Opening Day Success with Veronica

Let me tell you about the opening day of the 2013 deer hunting season.

Bow season had long passed, the snow had already begun to fly, clearly it was rifle season now.  Despite the below-freezing temperatures and bitter wind chill, I put on my battery powered, heated socks and headed out into the wilderness. For the entire first half of the day I didn’t see anything but a fellow hunter. The only sounds I heard were the songs of birds accompanied by the cracking of the trees as the sun slowly warmed their frozen sap.

The birds must have decided that I was harmless, because next thing I knew, I was surrounded by chickadees. They hovered around me and even settled on my hat and shoulders. One of them even perched on Veronica’s stock! (Veronica is my husband’s gun, for those of you who don’t know.)

After I scared the birds off, I also accidentally scared away a fellow hunter. I saw him heading toward me, and decided to sit down and chat for a bit. Thing is, I had to grab my gun in order to sit down straight, and he must have thought I was crazy or something, because he immediately turned tail and headed away. Oops. My husband found me after that, however, and I shared some hot coffee with him. He was kind enough to keep watch for me while I squatted behind a tree to answer nature’s call. It takes a while to get out of all those layers.

After Hubby left, I suddenly got that feeling. It doesn’t come upon me often, but I have learned to always pay attention to it. Every time in my life that I have ever ignored it, I have come to regret it. I got a sense of which direction I should be paying attention to, so I turned to face that way and settled down to wait.

I didn’t have to wait long. Just twenty minutes after the feeling came over me, I sighted three deer not more than 60 yards away from me. I reached out for Veronica, carefully and easily, then pulled up my binoculars. They showed me that I was dealing with a buck fawn and two does. I watched them for a while, in order to get a sense of their behavior. I have a firm philosophy of “one shot, one kill,” and the best way to ensure that is if you have a good idea of what your target is going to do next.

The problem was, I was a little nervous about shooting Veronica. I found that I was thinking less about making a clean shot than I was worried the kickback would break my shoulder and pitch me right out my stand. I started to feel like I had maybe bitten off more than I could chew when I asked him for her. So I took the time to make sure the shot counted. The deer were creeping away, and still I waited, trying to still the shakes in my shoulders and arms. Then, once my breathing was settled and I no longer felt the cold or the fear, the deer suddenly turned back toward me and the shot just came together.

As her front shoulder came in line with my reticle; I flicked off the safety, took a deep breath, and slowly pulled the trigger. The doe dropped. No running, no tracking. Just one shot, one kill. It was the perfect shot. The type I had always envisioned and practiced for.

There was something special and satisfying about taking that deer on opening day; the way it all came together, the moment of truth, and the satisfaction of harvesting a beautiful animal. It is days like that remind me why I love hunting, and certainly one I’ll never forget!

Bowhunting Gear – What I Own, and Why

Who doesn’t like to chat about gear?  I’m no exception.  So without further adieu, here is my personal list of gear.

You’ll notice I stick to the basics, without much of the fluff the TV shows try to sell us.

If you want to know more about what I shoot and why, get in touch with me here.

Bow: Hoyt Vicxen ZRS in Black Out (gear review here).  Current set: 40 # @ 26″

Arrows: Gold Tip XT Hunters (3555-Black) dressed w/custom wraps from Battle Drum & Blazer Vanes

Broadheads: G5 T3

Quiver: Hoyt Quick-Detach 4-arrow

Rest: Fuse Whisker Biscuit

Release: TruFire Hurricane Foldback

Stabilizer: Fuse Carbon Connexion Hunter (6.5″, 5.4 oz)

Sight: HHA Optimizer Lite Ultra (DS-5019, .19 fiber)

Peep: Sterner Duttera String Splitter Claw

Bow Case: Plano Bow Guard AW Series/ Grab ‘N Go Bow Case combo (gear review: here)

Binoculars:  Everyone seems to have their own favorite hunting binoculars, my favorite optics are the Vortex Viper HD 8×42′s.  They are simply awesome.

10 Tips to Prepare for Bow Hunting Season

bowhunting season prep

It never fails. Summer flies by, fall approaches, and my gear is nowhere near ready for the season.

At least one month before bow hunting season kicks off, you want to make sure that you are more than well-prepared for it. For this matter, in order for you not to forget important details during your preparation, follow these 10 helpful tips (read below).

10. Find Hunting Equipment

Unless you are a Type A neat-nick who has the best memory in the world, it is important that you take this step into consideration, as equipment often spreads around due to cleaning, home improvements, and just plain being in a rush. Every item you find, place it on your garage workbench so that you can know what you have and what is still missing. Track it every item down!

