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Published by bigbearsarchery on 21 Jun 2008

What It Means To Be A Bowhunter

What It Means To Be A Bowhunter

By

Craig Gillock

 

 

Bowhunter.  That’s a word many of us use to describe ourselves.  We say it with pride and conviction.  It describes who we are and what we do.  We wear it as a badge of honor.  Why?  What is it about that word and what it implies that motivates so many of us to do all the things we do?  What does it mean to be a bowhunter?

The answer to that question is very complex and no one answer is enough to explain it all.  Add to that the fact that bowhunting means something different to everyone and it makes the question almost impossible to answer.  So with that in mind I’m going to explain what being a bowhunter means to me.

Bowhunting is more than sitting in a tree stand, waiting for an animal to come walking by.  Bowhunting is a 365 days a year commitment.  It’s scouting, planting food plots, putting out game cameras, making mineral licks, studying maps, acquiring hunting ground, setting stands, constant practice with your bow, and so many other things.  Bowhunting isn’t a hobby, it’s a lifestyle.

 

Post Season Scouting and Winter Leagues

 

My hunting season starts in late January and February as soon as the late archery and muzzleloader season close.  During this time I pay extra attention to the deer I see, trying to make a list of which bucks made it through and where I’m seeing them.  This list provides me with a good starting point when I’m picking locations for mineral licks, food plots, and setting my trail cameras.

Another important habit I’ve developed during this time of year is shooting in as many winter leagues as I can.  If you want to become a better shooter and improve your accuracy nothing will help you accomplish this faster than shooting in a league with other bowhunters.

One of the truly great things about bowhunters is the feeling of family and friendship that develops between the guys and gals who share the range and the woods.  When you shoot in a league you’re giving yourself the opportunity to watch and be around other shooters and to learn about and see new products.  I consider winter leagues to be one of the most important things I do all year.

 

Deer Health and Shed Hunting

 

Early spring rolls around and for most of March and April I find myself in the woods and the fields.  This is the time when I put out mineral licks and begin preparing the ground for food plots.  I refer to this point in my season as promoting deer health.  The mineral licks serve two purposes.  First, they act as an attractant, drawing the deer into my hunting areas, allowing me to again take stock of how many animals are around.  Second, and more importantly, they provide the deer with the vital minerals and nutrients they need to promote good health and antler growth.

Shed hunting is another activity that takes up a lot of my time early in the spring.  I shed hunt mainly because it’s fun and it gives me another opportunity to be in the woods.  But shed hunting is also an important scouting tool because it gives you yet another chance to see what bucks made it through the previous season.

 

Food Plots, Turkeys, and Foam

 

As spring gets into full swing and the first signs of summer start to show on the trees and in the fields it’s time that I put in my food plots. My favorite places to plant are tucked back into the corners of fields or next to a good watering source.  I tend to plant mainly clover with a little bit of chicory mixed in.  The added forage not only helps attract deer but will help hold them well into hunting season.

Late April and may also offer another opportunity for bowhunters, turkey season.  Taking a mature gobbler with your bow can be one of the most challenging endeavors a bowhunter can undertake.  A turkey’s eyesight makes drawing a bow on them next to impossible.  When I first started hunting turkeys with my bow I approached it in much the same way as I approached deer hunting.  I would set up along a field edge or in some timber, call and if I got one to come in range, draw my bow.  The problem was that’s as far as I’d get.  When I’d draw they would bust me and bug on out.  I once even tried stalking to within bow range on some birds while hunting in Oklahoma.  The result was a recreation of the scene in the movie Jurassic Park where all the velociraptors rush past the camera, only instead of dinosaurs it was two or three hundred turkeys running or flying away.

I have since started hunting turkeys from a ground blind and have met with much greater success.  Blinds conceal your movement and allow you to set up virtually anywhere.  Just this past April I set up my blind in the middle of a wide open 300 acre hay field and took a nice gobbler at only 7 yards.  My friend Aaron sat in the blind with me and videoed the hunt.  That’s another great thing about turkey hunting; it provides plenty of opportunities to hunt with your friends.

The onset of warmer temperatures in April and May also signals the beginning of the 3-D season.  In my opinion competing in 3-D tournaments is one of the best ways to prepare for hunting season.  It allows you to take realistic shots at realistic targets in realistic hunting conditions.  Competing in these tournaments is also a fantastic way to hone your skills at judging yardage.  Besides, they’re also a lot of fun.

 

Pushing Down the Stretch

 

We’ve now arrived at one of the most critical and challenging times of the year for bowhunters, the dog days of summer.  The months of June, July, and August often leave little time to think about hunting.  Most of our time is taken up with work, family vacations, picnics, or any number of other activities one can enjoy during these warm weather months.  In spite of all this you need to find the time to put out your scouting cameras and begin placing your stands.  The information gathered at this time can be the best indicators of where deer will be at the start of hunting season.  Photos gathered now will tell you what bucks are around and how big they are.  These final pieces of the puzzle will help you make the best plan possible for the fast approaching bow season.

All this time I’m also continuing to practice my shooting.  There are numerous 3-D tournaments all summer long, plus this is the best time to practice with your broadheads.  Taking the time now to properly tune your equipment will pay off big this fall.

 

I am a Bowhunter

 

Summer begins to fade and the cooler temperatures and vibrant colors of fall start to show.  This is the time of year you’ve spent the past eight months getting ready for.  It’s the time when all your hard work and information you’ve gathered is put to use.  It is the reason you are the way you are.

So what does it mean to be a bowhunter?  It means a lot of things to a lot of people.  For me it’s a year round adventure, for others it’s something to occupy the time for a while.  What it means to you is for you to decide.  It can be as much or as little as you make it.  Whatever you decide, have fun.  That’s what being a bowhunter is really all about.

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Published by supernova on 02 Jun 2008

All About Optics

The information contained in this article was obtained from Vortex Optics’ brochure with the same title.

How do binoculars work?

All binoculars, regardless of their size and shape, function in the same, straightforward way:

  1. Light comes to and moves through the objective lenses.
  2. Light then travels through prisms (which correct the image orientation in all directions; up-down, left-right).
  3. Finally, light moves through the eyepieces (which magnify the images) and then on to the user’s eyes.

What determines image quality?

  1. Optical glass – The quality of optical glass that is used in binoculars will make a difference in how bright, sharp and colorful the view will be. Quality binoculars use dense optical glass that is painstakingly designed, shaped and polished to eliminate flaws. The more sophisticated the glass and techniques employed in its design, the better the images.
  2. Anti-reflection coatings – Binocular lenses are coated with anti-reflection coatings to eliminate internal reflections and light scatterings, reduce glare and produce sharper images with more detail. The type of coatings and the number of coatings applied to the binocular lenses matter tremendously to how brilliant and crisp the view will be.
  3. Exit pupil – The exit pupil is the beam of light that exits each eyepiece of the binocular and enters the users’ eyes. The larger the exit pupil, the brighter and more superior the image will appear, especially under low light conditions (when comparing optics of similar quality). The exit pupil is measured in millimeters, and is calculated by dividing the objective lens by the magnification. An 8×42 binocular, for example, has a 5.25mm exit pupil (42/8=5.25).

Binocular Design

Though they may look different on the outside, on the inside binoculars can only be designed in a few ways:

Galilean design: Used almost exclusively in opera glasses, the Galilean design is very primitive and uses only lenses (no prisms).

Porro prism design: Named after their Italian optical designer, Porro prism binoculars are characterized by the objective lenses being spaced wider apart than the eyepieces. The design is reversed in compact binoculars, with the eyepieces spaced wider than objectives.

Roof Prism design: Named for the “roof-like” appearance of the prisms, the more modern roof prism design features a more complicated design, resulting in the objectives and eyepieces being position in a slim, straight line.

What do the numbers mean?

When you look at a pair of binoculars, you’ll notice a few numbers printed on the binoculars, such as 8×42 (read as 8 by 42), or 12×50. What do these numbers mean? What do they refer to?

  1. Magnification – With a pair of 8×42 binoculars, as in our example, the first number, 8(often expressed as 8x), refers to the magnification the binoculars provide, or how many times larger an object will appear. Binoculars vary in magnification from 4x up to 12x and even higher, but 8x and 10x are most common.

