Robert Sheppard of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, says that to know you’ll have a buck in front of you on opening day, “Spend at least two hours scouting for every one hour hunting. Then less time is required to bag a buck.”

3) Pick Up Sheds and Use a Spotting Scope

Wildlife biologist Bob Zaiglin of Uvalde, Texas, reports that searching for shed antlers in the spring and the summer helps you to learn the numbers and sizes of bucks on the land you hunt. “Look for sheds and deer at naturally-occurring and manmade mineral licks in the summer to identify where deer are staying, besides watching farm crops, food plots and pastures to spot velvet anglers. I also use a spotting scope with a window mount to see deer from my truck in the summer.”

4) Meet the People Who Know Deer Where You Hunt

These people may see and know the locations of bucks on private and public lands and lands available for leasing – landowners, farmhands, wildlife biologists, foresters, timber cutters, school bus drivers, town barbers, bankers and postmen.

5) Know What Deer EatArchery Opener

Since deer are browsers and feed on more than 600 various types of plants, nuts and crops, you often can locate deer at many places. The local wildlife biologist for private and/or public lands can give you ideas of what the deer in your area prefer to eat at different times of the year.

6) Diagram a Green Field and Prepare Tree Stands and Shooting Lanes

First determine if a green field has quick access to dense cover, experiences little hunting pressure and is close to a place where deer travel. Identify the deer trails, pinpoint the best places for tree stands, and determine which way to approach a green field without your scent being carried there. Note that information in your GPS or logbook. Cut shooting lanes.

7) Pinpoint a Buck’s Core Area

“A deer must have three elements in its core area: food, water and cover, with cover being the most important,” Dr. Grant Woods, wildlife biologist from Reeds Spring, Missouri, says. “I define cover as a place where a deer feels secure and can avoid any disturbance that disrupt him by making him uneasy or raising his metabolic rate. Also constant wind direction influences the site a buck chooses for his core area, since deer use their noses more than their eyes for protection.”Archery Opener

8) Study Maps to Save Time Scouting

To look for places deer likely will be at the beginning of deer season, use Google Earth, Huntstand and OnX maps. With your cell phone’s GPS, you can get to the sites where you want to hunt with Huntstand and OnX, even in regions with no cell service. Also ( produces custom topographical maps, revealing where the high and low ground and water sources are. The aerial views can show you how much of the area is forested, nearby water sources and any development not visible from roads.

9) Set Aside a Sanctuary for Deer

The older, bigger bucks are the first deer to escape hunting pressure and move to sanctuary areas. One of the most common types of sanctuary areas are regions too hard to reach or too far away from an access road for most hunters to get. The second are little patches of thick cover that hunters walk past or don’t consider that they’re holding nice bucks. Alex Rutledge, nationally-known deer hunter from Birchtree, Mo., says, “Effective sanctuaries must have little or no human traffic.”

10) Choose Your Stand Site Last at Hunting Camp

Dr. Keith Causey, a retired professor of wildlife at Auburn University, once told me, “When I’m hunting private lands, I let everyone I’m hunting with pick the stand sites they want to hunt from that day. Then I take the area that no one else wants to hunt, and that’s often where I encounter bigger bucks – particularly on opening day.”

11) Use Attractants and Feeders Where Legal and Trail CamerasArchery Opener

To locate a buck to hunt on opening day, you need to be able to stop him, take a picture of him, watch him as his antlers grow and see where he goes after he leaves your attractant or feeder. Walk the edges of green fields to discover deer trails, and ask others about traditional deer trails.
A trail camera will help you determine what time of day or night the deer are appearing, as well as give you an idea of the buck-to-doe ratio on the property. Several cameras on the land will enable you to learn what trails bucks travel and where they are bedding.

12) Consider Hunting Cattle Farms

Alex Rutledge prefers to hunt cattle farms with their highly-nutritious soils that produce grasses and hay year-round and have water and pastures with thickets and shade trees. “The same needs of cattle equal all the same needs deer have.”

Written by John E. Phillips

Bow Season Starts Now: Summer Prep for Serious Hunters

July 31, 2018 in Articles, General, Hunting

Bow Season

The very first time I shot a “real” bow, I missed. When I say I missed, I mean the entire target… at 10 yards. I can still hear the sound of that Easton Gamegetter XX75 arrow skipping off the trees and rocks, breaking apart to its final resting place in the woods behind my childhood home. Maybe an archaeologist will find the mangled aluminum wreckage someday… I sure couldn’t.

