All Your Equipment Needs To Be In Tune
With the official start of big-game hunting season — Oct. 1 for archery deer and bear — you need to make sure to keep your mind and body in shape.
We have discussed keeping our bodies in shape, and we’ll do that here again, but first let’s discuss keeping your mind right or head in the game.
Hours on a stand or in a blind is something we as sportsmen look forward to every year, or do we? How many times have you been on stand and within a few moments your mind starts to think about all the work that needs to be done by first snowfall or maybe “work-work” starts to creep in your mind.
Sitting alone anywhere, I have found, especially in the woods, that my mind can start to play tricks on me. It goes to stuff that I left undone at home/shop/work. It’s common for this to happen and have a cure, and it’s simple: always carry a small notebook or I use my cellphone. When something pops into my mind, I write it down. This does a couple things to keep you from forgetting the important thought or task. And, for some reason, once you have taken it from your brain and written it down, it is gone for the time being.
The next thing I have discovered from thousands of hours I have spent on the stand is I break up the time with sections of time. While I am always hunting and paying attention, I break the time down into hunting and in-hunt mode. Hunting is all about the hunt and everything that goes along with it, from gas in the truck to which gloves I am going to wear. Then there is hunting mode. This is when I am 150% into everything in my direct environment.
Hunting mode is when I am totally into what is happening around me, including slowly scanning the area and being totally attentive to every sound and movement. This is when I am on my game, so to speak. My total concentration is about everything I can see and hear. The latter seems to be not as good as of late, but there are times when I pick up a sound that I wouldn’t normally hear.
Hunting allows my mind to switch off total concentration to different things. Is it time to call again? Stand up and do a little stretching? Mentally checking distances to items and then double checking my guess with a rangefinder?
There is an entire list of things you can do while hunting to keep mentally sharp and keep your head in the game. But it’s important to give your brain a break and totally relax. It’s not going to be fun if you are on edge the entire time on a stand.
In less than a couple weeks, all the time we have spent getting ready is going to be here. The things we all have been working on, including making sure that when you are presented with that perfect shot that there no squeaks in your stand, blending totally into your surroundings, making sure your bow is accurate and you can hit the spot on your target, making sure your hunting location will not be affected by the wind, just to name a few.
After all the weeks fine tuning your bow, it’s time to switch over to broadhead ready. Fixed broadheads fly differently than expandable broadheads. The weight of your broadhead should match your field tip. If not, your broadhead flight will be off.
Even though your bow has been properly tuned, it does not mean your broadheads will impact the target in the same place. It is imperative you shoot your broadheads before you go into the woods.
If your broadheads do hit the same place, then you are ready to go. If they don’t, then you can make small adjustments to your arrow rest to get the broadheads and field tips to impact in the same place.
Here is a tip I learned years ago, and I know it will sound backward, but this is the best and easiest way to get your broadhead back on target. Depending on where the broadheads impact, move the arrow rest in small increments as per the following: if the broadheads impact to the left of the field tips, move the rest to the right; if the broadheads are hitting right of the field tips, move the rest to the left.
For vertical adjustments, when the broadhead hits low compared to the field tips, move the rest up and, conversely, when broadheads are hitting high compared to the field tips, move the rest down. Always correct the left and right issues first, then correct the up and down issues.
Your equipment can take a bit more abuse in the woods than traveling to and from the indoor range. I always carry an Allen key set within my hunting backpack so you can tighten your bow’s hardware in the field. Before each hunt, double check that nothing has come loose. In particular, check each of your sight pins, and if you use a drop-away rest, ensure the cord is attached securely.
Make sure that bow quiver is tight, noise from a loose bow quiver can ruin your hunt when still hunting or drawing from a tree stand. Be sure it is tight on the bow and your arrows are secure each time you head into the field.
One of the mistakes I see folks make every season is they stop practicing once opening day hits. Shooting a bow has much to do with what is called muscle memory. To keep your muscle memory active, it’s best to keep practicing.
Keeping your archery equipment in hunting shape is only a piece of the hunting puzzle. Keeping your physical body in shape will do much to get you in and out of your hunting area and, sure as heck is better for your time on stand if you are not all gassed and sweaty sitting on a stand.
Keeping your body in proper shape for hunting is just as important as your other equipment. While we are discussing it last this week, it doesn’t mean it’s any less important. The thought is that folks remember the first and last part of what they read. Hence, the real importance is at the end. While long evening walks are a great idea and do get you ready, remember how far your stand is from where you park. Plus, we are often walking in and out in the dark, which can lead to other challenges.
There are many things one can do to get in physical shape, but one of the most important is knowing your limitations. Whether you’re just walking in with equipment or dragging deer out plus your equipment, it can be a chore.
Know and understand your physical limitations and don’t attempt to be a superman.
Keeping yourself and your equipment in shape throughout the season is important to a successful season. As the season moves on, the weather will change and that will affect your hunting and time in the woods.