Higher magnification is not necessarily better. As magnification increase, users may have troubling holding the binoculars steady, causing the image to become blurry. An increase in magnification will also generally cause a decrease in image brightness and clarity. 7x .8x magnification is considered adequate for woodland settings, while 10x is preferred for viewing at greater distances.

  1. Objective lens size: The second number in our example binocular 42, refers to the diameter of the objective lens (the lens farthest from your eye) in millimeters. Objective lenses vary in size from 15mm to 50mm and beyond.

The size of the objective lens determines how much light the binoculars can receive and hence how bright and clear the resulting images can be. The size of the objective lens also affects how large or small a pair of binoculars will be. Let your needs and desires help you decide what size objective lenses are right for you. If you use your binoculars only during the brightest times of day or in well-lit areas, then smaller objective lenses (say, under 25mm) will do just fine. If, however, you want the brightest possible image and will be using your binoculars during near-dark conditions (such as at dawn, dusk, or in heavy forest cover), you’ll want to choose larger objective lenses, from 35mm to 56mm.

The greatest factor in determining the weight of a binocular is its objective lens size; the larger the lenses, the heavier the binoculars will be. Again, let your desires dictate what weight is comfortable for you. Compact binoculars can weight between a few ounces to under a pound, while modern full-size binoculars will weight from twenty ounces to around two pounds.

  1. Field of view: Another important number to know is the field of view. The field of view is the widest dimension from left to right that you can see when looking through the binoculars. This specification is usually measured either in linear feet at a distance of 1000 yards, or in angular degrees.

A wider field of view is desirable for many reasons, including but not limited to: following fast moving action, and when scanning in denser backgrounds (grasslands, woodlands, etc.) Note that when magnification is increased, the field of view narrows (sometimes considerably).

Other useful specifications

The following specifications and definitions will aid in your understanding of how binoculars can function best fro you and provide you with the maximum benefit out in the field.

Eye relief: The term eye relief refers to the furthest distance behind the binoculars’ eyepieces at which the whole field of view can be attained, and is measured in millimeters.

The eye relief measurement is of great importance to those that must wear eyeglasses/sunglasses while looking through binoculars, but is also important to anyone planning to use binoculars for long stretches of time.

Binoculars with long eye relief will satisfy the above considerations and will have an eye relief measurement of at least 15mm.

Close focus

The minimum distance to which a pair of binoculars can be focused is called its close focus. Some users desire binoculars that will focus down to 10 feet or less.

Weatherproofing

Binoculars that effectively keep out the elements will inevitably last much longer and keep you satisfied.

Waterproof/fogproof binoculars are sealed with O-rings at all open points to inhibit moisture, dust and debris. The inside of the binoculars is then purged of its atmosphere, which is replaced with an inert gas that has no moisture content. This process, called purging, ensures that the binoculars will not fog internally from high humidity or altitude changes. Nitrogen is the most common gas used when purging optics. A more unique gas, Argon is utilized in select optics to provide a higher level of anti-fogging protection that is maintained over a longer time period.

Warranty

A manufacturer’s included warranty ought to be considered a feature of the binoculars, especially if you plan to get a lot of use out of tem in the outdoors where anything can and usually does happen.

Most manufacturer’s offer a warranty limited only to initial defects, which do not protect you if anything accidental happens in the general course of using your optics.

More progressive warranties, such as the Vortex VIP warranty, keeps your covered in literally any situation, regardless of what happened or who is at fault. The VIP warranty is an unconditional, unlimited warranty that offers the ultimate in customer service and protection.

Spotting scopes

How do spotting scopes work?

A spotting scopes functions essentially the same way a binocular does:

1. Light is gathered and moves through the objective lens of the scope.

2. Light moves through the prisms (which correct the image orientation in all directions; up-down, left-right)

3. Light moves through the eyepiece(which magnifies the image) and then on to the user’s eye.

Spotting scope specifications

Spotting scopes are essentially small telescopes designed primarily for land viewing at longer distances. A spotting score features greater magnifications and a larger objective lens than those offered with binoculars, and as such requires a tripod to be use effectively.

Spotting scopes are generally offered in two sizes, relating to the size of their objective lens; 60mm and 90mm.

60mm scopes are fairly portable and compact, and will offer good image quality for a generally lower price.

80mm scopes will be much brighter than a 60mm scope but will also generally be heavier and potentially bulkier. An 80mm scope will deliver very good image quality at up to 60x magnification.

Spotting scopes are often made available in two body styles, a straight-through design (where the eyepiece is in-line with the objective lens) and an angled design (where the eyepiece is set at a 45-degree angle). One design is not better than the other, but each design does offer some distinct advantages.

Straight-through design advantages:

-Works well with a car winder mount

-Provides natural line-of-sight

Angle design advantages:

Allows for lower mounting height; improves stability, enables for smaller, lighter tripod

-More comfortable for extended times of viewing

As with binoculars, there are other specifications (such as eye relief, weatherproofing, warranty, etc.) that you may want to think about. Eyeglass wearers should look for scopes with at least 15mm of eye relief. Your spotting scope should be fully waterproof and fogproof. As with binoculars, a scope should carry a progressive warrantee. All Vortex spotting scopes are fully waterproof, fogproof and carry the Vortex VIP unconditional unlimited warranty that will offer more piece of mind when out in the field.

What determines image quality?

Most spotting scopes use a Porro prism design that offers a rich three-dimensional view with good image quality. Similar to binoculars, spotting scope image quality is derived from the types of optical glass and optical coatings that are employed in its design. The better the glass and optical coatings, the better the image quality.

Some spotting scopes are offered in two different versions of glass; a “standard” version, and a “high-grade” version. The standard versions employ regular optical glass in their design and generally offer good to very good image quality. The high-grade versions make use of more exotic (and more expensive) glass types that deliver heightened resolution and color. Consider the high-grade versions (if available) if you desire the best possible image in all lighting conditions.

In-Depth, technical instructions on the design, function, and features of binoculars and spotting scopes.

Advanced Optical Design

Binocular and spotting scope optical design is comprised essentially of three components:

  1. Objective lenses
  2. Prisms
  3. Ocular lenses

  1. Objective Lenses:

The Objective lens has one job, to gather light and transmit it to the user’s eyes. In order to gather more light, an objective lens must be made larger. Transmitting more light (which is just a fancy way of saying “delivering” more of the light to the user’s eye) can be achieved by using a higher density optical glass that is carefully cut and polished (and also by applying anti-reflective coatings, which are discussed later). With the relatively small objective lenses in binoculars, high-quality images can be obtained using standard optical glass. Vortex incorporates a XD high-density glass in select binocular models for the absolute highest quality images. In spotting scopes, with their very large objective lenses, Vortex uses the exotic ED glass to achieve the highest possible image resolution, contrast, and color fidelity.

These remarkable ED / XD glass types reduce or eliminate the inherent problems of chromatic aberrations. Chromatic aberrations are the result of a physical reality of color; different colors move at slightly different wavelengths, which means they will have slightly different focal lengths when they pass through optical glass. Chromatic aberrations diminish the resolution and the color fidelity of normal binoculars and spotting scopes. They show up as green and/or purplish ghost images, and are especially apparent under low light conditions.

  1. Prisms

The prisms in a binoculars or spotting scope have two jobs:

-They revert the image, which otherwise be presented to the user upside-down and backwards.

-They shorten binocular length (light bounces in the prisms; its path is shorter through the whole of the binocular than it would be without them)

Porro prism or roof prism?

Porro prism have rich depth and wide field of view and usually employ large prism. However, Porro aren’t very rugged and many people feel they handle poorly. Porros are generally heavier than roof prisms due to the prism size and the use of larger prism housings (the housings are larger due to the bigger prisms, but also from the optical design of the binoculars).

Roof prism can achieve image quality similar to porro prisms, but it costs more (and involves phase correction coatings, discussed later). Also, most roof prism generally can’t replicate the 3-D feel of good quality Porros. However, roof prisms are generally more popular because of their ruggedness and superior handling (more streamlined and lighter weight).

