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How To/Pro-Tips

Additional Hunting Gear

Besides your bow or gun, your stand, and your hunting clothes and boots, there are a few additional items that make for better hunting. A pair of pruning snips and a folding saw are big helps to stand sitters and particularly to bowhunters who need more space to get into shooting position than riflemen. These day pack-sized tools aren't intended to clear a shooting lane or other major brush removal. You need heavier equipment for that. Instead, these small tools are valuable to get that one twig out of your line of sight or to remove that one limb that keeps you from getting your stand just where it needs to go. Keep the pruning snips handy. When scouting or stalking through the woods, you can often get into some pretty tough tangles and tight spots. With the snips, you can quickly and quietly cut yourself free. The options of either crashing on through or backtracking out of the thicket are noisier and may spook game.

The Eyes Have It

To become a good shot with either a bow or a gun, you must determine which is your master eye. For most people, one eye offers superior vision. The brain automatically "chooses" the best eye for demanding visual tasks such as shooting. To determine your master eye, extend your arms with palms out and fingers up. Make a "knothole" with the webs of your hands by overlapping your thumbs and fingers. With both eyes open, frame a distant object. Close one eye and then the other. The master eye will keep the object centered. With the other eye, it will shift or even disappear. If your master eye is on the same side you shoot from, great. However, if your left eye is dominant and you shoot right-handed, or vice versa, shooting with both eyes open will cause "cross firing" because the dominant eye will take over. Cross-dominant shooters should consider changing their shooting side to match their master eye or they must close the master eye when shooting.

Making A Point

Some Team Realtree Pros favor conventional broadheads over the new mechanical, open-on-impact heads for a number of reasons. It is true that the mechanical heads shoot like a dream, or rather, like field points. Under most conditions, they open up reliably and cut a larger wound channel. However, any mechanical contraption can fail and sometimes mechanical heads fail to open properly. When the open-on-impact heads perform as advertised, they cut well through soft tissue but have problems with heavy bone. Finally, the broad cutting surface of the mechanical heads acts as a brake, slowing the arrow inside the animal. For this reason, these head types often do not exit. In bowhunting, it is the exit hole that provides the best and heaviest blood trail. If you use the mechanical, open-on-impact hunting heads, go to a bow with heavier draw weight. It takes more power to drive these heads in for deep penetration. Also, pick your shots carefully and avoid shots into areas involving heavy bone.

Quiet Please

In the clothing business, fabric softness is described by words like "drape" and "hand." In the bowhunting business, soft-fabric outerwear should be described as "essential." At close range, hard, stiff clothing that scrapes noisily on brush will alert your quarry, either spooking it away completely or making it wary, making for a more difficult shot. Soft brushed cotton and soft wool knits are traditional favorites for quiet outdoor wear. Today, a number of new synthetic materials provide warmth, protection from the elements and quietness in the woods for bowhunters. Synthetic fleece garments, often available with wind or waterproof liners, are top choices for archers. These are very warm and quiet in the woods. Two new synthetic fabrics, Saddle Cloth and Shikari Cloth, combine weatherproofing and abrasion protection for the wearer with a soft, low-noise, napped finish. Besides being quiet, their unique finish won't pick up burrs and debris. Your hat and gloves should also feature a soft external finish to avoid game-spooking brush noise.

Scout For Success

To take a good buck, either with a bow or with a gun, you have to know that buck. Good scouting is the way you get acquainted. First, look for the food. Deer have to eat. Archers often take nice bucks by staking out food sources. During the gun season, food attracts does and does attract bucks. Learn the main deer trail system, including the creek and fence crossings. Then learn the secondary buck trail system. Pay particular attention to where the buck trails intersect or closely parallel main trains. Bucks like to shadow the main trails waiting for a hot doe. Identify bedding areas. For bucks, that means finding his core or sanctuary area. It will be a tough spot because big bucks don't like to bed down where they are easily approached. When hunting pressure hits, bucks become more nocturnal in feeding patterns and except during the rut, when he's out chasing does, he'll spend much time in his sanctuary.

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