It was my brother’s High Country Sky Force, some of you may remember that bow. It had dual-hatchet cams and that unmistakable early-90s camo. It was, for seven-year-old me, the most beautiful thing in the world, despite the fact that I couldn’t hit water in the middle of the Atlantic with it. I learned a few valuable lessons that day. First, if you want to be good at something, you need to work at it. Second, I don’t like to miss. Some may say it crosses the line into loath. Lastly, I wanted to know why I missed.

A few months later, my dad scraped up the money and bought me my very own bow. Thus began my journey into all things archery. Bowhunting, 3D, target, indoor, field, if there was a bow involved, I wanted to be signed up. Honestly, I’m glad I missed that first arrow. It ignited a desire to get better, develop my shooting and bowhunting skills, and it allowed me to learn why I missed.

Speaking of bow season, as hunters, we spend thousands of dollars on leases, countless hours setting treestands, setting trail cameras, planting food plots, scouting and much more leading up to bow season. We spend more time, effort and money than we care to admit in preparation of setting ourselves up for the perfect situation. Now, how many of us put that same amount of time and effort into the one factor we can actually control in this situation: shooting our bows?

This isn’t a “shoot your bow more” article, although we all should. This is the nuts and bolts of practicing more effectively and preparing your equipment for the moment of truth, and there’s no time like the present to prepare for bow season.



The most basic of the previously mentioned processes are your points of contact: feet to the ground, release hand, and grip position on the bow. You wouldn’t guess it, but just slightly changing the position of your feet (from neutral to open or closed stance) can drastically change impact points. Essentially, you are changing everything about your form from your hips all the way up to your shoulders, which will alter your orientation to the target. Find a stance that is comfortable for you and make sure your feet are in the same position, or as close to it as possible depending on terrain, each time you draw your bow.

Release hand position—or more importantly the consistency of that position— is important, but so is how you activate the release. You’ve probably heard about back tension, hinge releases, trigger releases, hand held releases, half-moons, click or no click, and the list goes on and on. At this point it’s important to find what works for you and what you can do every time you shoot your bow. Repeatability is the absolute key to accuracy in archery.

A repeatable grip position (with minimal lateral torque on the bow) is also important, but I’ve found through my own failures and testing that I have to make serious errors with my bow hand to have any noticeable impact differences inside of 50 yards, but the smallest deviation in form and position in my release hand can cause “flyer arrows” at 20 yards. Focus on how your release fits into your hand and how you are applying pressure to make the release fire.


Introducing someone new to the sport is a more than worthwhile venture in the summer. Not only do you get another shooting partner and someone to enjoy archery and bowhunting with, but it also helps you work through your archery frustrations prior to bow season.

TIP: You inherently have to break archery down into individual components when bringing someone green into the bowhunting fold. Doing so will not only help the newcomer, but it will also help you get back to those basics and take stock of the necessary things we all take for granted with archery.


There is a disconnect between every other organized sport and shooting a bow. In those organized sports, training is broken down into individual elements. It would be unheard of for a football team to scrimmage every minute of every practice without working on the fundamentals of the game. However, this is precisely what most of us do for archery. We draw our bow, make some shots, pull the arrows, and repeat. In essence, we are learning how to score arrows on the target, not how to shoot them in the middle and why they go in the middle.

Try breaking archery into the processes necessary to shoot a bow and work on a specific aspect of archery each time you find yourself at the range this summer. In simple terms, if you don’t break archery down into individual components, you’ll have nowhere to go when you miss— no way to get better because you land on, “I missed and have no idea why.”

TIP: Focus on one specific process at a time. Figure out where your weaknesses are and tackle them in training.


I don’t like the word practice—perhaps one of the few things I have in common with the great NBA player, Allen Iverson. To me, shooting my bow is about building confidence in myself and my equipment. You can’t control the weather. You can’t control the rut. The only thing you can 100% control is how prepared you are to execute the perfect shot when the moment comes. No one makes perfect hunting shots every time they are presented an opportunity. The point is to be as prepared as possible to increase your odds of making a perfect shot during bow season.