What determines prism quality?

The density of prism glass is important in determining its ability to deliver high-quality images. Also important is the care taken in grinding and polishing the prisms. There are two kinds of glass used to make Porro prisms, boro-silicate (more commonly known as BK-7) and barium-crown (know as BaK-4) glass. BK-7 glass is of inferior quality to BaK-4 glass, and is commonly used in the less expensive binoculars.

The type of glass used in roof prisms is of less consequence than with Porro prism. Roof prisms involve more complicated engineering and have stricter tolerances on their design – these factors have a greater determination on quality. Many manufacturers

Use BaK-4 glass in their roof prism, but some manufacturers don’t release any information on the prism glass type used – it’s a trade secret.

Determining prism glass type:

BK-7 glass prism transmit a distinctive light beam shape, seen when you see the exit pupil of a binocular or scope at a distance of about 8 inches from your eye. BK-7 prisms lose some light as it passes through the prisms.

BaK-7 prisms (or other exotic prism types) transmit more of the light through the prisms, and hence feature exit pupils with a clearly defined circle.


Phase correction?

Many modern room prism binoculars advertise “phase-corrected roof prisms” but what are those? This special kind of coating corrects for an inherent flaw in all roof prism designs.

After light passes through the objective lenses, it is reflected off the mirrored surfaces of the roof prism and split into two out-of-phase beams of light. Light reflected from one roof surface is ½ of a wavelength different from the light hitting the other roof surface. This is sometimes referred to as “out of phase” or “phase shift” Although the light waves are subsequently forces back together when they reach the viewer’s eye, there is a slight reduction in image resolution and contrast.

The phase correction coating, which is applied to the mirrored surfaces of the prism, forces the light beams back into phase, thus improving a roof prism’s resolution and contrast. The coating also enhances color fidelity.

  1. Ocular lenses

The ocular lenses magnify the images that the objective lenses have transmitted. Ocular lens designs incorporate between three-to-six different lenses, but overall quality is determined mostly by the care in manufacturing and polishing of the glass and also the quality and quantity of anti-reflective coatings employed.

Many of the important optical specifications (such as field of view, eye relief, etc.) are determined primarily by the design of the ocular lenses.

Advanced image quality elements

Exit pupil

The shaft of light that meets your eye when you use a binocular or scope is its exit pupil. The exit pupil is seen by holding the binocular or spotting scope a short distance from your face.

The exit pupil should appear as a clear circle surrounded by a uniformly dark background. Exit pupil is calculated by dividing the objective lens by the magnification and is measured in millimeters. An 8×42 binocular will have an exit pupil of 5.25mm.

Why does exit pupil matter? The human eye pupil (which is controlled by the muscles of the iris) can change in size from roughly 2-8mm in diameter, depending on the lighting situations. The eye pupil dilates to about 2-3mm in regular lighting conditions, dilates out to about 4-5mm in lower light situations, further dilates to 7-8mm in near-dark conditions. A binocular will appear brightest when its exit pupil is equal to or larger than your eye pupils. This is most important when viewing in low-light conditions.


Optical Coatings

When you look at the lenses of a binocular or spotting scope, you’ll notice tints in the glass that are usually purplish/greenish in color. What you are seeing are the anti-reflective coatings that have been put on the lenses. These coatings serve to reduce light reflection and scattering at the air-to-glass surface. When light strikes uncoated glass, a percentage of it (4-5%) is reflected back from the surface, and with 10-16 air-to-glass surfaces in a pair of standard binoculars or a spotting scope, almost 50% of the light passing through uncoated optics would be lost! By applying just one layer of anti-reflection coating, loss due to reflection can be reduced 2-3%, and by applying multiple layers of coatings, light loss can be reduced to a mere .5% per surface.

Optical coatings are made from certain metallic compounds (including the compound magnesium fluoride) that are vaporized and applied to the optical glass in very thin layers (measured in microns; millionths of a meters) inside a vacuum chamber. The quality and quantity of optical coatings maters a great deal in determining how bright and sharp a binocular or spotting scope will be. There are some standardized terms concerning the level of coatings applied to binoculars and scopes. With optical coatings, more is better! With more coatings comes increase resolution, contrast, color fidelity, and increased light transmission.

-fully coated optics – All air-to-glass surfaces are coated with a anti-reflective coating film. Many modestly priced binoculars offer fully coated optics and have good but not great image quality

-multi-coated optics: One or more surfaces are coated with multiple anti-reflective coating films. Image quality with multi-coated optics can be quite good, except perhaps in lower light settings.

-fully multi-coated optics – All air-to-glass surfaces are coated with multiple anti-reflective coating films. Fully multi-coated optics offer the highest image quality.

Important optical terms:

Resolution: The ability of a binocular/spotting scope to separate and distinguish thin lines with clarity. Resolution is essentially the same as image sharpness.

Resolution test: A chart on paper containing a series of sets of lines at progressively smaller spacing and used to ascertain the limiting number of lines per millimeter that a binocular or spotting scope is capable of resolving clearly.

Contrast – The ability to distinguish differences in brightness between light and dark areas of an image. Because we see much of the color spectrum, contrast also refers to the ability to distinguish differences in dimensions of hue, saturation, and brightness or lightness. Optics with superior contrast transmit colors that appear very dense and saturated.

Transmission – The percentage of light that passes through the binocular or spotting scope and reaches the user’s eyes. With expensive optics (those that have more and better optical coatings, better optical designs, and better glass) the light transmission will be higher than it will be higher than it will be in more modestly priced optics. There is currently no universal industry standard for measuring and comparing light transmission.

Chromatic aberrations: Because different colors move at slightly different wavelengths, they will come to focus at slightly different lengths when they pass through optical glass. The resulting false colorations (seen most often as purplish and greenish ghost images) diminishes resolution and color fidelity. Chromatic aberrations will be negligible with binoculars and scopes that use better optical coatings and/or higher quality glass.

Astigmatism – The lenses used in a binocular or spotting scope usually have a curved shape, and thus all light rays passing through will not converge on the same focal plane. If this physical reality isn’t remedied in the overall optical design, a binocular or spotting scope will provide images where either the center image or the edge image is in focus, but not both (without refocusing) Astigmatism cannot be eliminated completely, but it can be kept to a minimum. Users will want to avoid binoculars or spotting scopes that exhibit too much astigmatism, as it cuts into the image quality.

Distortion: The disability of a binocular or spotting scope to deliver an image that is a true-to scale reproduction of an object. There are principally two types of distortion to be concerned with; barrel distortion (where images bow outward and look bulged), and pincushion distortion (where images bend inward). In both cases, the distortion is due to a poor or compromised optical design and any binocular or scope that exhibits distortion should be passed up.

Alignment and collimation: In binocular or spotting scope, the optical components must, for the best performance, be situated as they were initially designed. Poor or rough handling of the equipment can cause any or all of the components to become misaligned, resulting in diminished performance.

In a binocular, the optical components (primarily the prisms) in both barrels must be pointing in the exact same direction, known as collimation. Viewing through binoculars that aren’t perfectly collimated (whether they became miscollimated through poor construction or mishandling) can cause great eye strain and fatigue. Porro prism binoculars are much more susceptible to collimation issue than roof prisms. You can test a binocular for collimation by looking through them at a horizontal line (a door frame at about 15-20 feet works very well) and then slowly and carefully pulling the binocular away from your face so that you can start to see where the two exit pupils intersect. The horizontal lines in each exit pupil should match up correctly. If they do not, they are out of collimation and need repair.


How to use binoculars properly

Adjusting for your interpupillary distance.

In order to see one singular image, you must adjust the two barrels of the binocular to your interpupillary distance (the distance from left pupil to right) To do this, turn the barrels of the binocular on their central hinge until you see one singular field of view with no disturbing shadows.

Using the eyecups.

The eyecups on a binocular or spotting scope aid in maintaining proper eye relief for the user (which allows for the most comfortable and widest view) There are essentially two types of eyecup design: A flexible rubber design and a retractable design which is usually lightly rubber armored.

