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Published by admin on 03 Feb 2010

Modern Fletching By Joe Bell

Modern Fletching
To achieve accuracy with broadheads, straight arrow flight must follow,
and nothing decides this more than the fletching on the arrow.
By Joe Bell

http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com/

 Ask any qualified engineer and they’ll tell you that aerodynamics is a complicated subject.  Variables are far and wide when dealing with air resistance and the shape of things.  This is why designing aircraft is such a high-paying profession – it’s not easy.

 This is also why tuning arrows for straight flight ca n sometimes wear out even the most experienced archers.  We’ve learned over the years that to obtain precisely straight arrow flight, we must first choose the correctly spined arrow shaft for our bow.  To find this out, we shoot this “bare” shaft through taut paper to see if it punches a neat bullet hole (or slight horizontal tear with a finger release).  If it does, then it’s the correct shaft for our setup.

 

Once this is done, we’re left with choosing the proper amount of fletching for our arrows.  The fletching on an arrow are responsible for one thing: to cause drag – or friction – that will help stabilize the arrow in flight, therefore allowing it to fly straight through the air and to its intended target.  Of course, when you add a fixed-blade broadhead to the picture, this steering effect becomes much more complicated – similar to the aerodynamics behind building airplanes – because now the front end of the shaft wants to “steer” as well.

 

So in a sense, with fixed-blade broadheads – and even with mechanical broadheads – fletching size, configuration and the orientation in which they are attached is the only element that can control whether or not your arrows fly straight.  This is why the subject of arrow fletching is so important.

Flight Dynamics
 According to Bob Mizek, one of New Archery Products’ top engineers, the most critical time the flight of a broadhead-tipped arrow is affected is when the arrow first comes out of the bow and before the arrow starts to rotate.  “Aerodynamically speaking, the blades of a broadhead act like canards on an airplane,” Mizek said.  “Anyway, unless the arrow comes off the string perfectly with perfect center-shot, perfect vertical orientation, perfect nock travel, and with no torque on the grip, the air stream will push against the side of one or more blades, forcing the arrow away from its desired path.  Aerodynamically, this is called yaw if it’s left to right and pitch if it’s up and down.

 

“When the arrow rotates, centrifugal force pushes the arrow back towards its true center and reduces pitch and yaw (this would be a bad thing in an airplane for obvious reasons but is a good thing in an arrow since an arrow does not have a pilot to do course corrections),” Mizek added.  “The sooner you can get the arrow rotating, the sooner yaw and pitch can be reduced or eliminated, resulting in tighter groups.  Arrows that are tipped with field points or mechanical broadheads still benefit from the arrow rotating because one side of an arrow experiencing yaw or pitch feels air pressure more than the other, causing the arrow to fly inconsistently.”

 As you may know, New Archer Products invented the new QuikSpin plastic vanes that were designed to maximize arrow spin, and therefore maximize arrow control and accuracy.  The vanes are said to begin spinning an arrow almost immediately out of the bow.  This in turn allows the arrow to experience air drag sooner in flight, which theoretically should make the arrow more stable and less susceptible to the forces of side air resistance that could push it off course.
 “For reference, a typical arrow fletched offset with 4-inch QuikSpin vanes start rotating in only 18 inches.  It reaches full rotation in two to three yards,” Mizek said.  “The same arrow set up with conventional vanes typically requires 12 yards.  The effect on accuracy by getting the arrow spinning sooner and then faster is incredible.

Are the Rules Changing?
 Over the years, we’ve been told that the amount of air drag cased by fletching is dependent on its size and shape.  For more air drag, you use longer fletching.  For less, you use shorter fletching.  For the ultimate in air drag, use the same size feathers.  Right?  Well, in the pat couple of years I’ve learned the rules may be changing.

 

While on a hunting trip with my good friend Bruce Barrie, I noticed his arrows were dressed with target-size vanes (they were Duravane’s 3-D vanes).  I asked him how he could be shooting such a small vane, but he swore by what great arrow flight he was achieving with small fixed bladed heads, even at sever high speeds.

 Later, a rep from Norway (the company that makes the Duravanes) told me that the secret behind these 2.3-inch vanes was its design.  The vanes may be short, but the design is very rigid to deduce blade “flap” through the air, which increases its ability to create air drag.  Plus, the vane’s compact size optimizes clearance with arrow rests.

 This same concept is the premise behind Bohning’s excellent new Blazer vane.  At only 2 inches long, this vane is said to offer all the stabilization required to properly steer fixed-blade broadheads.  The Blazer vane is slightly more than 1/2-inch tall and the vane is very rigid so wind flap is nearly if not completely eliminated.

 Personally, I believe some longer/larger fletching is more prone to “flapping” when they are subjected to high speeds.  With slower arrow speeds, air resistance isn’t as violent, therefore arrows fletched with longer/larger fletching provide excellent air drag and arrow control.  But with modern speed bows and carbon arrows, reducing arrow speed isn’t really an option, nor do most bowhunters want slow arrow speed.

 NAP’s QuikSpin vanes, I’m told, were not only designed to spin the arrow faster but also to prevent from flapping wildly in the air stream.  How is this done?  The vane incorporates micro-grooves on one side that promote rigidity, even at that critical moment when the arrow immediately leaves the bow.

 Arizona Archery Enterprises uses a “rough” finish on its Elite Plastifletch that promotes better steering in flight.  The vanes are also made of special material that has better memory (ability to flap back to shape) to reduce the affects of vane flap.

 Norway adds a unique, slightly tapered “blade” on their Duravanes from the base of the vane to the top to enhance steering power and to reduce vane weight.  This same feature is said to eliminate blade flap and noise, too.

 What about feathers?  Feathers are said to offer about twice the amount of air drag as equal size vanes.  The reason for this can be attributed to a feather’s surface, which is rough and full of natural “slits” that apparently cause for more air resistance or drag.

Fletching Orientation
 What about the orientation of fletching, the manner in which they are fletched on the shaft – either straight, offset or helical offset?

 While designing the QuikSpin vane, New Archery Products has conducted many tests on the affects of air drag caused by various types of arrow fletching.

 “We determined with a rather detailed and complex series of tests that to stabilize a broadhead at about 260 feet per second the arrow needs to turn about one rotation over 3 yards,” said Cary J. Pickands, technical support specialist for New Archery Products.  “Our previously recorded data was then able to provide even more information, and in this case, very useable information.  We looked at each data set and found the range at which each fletching type produced one full turn.”

 During testing, Pickands and other members of NAP’s staff discovered that standard 4-inch vanes (AAE Plastifletch, Duravane, Bohning Killer Vanes, etc.) fletched with a 1/16-inch offset reaches one full rotation between 12 to 15 yards; 5-inch helical feathers fletched with a 3- to 4- degree wrap reaches one full rotation in between 4 and 7 yards; NAP QuickSpin 4-inch vanes fletched perfectly straight reaches one full rotation between 4 and 7 yards; and NAP QuikSpin 4-inch vanes fletched with a 1/16-inch offset reached one full rotation between 1 and 4 yards.

 “As far as we can tell arrow speed has no effect on whether the vane will control the arrow,” Pickands said.  “We’ve shot broadhead-tipped arrows in excess of 330 fps with phenomenal accuracy and precision.”

Testing Fletching: What Really Works?
 Ultimately, only you can decide what fletching type and orientation provides adequate steering for your particular arrows and broadhead combination.  Shooting different combinations of fletching with your chosen broadhead usually does this.

 My good friend Ron Way, who is an engineer in the aerospace industry, told me that there are many variables that affect aerodynamics and stable flight, whether it is an aircraft or an arrow.  “Very small variation can change the dynamics of flight such as the grip on the handle, a poor release, out-or-position anchor (from leaning/twisting), wind, or low or high altitudes (air density),” he said.  “An arrow that is marginally stable can show decent flight when conditions are good but can be horrible if one or more of the variables change.”

Arrow Trajectory and Fletching
 Ideally you should equip your arrow shafts with the smallest possible fletching that will stabilize your broadhead.  This way, you can maximize your arrow’s downrange speed for flatter trajectory.  Smaller fletching also means less side air resistance of the arrow that translates into less horizontal arrow drift.  Also, consider the orientation of your fletching; the more offset and/or helical you apply to fletching, the slower the arrow will fly because more drag is occurring.

It Comes Down to Accuracy
 The bottom line with fletching is what produces the best accuracy for you.  While testing some of today’s modern fletching.  I’ve noticed that in some cases the length of the fletching is not as important as the stiffness (or in other cases the memory) and the height of the fletching.  The greater the stiffness (or memory) and the taller the fletch air drag becomes more pronounced for increased arrow stabilization.  But then again, that’s just another impression in the world of aerodynamics.

