UNCLE TED BOWHUNTING TECH TIPS-The Road to Backstraps
by Ted Nugent
I bow hunted 360 days in 2009. Being the first year in my life that I didn’t tour, at the tender age of 61 I figured why not! And let me tell you, dear Lord it was exciting!
I started bow hunting around 1955 with my dad. We didn’t know exactly what we were doing, but we sure loved doing it. Rarely killed anything in those early years, but we learned the hard way. Eventually, we began to figure it out.
In 2009, I killed numerous bears, moose, hogs, kudu, impala, warthog, nyala, sable, eland, waterbuck, wildebeest, Lechwe, Oryx, Aoudad, axis deer, fallow deer, sika deer, Nilgai antelope, blackbuck antelope, mule deer, javelina, whitetails galore, black tails and a bunch of turkeys. It was a spectacular hunting dream come true.
The only thing better than bow hunting is more bow hunting. I give away sacred meat as gifts to the deserving. It is a beautiful thing.
And as always, it takes constant trial and error and a relentless determination and tenacity to kill game consistently with sharp sticks. As a perfect human being, I blow it royal on occasion. It is how we are made. Pretty darn good, but ultimately incomplete, and mistakes will be made. The real trick in life is to learn from our mistakes, and as someone who bow hunts more than probably any human being alive, my mistakes are aplenty. And hence, so are my lessons.
From these often painful lifetime bow hunting lessons comes a few clear and present truisms that I am pleased to share with my Blood Brothers of the mystical flight of the arrow. Fortunately in this day and age, unlimited lessons abound from the plethora of bow hunting TV shows, informative articles by professional bow hunting writers and shared information at the ubiquitous archery shops across America and beyond.
My first recommendation is to pay close attention to the master bow hunters on TV. The best of the best like Chuck Adams, Michael Waddell and his Bone Collectors, Fred Eichler and his stunning bow hunting wife Michelle. Great information on strategies can be found on nearly every show by Randy Ulmer, Greg and Jeff Miller, Pat Reeves, Lee and Tiffany Lekosky and so many others. Some provide more instruction than others, but I for one watch as many as I can in order to glean applicable info from them.
Great writers like some of those above, plus Joe Bell, Brandon Ray, Mike Ray and numerous other die hard bow hunters will steer you straight, and if paid attention to, provide lessons from them before you have to make mistakes yourself.
If I had to chose one word to overview bow hunting, it would be “stealth”. Quiet, ultra aware, sneaky, tuned in stealth.
Stealth is ultimately all about a higher level of awareness. For modern man to attain a higher level of awareness than the beasts we hunt is not an easy thing. In fact, it is almost impossible. But it can be done, and by tuning to our surroundings with every ounce of our fiber, our actions, everything, our chances at penetrating the mystical defense zone of prey animals increases exponentially to the effort we put forth. That’s bow hunting 101.
Hunt ultra slow. Even in our tree stands. Remain crazy still. Move like a sloth. Radar our surroundings. Examine every detail. Stop often and go as slow as we possibly can. Fred Bear always told me to stay in the shadows and to not step on anything I can step over. Sneaky is as sneaky does.
Not just the stealth necessary to get within bow range of the beast, but the imperative stealth of coming to full draw without alerting the animal. The number one violation of this stealth consideration is the self imposed curse of so many archers choosing a bow with too heavy a draw weight. This is a pet peeve of mine, as I am convinced that it is the number cause of attrition in our sport. The archery industry itself is mostly to blame, as it is oftentimes nearly impossible to find a bow under 70 pounds at a pro shop anywhere.
Many of my bow hunting friends and I kill everything that walks with 45-50 pounds draw. My petite little wife Shemane, and others, kill consistently with less than 40 pounds. This way we can draw our bows without lifting them up in the air or contorting our bodies which is certain to alarm game. Bottom line, lighter is better. Graceful bow hunting kills game, not kinetic energy and velocity. Know it.
Silence is imperative, and that comes from soft, quiet clothing and gear, and how we move. Our arrows sliding across the rest is often the cause of close by game becoming alarmed to our presence. Silence that bow and arrow rest.
Scent is always critical. Even with the incredible scent reducing clothing and sprays available today, that I absolutely believe in and use, it is nearly impossible to remain scent free to the degree necessary to fool the nose of prey animals. Wind direction should always be considered and utilized. The nose knows.
Timing is a key component of stealth. Even with perfect camouflage, critters can pick up on the slightest movement. Don’t draw that bow if you can see the animal’s eyeball. And not just the target animal, but any animal that might pick up on our movement and alert the others. Wait for the best shot opportunity possible, and then when you decide to draw, do it. Do not get caught at partial draw, or you’re done.
Obviously, those who bring home the backstraps do so because they hunt where the game is. Advance scouting will save us time, so we don’t waste any hunting where there is no or little game. Zero in on the best habitat with the most game activity to maximize opportunities.
Do not underestimate the benefits of baiting game. If you don’t like it, don’t do it, but I am a big fan of baiting. When acorns are raining down, or alfalfa fields provide the bait, take advantage of them. But if a little spilled corn or C’Mere Deer will help present a shot, for God’s sakes why not?
A mock scrape it bait. Food plots are bait. Apple trees, or apples tossed about are bait. Acorns are bait. Waterholes are bait. Doe pee is bait. Use it all. Have fun. Kill game. Live it up.
Practicing with archery tackle is more demanding to reach deadly proficiency than with firearms. I believe it is a daily thing. Aim small, miss small. Pick a spot. Shoot 3D animal targets to memorize the exact spot on a form so it all falls into place naturally at the moment of truth. Practice makes perfect, particularly in bow hunting.
A cocked, locked and ready to rock bow hunter must be in good physical and mental shape. Good sleep, a smart diet, and overall health is essential to be at the top of our game. Archery is 90% mental, so good physical conditioning and a solid, at ease confidence is imperative.
These are some of the Nugent Bow hunting Rules my family, friends and I adhere to. They can make the difference between backstraps and heartbreak. And we all know that backstraps are better every time. Backstraps or bust.