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How To/Pro-Tips

The Importance Of Tree Stand Safety

I am a part-time volunteer paramedic and I know firsthand the severity of injuries incurred by falls. Every season, many hunters fall out of tree stands and sustain serious injuries -- sometimes permanent and sometimes fatal. The first and foremost rule is to always wear a safety belt both for climbing and also for sitting in the stand. The stander is at greatest risk during the transition from climbing to sitting down. Tie off immediately upon reaching the stand and make final adjusments once seated. Climbing stands require some strength and practice to use well and safely. Practice attaching your stand correctly and climbing with it before pre-dawn of opening day. Never alter a manufactured stand beyond the manufacturer's instructions. Never climb into an old permanent stand you find in the woods. If you are tired, drowsy or taking medication that makes you so, don't climb. Make sure someone else knows your stand locations. Tell someone where you are going and when you expect to be back. -- Suzy Smith

Staying In Tune

Everyone knows how important it is to properly tune your archery outfit and probably most of us do a pretty good job of it -- once. However, keeping your compound in tune and your whole outfit in balance is an ongoing process. Once you've got it right, record the critical measurements of your original painstaking tune-up and check your outfit on a regular basis. Use a bow square to properly set your nocking point and brace height. Measure the position of your peep sight and arrow rest. Use a bow scale to check your draw weight regularly. Keep limb bolts and sight pins tight. (Selecting a bow sight with a strong mount and a sturdy pin guard is a great idea in the first place!) A slight slippage of only a fraction of an inch in any of your outfit's critical dimensions can throw your arrow group way off. There are plenty of challenges in bowhunting without adding the difficulty of an out-of-tune rig. -- Brad Harris

It's What's At The Sharp End

Bowhunting is a critical, unforgiving sport and the broadhead is a most critical component. Whatever style you choose, it must have three features. It must be razor sharp, strong and able to fly well from your bow. Excellent modern broadhead design make the first two easy but our high-speed, technically advanced bows, advanced arrow shafts and broadhead designs make simply "flying well" more complex. The bow, arrow shaft and broadhead should be an integrated system. The shaft's spine stiffness should match the power of the bow. The hunting point's weight should mesh with both arrow shaft spine and bow power. And finally, the bow should be well tuned to best handle that shaft and head design. Compared to field points, hunting broadheads require more precise tuning. They must be uniform in weight and installed perfectly straight. Thus, for best hunting accuracy, you should tune-up with and finally practice with the real thing. No matter how good a broadhead is, it isn't any good unless it gets there.

Gear Check

Before the season opens make sure all your gear is in top condition. Obviously this means making sure your bow is in tune and sighted in and your hunting arrows are straight and sharp. However, your accessories are just as important. (This goes for gun hunters too!) Are your portable stands ready? Spraying penetrating oil on rusty nuts and bolts now allows the strong scent to dissipate. Doing that the night before opening day brings a very strong and foreign odor into your hunting area. The same advice goes for treating your hunting boots with waterproofing. Check all you other gear as well. Is your camouflage clean and sharp? Does it need washing in a no-scent soap product? Does some of it need replacing because it is faded out? Is your hunting knife sharp? Are your flashlight batteries fresh? Are your hunting scents fresh? Most important, do you know where it all is? Find it and check it now to ensure a good opening day. -- Bob Foulkrod

Last Minute Scouting

Last minute scouting should be more like last minute looking. You really should have done your serious scouting well before the season and then vacated the area to let it and the game settle down. However, it is comforting to verify that your hunches of a month ago are actually correct now. If any of your hunting sites are near open land, spend a late afternoon or two glassing the fields or pastures. Seeing deer near your hunting area is a great morale booster and doesn't do any harm. If your stand is in the deep woods, taking a last look is more risky. If you do this, it should be a short look. Go in clean and wear rubber boots to minimize leaving scent. Don't touch or brush against brush and stay off the deer trails. I wouldn't go very near my stand but loop around the area and look for fresh sign. Leave quickly and quietly so as to disturb the area as little as possible.

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