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Published by admin on 03 Feb 2010

Shooting Straight with frank addington, jr.

Shooting Straight
         with frank addington, jr.

Aspirin Bustin’ at the Northern Wisconsin Deer Classic and Ice Fishing Expo
 
    (Eau Claire, WI) The Aspirin Buster was in the house January 29-31, 2010 for the Northern Wisconsin Deer Classic and Ice Fishing Expo.  Promoter Hugh Price had brought me to Eau Claire twice before but this was my first trip back since about 2005.   The new facility at the Eau Claire Indoor Sports Complex made an ideal location for this winter show.  There were trophy bucks, lots of people, and lots to see and do. 
 
    This area seems to be well known for COLD weather and big bucks.  I have been really impressed with some of the whitetails I see displayed at this event over the years.  I think it may be a well kept secret because I never hear much about Wisconsin but I sure see a lot of big bucks at these shows.  The bowhunters here also have an interest in traditional archery and asked a lot of good questions after my exhibitions. 
 
    There was a pop-up 3-D archery range which seemed to be a poplar draw for many who found the chilly Wisconsin winters too cold to shoot outdoors.   My pal Bill Weisner has added a company to his portfolio, a bear scent company which goes great with his “Bear Crazy” bear seminars that he conducts across the country.  It’s always good to visit and share stories, meals and laughs with Bill and his family & crew.  Bill’s new company is called “Bear Scents”, visit www.bearscents.com to see his line of products.  He did seminars at the show and also had a booth.
 
   This was the first show for my new Hoyt Formula RX recurve bows.  In addition to two new Hoyt bows, I had a new net system, new arrows, and three different throwers during the three day event!  We had standing room only each performance and I was happy folks came out to see the show.  The audiences were great and  I was happy to sign publicity photos for the folks that stood in line after the show.  That’s one of the best parts of the gig because the folks seem happy and excited and that’s my job. I love to see kids get excited about archery.   All three of the assistants did a great job, one of them was Jeff Brunn who had tossed targets for me back in 2005 when I last visited the show.
 
   I ended up hitting the baby aspirin the 7th shot on that first show with the new bow.  I had gotten the bow strings the Tuesday before the show so I really had to scramble to get the bows shot in and tuned by Friday.  We also did the three pill—three arrow shot and it went over really well with the audiences.  I love to raise the bar and keep the shots a challenge.  Yeah there is a chance I’ll miss a few times, but when you hit the pills the audience really gets into it. 
 
    The show isles seemed busy and there was also some of the TV hunting show personalities on hand to do seminars and greet people.  I’d like to thank the folks at Hoyt, Muzzy, Easton, SKB Cases, Eze-Eye Archery, Archery Stand By, Resistol hats,  Justin boots, and Sims Vibration Labs.  I am looking forward to the next show in St. Louis, MO.  Seeing is believing–see you at the show! 
 
Until next time, Adios & God Bless.

Shoot Straight,
Frank

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Published by admin on 28 Jan 2010

African Blind Date By Paul Hantke

African Blind Date
Join this bowhunter on his first trip bound to Africa
as he goes face to face with the trophy of a lifetime.
By Paul Hantke

http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com/

 IT OCCURRED TO me as I pushed a cart overflowing with equipment cases and duffel bags through the Jan Smuts airport in Johannesburg that I was on the blind date of my life.

 I had accepted an invitation from Sangira Safaris to come to South Africa for a three-week hunting and photo safari, but I knew nothing about the company or its principals other than that it was a new venture by two relatively novice professional hunters.

 Not only was I sailing into personally uncharted territory on the other side of the globe, but also the adventure had been arranged, booked and inaugurated into action in about five weeks.  Normal planning for a trip like this should take months, but the wonders of e-mail and a need to get there quickly made it all happen.

 Haste was in order, because, as it was, I arrived in the first week of September, which is well at the end of winter for that half of the world, and almost too late for hunting.  The rainy season, or springtime, brings everything to a halt.

 

Summer in South Africa is the off-season for hunting because it is way too hot.  Not to mention, during the summer vegetation has grown lush from the rainy season and many game animals are virtually impossible to see or pursue.
 
 So there I was that morning with a cart full of gear. (As Staff Editor for the Y-Visionary Outdoor Group, I also had firearms and lots of other stuff for field testing in addition to my archery gear.)  Things got better immediately as I was greeted by my hosts, Tinus Van Heerden and Stoffel Botha, proprietors of Sangira Safaris, Tinus has a background in the military Special Forces, while Stoffel was a federal police investigator, but both grew up “in the bush.”

 Their professional skills in bush craft and hunting would show later, but I was immediately taken by how friendly and down-to-earth both fellows were, and their excellent English made it easy to quickly make friends.  We off-loaded the cart full of stuff into the back of a new 4×4 Crew Cab Toyota pick-up and we were on our way to “the bush,” which varies considerably as you move around South Africa.

 First stop was the bush veldt outside of Thabazimbi, which means “mountain of iron” in Tswana.  Mountain of Iron is the world’s largest deep-pit iron mine that is serviced by the most amazing (and scary) road you have ever seen.

 Our hunting grounds were on a private farm of immense proportions in the valley north of Thabazimbi, which flattens out and looks much like south Texas, with thorn bushes instead of mesquite.  The ground there is level with a couple of inches of soft silt over hard earth, and the thorn bushes grow so thick it is often impossible to find a path through them.

 

 Arriving about midday, we had lunch and then headed out in the old Land Rover hunting buggy.  Our drive took us along the first fence line for several kilometers, and then we turned into the middle of the property.

 I had been warned by a couple of old Africa hands that the animals there were especially hard to see due to their superior camouflage.  “All your North American skills and instincts will need to be re-programmed,” I was assured.

 They did not lie, and I found myself frustrated because Stoffel or Tinus would point out game that I simply could not see.  I could see and agree with the specific tree they were supposed to be standing beside, but I couldn’t make out the animals themselves.  It was interesting but not fun.

 In spite of my handicap, the fellows managed to show me gemsbok, impala, red hartebeest, dukier, kudu, and blue wildebeest, all in a two-hour drive.  We were, in fact, looking for a specific old bull in one of the blue wildebeest herds that the landowner wanted to cull.

 We managed to find the old bull and I grabbed my bow and set out on a stalk with Tinus.  You don’t get to be the old bull by being stupid, and that cagey wildebeest played hide and seek with us for awhile from abut 150 yards out before he darted for parts unknown.

 In the truck, on the way back to the farmhouse, Stoffel suddenly grabbed my shoulder and pointed into the bush.  “Look at the size of that kudu!” he exclaimed.  Everyone else looked and had the same reaction.  “What a monster!”  I, of course, saw only movement in the brush.  After several attempts, the big kudu was ruled impossible to stalk for the day.

 Dinner that night was a South African “Braai,”their version of a good old charcoal grill, and was well received after the long day.  It had been decided over steaks and libations that Stoffel and I would head out to a “hide” next to a waterhole the following morning where I might get a chance to stick a warthog.

 We were dropped off early the next day, and I literally had to look around carefully to find the hide, which only protruded about three feet above ground level.  The interior of the hide is dug out some three feet deep, and a rough wooden bench is you only seat.  The brush walls are lined inside with a tarp to prevent the detection of movement inside, and there are a few tiny viewing holes punched in the tarp.  A “shooting slit” that was about three inches wide and extended about two feet up from ground level was positioned well over to the side.

 

We began our vigil, hoping to get a chance at a warthog once the sun heated up the bush veldt and the animals made their way to water.

 I had along my High Country Ultra Force bow and was shooting Game Tracker’s Carbon Express 300 arrows tipped with the company’s new First Cut broadheads.  A sight check the afternoon before showed the bow was dead on.

 Stoffel and I spent a long and unproductive morning in the hide, eventually drawing pictures of animal tracks and playing tic-tac-toe in the sand at our feet.  We were a scant 25 yards away from the waterhole, so all this was done in virtual silence.
 Our only visitors were Lourie birds and two female kudos, who came in and drank, then laid down just a few feet from us, testament to the camouflage and proper upwind positioning of the hide.

 It was some seven hours before we heard the old Land Rover grinding its way to our position for our pre-scheduled midday pick up.   Once aboard, we weren’t more than a few hundred yards from the hide o our way out when trackers and professional hunters alike all pointed in the same direction.  “Kudu!” they exclaimed,  “and warthogs too!”

