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Area archers primed for deer-turkey season
The number of area archers is still growing with many hunters getting ready for the Sept. 15 opening of the archery deer-turkey season.
Veteran archer Jim Campbell got me started bow hunting more than 20 years ago. Jim was one of those archers who made his own bow and arrows. He said, "You can't get started too early."
He started checking the areas he would be hunting nearly a month before opening day. He had a few tips for new bow hunters including staking out fruit trees.
Fruit is a prime food source for deer. Because deer season for archers opens at a time when fruit is starting to ripen and some drop on the ground where deer can find it easily.
Archers can find deer first by locating fruit bearing trees. Campbell always said, "Even in early spring, I study wooded areas through binoculars, searching for flowering fruit trees such as persimmon and crab apple. I mark the locations of 15 to 20 full blooming trees on a topographic map. If your goal is a trophy buck, choose lone fruit trees well off the beaten path. If your goal is to bag a deer, period, pick stands of trees along deer trails like on the edge of grain fields."
Campbell goes back about a month before the season opens to check with binoculars to see how heavy with fruit each tree is. Eliminate the trees with sparse fruit. A week or two before the season opens, inspect the remaining trees up close. The most productive sites are those with fruit loaded trees and very little fruit on the ground. Few windfalls and deer tracks and droppings under the tree are signs that feeding deer frequent the spot.
Bucks of all ages often travel together before the rut. Hunters have reported seeing as many as seven bucks in a single file, with the largest bringing up the rear. So don't be in a big hurry to get a shot off and don't shoot at the first buck you see. Freeze the instant you sight one buck.
Don't take your eyes off the spot directly behind it to see if a larger buck is at the first buck's back, or if a still larger buck is following the second one. Should you settle for a shot at the first buck, chances are good you will never see that trophy of a lifetime, let alone get a shot at it.
Campbell said, "One important thing to do before the season opens is to soundproof your bow. One squeak of a compound bow is enough to send a whitetail streaking for cover.
A compound bow's eccentric wheels should be thoroughly lubricated with oil or a spray lubricant. Cable guards should be waxed and string "cat whiskers" be attached to the bowstring to deaden the sound of a shot.
Moleskin, besides preventing blisters, silence bows. Affix moleskin to the arrow shaft and the bow's sight window to eliminate the sound of an aluminum arrow scraping against metal parts.
Besides checking fruit trees, remember deer feed on nearly every type of acorns. Scout any and all stands of oaks "raining acorn." Sometimes deer don't discover a food source immediately so check that spot often for deer sign.
If acorns are like beef steak to a deer, then the acorns of a white oak are filet mignon. Hunters report seeing deer walk through a sea of other acorns to feast on a few white-oak acorns. Learn to identify white oaks to improve your chances on bagging a buck.
There is some confusion about the use of crossbows this season. They are not allowed this year, but for the 2016-17 archery season ---- they will be legal during the fall archery and turkey season.
Other tips Campbell gives bow hunters is to choose your stand wisely and learn to read the deer's body language. When the tail begins to switch erratically from side-to-side, the deer is about to lift its head.
When an alerted deer raises its outstretched tail past horizontal, the animal is about to bolt. He also said that you need to practice before opening day. There are few archers who haven't picked up their bow since last year that find they have trouble connecting with hitting a deer with their first shot after months of not using it since last season.
As Campbell and other veteran bow hunters know, the odds are more in your favor if you do your planning in advance of opening day.