If you wear eyeglasses/sunglasses, rest the eyecups of the binocular/scope right up against your glasses. Since your glasses sit away from your eye, they generally provide the proper distance for seeing the full field of view comfortably. The rubber eyecup must be folded down to be able to rest on your glasses. The retractable eyecup will stay flush with the eyepiece to accommodate glasses. If the rubber eyecups aren’t folded down or the retractable eyecups are twisted out, it will appear as if you are looking through a tunnel.

If you don’t wear eyeglasses/sunglasses, you will rely on the eyecups to provide the proper distance for seeing the full field of view. The rubber eyecup stays “as is” and it fits right around your eyes, while the retractable eyecup must be twisted or pulled out fully in order to see the full field of view. If the rubber eyecup is folder down or if the retractable eyecups aren’t retracted out you will note disturbing black “crescents” in your field of view.

Many retractable eyecups offer multiple positions or “stops” With these eyecups, experiment to see which position is most comfortable for you.

Using the diopter/Focusing your binoculars.

Most binoculars feature a center focus wheel and also an adjustment ring (either on the right eyepiece or integrated into the center focus wheel) known as the diopter. The diopter adjusts fro differences between your individual eyes (many people have one eye that is “stronger” than the other). The procedure for attaining proper focal balance using the center focus wheel and the diopter is:

  1. With your right eye close (or with your hand over the right objective lens), focus your left eye on an object approximately 20 yards away with the center focus wheel unit it is in sharp focus.
  2. Now adjust for your right eye. To do this, close your left eye (or, again, place your hand over the left objective lens) and focus your right eye on the same object 20 yards away. Focus using the diopter until the object is sharply focused. Not: Some diopters have a locking feature that you’ll need to unlock before moving the diopter ring.
  3. The binoculars are no set for your eyes. Make a note of your diopter setting if you are sharing your binoculars with someone else.

What to disregard and why:

There are a number of specifications and product “features” that are often confusing or misleading which should just be ignored or avoided.

Specifications to ignore:

Twilight factor: This specification gives a measure of viewing efficiency in low lighting. The bigger the number, the more efficient (shaper) the binoculars is in low light. Twilight factor is calculated by taking the square root of the power times the objective lens diameter, so the value is usually between 12 and 25. Twilight factor is a dubious specification because it says nothing about actual optical coatings or glass quality, nor does it take into account the light transmission of the binocular.

Relative brightness: This specification is a measure of overall image brightness, and is calculated by squaring the exit pupil of the binocular. Relative brightness is misleading in that there are different binoculars that can have the same values. A 7×35 binocular and a 10×50 binocular will both have a relative brightness value of 25, but the 10×50 gather much more light than the 7×35 and will often present a bright image. It also doesn’t take into account different light transmissions.

“Features” to avoid:

Focus-free binoculars: Binoculars that offer an “instant-focus”, “permanent-focus” or “focus-free” feature are advertised in many department stores. The main reason to avoid this type of binocular is that optical quality is very poor as a result of its focus-free design. Focus-free binoculars are also often difficult to use it you wear glasses.

Ruby coated lenses: Often advertised in sporting goods stores and department stores, these are seen as bright reddish-orange coatings on the objective lenses of several binocular models. Ruby-coated lenses reflect most red out of the optical system. This skews all colors to the cool end of the spectrum and takes away from the overall brightness of the binocular.

So why use these binoculars? Shortening the color spectrum increases contrast and resolution somewhat. However, better glass and better coatings are capable of excellent contrast and resolution without giving up color and brightness.


Trade-offs

Unfortunately, there is no such thing as the perfect binocular or spotting scope. In the design phase there are many inherent trade-offs that have to be made.

-The main trade off that you have to make involves objective lens size. The larger the objective lenses, the brighter and sharper the binocular/scope, thus the more useful it is, especially under low-light conditions. The larger the objective lens, however, the heavier and bulkier the binocular/scope will be, and unless you plan to hire a porter, remember that you have to carry it!

-Higher quality optical glass is by design heavier, so when it is employed the binocular/scope will weight more. Vortex incorporates lighter housing materials to offset the weight of the glass components rather than not using the heavier glass.

-There are a number of trade-offs with binoculars and scopes regarding higher magnification. With higher magnification binoculars, comes a diminished field of view, a shallower depth of field, and more chance of image shakiness. With higher magnification spotting scopes comes diminished optical quality with magnified heat waves and atmosphere dust and debris

-There are trade-offs inherent to some of the optical specifications as well. There is an inverse relationship between eye relief and field of view and close focus and depth of field. The greater the eye relief, the narrower the field of view (the wider the field of view the shorter the eye relief) Similarly, a binocular with an extreme close focus distance will generally have a shallow depth of field. More expensive scope eyepiece designs can offer good compromises and give the user very good (but not great) specifications.

The final word

For many people, this guide may only be the beginning of the journey into learning about binoculars and spotting scopes. There is a lot more information available; you need only to look for it.

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Published by soularcher on 14 May 2008

Cubicle Psychology…

Cubicle Psychology…

 

Joe Shuhay

 

I’m not sure if it’s the few good memories that I have of my dad, if it’s the chill-up-my-spine adrenaline rush when a shot presents itself, or if it’s the peace and solitude that I only get when in God’s green woods.  I do know that something draws me out there.  It’s something I just can’t put my finger on.  I can say that I almost always leave the woods feeling refreshed, and recharged.  I find myself thinking that if I could, I’d spend most of my time there, among the pines and oak, breathing in the cold fresh air of morning, awaiting a glimpse of movement, or traversing a ridge in pursuit of the elusive Hart of lore.  A good weapon in hand, me versus the unknown.  This is what I live for.

 

7:59 a.m., and I sit dejectedly into my padded swivel chair of my gray, artificially lit cubicle for another 9 hours of staring at a computer screen.  “How did I get here?”  I look out of the office window down the hall from me.  The bright morning sun falls on the green spring leaves of a nearby maple tree, and I feel a yearning deep within my soul to venture outside, feel the warm sun on my face, and hear the wind in the trees. 

 

Throughout the day my mind drifts to hiking and scouting, shed hunting, open fires and the like; but mouths need to be fed, and bills have to be paid…

 

There is a part of a man that no one can touch, something wild and dangerous, something that is forced to live in the gray area between the cold oppressive bars of the rat race, and the limitless wilderness.  Most boys are raised to suppress their “wild” part in favor of what is considered to be more socially amicable qualities. This goes way beyond raising our children to have respect and manners.  In these days of sexual immorality, and metrosexuals, boys are emasculated, and taught to be “nice guys”.  Then society laments the lack of “real men” in society.  No toy guns or bows, no aggressiveness.  Those boys grow up, and society then asks them to be leaders at work, on the battlefield, and in the home. 

 

Most men today live lives of quiet desperation in their offices and garages, watching action shows on television rather than living out the very things that we are programmed to do. They are slowly dying inside for want of less rat race, and more wilderness in their lives.  That reason alone is enough to understand why we hunt, and what is so attractive about the out of doors.  Don’t get me wrong, I love being a father. For me it’s God and family first.  But God also put this love of hunting and the outdoors in my heart, and I plan to pass this on to my kids, and anyone else that is interested. 

 

There is a part of a man that no one can touch, something wild and dangerous, something that is forced to live in the gray area between the cold oppressive bars of the rat race, and the limitless wilderness…

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Published by csinclair on 12 May 2008

Archer and Hiker does not equal Bow Hunter

(a.k.a. 10, (more), practice tips for new Bow Hunters

Last weekend I had the first chance ever to take my bow out into the bush for a long hike on 160 acres of farmland interspersed with forests and tree stands on some private property owned by my family, where I have permission to hunt.

I didn’t actually hunt on the property this time, (not being licensed to hunt in Ontario yet, (anymore)), I was however there to get some practice and experience in getting up early in the morning, (5 AM – 1/2 hr before sunrise), gearing up with all my camo and archery gear and going for a long stalk through the fields, as well as spending some time shooting from a tree stand, (pre-existing), in full gear just to see what it was like. Lucky for me one of the neighbours came by with a big old Tom Turkey (20+ lb’s), that he shot on the first morning with a 10 Guage shotgun, (nice looking bird) we shared an after the hunt drink on my father in law’s back porch while he told me the story. He called out this old Tom with a box call, and put two rounds into him, (which may explain why I’d heard lots of them clucking on the first morning and none on the second).