 Once again I saw only gray shadows in the brush that I presumed to be kudu, but I could make out a couple of dozen warthogs moving with the shadows.  We stopped the truck and two female with piglets ran across in front of us and disappeared into the thickest on the other side of the trail.  I don’t know if it’s the Disney influence, but I find the sight of warthogs on the move quite humorous.  The pigs and their babies drew a smile as they passed.

 Next came a moment of pandemonium wherein our trackers, Joseph and September, exchanged lots of information in several different languages with Tinus and Stoffel, the gist being that the kudu and the warthog were apparently moving together, and more than that, it was thought they would circle back and resume their trek to the waterhole we had just left.

 “Do you want to go back, or do you want to go have lunch and try again this afternoon?” was Stoffel’s question to me.  “I came to hunt,” was my reply, and September turned toe Rover around, dropping us off short of the hide so we could stalk in while they left by a different route.

 It was another two hours before we began to get any action, and then it was all from female kudu coming quickly into the water and then moving aside into the shade from the taller trees near the waterhole.

 Stoffel kept watch at the peephole, occasionally updating me on the scene while I fiddled with my equipment and thought about what I was doing.

 I eventually decided that my many months of work and practice made me feel comfortable with a shot out to about 30 yards, any further that that and I’d have to pass.

 I was at the peephole when the bull walked in, and I’m sure my jaw dropped just a little bit when I first saw him.  He stood nearly six feet tall at the head and was sporting a set of spiral horns that had to be over 40 inches tall.

 “There he is!” I said excitedly, but quietly, as I got out of the way of the peephole so Stoffel could see.  I was jut making the decision to reach for my bow when Stoffel stopped me, “Take it easy,” he said, “all the vitals are right behind that spot.”

 

We watched the young bull come warily to the waterhole, testing the air with nose high.  Stoffel pointed out a place bhind the animal’s shoulder where the markings made an oval.  “Shoot for the center of that oval,” he said, “all the vitals are right behind that spot.”

 For a second all I could think of was the Gary Larson cartoon of the deer with a target on his chest and his deer buddy saying, “Bummer of a birthmark, Hal.” It was an interesting mental juxtaposition, but I quickly regained my focus.

 “The young one!”  I whispered.  “How much bigger can those things get?”  His answer came back in the same hushed tones as he pulled me back to the peephole, “How about this one?” Stoffel asked.

 Almost seven feet tall at the head, I quickly saw the big kudu Stoffel was referring to.  The trophy was walking right into the water.

 He sauntered to the waterhole and gave the young buck a shoulder to signal him to back off, then he turned broadside to me and began to drink.

 I stepped back from the peephole, eyes and mouth wide and heart hammering already.  I don’t remember what I said, but it was probably not printable anyway.  I picked up my bow, nocked an arrow, set my string release, took a deep breath, and moved forward to fire.

 That was when I discovered that the slit was too close to the wall for a proper elbow-out posture when firing.  So I folded my arm down, concentrated on my bow-hand hold, my cheek weld and the fiber-optic 20-yard pin that I had placed just at the top of the oval in the markings.

 I ever so gently touched the trigger on my release and was very happy to see the yellow-fletched arrow center my target.  Right about then I realized that I had just heard Stoffel saying, “Are you going to shoot?”

 The big kudu hunched up, spun around once, and took off.  A few minutes later and about 100 yards away we found the big guy.  The broadhead had cut a path through heart and lungs and stopped on the inside at the offside shoulder.

 We measured the horns with a steel tape right after I took the kudu, and they ran out to 54 ¼ inches.  A more professional measurement was taken with a steel cable after the head and cape had spent three days in the cold room, and the set still measured 52 ¼ inches.

 As I understand it, the kudu will qualify for both the Rowland Ward and the Safari Club International world record books.

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Published by admin on 27 Jan 2010

Narrow Your Zone By Greg Miller

Narrow Your Zone

Knowing Every Square Inch of Your Hunting Turf

Is the Key to Setting Up On Big Bucks

By Greg Miller

http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com/

I’ve managed to arrow a mature buck during each of my home state’s past three archery seasons. Now I’m sure some of you reading this would just naturally assume that I spend all my time bowhunting on huge chunks of exclusively private ground. No doubt some of you also harbor the illusion that my home state of Wisconsin is literally overrun with large racked, hog-bodied whitetails. In your opinion then, knocking over three big bucks in three consecutive years is no big deal.

But the simple truth of the matter is that I don’t have exclusive access to huge chunks of prime big buck habitat. And with the exception of a handful of countries in the southwestern part of the state (where very strict trophy deer management policies have been in place for more than a decade), Wisconsin definitely isn’t “overrun” with big bucks. In fact, when compared to the bordering bordering states of Iowa, Illinois and Minnesota, my home state of Wisconsin actually runs a distant fourth in big buck production.

The truth be known, the single biggest key to my string of successful seasons has to do with my intimate familiarity of the ground I’m hunting. As my brother Jeff told me recently, “You’ve been bowhunting that area since you were just a kid. You know what the resident bucks are going to be doing and exactly where they like to walk at all times during the season. You must admit, that is a big plus!”

Familiarity Spawns Success

I can’t argue with Jeff’s assessment of my run of successful seasons. He’s right. I am extremely familiar with the area where I’m currently bowhunting. And as my brother stated, I’m also very familiar with exactly how the deer in my hunting area relate to their home range during all parts of the season. It’s a situation that has paid huge dividends the past three seasons for me.

If I see prospective trophy whitetail bowhunters making one mistake more often than any other it’s that they spread themselves way too thin. In other words, rather than becoming intimately familiar with a few areas, they gain only a slight understanding of a bunch of areas. Sure, they might have dozens of stand sites at their disposal. But it’s highly doubtful any of them will be in the right spots. Trust me, this type of approach is not conducive to a high success rate on mature bucks.

My personal success rate on big deer rose considerably the day that I quit making uneducated and irrational guesses about the animals I was pursuing. More specifically, I quit guessing as to where the bucks I was hunting were bedding down. I also quit making assumptions as to where those deer most preferred to walk when traveling about their ranges. (For those bowhunters who don’t already know, being in possession of these two bits of information can dramatically increase your chances of filling your tag.)

Downsizing is the Key

I learned years ago that it’s much easier to gain an intimate familiarity with your hunting spots if you concentrate all your attentions on only a few areas at the most. As I noted previously, many bowhunters fail to achieve consistent success rates on mature bucks simply because they spread themselves too thin. Instead of limiting their scouting and hunting efforts to just two or three spots, they attempt to expand their horizons to include five, six or seven (or maybe even more) different areas.

Of course, I always hear the same argument in support of such an approach. A bowhunter I chatted with recently expressed this argument perfectly. “A person can never have too many good hunting spots,” the guy stated. Well excuse me for saying so, but yes you can! In truth, having too many good hunting spots can actually be detrimental to your chances for success. (I’ll explain later.)

Okay, so now that I’ve made my point about less being better, it’s time to talk about how you decide which two or three of your precious hunting spots you should keep. In most instances it’s merely a matter of applying a bit of logic to the situation. You’re surely going to limit your attentions to those two or three areas that you feel harbor the most big buck potential. Rock-solid evidence, like an abundance of big buck sign and /or consistent sightings of mature animals, does help considerably when attempting to narrow down your options.

But I’ve found that another factor sometimes play a huge role in my final decision as to which areas I’m going to hunt. That factor is the location of the areas in relationship to my home base. Personally, I’ll shy away from hunting a great area that’s a long way from home in exchange for hunting a fairly good area that’s just a few miles from my driveway. Why? Because I’m able to spend a lot more time walking, scouting, observing and hunting those spots that are closer to home. Remember, the more time you spend in an area, the more familiar you’re going to become with that area. And that’s exactly what we’re talking about here!

A couple years back I arrowed a 140-class nine-pointer during my home state’s archery season. That buck is a perfect testament to the positives of hunting close to home. Due to a pressing business commitment, I could stay on my stand only for an hour on that fateful morning. I shot the buck about 20 minutes after daylight and had just enough time to track and recover my trophy before having to head out for my appointment. Had my hunting area been any further from home I wouldn’t have had time to even hunt that morning, let alone track and recover a wounded deer.

There’s another interesting fact about my successful hunt that bears mentioning. I harvested the nine-pointer from an area that harbors very few trophy-sized whitetails. Along with intense pressure during gun season, the area sustains an over-abundance of antlereless dear. Neither factor is conducive to high numbers of mature bucks. However, it seems there’s always at least a couple large racked deer running around in my hunting spot. My intimate familiarity with the area keeps me supremely confident that I’ll eventually get a chance at one of those deer.