9. Repair or Replace

If you have damaged gear, it is best that you opt to repair or replace it. If you just go ahead and use it as is, issues might arise while you are having fun with your hunting buddies. It is better to prevent than lament.

8. Wash Hunting Clothes

Face it, hunting clothes that has been sitting in the garage or you hamper for more than one day is definitely going to smell pretty unattractive. For this matter, purchase cedar oil, as it is a cover scent. As soon as you are finish washing your hunting clothes, place them in a bag so that they don’t lose their scent.

7. Organized Hunting Backpack

If your backpack is not organized and does not include the necessary items, you can miss out on making the most out of bow hunting season. Make sure you have sharp knives, pen, zip ties, and latex gloves. In addition, clean you binoculars before placing them in your backpack so that they can be ready for use.

6. Exercise to Get in Shape

Ugh, this is an overlooked facet of hunting if there ever was one, am I right? It can be of great help if you opt to undertake cardio and weight training, as these exercises can help you get in shape for bow hunting season. If you follow this tip, your hunt will be more enjoyable, as these types of exercises will help keep your heart rate down when adrenaline kicks in.

5. Target Practice

Even the most experienced archers need a late summer tune up. You know what they say, practice makes perfect. It is definitely true. Being able to shoot accurately is what every hunter aims for in the bow hunting season. For this matter, boosting your shooting skills to the max with some practice is a task that will pay dividends during the season.

4. Public Land or Private Land?

In order to hunt on private land, of course, you’ll have to get permission from the land’s owner. You will have success if you know the landowner personally. If you don’t know anybody, ask your friends or family members if they know about someone who has a property that needs hunting.

When it comes to scouting public land, believe it or not, most individuals aren’t even thinking about hunting; therefore, you can scout much less evidently.

3. Review Game Laws

Every year there seems to be new rules and regulations in the handbooks. In order to play it safe, review all of the game laws that have been established on the place you plan to hunt on. If any, make sure to know what the antler restrictions are.

2. Check Game Cameras and Feeders

If the land you are hunting on allows feeders, make sure to get them going. Check all the batteries and timers to ensure they are in working order.

Same thing goes for your game cameras. Prior to deploying your fleet of cameras, check that they all have fresh batteries and SD cards. Choosing the best locations for your game cameras, is essential to patterning deer movements prior to the bow season.

1. Refresh Your Memory

Use what you learned last season. Move your blinds and stands accordingly. Don’t wait a day before the bow hunting season begins; do it now!

Here’s a good video from Kentucky Afield, describing and showing you how to get ready for bow season.

Review of the Plano Bow Guard AW Bow Case

Plano bowcase Review

I consider my bow to be an extension of me, like many other bow hunters or avid archers. In fact, I tend to take better care of it than I do anything else. That’s why when I’m traveling; I need a top quality bow case to be sure it is well protected.

I couldn’t even begin to name all the bow cases I have tried in the past. They just couldn’t handle my travels. Living in the rural midwest, I spend plenty of time driving my four wheeler through some pretty rough terrain in less than ideal weather, with my bow by my side. In the past, I would open my case to find my bow had cracked during the cold winters or my strings had been cut by accessories rattling around. Do you have any idea how mad I would be?

Thankfully, I have finally found the bow case that protects my bow perfectly. It is a combination bow case system with a Bow Guard Grab ‘N Go Series soft case and a Plano Bow Guard All Weather Series.

Grab ‘N Go Soft Case

Plano Soft AW BowcaseLet me start with the Grab ‘N Go soft case. It is constructed of a pliable, but rugged material and has a carrying handle sewn in. With reinforced stitching everywhere and plenty of padding, it offers enough protection to be used alone.

For a really secure fit, the case has slots that match right up with the support pillars and tie down straps in the hard case.

All Weather Bow Case

The All Weather Series bow case looks like it should have the words “fully protected” all over it. Its exterior features extremely thick walls, high quality locking latches, and a rubber weather seat.

Plano AW BowcaseAs an added bonus, it has pad lock tabs for traveling on a plane. Inside it is completely padded with high density foam, as well as three tie down straps for your bow. You can use 2 for the limbs and 1 for the string.

As another added bonus, it has extra straps to secure your accessories. Plus, it can hold a fully loaded quiver, if you have an extra bracket. The bracket isn’t included, so you’ll have to get one.
Combining these two amazing cases into one gives your bow superior protection. My case has been put in some pretty trying situations. It has been dropped, forgotten out in the hot sun, rain, and extreme cold, and thrown. For the ultimate test, I even stood on it and had a heavier friend do the same. It’s usually bouncing around in the back of my truck or headed down wet, muddy trails or dry trails that kick up tons of dust. Here’s the thing….it has stood up to all this abuse. My bow is completely safe and the case still looks good.