First thing that I did on the first morning was set up a distance string that I’d prepared with trail tape marker measurements on it the night before. I marked the 20, 40 and 60 meter intervals on it so that I could tune my sights for some longer distances than the usual 20 to 30 meter shots I practice at home. I set my pins for 20, 30, 40 and 60 meters, I won’t take a shot any longer that at this point, maybe later with practice.

I’m very glad that I did take the time to go out get the practice like this because as I’ve been reading the articles on this site and a few others like it, I’ve come to the conclusion that no amount of archery practice and hiking can get one ready to be a bow hunter and after this weekend I think I’m beginning to understand why.

I actually had a big old Tom walk right out of the bush towards where I was practicing from in the tree stand on the first morning out, he came out of the woods about 120 meters away from the stand and came closer until I think I moved and spooked him at when he got to around 80 meters away from me, he was gone in a flash not to be seen or heard from again by me.

Top things I learned on this weekends excursion into the world of bow hunting training & preparation:

1.) Be prepared, although it was early May, the mornings were cold, I forgot to pack gloves and my hands were quite unexpectedly cold on the second morning. Make sure to get all your gear together the night before, check it and double check it, triple check it, (the first morning out I forgot my field glasses even though I’d packed them with my gear, I left them in the truck, doh!).

2.) Humans are very noisy, Walking through the forest in boots it’s very difficult to be stealthy, hunt from a stand or blind and learn to call your prey, the chance of you sneaking up on an animal on it’s own turf are slim in most cases.

3.) Be patient, what better way to spend the morning than sitting out in nature, being silent, scanning for animals with field glasses, (which I did remember to bring on the 2nd morning).

4.) Practice shooting from your treestand in all directions and distances, I could shoot quite easily some in some areas but really had to shift my position and harness to shoot in other directions and distances, practice and be prepared for all scenarios.

5.) Shooting unmarked distances in the wild is very difficult, (it’s critical and quite difficult to judge distances properly this is probably why so many hunters use range finders), shooting from a tree stand is also very difficult, (due to the angles involved), until you get used to it, (I was much more accurate by the end of the 2nd day).

6.) Experience is the best teacher, reading about and watching videos on a topic is not the same as doing something, if you thing you want to be a bow hunter, get out into the woods and actually spend a few damp chilly mornings in the bush doing stuff for real.

7.) Always carry a compass or GPS device, even though I was on familiar land, it would have been easy to get lost at certain points, forests can be deceptive at times and it’s easy to walk the wrong way and become lost, (it happens).

8.) Hunters who get up early, (before sunrise), dress up in Camoflaged clothing, (I was wearing Real Tree HD head to toe), and spend hours in the woods being as quiet as possible see all kinds of wildlife, (during my 2 mornings out I saw: 2 raccoons, 2 groundhogs, lots of Canada Geese, (2 Canada Geese in particular at waters edge of a pond with a nest of 5 eggs), 3 or 4 Mallards, a Great Egret, a wild Turkey, a pair of yellow bellied sap suckers, lots of crows, red winged blackbirds, sparrows and yellow warblers, (although I spotted some droppings and tracks I didn’t see any deer this time out).

9.) Talk about Bow Hunting and your desire to be a hunter with others, (I was slightly surprised by the reception that my interest received from my family and friends), I’ve been invited out hunting with a few different groups now, to hunt for various game and I’ve got permission to hunt about 1000 acres of privately owned land if you totalled up the various offers from kind folks who I’ve talked to about my interest in the sport.

10.) Being out in the bush with the Bow is like nothing else, what a great feeling, memories in the field are irreplaceable. I can only imagine the high that comes with bagging big game with a bow after my brief taste of the sport and the tiniest bit of experience that practice in full gear could provide me with, I’m more eager than ever now.

I figure that I’ll spend a few more weekends this summer up at the same spot practicing and getting used to full camo hiking, stalking and tree stand shooting before next years season, at which time I’ll be licensed for small game and hopefully pull a ticket for turkey and who knows what else. In the meantime, practice, practice, practice.

Happy Hunting!

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Published by tim9910 on 08 May 2008

Success for Beginning Bowhunters

For most hunters that decide to make the transition from barrels and bullets to strings and arrows, it can get off to a tricky start. I began hunting with my dad when I was young, probably 7 or 8 years old. I remember when I finally got to carry my own gun, a 20 gauge pump action with slugs. Back then, we were not allowed to harvest does in the county we hunted, so although seeing many deer I wasn’t able to close the deal. I got my first bow when I was 12, an old Bear Grizzly II from a pawn shop. I shot daily until I could shoot 3-4 inch groups at 30 yards, shooting barebow with fingers. When I was 13, on that same property I had hunted all those years, I set up a stand for my first bowhunting experience near a pond with a steep ridge to my back loaded with white oaks. That first morning, a nice 8 point came trotting towards me grunting lowly and checking the ground, as if there was a doe ready for his acquaintance. I was so excited about seeing a buck in the woods, I didn’t even raise my bow to shoot! I saw him again the next day, but this time he was right behind a doe and never came within 50 yards of my stand. Finally at 14 I harvested a doe with my bow and the rest is history, I have been hooked since that day.

Fast forward now about 15 years, a friend of mine has a better story. In 2006, Byron Howton, a friend and colleague of mine, started bowhunting. He bought a bow early in the year, practiced until he was sure about himself, and sought all the info he could gather from friends and more experienced bowhunters. He scouted a piece of public land, on Skiatook WMA, and found some good places to hang stands. Then, to my amazement, he harvested a legal doe in the first few weeks of the season. We were all happy for him, especially being his first bow kill and doing it on heavily pressured hunting ground. Then, rifle season rolled along, he took the week off work and bowhunted the entire time. On November 16, he and his wife Melissa took to the woods. She set up in a ground blind about 60 yards behind his treestand. They were on stand well before legal light, and the weather was calm and clear. It was a quiet morning, a few hours passed and Melissa decided to leave the confinement of the ground blind and still hunt a little. She hunts with a crossbow, so there is the advantage of being able to shoot without movement. After Byron saw her moving out further, he decided to give a couple soft grunts with his call. After the second or third grunt, a nice 8 point cleared the brush about 60 yards out. He was in no hurry, not like was seeking the call, but made the journey towards it anyway. After he got within 30 yards, Byron drew his Reflex bow, and settled the second pin behind the bucks shoulder. He released the arrow, but with the excitement, didn’t see the impact. But then he saw as the buck was running off, the quarter of his arrow shaft sticking out from the side of the deer. He waited about 20 minutes, then decided to get down and check for blood. He and his wife found the deer only 35 yards away, hit through both lungs. You can imagine the excitement now, two deer in his first season, one of which is a nice buck. I’m glad everybody is not the successful their first season, or there would be no place left to hunt!

No matter if it takes a week or 10 years, harvesting an animal with a bow is an experience to behold. I have forgotten deer taken with rifles, but remember every arrow flight that penetrated a kill zone. It’s always like slow motion for me, and the excitement never goes away. I still shake like a squirrels tail even when it’s a doe I just took. I guess if that ever went away, it wouldn’t be so addicting. If you are a beginning a bowhunter, and having bad luck like so many of us have had, don’t get discouraged. Use every moment in the stand as a learning experience. Remember where the deer came from, and where they went. What time they moved, the time of year and what the food sources were at the time. After you spend time and keep compiling this data, you’ll eventually put the pieces of the puzzle together. Success in the woods is not always harvesting animals, but seeing them in their natural state undisturbed. You can learn things in early bow season about deer that you never would have known if you weren’t out there, putting in your time. Not everyone is going to have a first season like my friends, but if you keep at it, eventually you will get something on the ground, and then start doing it consistently.