Starting Fresh

To this point the information I’ve put forth in this article pertains only to those bowhunters who already have secured a number of hunting spots. However, everything I’ve said also applies to those individuals who are in the process of searching for some prime hunting spots. If I could offer only a few words of advice to such people it would be, “Start small and stay small!” Depending upon the size of the areas you’re considering, I’d highly recommend selecting no more than three different spots on which to concentrate your attentions.

But selecting your “new” hunting areas is only the beginning of the process. Personally, I wouldn’t even consider walking into a prospective hunting area without first thoroughly studying topo maps and aerial photos of that area. In addition, before heading into the woods I slowly drive all the accessible roads that border my newfound area. An incident that happened to yours truly a number of years ago was an embarrassing reminder of the importance of doing this.

I was scouting a big woods area in northern Wisconsin when I came across what appeared to be a virtual big buck honey hole. The ground was littered with steaming fresh scrapes, and at least a half-dozen four to six-inch trees had recently been rubbed clean of bark. Amazingly, all this sign was concentrated within a relatively small area. I quickly picked out and prepared a spot for my portable tree stand, then headed out of the woods. I didn’t bother doing any further scouting of any kind. That proved to be a terrible mistake!

I returned to the spot the very next afternoon and quietly put up my portable stand. Two hours slipped by, and “primetime” was rapidly approaching when I heard a sound I couldn’t initially identify. Then I realized that someone was operating an ATV somewhere off in the distance. At first I couldn’t tell which direction the off-road machine was heading. But a minute later I’d pinpointed its exact line of travel. The damn thing was coming straight toward my position!

Initially, I was irate that someone would be irresponsible enough to drive an ATV through the woods on public forest land. But my anger disappeared almost as soon as the machine came into view. Unbeknown to me, and just far enough from my stand site so that I couldn’t see it, was a brand new logging road. In fact, as I discovered later, loggers had punched the road into the area just a couple days earlier. Had I done my normal thorough scouting job I would have noticed the new road. And I would have known that the buck responsible for all the fresh sign had already relocated to another part of the forest.

My experience with the ATV makes a very important point. Gaining an intimate familiarity with your hunting areas is important for a reason other than learning how the deer relate to those areas. You’ll also gain an understanding how other hunters are utilizing the areas. Of course, this may not be a concern to those who do all their bowhunting on private property. It’s a different story, however, for those of us who still do a fair amount of our hunting on public lands. In my opinion, figuring out what other hunters are doing is equally as important as figuring out what the resident deer are doing.

Hunt Smart!

While I am a strong proponent of downsizing for deer, I’m always quick to add that the approach can cause problems for some hunters. The most obvious of these problems has to do with keeping your hunting areas “fresh.” Having fewer hunting areas means you’ll have fewer stand site possibilities. But regardless of how much a person downsizes his hunting efforts, I remain convinced that they can still find enough stand sites to ensure that they won’t burn out a potentially good area(s). Or, they can come up with a system that allows them to continue to hunt their spots hard, yet keep the deer guessing.

My son Jake and I have what I consider the perfect system for hunting our two chosen spots. Several times during the week we hunt farmland area near our home, but on weekends we hunt a big woods area in the northern part of the state. This “system” ensures that we don’t put too much pressure on either of our areas. Just about the time the deer in one spot catch on that they’re being hunted, we pull up stakes and disappear for a few days.

More Isn’t Better

Earlier in this piece I mentioned that having too many good hunting spots can actually be detrimental to your chances for success. How is this possible? Simple. The more good spots you have, the greater the tendency to second-guess yourself. My observations would indicate that people who have dozens of great setups are always struggling to figure out which one they should hunt. And when they finally do make a decision, they invariably end up second-guessing themselves. I once bowhunted with a fellow who fit into this category. The guy just couldn’t shake the feeling that while he was sitting on one stand a monster buck was walking by one of his other stands.

Unbelievably, he would sometimes relocate three times during a three hour hunt. Talk about spreading yourself too thin!

As I mentioned earlier, trusting totally to guesswork won’t put you within range of many trophy whitetails. Without a doubt, this is the biggest perk of limiting your scouting and hunting efforts to just a few areas. You’ll eventually learn the everyday habits of the deer you’re hunting. Remember, mature whitetails are notorious for using only tiny slivers of all the available cover out there. What’s more, big bucks don’t always leave behind evidence (rubs, scraped, etc.) that they’re frequenting a particular spot. Often, the only way to pinpoint these places is by spending time observing deer activity in your hunting areas. The more you watch, the more you’ll learn.

Don’t Ever Stop Looking

Just prior to writing this article I did some post-season scouting on a 400-acre chunk of ground I’ve been bowhunting for better than 30 years. Now you’d think there wouldn’t be anything left to learn about a tract of land after all those years. You’d be wrong. In fact, I found that I fully believe is going to be a literal big buck hot spot. The spot is located a mere 75 yards from a logging road I walk when traveling to and from a distant stand site. I’d never bothered to check it out simply because I’d never actually seen any signs of big buck activity near that section of the logging road. Hey, even I still make some basic mistakes once in a while!

There was a time in the not-so-distant past when I believed that a person couldn’t have too many good hunting spots. I’ve since learned that there definitely is a danger to having access to a large number of quality hunting areas. Spreading your efforts over a bunch of different areas almost always means that you aren’t doing justice to any one of them.

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Published by admin on 25 Jan 2010

Proven Bruin Tactics By Bell Vaznis

Proven Bruin Tactics
When going up against a big, wise bruin, you better
have more than a few tricks up your sleeve.
By Bell Vaznis

http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com/

The site intrigued me. It was situated at the confluence of two streams, a natural crossing for black bears, and well off the beaten path. It was also dark under the canopy of spruce and fir, even on a bright sunlit day, which gave me the willies whenever I replenished the bait. Indeed, the five-inch front bad tracks in the nearby mud indicated a mature boar was raiding my cache of meat and pastries every other night or so, and the last thing I wanted to do was to come face to face with him in the poor light.

I hung a portable stand crosswind to the pile of logs covering the bait after one of his visits, and even though I was anxious to free an arrow, I waited for the bear to get used to the new setup before climbing on board. It was the right decision, for the first night I hid aloft, the big bear circled cautiously downwind of the bait site, and once satisfied all was safe, committed himself to the offering just before dark.

I waited for him to present a quartering-away shot, and when he did, I came to full draw and released a vaned shaft at his vitals in one fluid motion. The Pope and Young bruin let out a deafening roar upon impact, and immediately fled the scene with his stubby tail tucked between his legs like a scalded dog.

His efforts were to no avail, however, as he was already dead on his feet expiring less than 50 yards from my stand.

Some bowhunters today erroneously believe that taking a trophy black bear over bait is a cakewalk. After all, they protest, all you have to do is wait next to a pile of donuts for one to show up! I usually break up laughing at these “experts,” for 99 times out of a hundred they have never even seen a bear in the wild much less tagged one with a bow!

You see, if the truth be known, taking a trophy bruin with a bow and arrow over bait is no gimme, especially in those heavily wooded sections of the United States and Canada where black bears are so often found. Why? Because big black bears are smart—very smart. Once a mature black bear knows you are after him, your chances of seeing him are almost nil. In fact, most woodsmen rate only the wolf as more difficult to catch flatfooted in the wild. It is no wonder then that the black bear is America’s number two big-game animal!

A mature bruin, however, is not invincible. Bowhunters who pay attention to detail, might, just might, bet a shot at the trophy of a lifetime. Here are a dozen or so tips to help you in that quest.

Hire a Good Outfitter
If you have your heart set on a record-book bruin, then Canada should immediately come to mind. Although big bruins are arrowed every year in the States, the Canadian provinces offer you well-managed populations of gargantuan bears in wilderness settings. Not to mention, most of these bears have never seen a human before!

But to get a crack at one, you must go where the biggest males abound, and then book with an outfitter who specializes in the 400-plus-pound specimens. Price is often a good indicator in this regard; expect to pay around $2,000 for a quality hunt.

To get started, dial toll-free 1-877-8 CANADA, and ask for a list of outfitters from the province(s) you are most interested in. To date, I’ve arrowed several trophy bruins in Newfoundland, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta.

Walking the Line
Some outfitters will turn over an active bait line to you and then let you set your own stands, or offer you a couple of hot bait sites with stands already in place and then let you decide where you want to sit. Whatever the case, it is imperative you examine as many bait sites over the length of your hunt as possible to help you determine which site(s) have big bears nearby.