TIP: Pick up a shot counter from your local sporting goods store and record the number of perfect shots you make in a practice session. Be honest with yourself. When I say a perfect shot, I’m not talking about where the arrow lands, I mean how it got there. More on this later.



We all know real-life hunting situations do not equal perfect shooting situations. Shooting side hills, where you have uneven footing, affords one of the more technically tricky hunting shots with a bow. Limited hand-torque and keeping your sight bubble level is easier said than done, but keeping your bow level is key to downrange accuracy.

TIP: Make leveling your sight easier when shooting on a side hill by slightly tipping your top cam up the hill while drawing your bow. This allows the top cam to “fall” down the hill, to level, at full draw rather than fighting it “up” the hill to level. How you get the sight level has a significant impact on the amount of torque you are adding to the riser and by letting the top cam fall, you minimize the risk of adding unwanted torque.


If you are hunting out a blind, yes, you should practice sitting down while drawing your bow and executing a shot. We all know this. One thing that many bowhunters have overlooked, myself included, is how differently peep sights and pins look in a dark blind. Aligning your peep sight to your scope housing is critical for repeatable accuracy. It is also very easy to misalign your peep in a dark blind during bow season.

TIP: Paint the inside ring of your scope housing white so you can see it in ultra-low light. Nail polish and whiteout both work great here. Just make sure to give the correct one back to your wife.


Shooting on perfectly level ground is excellent for building proper form, but shooting out of a treestand or from any elevation is an entirely different ballgame. Most hunters have high misses from extreme angles because they have a breakdown in basic form and upper body alignment. Practice bending at the waist rather than bending at the shoulders to maintain proper alignment in your upper body. As Chubbs from Happy Gilmore would say “It’s all in the hips…”

TIP: Bending at the waist also serves to keep your eye-peep-scope housing alignment identical to flat ground. A tiny variation in peep alignment equals massive point of impact differences down range.



Whether you are trying to cure target panic or just can’t seem to hold the pin in the middle long enough, aiming your bow without executing a shot actively works to remedy these problems. I particularly like doing this drill after a day of shooting. Draw the bow, hold the pin in the middle of the target for as long as you can and let your sight picture tell you when you need to let down.

TIP: Repeat this process 5-10 times at the end of a practice session. You’ll be amazed at how difficult it is, at first, and how quickly your stamina and aiming improves leading up to bow season.


A recent trend in bowhunting is to shoot ultra-heavy arrows. To do this effectively, you’ll need to hit the gym—lifting weights so you can draw 90-pounds and shoot arrows that are heavy enough to nearly be classified as rebar. Or so some say… There are more factors to penetration than a heavy arrow. The most important of these, from my testing, is arrow flight. I’ll take a 50-pound bow with a light arrow flying perfectly and delivering all its energy on the tip of the broadhead over a 70-pound bow with a 600-grain arrow flying like a sputtering bottle rocket. Drawing more weight and having a perfectly tuned arrow is ideal, but you don’t have to run out and drop $180 on ultra-heavy arrows to get the penetration you need on most North American game.

TIP: Tuning your bow for perfect arrow flight with broadheads, broadhead design, and shot placement are far more critical, in my opinion, than slapping a heavy arrow and a setup and calling it good.


What’s the most critical part of a bowhunting setup? Is it the bow riser? The broadheads? Making sure your accessories match the color of your fletchings? Kidding. Without a doubt, strings and cables are the most critical and overlooked piece of equipment on a setup. They are the engine that drives the bow. They are also the most fragile and prone to wear. How often you need to change them varies significantly from person to person, depending on how much you shoot, how well maintained they are, how they are built, etc.

TIP: If you can’t remember the last time, if ever, you changed your strings and cables, change them over the summer. This way you’ll have enough time to get your bow shooting at tip top performance rather than changing them mid-bow season.


Arguably the most crucial piece of summer practice advice: count “good” arrows by how they got to the target, not where they land on the target. Proper form and executing the same shot, every shot, is the key to consistent accuracy. There are many ways to shoot a bow, but only one right way for you, and that comes down to shooting the same “shot” every time you draw your bow. Figure out what is most repeatable for you and build your form around that. You’ll be ready for bow season before you know it.

Written by Matthew Bray

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Photos courtesy of Realtree