It’s even more of a challenge for an experienced hunter to teach children. They want results, and if they have multiple outings with no sign of deer, they can quickly become frustrated and bored. Reassuring them that success will come, and maybe mixing in a few squirrel hunts in between deer hunts will help. If they can get out in the woods and move around a little more, and bring home some squirrel for the pan, it can help to rekindle the drive to pursue more challenging game. The main thing is to find something positive about each outing. Something you see in the woods that may seem insignificant to you could spark a lot of interest in someone of lesser experience. A good example is as the sun goes down in a draw, feeling the rush of cooler air. Thermals are a complicated but interesting event that happens in the woods. Explaining what causes these and how they affect scent control and stand placement can be very educational to a beginning archer. At the same time though, don’t overload them with information and confuse them to the point of boredom again. There is a fine line between good hunting education and cramming for a final exam type of education.

Byron has been bitten by the bug now, and he has started to shoot 3D tournaments with us now. He has talked about hunting non-stop since Jan 15th, the end of our season in Oklahoma. He has also kept the fire burning in me, which usually dies about December, when I have spent so many hours in a stand I begin getting burned out. I didn’t harvest a single deer last year, but had several within a few yards of my stand. I count that as successful, I could have easily taken a couple of deer, but decided to let them walk for another year. That’s easier to do on private land, where they have a chance at making it. Only the good Lord knows what this October will bring us, but I know one thing for certain, my friends and I will be in a tree somewhere waiting to find out!

-Tim Hicks

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Published by Bow on 08 May 2008

Staying Warm Means Hunting Longer

            Fifteen years ago on a February day when the wind chill was about 50 degrees below zero I turned 40 on the side of New Hampshire’s Mount Washington.  Almost every winter of the next decade, I climbed (or tried to climb) the highest mountain in the Northeast and twice I was beaten back by weather that made 50 below feel like spring.  Through these winter ascents on a mountain with the highest recorded wind on earth, I’ve learned how to dress for long days in tree stands when the mercury plunges.

Layers

            Layering is an art.  Piling on clothes until you look like the Michelin Man might keep you warm but it could also get you a role in the “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” commercial.  Whether climbing or hunting, three layers of clothing is the optimum combination for warmth, comfort and flexibility as long as the layers are the right material and the right fit.

            Many years ago my young son asked me a question that showed the science behind layering.  He came out of my bedroom holding a wool sweater and a cotton shirt and he asked why people say wool is warmer when they both feel the same.  The answer is that wool is not warmer than cotton.  In fact, no material is warmer than any other material.  Wrap thermometers inside your thickest down jacket and your thinnest cotton T-shirt and a half hour later they’ll both show room temperature.

            The science behind that youthful question is that certain materials keep you warmer than others by slowing the loss of the 98 degree heat your body produces.  Proper layering maximizes heat retention by utilizing different materials in each layer to trap heat and by limiting your body’s ability to sweat it away.

Base Layer

            The base layer is the layer against your skin and its primary role is to keep your skin dry to slow the loss of heat.  The purpose of sweating is to cool us off because sweat pulls heat from our skin faster than air does so to stay warm it’s important to stay dry by “wicking” sweat away as quickly as possible.

            First, forget the waffle pattern cotton longjohns your grandfather swore by.  Mountain climbers call cotton the death cloth because it absorbs sweat and actually increases heat loss by keeping water against your skin.  Seven years ago a new guy I took up Mount Washington wore his cotton briefs under his high tech underwear and mid way up the final headwall a sensitive part of his body chilled so much that the first thing he did when we got down was throw the briefs away.

            A good base layer should be a synthetic material such as polypropylene, thermax or comfortrel that fits snuggly against your skin.  These fabrics draw (wick) sweat from your skin to the far side of the fabric where it can evaporate without robbing your skin of heat.

            Although any polyester fabric can wick perspiration, the best synthetics are woven from hollow core fibers to help trap your body’s heat.  Like the hollow insulation in your sleeping bag, the hollow threads in base layers slow the transfer of your body heat by forcing it to travel through a layer of dead air.

            To understand how this works, picture a storm window with two layers of glass separated by an inch of air.  The heat from your home escapes quickly through the first solid pane of glass but the dead air is a poor conductor of heat and it slows the transfer to the outer pane.  To really appreciate how poorly air transfers heat, ask yourself how long you could hold your hand in boiling water, which is about 220 degrees.  The answer of course, is not at all.  Now consider how long you can reach into a 350 degree oven.  The answer is quite a while as long as you don’t touch anything solid.  That’s because it takes time for the dead air in the oven to transfer the much higher heat to your hand and it’s why eggs cook faster in boiling water than they would in a hotter oven.  Hollow fibers keep you warm on the same principle.

Middle Layer

            The second layer is your heat layer.  High tech long underwear slows heat loss by wicking sweat but the thick middle layer has to trap enough heat to keep you warm while letting you swing a rifle or hold a bow.

            While climbing, my middle layer is always a good polyester fleece.  Fleece cannot absorb water and a high quality fleece is lighter than any other material I’ve tried but will still retain more heat than heavier materials such as wool.  Less weight means more mobility and comfort. 

When hunting I’ll switch between fleece pullovers, insulated shirts and wool sweaters depending on how cold the morning is and how much I plan to move around.  One shortcoming I’ve found with fleece is that it’s never wind proof so if there’s a chance you’ll remove your outer layer on a windy day, you’re better off with another fabric.  I especially like insulated shirts because opening the buttons allows a lot of options to cool off as the temperature rises.  Wool shirts work the same way, I just don’t find them as comfortable.

Outer Layer

            Your outer layer is your defense against Mother Nature.  Like your base and mid-layers your outer layer helps trap your body’s heat, but it also has to stop the elements that can attack from outside.  Your outer coat has to withstand the harshest winds while repelling whatever the sky throws at you and still hold your body heat.  That’s the definition of fabrics like Goretex but many other fabrics, including tightly woven wool, offer protection from wind and rain.

            In the beginning I always wore a Goretex coat when climbing but in the past few seasons I switched to a heavy nylon jacket because it was more comfortable.  It works just as well at holding my heat in and the wind out but it’s too noisy for hunting.  My brother and I still argue about what’s the best fabric to climb in but even he has to admit that today there are many fabrics that are windproof, waterproof and warm.  If it’s quiet, too, it will be a good outer layer on stand.

Styling

            Choosing the proper materials for your base, mid and outer layer is not the end of the process.  To maximize heat retention you need to size the layers to optimize air’s insulating qualities.  The tighter your clothes fit the faster heat will transfer from one material to the next and the faster you will cool down, which is why thermal windows don’t touch and why down that lofts the highest keeps you warmest.  If your mid layer fits loosely over your base layer and your outer layer fits loosely over your mid layer, you’ve created two additional pockets of air that heat will have to pass through to get away.

            A few years ago I found this extra space was especially valuable in boots when I was forced to wear a pair a half size too large.  Since that day I’ve only bought hunting boots a half size larger than my dress shoes and my feet have stayed drier and warmer with a thermax liner and a wool sock inside an insulated boot, especially while walking.

            The style of your layers can also help regulate your body’s temperature.  A fleece top with at least a mid-length zipper allows you to vent excess heat while walking to a stand or if the temperature rises with the sun, which minimizes sweating, which also causes heat loss.  Today even base layers have buttons and zippers that let you regulate heat retention and wicking.

            Finally, through climbing and hunting I’ve learned that the reverse of my mother’s favorite winter lecture is true.  She always said to wear a hat because half of your body’s heat escapes through your head.  I have no idea if that figure is accurate, but I have found that removing my hat cools me off quickly.  Because I’m required to wear a blaze hat while walking to my stand I always have a thin baseball one in my pack to trade with the insulated one I wear on stand.  By switching back and forth, I stay legal and comfortable.

            A well planned three layer system keeps you warm and lets you cool off.  Just remember that all of your body feels cold so you may need glove liners to layer under heavy gloves or a balaclava to slip under a thick hat that might fit under a loose hood.  By opening, closing or removing layers you can stay comfortable to hunt harder and stay drier to spread less scent.

15 votes, average: 3.00 out of 515 votes, average: 3.00 out of 515 votes, average: 3.00 out of 515 votes, average: 3.00 out of 515 votes, average: 3.00 out of 5 (15 votes, average: 3.00 out of 5)
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Published by DuckBuckGoose on 07 May 2008

Hunting The Moonphase – Does it Really Make a Difference?