What should you be looking for? For starters, I look for front pad tracks five or more inches in width, indicating a probable Pope and Young bear, and large diameter droppings. A Boone & Crockett bruin, for example, will leave dung the size of a Coke can on nearby entrance/exit trails.

Mature bruins also like to circle a bait site before committing themselves to the set-up. Look for freshly crushed vegetation and faint pad impressions just within sight of the bait—a dead giveaway to the 400-pound chocolate bruin I arrowed in Saskatchewan a few seasons back. His entrance trail would have been easy to miss if my guide and I hadn’t been actually looking for it.

When comfortable, black bears will also sit on their haunches or lie down near the bait to feed giving you yet another opportunity to judge their size. Get on your hands and knees if necessary, and look for a flattened area of matted, broken or bent-over plant stems.

Can’t find a bear track? Spread cooking oil, grease or even just water near the bait site to help soften the soil. The oil/grease will also go a long way towards attracting even more bears. Put some grease on the trunks of nearby trees, too, to help lure bears to the bait site, and then gauge any fresh claw marks found on the tree’s trunk for size.

Of course, don’t overlook a big bear sighting within a half mile of a particular bait site. You can bet your plane ticket home that a bruiser knows exactly where that bait is, and unless spooked, will eventually visit during legal shooting hours.

Other Trophy Bear Sign
Keep in mind that a boar’s home range typically overlaps the home ranges of several sows. He will therefore only be able to visit a bait site once every two or three days. Unless you find sign to the contrary, a site that is pounded every day is probably being hit by a subordinate bear, maybe even a sow. I’ll take a bait that is being hit sporadically over one that is being devoured nightly any day!

In addition to size, color can also denote trophy quality. Black bears, for example, can have red, cinnamon, blond and chocolate hide as well as the very rare white. Look for hair caught on nearby tree trunks, brush or even a length of barbed wire left purposely near the bait for clues to coat color. There is no finer trophy in the world than an off-color record-book bruin!

Eliminate Sows and Cubs
Locating big bear sign around a particular bait site is one goal, but you also want to avoid hunting a site routinely visited by a sow with cubs for obviously reasons. How can you tell there are cubs about? They usually destroy a baited area leaving it look like it was hit by a tornado. Look for small tracks and small diameter droppings to confirm your suspicions, and tidbits of food scattered all over the place.

Don’t however, abandon a site if it is being visited by several sows, as evidenced in part by a plethora of medium-size tracks. Black bears breed in the early summer, and such a site can be a magnet for jumbo boars looking for a sow in heat. You may only get one chance at a particular boar under these circumstances as he will not likely return once he hooks up with a sow. Size him up quickly, and take your first killing shot.

Watch Your Scent
There are two schools of thought concerning scent control. One, keep your body, clothing and all equipment as scent-free as possible by using rubber boots, charcoal suits and deodorizing sprays. Or two, since the bears already associate the bait with humans, do not make any effort to control your odor. In fact, you can even leave an article of clothing behind in the stand to help desensitize the bears to our stench. Both schools have their merit.

It is not uncommon for a bear to return to bait site after being shot at. In fact, even superficially wounded bruins have been known to return in a day or two. Why? In part because they did not associate the sound of the shot or the pain inflicted with that of a human. Bears are always fighting, and scratches and cuts are a normal part of daily life. Once a bear knows he is being hunted, that is he associates humans and food with danger, all bets are off.

That is why I refer to keep my presence at the bait site a secret. I avoid spreading fresh scent about by walking too close to the bait pile, and I always try to sneak in and out of my stand without causing a disturbance. I especially avoid crossing any bear trails. You can never be too careful in this regard!

Setup Right
Underestimating a bear’s intelligence can easily lead to tag soup at season’s end. Pick a tree with a large trunk and many branches to disguise your silhouette, and then arrange it so you can shoot sitting down in full camo. I like to be no more than 20 yards from the bait and 12 to 15 feet above the ground to help insure a one-shot kill.

Bears may have poor eyesight, but they are not blind. Any blob that looks out of place arouses their suspicions, and they can spot motion faster than an alert whitetail. Anything you can do to stay out of sight, and to reduce or conceal unwanted movements, is to your benefit.

A Bear’s Nature
One of the biggest mistakes neophytes make is shooting the fist bear that comes to the bait. There is a social hierarchy among bears, and no place is this more evident than around a bait site. Sows, yearlings and young boars often feed first in the early evening followed by bears higher on the ladder with the big boars feeding last, when they feel it is safest.

A subordinate boar will generally announce his arrival by purposely snapping a twig, thereby warning any bears already on the bait that he is nearby. Bears subordinate to him will generally melt back into the forest in anticipation of his arrival. The snapping of a twig also serves as a safety device for him. The last thing he wants is to do is surprise the Alpha male at the feeding site. He knows from past experience that he is no match for the dominate bruin.

Therefore, if you see a bear acting nervous around the bait site, you can bet he fears a bigger bear is nearby. Experienced bear hunters will pass on the nervous bear in hopes a real jumbo will soon materialize.

Never Give Up
Once you are convinced a mature bruin is in the vicinity of a particular bait, plan on hunting that bait for the duration of the trip. Unless you have educated him to your presence, a big bear will eventually come in for a look-see during daylight hours. I once sat over a bait for two weeks waiting for a Boone & Crockett bear with seven-plus-inch front pads to return. I finally saw the mystery bear on my last night in camp, a roly-poly 675-pound spring behemoth with a head the size of a basketball. He never took his eyes off me, however, cleverly shielding his body with a “head-on” stance. I never did get a shot at him even though I sat only 15 yards away without a twig between us!

Bait-Wise Bruins
Once a bear knows you are on to him, he may be impossible to kill. There are, however, a few tricks you can use to lure a big bear back to the bait site. A honey burn, for example, can send a cloud of sweet smoke into a bear’s lair that most bruins find difficult to resist. Simply pour a pint of honey into a pot, and fire it up with a can of Sterno. It will first steam and then boil before erupting into a volcano of thick smoke. We took three fat bears on spring evening using this technique.

What can you do if a bear hangs up just out of range? More often than not the bear has figured out you are on stand and is waiting for you o leave so he can chow down in safety. (I told you bears were smart!) The trick here is to quietly erect a second stand downwind of his staging area in the middle of the day, or have a buddy set up another stand near the bait and then leave one-half hour before nightfall.

The first time we tried the latter, the ruse worked like clockwork. “Thinking” I had left my stand early, the bruin waltzed into the bait site before my buddy had driven out of hearing range, presenting me with an easy broadside shot. This plan has worked so well over the years that we always pack a couple of extra lightweight portables with us to bear camp.

As you can see, tagging a record-book bear means hunting in areas they thrive, and then interpreting the sign they leave behind correctly. It also means learning to play cat and mouse with them around the bait station. In fact, only then will you realize just how smart a mature black bear can be. Let the games begin!

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Published by admin on 22 Jan 2010

Western Connection by Tom Tietz

Western Connection
Word on the street says that big mule deer are
almost impossible to find.  But this is far from true
Story and Photos by Tom Tietz

http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com/

 Mule deer herds are declining throughout the west.  There are no longer any trophy mulies to be found.  This is the talk of the day throughout the western states.  Some pundits make it sound like a waste of time, money and effort to pursue trophy mule deer bucks these days.  Well to that, I say HOGWASH!

 

Although mule deer herds and trophy bucks are nowhere near the levels as during the heydays of the 60s, there are still sustainable populations with quality bucks out there for the hunting.  It just takes a little more effort on the part of the hunter nowadays.  Granted, the days of driving your truck down a road and having your pick of big four-pointers are probably gone forever, but good bucks are still out there, on both public and private lands.  A bowhunter with reasonable expectations of taking a buck that qualifies for P&Y can find success in any western state.  It just takes a little homework and pre-season effort on your part.  While there are very few, if any, areas that consistently produce 190-class mule deer, there are a myriad of areas where one can pursue and have a reasonable chance at harvesting 150-plus class mulies.

Getting a Tag
 The first thing one has to do to find big bucks is to learn how to play the draw.  Most of the better hunts in the West are now on some type of limited draw system for tags.  At first glance this may look incredibly complicated, what with bonus points, preference points, multiple choices, hunt codes and the like, but it really isn’t all that difficult to learn.  The key is to start early.  The days are gone when you can decide in July that you’re going deer hunting in August.  You need to start getting your act together in December.  Every state has a somewhat different system, and application deadlines can range from January to May, Contact the states you’re interested in hunting in late fall and get on their list to receive information and applications as soon as they become available.

Playing the Odds
 Drawing a tag can range from literally once in a lifetime (due to astronomical odds) to something you can do virtually every year.  Usually the tougher the draw, the better the quality, but you can find P&Y bucks in nearly every unit in nearly every state.  Some areas may be excellent for 150-class bucks but you will have no realistic chance at a 190.  These areas are usually much easier to draw.  Believe it or not, some areas are still capable of producing 200-point bucks, but getting a tag in these areas can be another story altogether.  Some guys try to hit a home run and apply for only the premier areas in every state, in hopes of drawing at least one really special tag every couple years, whereas other guys prefer to hunt more often and apply for areas that have the better odds of drawing.

 

Some states reward those who apply but don’t draw a tag with bonus or preference points for future drawings.  This way the hunter who puts in every year has a better chance to draw the more sought-after units.  Others just have an all out draw, where every applicant has an equal chance of drawing every year.  The key here is to start getting points in the states that offer them and keep trying to draw prime units in the other states.  If you set up a system for drawing different states, you can pretty well assure yourself of a good quality hunt somewhere each year.

Selecting an Area
 The first key to getting a trophy mulie is to find out where thy live.  You can be the world’s greatest hunter, but if the area you’re hunting doesn’t hold big deer, you’re not going to get one.  There are several ways of finding areas that harbor trophy bucks.  Read as many articles and books on mule deer as you can find.  Although you may not get much on specific areas through these sources, you can still glean a lot of valuable information.    For example, an article on trophy mulies in Nevada’s high country will narrow your search down to units in Nevada’s high country will narrow your search down to units in Nevada with high mountain ranges.  Or an article about hunting in CRP will narrow your search to those areas and states with large expanses of CRP.

 Another source for information is state game departments, where you can get harvest data, herd data, draw odds and hunter distribution.  Look for areas with light to medium hunter pressure, high buck-to-doe ratios and stable or increasing deer numbers.  Don’t just rely on one year’s data either.  Get at least three years up front, then update your information each year.  Set up a file for each state or area.  From this you can determine trends in overall quality for each area.  Areas that meet these criteria have the highest likelihood of producing trophy bucks.  The best areas will usually be the toughest to draw, but there are some gems out there with good odds of drawing, you just have to look.  Put this data together with things you’ve read and you can narrow your search drastically.

 

Another way to get up-to-date information is from sport shows and conventions.  Talk to other hunters about where they have had success.  Again, most won’t give you specific information, but put what you hear together with what you’ve learned and your search becomes even narrower.

 I know you’re thinking, “man this is a lot of work.”  It really isn’t as bad as you might imagine.  You can do a lot of your research in the winter months when you’re relaxing after a few hours of snow shoveling.  And what could be better than planning your next trophy mule deer hunt?  Just sifting through the information you accumulate will get you pumped up for the upcoming season.

 

One last thing is to watch the weather.  Is the area you’re wanting to hunt having an unusually sever or mild winter?  This will have a lot to do with the health of the herds and trophy quality come fall.  If an area looks good statistically but had a very sever winter within the past couple years, it may be best to shy away from it.  On the other hand, if the area has put together a string of mild winters and the statistics add up, you may have discovered one of those uncovered gems.  Remember that just because an area produced some big deer in the past, things can change, and it may not live up to your expectations next fall.

When to Scout
 You’ve done your research and drawn that coveted tag.  Now it’s time to find out where the big boys play.  A lot of where to look will be based on the time of year you’ll be hunting.  Mule deer are generally migratory and where you find them in August could be miles from where they are in October.  Even though you may not hunt until later in the fall, the best time to do some pre-season scouting is in late July or early August.  Due to their reddish summer coat (which sticks out like a vegetarian at a barbecue), mulies are very easy to find this time of year.  Their antlers will be nearly fully developed, although the velvet coat that covers them will generally make them look about 15 percent bigger than they really are.

 The first step towards successful scouting is to obtain topo maps of your area.  These can be obtained from USGS, or Delorme has some neat software that enables you to print up-to-date topo maps right from your computer.  They also have state atlases that are very detailed and show basic topography and access roads.

Scout Smart
 When scouting, do so with little or no impact.  Glass wide expanses from a distant high point using a high-quality binocular or spotting scope.  With their reddish coloration, deer will be easy to spot from a distance, and you will be able to observe them without disturbing them.  This is especially critical if you are going to hunt in August or September, as the bucks you see will probably still remain in the same general area.  If your hunt is later in the fall, the bucks probably will have headed for lower elevations, but at least you’ll have an idea of the overall quality available to you.

 If scouting early isn’t a possibility, you can still get some pre-season scouting in.  The best chance you’ll get at a real trophy is in the first couple days of the season before other hunters have stirred things up.  If you are going to take seven days for your hunt, for example, you would be better off scouting for two or three days prior and only hunting four or five days, than to arrive the night before season and hunting for the full seven days.  Your best chance of taking a real buster buck is to locate him before opening day and then try to nail him in the first day or two of your hunt.  Once the deer get stirred up, all bets are off.  Those big guys didn’t get that way by being stupid.  They had to survive a number of hunting seasons to grow trophy antlers and know where to go to get away from hunters.

 Remember that scouting is important, but scouting smart is even more important.  The less you disturb the deer before the season, the better your chance of taking your trophy come opening day.  If you continually disturb the animals and the area while scouting, the bucks, especially the big ones, can be miles from where you first found them.

 Trophy mulies contrary to some beliefs, are still out there for the taking.  With just a little common sense and by using the information that is readily available, you will uncover areas that you can consistently hunt for that trophy of a lifetime.  Although luck always plays a part, trophy hunting is an endeavor where you usually get out of it what you put into it.  Research is an essential part of today’s trophy mule deer hunting.  It can be hard work and somewhat time consuming, but the rewards can make all the effort more than worth it.

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Published by admin on 21 Jan 2010

Arrow Crafting By Mike Veine

Arrow Crafting
Not only does building your own arrows save money,
but it can greatly improve the quality of them.
By Mike Veine


I’ve always been a stickler for details, and that panache for near perfection is readily apparent with my bowhunting equipment, especially my arrows. I’ve been building my own arrows for 30 years. I save $10 or more per dozen by building my own and I have fun in the process. I also use premium components, and by following proven techniques my arrows are always the best they can be.


A few years ago, a friend of mine was bowhunting for whitetails from a ground blind when a good buck presented a high percentage, close-range shot opportunity. At the shot, the buck recoiled and scampered away a short distance before stopping to look back at what had scared him. The buck then snorted an alarm and ran away unscathed.


Baffled, my friend recovered his arrow and upon examination he was shocked to see that all of the vanes had torn loose. In fact, all the arrows in his quiver suffered from the same malady. He had just purchased those rather expensive, new, carbon arrows from a discount sporting good store and had not shot them yet. Because they were the same model and size as the ones he had been shooting, he just assumed that they’d be OK. His lack of attention to detail cost him dearly. Savvy bowhunters that properly build their own arrows can avoid such a disaster.


Shaft Selection and Cutoff
Bulk shafts are typically purchased by the dozen, which is where the main savings comes in when building your own arrows. Depending on the manufacture, raw shafts are typically sold in 34-inch lengths. Unless you have exactly a 34-inch draw length, then you’ll need to size the shafts by cutting them off.


Shafts can be cut off using two different methods. The cheapest, and the one I mostly use, requires a shat cut-off tool that functions like a pipe cutter. These tools cost $20 to 30, but will only work on aluminum shafts. The cut must be perfectly clean to provide proper alignment of the insert or bushing. After cutting my shafts with such a tool, I then smooth off the end that was cut off using a jig made from scrap 2×4. The jig has several holes drilled through it to fit various sized shafts. The holes hold the shaft straight while I lightly file the end until it’s smooth and flat. I then use a dremel rotary tool to ream out the interior of the cut to remove any burs.


For carbon arrows you’ll need to use an electric arrow cut-off saw. Those saws also work great on aluminum shafts. An electric cut-off saw represents the largest investment that an arrow builder might consider. The A1-Arrow Saw made by Apple Archery Products is a good saw that retails for about $115. I’s sometimes wise to get together with a few friends, pool your funds, and buy one together. I just take my carbon shafts to an archery pro shop to have them cut. Even with a cut-off saw, though, the edges sometimes must be smoothed out using a dremel tool.


Installing Inserts
Inserts should fit snugly and must align perfectly. I prefer aluminum inserts like the ones made by Easton. For aluminum shafts, I use Bohing Ferr-L-Tite hot glue. Screw an old field point into the insert and then clamp onto it with vice-grips. Using a small propane torch, heat up the insert and the end of the shaft. Apply a small amount of the glue to the insert and then push it into the shaft until seated fully. Before the glue cools and hardens, wipe the excess off with a rag. Installed in this manner, the inserts can be rotated for broadhead alignment or removed by simply reheating them.