Some guys I know swear by hunting moon phase patterns. Others think it is an “old wives tale”.  Honestly I’m not sure where I stand on this argument yet, but after studying the theories around this a little more, there is some research to show that the various phases of the moon can have an effect on not only deer activity, but on deer mating behavior as well.  Perhaps for these reasons, or their own personal experience, I hear more and more hunters are talking about moon phase deer hunting and using it as another tool in their arsenal as they try to take that big buck.

Moonphase Calendar

If you’re not yet familiar with moon phase hunting, one of the most popular theories suggests that the female deer’s reproductive cycle is influenced by the different phases of the moon. This theory also says that a doe’s reproductive cycle peaks in the three or four days surrounding the second full moon after the autumnal equinox (which is either September 22nd or 23rd, depending on the year). Due to their instinctual drive to breed, bucks are also most active around this time, and will be more easily seen during daylight hours, as they are moving about looking for hot does. If you would like to check out what the moonphase will be when planning your dates for “deer camp” or days off this fall,  here are a couple of web sites that I found that you might find helpful:

http://stardate.org/nightsky/moon/

http://www.moon-phases.net

I can’t promise you that hunting the moon phase will help you harvest a trophy buck this year.  But when it comes to hunting, it never hurts to try new things and keep learning.  And, if you look at the November 2008 calendar in the picture, it just might give you a good excuse to take off work on a Thursday in mid November.  Don’t try calling me that day, I’ll be in a treestand!

DuckBuckGoose – Cincinnati, Ohio – 5/7/08

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Published by soularcher on 06 May 2008

Three Lessons

Three Lessons

By Joe Shuhay

(Soularcher on AT posts)

 

The first day had come, and I was up at 3:30 AM to eat, shower and dress.  Luckily my new spot was only 20 minutes away, and I could get in my stand at least an hour before daylight.  As daylight broke, the woods started to come alive with movement and sound.  I had spotted many doe and a small buck.  At about 10:00 AM a small doe came underneath my stand, and I let the Muzzy do its work, and work it did!  It was a very clean kill.  But this isn’t where the story ends…

The doe ran about 15 yards and fell.  While I waited for the animal to expire, I had noticed a very bad fray through the string serving right underneath my bottom cam!  It was obviously dangerous, and it had to be fixed.  I was lucky that I wasn’t hurt!  

LESSON #1:  Always inspect your bowstring and equipment well before the hunt.  This will give you time to swap strings and make repairs.  It will also save you from injury or a missed opportunity!

Instead of taking my Archery Research AR31 bow to the area expert, I took it to a local guy that ran a shop out of his house, to save money (a lot of money).  He was a very nice man, but I should’ve taken the hint when I entered his shop and saw that he specialized in traditional equipment (an art form in itself).  I returned that Friday afternoon for the bow, and $16.00 later I had a new string.  Sixteen Bucks!

I wanted to hunt the next day because I wouldn’t have another chance until the following weekend, and I knew there were a few nice buck cruising the area.  Needless to say, I didn’t get to shoot the bow before the hunt.  I know, I know…  I heard that little voice inside, but didn’t listen: “What if?  You didn’t shoot it, stretch the string, check it out…  Is this safe?”  Nope, I didn’t listen.   I was too worried about getting out the next day.

LESON #2:  Always inspect a repair or string installation when you get your bow back, and always shoot the bow and allow for string stretch.

I got out to my stand and opted to hunt the northern part of an oak flat, due to wind conditions, and I expected action.  There was still a little doubt in the back of my mind due to not shooting the bow the night before.  Any archer knows that reduced confidence in your form or equipment can definitely have a detrimental effect on your mindset for the hunt.  At about 9:30 AM, two doe came bursting from the laurel to my left at about 20 yards.  They stopped and then looked back.  That’s when I knew he was coming!  I waited, and saw a flicker, then a very wide eight came out into full view and paused sniffing the doe’s trail.  I drew and viewed the magnificent animal broadside at fifteen yards!  I pulled the trigger on my Scott release, the arrow flew, and…  Nothing…  Nothing!!!  I watched helplessly as the high-tined buck trotted away pursuing the doe.  I  climbed down and retrieved my arrow; it went right underneath the buck’s belly by at least a foot!

At noon I went home and shot at my target at 10 yards to troubleshoot the issue.  The arrow didn’t even make it to the target!  It was buried in the ground at about eight yards in front of me.  A closer inspection of my bow revealed that the string was not installed on the bottom cam properly which effected the whole setup.  

LESSON #3:  Pay the extra cash to get a job done by someone that knows the technology, or get the tools and learn to do it yourself, and you can rest easier in the knowledge that the job was done correctly (also refer to LESSON #2).

I don’t hold the bowsmith responsible, I knew full well that he had his specialty and, to his credit, he tried his best.  I hold my own impatience and thriftiness as the reasons that that hunt worked out the way it did.  Believe me when I say that I learned a difficult lesson that day.  The sign of a good hunter is the humility and willingness to learn and improve.

 

 

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Published by cmherrmann on 06 May 2008

Keeping Your Computer Safe on the Internet

First I want to start with some simple thing to keep your computer safe and sound while browsing the web and then I will suggest some things to keep all of you data safe.   Most of this information pertains to Windows XP since I believe that is what most people are using.

Windows has a built-in firewall, but I wouldn’t rely on it. It hides you on the Internet. That means you’re protected from incoming transmissions. But if you get malware on your machine, the Windows firewall won’t help you. It doesn’t block outgoing transmissions. The ones listed below are free and do a good job of blocking unwanted traffic in both directions.

Comondo Firewall Pro http://www.personalfirewall.comodo.com/download_firewall.html

ZoneAlarm http://www.zonealarm.com/store/content/company/products/znalm/freeDownload.jsp

Ashampoo http://www.download.com/Ashampoo-FireWall/3000-10435_4-10575187.html

Antivirus software is essential. Although a firewall is the first line of defense, a few bad eggs inevitably make it through. That’s when a good antivirus program saves the day.

Antivirus programs need frequent updates to be able to identify the latest threats. Most programs require paid subscriptions for these updates. But you can still find some that offer free updates.

AVG Anti-Virus http://free.grisoft.com/doc/downloads-products/us/frt/0?prd=aff

Avast Anti-Virus http://www.download.com/Avast-Home-Edition/3000-2239_4-10019223.html?part=dl-AvastHome&subj=dl&tag=button&cdlpid=10019223

Avira http://www.download.com/Avira-AntiVir-PersonalEdition-Classic/3000-2239_4-10322935.html?part=dl-10322935&subj=dl&tag=button

Along with firewall and antivirus programs, anti-spyware is a security must-have. Spyware is a particularly unpredictable type of threat. It can trigger pop-ups or cause your computer to slow to a crawl.

Even worse, spyware can work in the background without noticeable symptoms. You should use a few anti-spyware programs to ensure that each possible threat is detected.

Spybot Search & Destroy http://www.download.com/Spybot-Search-Destroy/3000-8022_4-10122137.html?tag=lst-1

AVG Anti-Spyware http://free.grisoft.com/doc/5390/us/frt/0?prd=asf

SpywareBlaster http://www.javacoolsoftware.com/spywareblaster.html

SpywareBlaster is an effective anti-spyware tool. Unlike most anti-spyware programs, it does not scan the hard drive for spyware. Its strategy instead is to prevent modifications of your files and settings. For example, it can block browser toolbars from installing themselves.

SpywareBlaster can be used to prevent changes to Windows’ HOSTS file. It also has a System Snapshot feature similar to Windows’ System Restore. SpywareBlaster will report any changes to your system since the last snapshot.

Now that we have the basics covered lets go a step further.  There are a lot of things that need to be updated on a PC besides the normal things like your Anti-Virus, Anti-Spyware, and Windows itself.   Many other programs need to be updated because of Security Problems.