Carbon shafts require the use of an epoxy to adhere the inserts. I’ve used Bohning’s AAE Epoxy, which is a flexible adhesive ideally suited for inserts and bushings on carbon shafts. Once inserts are installed, screw n a broadhead and spin test it. I use an arrow straightener for this function, which will also check shaft straightens in the process. Spin the shaft by quickly rolling it and if the head wobbles at all, remove the insert and install a new one. With carbon shafts, this process must be done before the epoxy sticks.


Vanes or Feathers?
Bowhunters have been debating the virtues of feather fletching versus plastic vanes for as long as I can remember. I started out using feather as they provided more forgiveness off the crude arrow rests used in those olden days. When tests evolved to allow total fletching clearance, I switched over to plastic vanes and haven’t looked back since. Vanes are just about impervious to the weather and much more durable than feathers. Feathers are also much noisier in flight and the racket made from brushing anything against feathers has been the undoing of many bowhunters. I may take some flack for this, but unless you’re having arrow flight problems, I recommend using quality plastic vanes for bowhunting.


Many top archer use feathers. Scott Purks, one of the country’s best 3-D archers, prefers feathers even with his Mathew’s bow equipped with a drop-away rest. He says, “Feathers are kind of a pain, but they seem to shoot a little more accurately, especially at extremely long ranges.” Feathers are lighter than vanes, which equates to slightly faster arrow speeds.


When you build your own arrows, you can pick and choose from various fletchings. I prefer vanes that are very thin and flexible. Because arrows will be smashed in bow cases and otherwise bent and folded, vanes that pop back to their original shape are especially desirable. I’ve been using Easton vanes for many years and have been very happy with them. Bohning, Duravane, Arizona, Sims Vibration Labs, Flex-Fletch and others also make high-quality vanes.


Fletching color choices are virtually limitless and arrow builders have the ability to mix and match what ever colors they desire. Some bowhunters prefer colors that blend in. For them, camo fletching is available. Years ago, I used olive-drab fletchings, but today I prefer bright-colored fletching and florescent nocks so that I can watch my arrow flight better. Red and orange colors are my favorites as they provide good visibility, yet they still blend in with the fall woods as the leaves turn colors. Bright colors also make it easier to find arrows on the ground.

Most bowhunters use either 4- or 5-inch fletchings. As a rule, use longer fletching on larger-diameter shafts. For skinnier shafts, 4-inch or smaller fletching usually work best. It often pays to experiment though for optimal broadhead flight.


Applying Fletching
A fletching jig is required for proper fletching alignment o the shaft. I recommend a single arrow-fletching jig, which will ensure identical fletching alignment on every arrow made. I’ve been using the same Jo-Jan Mono Fletcher for as long as I can remember, and it works great, costing less than $40. Bitzenburger, Cabela’s and Bohning also offer quality fletching jigs.

When purchasing a fletching jig, you’ll have three options: right helical, left helical and straight fletch. Most bowhunters prefer a right-helical fletching. Right helical means that if you look down the shaft from the nock end, the fletching will angle to the right. Right helical will spin the arrow clockwise. Feather fletching users should be aware that the wing of the feather must match the helical direction. For instance, right-wing feathers require a right-wing helical fletching jig. You can also choose from three-fletch or four-fletch models. Most bowhunters use three-fletch arrows.

Ron Quick builds custom arrows at Outdoorsman (317/881-7446) a full-service archery pro shop in Greenwood, Indiana. Ron says, “Cleaning the shaft thoroughly before gluing on the fletching is the key to making them stick properly. We fist soak both aluminum and carbon shafts in acetone prior to fletching them. After that we go over the shaft with a Scotch Bright pad and water. The final cleaning step is wiping the shaft with denatured alcohol. Be warned, though, that acetone and alcohol are both highly flammable liquids.” Bohning offers a product called SSR Surface Conditioner specifically designed to degrease and prepare aluminum or carbon shafts for painting and fletching. I use acetone, but I just put some on a rag and then wipe the shaft with the stuff.


Quick added, “After the alcohol dries we glue on the fletching using Bitzenburger jigs. We just started using the new Bohning Fletch-Tite Platinum glue and love the stuff. It will glue any type of fletching to any shaft material, even the slippery carbon ones. Some of the quick-set glues that we have tried have not held well to graphite.”

For release shooters, place your fletching in the clamp so the back of the fletching is 3/4-inch from the end of the shaft( not the end of the nock). Finger shooters should use a 1-inch spacking. I set my fletching jig for a five-degree right helical, which is a common setting for a bowhunting arrow. I lay a very small bead of Fletch-Tight glue down the length of the vane and then gently press the vane in place on the jig.

With Fletch-Tire glue, I wait about five minutes before removing the fletching from the clamp, rotating the shaft and then repeating the process for the next fletching. It takes about 15 minutes for the glue to harden completely and that’s when I apply a small dab of glue on the from and back of each vane for added durability. After the fletching are installed, check for any excess glue that may have bulged out along the edge of the fletchings. I use a scalpel to trim away any excess.

Fletching Removal
Just about every one of my shooting sessions results in damaged fletchings. Arrow maintenance is another good reason to get into building your own arrows. If I had to take my damaged arrows to the pro-shop for repair, I’d go broke in a hurry. I remove my fletching with a dull knife. However, for those that need a special tool for everything, Cabela’s, Saunders and Norway offer fletch strippers. Bow & Arrow Hunting Editor Joe Bell really likes the Zip Strip model by Norway Industries.

After scraping most of the glue off the shaft, I then go over it with coarse steel wool and then follow the same procedure as described earlier for cleaning the shaft prior to applying the fletchings. Incidentally, for small tears in the vanes of my practice arrows, I sometimes just use a little Super Glue to reconnect the tear. The next time I replace a fletching on that flawed arrow, though, I replace the cobbled vane.


Dipping, Cresting and Wrapping
Dipping, cresting and wrapping arrows allows archers to customize their arrows. Adding a personal touch to your arrows is fun and the colors and designs one can create are limitless. I personally don’t bother to dress up my arrows anymore, although I’ve experimented with dipping and wraps in the past. Before cresting, dipping or wrapping, it is highly recommended to clean our shafts using the same procedure used prior to gluing on fletchings. In fact, dipping and cresting is typically done prior to installing the nock and fletchings.

I’d recommend buying a cresting kit like the one offered by Bohnng. Their kit contains everything needed to create personalized arrows including a motorized spinner to rotate the shafts for painting. Bohning also sells an instructional video for customizing your arrows.

Arrow wraps are also available through Bohning or Easy-Eye. Wraps are stickers that are rolled around the arrow shaft to create designs. Buying and applying wraps is much easier and cheaper than cresting arrows, but the degree of personalization is limited to the wrap designs available.

Dipping arrows is nothing more than painting the end of the shaft under the fletchings. Most bowhunters dip their arrows in paint to allow better visibility of the arrow when shot at game. The proliferation of video taping of bowhunters has certainly increased the number of bowhunters dipping their arrows. It’s much easier for the camera to pick up arrows dipped in brightly colored paint. White is the color choice of most pro videographers.

As a final step in the arrow building process, I apply a light coat of silicone to my arrows. This serves three purposes: First, it causes water to bead up on the shaft and run off. It also allows the arrow to be drawn over the rest with much less friction and resulting noise. Lastly, the silicone may enhance penetration.

Building your own arrows allows you to experiment with different components, helical settings and other arrow nuances to fine-tune your setup for optimal performance. It’s a lot like a rifle reloader working up a particular load to perform best in their firearm. Arrow builders fine-tune their load as well, but we just go about it a lot quieter.

http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com/

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Published by admin on 18 Jan 2010

2010: Aspirinbusting 25 Years by frank addington, jr.

2010: Aspirinbusting 25 Years
by frank addington, jr.