Windows  Update http://update.microsoft.com/microsoftupdate/v6/default.aspx?ln=en-us  (You will need to use IE)

Microsoft Office Update http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/downloads/maincatalog.aspx   (You will need to use IE)

Next is a great program Secunia that will check for a lot of other programs that need to be updated like RealPlayer, iTunes, Flash Player, Java and many more.    Just click on the Start Now Button.         http://secunia.com/software_inspector/

Any old versions of Java found can be removed in the Add Remove Program section of Control Pane.
If you use a combination of all of these Programs your PC will be fairly safe but nothing is 100%.   That is why I suggest that everyone who has any data on their PC that they would hate to loose, and that is all of us, do the following.    Go out and buy an External USB 2.0 Hard Drive with a capacity of somewhere between 120 and 500 gig.   Also buy a copy of a program called Norton Ghost, any version from 9 on up will work with Windows XP.  Norton Ghost will make an exact duplicate of your Hard Drive.   If your Hard Drive dies (all of them will sooner or later) or you get a virus, spyware, or delete an important document by mistake you can simply boot from the Ghost CD and restore your PC exactly as it was when you did the backup.   No reinstalling Windows, all of your programs and having all of your data gone forever.

Now it is important to do regular backups, I suggest weekly since it will only take about 30 minutes and most of it takes place with no user input, so you can start it and walk away.  This has saved my butt more than once!

If you follow these tip you will be relatively safe but as I said before nothing is 100% so make sure and do those backups to protect your data!

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Published by RightWing on 06 May 2008

Hunter’s Tips for Body Odor Control………..

                         

   While sweat is often blamed for spooking game, it is really an oversight. Sweat is an odorless, colorless, natural secretion from our bodies. Perspiration is in fact not the cause of body odor. There are several kinds of bacteria that live on the skin’s surface, some of these bacteria feed on our perspiration. The byproduct from this bacterial feeding action is what we and other animals smell and indentify as body odor.

  To combat this phenomenon, one must destroy or reduce the culprit bacteria. Masking the odor is not a viable solution, it has been proven that whitetail deer can smell multiple odors at once and distinguish each of them individually. The process of applying so called “Cover scent” will do little, if any, good to fool a whitetail’s nose.

  Then the question still remains, how do I fight “Game Spooking” body odor? Luckily there are some practical, inexpensive and effective methods. Most of these products can be bought at any drug store or even a supermarket.  Here are five (5) methods that I will explain in detail; you will find them to be extremely effective with zero gimmicks.

*         Cleanse – Your body……..

*         Neutralize – Odor causing Bacteria…….

*         Maintain – Clean clothing/footwear…….

*         Mask – We’ll talk about this one…… 🙂

*         Play the wind – Enough said………

 

Cleanse- Wash often, showers are good, but soaking bathes are better. Several excellent unscented soaps are available to the general consumer (that’s right, not just for hunters) most of these are marked as “Hypo allergenic” and contain no fragrances. My personal favorite is “Dove” unscented bar soap, because it works well for the hunter, it’s inexpensive and is available almost everywhere.  You can usually find four bar packages of it for under $5.00

 

Neutralize- As I mentioned earlier in the article, bacteria feeding on our perspiration is the culprit in causing body odor. The best ways to reduce the amount of body odor lies in our ability to reduce or temporarily destroy the bacteria. Baking soda (Sodium Bicarbonate) applied during your shower/bath will change the PH on the skin’s surface creating a hostile living environment for the bacteria. Scrubbing down with a good antiseptic is even better. Beta-dine is my personal favorite because almost all hospital and doctor’s offices use it a surgical scrub and surgeons shower with it before an operation. If you are not familiar with Betadine, it is the reddish-orange liquid the doctors and nurses swab onto your arm before sticking you with a needle (bringing back memories now, Huh?). It does have and odor but will dissipate with rinse water and the smell will disappear real quickly (most water supplies contain Iodine anyway), so this is not a problem at all. Just follow the directions on the back of the bottle when using. I pour about a tablespoon full of the antiseptic on a washcloth then lather up real good. I then use another teaspoon in my hair as a shampoo. Rinse well with water afterward, to remove the Betadine and the residual dead bacteria, yeasts, molds and germs from your skin’s surface.

 This treatment will leave you bacteria free for about 6-8 hours. You can buy this antiseptic at most drug stores for around $10.00 a bottle and it will last you the entire season. Another possible brand to use is Hibbi-cleanse but it tends to cost more for a lesser quantity. You will find that having either of these two items beneficial for home first-aid duty as well.  While at the drug store check out alfalfa pills, they contain chlorophyll from plant leaves and will help to fight bad breath. Doctors also recommend them to diabetic patients to remove odor from urine. Personally, I usually just chew the leaves of one of several species of the wild mint family (wild spearmint, horsemint, wild peppermint etc) they are usually blooming during the early bow season and resemble nothing else in the woods, but to be safe before trying, research books of edible wild plants from your library and learn to recognize them. They are natural and leave your mouth with a minty mouthwash taste, plus the chlorophyll from the leaves will help to reduce mouth odor as well. I finish up this regimen with an application of unscented underarm deodorant. I like Arid unscented in either the solid or roll-on you can pick this up for around $1.00.

 

 Maintain- I keep a couple plastic totes with latches around to store my camo and layering clothes in. In this container clothing will stay dry and scent free, but there is a routine that I go though before any of my hunting clothes are ready for the plastic tote. I first run several empty loads of water through the washing machine to remove residual fragrances from standard detergents the family uses for general washing. When the washer is properly prepared I wash my camo in cold water (it keeps the colors from running and is great for washing camo in because it is usually not all that dirty anyway). I again use unscented products that are available at supermarket, just look for the brands marked hypo-allergenic (or unscented), my favorite brand is “ALL” unscented concentrated liquid, but there are many other adequate brands available. It works well in cold water cycles, has no odor, and it is fairly in-expensive too. I then, either hang them out to air dry (weather permitting) or place them in the dryer. My clothes dryer gets a similar treatment to that of the washer, I run a couple loads of wet, clean, and scent free, towels though to remove any odors that might be left behind from the general wash. Inside my plastic tote, I keep a small draw stringed cloth bag containing cedar chips; they give the clothes a natural scent and help to protect expensive wool camo from moths during long periods of storage.  In my hunting footwear I sprinkle a little bit of baking soda to help reduce bacterial growth. Before entering my treestand I apply a clothing neutralizer like the scent-a-way products as a final step.

 

Mask- I already mentioned earlier that I am not a big fan of food-type masking scents like acorn, sweet corn and grape. I also feel earth scents and fox urines are of little use for really helping to fool a deer’s nose. I have however found one masking scent that I believe is the “real deal” and has really surprised me over the years, it will provide you with some room for error while stand hunting. Skunk scent seems to overload the deer’s sense of smell. I have also discovered that they are not afraid of it; on contrary they are very curious of the skunk smell. Whitetail will often, for unknown reasons, seek out and investigate the source.  I place the skunk scent on cotton balls in three places around my stand. This method seems to triangulate the smell and makes it harder for deer to wind you regardless of the wind direction. Just place it at the base of three trees and let the morning and evening thermals do the rest. There are still a few sources of skunk scent available, but the best I have tried is the Bob Kirschner Deer lure company. Bob’s “Skunk Essence” it is harvested in Pennsylvania and has no equal for a masking scent. Bob’s skunk scent is so powerful that he will only package it in amber glass bottles then he seals it with wax. One bottle of this stuff will last you an entire season, though I personally buy enough for two seasons. I have used it for many years, while hunting whitetail both East and West of the Mississippi River. Trust me this is a cover scent that works.

 

Playing the wind- Being vigilant of predominate wind directions when picking a stand is a major “feather in the bowhunter’s cap”. I try to avoid areas where the terrain might cause the air to swirl. Research and try to gain a good understanding of thermals, this information is invaluable. As a rule of thumb try to hunt from higher locations in the morning when the heating air expands and rises, the opposite holds true for evening hunts, always try on hunt on lower ground in the afternoon as the air cools and settles back to the ground. Thermals are present even on calm days and can carry a hunter’s scent for great distances.

 

   All these things will help you this fall when trying to fool those wise old whitetails. Just remember me and this article while you are enjoying those fresh backstraps with friends and family members.

   Stay scent free and shoot straight………..

 

Written By Jason Wilborn     Monroe Tennessee

 

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