 
         It is hard to believe that 25 years ago  the late Rev. Stacy Groscup tossed a Pepsi can into mid air and challenged me to hit it.  I did and that same day he put me in front of an audience and had me shooting at aerial targets.   I’d actually assisted Stacy on stage for years by tossing targets for him from time to time.  Ann Clark  also had me assist her when she visited the West Virginia Sport show around 1981.  Those early experiences with Ann & Stacy let me know I’d found my calling.  I wanted to make a living shooting a bow and arrow.  It’s the only thing I wanted to do.
      The shows have come full circle since that time and I have evolved into performing  my own shows.  When I first started I basically imitated Stacy’s show, the same shots and the same script.   I soon came to realize that there was only one Stacy and as my confidence grew I began designing my own show and my own shots.  That’s part of how the behind the back shots came into play.  I wanted to break new ground and do some shots that had never been attempted in front of crowds before.  I wanted to rewrite the books on exhibition shooting with some of the shots I’d attempt.  Some worked, some didn’t.  I kept the good ones and forgot the others.  I once fired two bows at once in California— and hit both targets with two arrows.  That was a crazy shot!  I couldn’t do that shot often, when you consider that shooting twin 45# bows meant I was really pulling 90#. 
      I’ve written about some lucky shots I’ve done before, including the long distance shot in Union Grove, NC in 1988.   I won’t revisit that tale now but I would be lying if I said that 80-90 yard shot wasn’t luck!  Sometimes there’s a fine line between luck and skill.  I Am always happy when luck is on my side.  I’d like to think all my first shot shows on baby are 100% skill but I must admit sometimes luck plays a part. 
      2010 will mark my 39th year shooting a bow and arrow.  Crazy huh?  It’s hard to believe I’ve been flinging arrows that long.  It’s been so long that I really don’t ever remember not shooting a bow.  I have made many friends during that 39 years in the sport.  Fred Bear, Earl and Ann Hoyt, Stacy Groscup, and so many others.  Sadly, many of these legends are gone.  Fortunately we have some icons left, like Chuck Adams. Ted Nugent, and many, many more.  My son Gus, 3, has been shooting a bow since he was about 18 months old.  I had to help him but he loved it.  I was glad to see a third generation Addington come along that enjoyed archery!
      Many of the folks I have shared seminar stages with when I started have moved on, retired or passed away.  I miss many of them.  I’ve met some unforgettable characters in this business, that’s for sure.  My equipment has changed over the years.  When I very first started I used a wooden Bear Kodiak recurve bow.  I have a special blonde colored Bear Kodiak Fred Bear signed and sent me that I never put a string on.  I remember his shoulders rocking with laughter when I told him I was hitting aspirin with one of his bows.  He smiled and said, “I thought I was doing good when I used to hit coins…”  I have some photos Dick Mauch shared with me of Fred on stage doing exhibitions.  Fred used to trade these shows for booth space when he first started out. 
     In the mid 1980’s I would join Hoyt/Easton’s Advisory staff.  There I’d meet folks like a serious bowhunter named Chuck Adams.  He climbed the ladder quickly and was one of the hardest working men in the sport.  Driven and focused on what he wanted, he became the first to obtain the famous “Super Slam” by bagging one of all 27 big game species in North America.  Chuck has lasted all these years because he has worked for his position, he doesn’t cut corners and he plays by the rules.  We remain good friends and I was delighted when Chuck agreed to write the forward for my book when it finally comes out.  Some may be jealous of Chuck’s fame or position but he put in the hours and the sweat to become the sport’s most successful bowhunter. 
      During my time at Hoyt I held various positions, including Gold Staff member, and a one man member of a term Eric Dally made up, “Promotional Pro Staff.”  I left Hoyt in 2003 and shot Mathew’s Sky recurves beginning in 2003.   2004 was a wild year for my shows, we even ended up doing an exhibition on behalf of the President of the United States, George W. Bush.  “Old Blue” is the Sky bow I used for 6 years.  I had newer bows from Sky including two Mathews prototype bows that were never launched to the public, but I remained true to “Old Blue.”  It was a great shooting bow.
       July 1, 2009 I returned home to Hoyt.  Mike Luper and I had talked and I knew that it would be great to work with Mike again.  He knows the archery industry and has a knack for promotional efforts and promoting the sport and Hoyt.  He thinks out of the box.  I have a great deal of respect and admiration for Mike and I am glad to be back working with him.  For 2010 I will be shooting twin Formula RX bows.  I am just now getting them ready for our new show season.  If they shoot as good as they look the baby aspirin are in trouble.  Here’s the website, check out these bows for yourself:
 
   http://www.hoytrecurve.com/recurve_bows/hoyt_formula_recurve_bow.php
 
       My how bows have changed since 1971!  My first bow was a fiberglass stick with a string.  It’s funny that I use the same shooting style now that I used way back then!  Instinctive shooting has been good to me.  I am thankful my father set me up that way.  He still sets up every bow that I perform with on stage.  I always am quick to say I have the very pit crew in archery with Pop!  I can set up my own equipment but prefer he does it.
        His retail shop, Addington’s Bowhunter Shop, turns 32 this year!  If you visit you’ll find a shop full of vintage photos, hunts he has made all over, signed photos from folks like country singer George Strait (he set up a Hoyt for Strait in the 1990’s),  and an indoor range full of full mounted animals.  I also have a display of my show bows.  I have kept at least one of every bow I’ve ever used on stage the past 25 years and have them on display.  We are working on an additional display which will have some special Stacy Groscup items in it.  One visit to the shop and you’ll see why my parents love the sport so much.  They have bowhunted together all of my life and have a lifetime of memories and photos on display.  By the way, Mom has taken 17 or 18 bear with her bow! 
        During the past 25 years I’ve seen countless airports, hotel rooms, thousands of miles of highway, and met lots of new friends.  For the 25 year mark I have some new shots up my sleeve.  You will have to catch our show this year to see what we have planned!  I feel very blessed to have been able to perform at a professional level 25 straight years.  However, I am just getting started. A few years ago I saw that my friend Ted Nugent always had cool names for his rock and roll tour each year, so I dubbed my tour the HAVE BOW WILL TRAVEL tour.  Catchy huh? 
 
Until next time, Adios & God Bless.

Shoot Straight,
Frank
 
www.frankaddingtonjr.com

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Published by admin on 18 Jan 2010

My beat up leather tab…Frank Addington Jr.

My beat up leather tab…

 

One frequent question from traditional archers is what type of finger protection do I prefer when shooting.  I have always said that instinctive shooting is mostly personal preference and you should shoot what allows you to shoot best.  If you are comfortable and can shoot accurately that’s the answer. 
 
When I was a kid I preferred a Bear glove.  The package had Fred’s photo on it and I knew he wore a glove so that’s what I wanted to wear.  I would wear a new glove around for days trying to soften it up and get it broken in.  I still have my first Bear glove.  Those were happy days.  I’d spend hours in the back yard shooting pretending to be Fred Bear on some remote adventure.  I always told Fred he’d made me a better shooter and those big shoulder’s of Fred’s would rock with laughter.
 
I tried some tabs along the way and eventually went to bare fingers.  I shot this way for several years and built my fingers up.  I tended to drag my third finger so it usually had more calluses than the others.  However, one time around 1990 the late Rev. Stacy Groscup and I shared a stage together performing at a local sports show.  There was a stage but no chairs so the audience would stand at the stage.  After about eight rows back people couldn’t see so Stacy and I would do a show, let that eight rows leave and then we’d immediately do another show.  I think we ended up doing more than 20 shows that weekend and my fingers were throbbing so much that they hurt when they touched the sheets at night.  So the last day of the show Stacy handed me a special hand made leather tab he made.  I used it that day and had great results with it, even with my sore fingers. 
 
I gave his tab back and he told me he would make some tabs especially for me.  I forgot about it until a few weeks later a package arrived.  It was full of leather tabs, mostly brown leather but a few were out of different materials.  I picked one and noticed Stacy had signed the back of it.  That was 1990.  Now, 20 years later, I use that same tab today.  I have never had to use one of the back up tabs.  I am still using the original tab.
 
It’s made out of flat leather and I carry it in my wallet.  I always have it with me.  The last thing I do before heading on stage is take out my wallet and place the tab on my right hand.  It’s a quiet reminder of Stacy and a tradition that I’ve stuck with all these years.  I say a quick prayer and then head on stage. 
 
What type of finger protection do you prefer? 
 
Wearing a tab helps me get away from dragging my third finger so much.  I feel I get a cleaner release with the tab.  I also like the fact that I can always have it with me, even if I don’t have my bow and someone wants to shoot I am ready.  I like the tradition and feel of a leather glove but feel I am just a little more accurate with my Groscup tab.  I have several in my desk drawer at home.  I told someone this supply should get me through the rest of my archery career and still have some left over to pass along to my son Gus.
 
In closing, my best advice is to shoot what allows you to shoot best.  We want you enjoying archery and hitting what you shoot at.  That’s the name of the game.

Thanks for reading.  Until next time, Adios & God Bless.

Shoot Straight,
Frank Addington, Jr.
The Aspirin Buster
 
www.frankaddingtonjr.com

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Published by KurtD on 14 Jan 2010

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