Let me just look at two little things quickly. First, don’t be one of those people who say they will never use the soft case by itself. I tend to do it all the time because it is just so easy to carry around. Second, if you use a long stabilizer to shoot, you might need to remove it to make it fit in the case. (Of course, if you have a long stabilizer, this is probably a problem you’ve encountered in the past.)

I bought my case at a local sporting goods store. You can purchase your own bow case at sporting goods store or online. The Bow Guard soft case (#93791) can usually be purchased for around $40, while the All Weather Series hard case (#108110) retails in the $110 range.

Review of My Hoyt Vicxen ZRS Bow

Hoyt Vicxen ZRS

I’m going to start by saying that I have always tried to stay away from bows that I considered “girly.” Until a friend begged me to try hers, I had no intention of picking up a Hoyt Vicxen. I soon realized that I should have picked it up much sooner.

The following is my review of the Vicxen. Broken down into two parts, I will let you in on my first impressions. When hunting season gets here, I’ll let you know how well it worked up me and how it stood up to my frequent abuse.

For a look at the Hoyt Vicxen’s specs, click here. I opted for the model with draw length of 26.5”, draw weight of 40#, and let off of 65%. Using a 355 grain arrow, it constantly reaches a speed of 212 fps.

My Initial Thoughts

The Vicxen is a dream to hold. It’s like it’s an extension of me. The grip feels as if were custom made to fit my hand. While it seemed a tad heavy the first few times I used it, I have become accustomed to it. Overall, it feels solid.

I had issues drawing the bow to begin with. The Cam and ½ plus is an aggressive cam, so I met my peak weight quickly. That left me to ride off most of the draw before the left off. However, I stuck with it. You should too because the amazing accuracy and speed are well worth the bit of extra exertion. Currently, I am shooting my highest groupings ever with this bow.

The release is quiet and I haven’t experienced any hand recoil. Let’s just say that my arrows go far enough that retrieving them has allowed me to cut down on my daily run.

As of now, this “girly bow” owner is quite content with her purchase. The Vicxen looks great and gets the job done.

*UPDATE* – 9 Months Later

So, 9 months have gone by, I’ve been through an entire season, and I’m back to let you know my thoughts on the Vicxen as a hunting bow and how it has held up.

I have shot this bow too many times to count. In fact, I’ve never shot this much before. From the first week, I’ve been shooting 60 to 100 arrows. I’ve shot in all kinds of weather, from snow to blazing heat. However, I did stay out of the hail and tornadoes. Why chance it?

The bow had no problems performing and has held up perfectly. Even though I’ve shot a gazillion times, the string remains in great shape and the bow looks like it did when I first purchased it.

There were just 2 small issues I ran into.

I’ve noticed the upper limbs are a little creaky. It’s not all the time and it isn’t very loud, but I do hear it from time to time. I’m not really certain what the cause is. Honestly, it’s not noticeable enough that I have any issues with shooting the bow in the silent woods with a 12 point buck in my sights.

The string silencer that resembles a squishy ball fell apart pretty quickly. (On a side note, it doesn’t look like the String Shox Hoyt has on their website or in their catalog. A quick email provided me with the explanation that this was an “inline change.”) While it’s true string silencers wear out fast, I just want to remind you that it is important to check them on this bow. When mine fell out, my Vicxen went from stealth and silent to loud enough to scare away the birds and everything else in the woods. If it happened while I was hunting, my trip would be over for the day.

As a Hunting Bow

In simple terms…My Favorite Bow Ever!

It doesn’t matter where I am at, I can easily maneuver and shoot. I know it can get the job done anytime I head out to the woods.

My favorite part of the bow is still how it feels like an extension of me. From day one up until now, it feels like it was made just for me. Yes, it has pink strings and paisley logos, but this is far from a “girly bow.” It’s deadly accurate, hard hitting, and just what you need in the field or on the range.

How to Choose a Womens Compound Bow

womens compound bow

Women are a growing market for bow hunting, and hunting in general. Is it simply influenced in part by the women archers in “The Hunger Games”, or is there larger trend afoot?

I don’t think so, and neither do the bow manufacturers.

Makers of compound bows (like HOYT) are betting it’s a trend more than a pop culture mirage, and are targeting hunters, like myself, with models that are designed for women who typically are lighter in weight and have shorter arms than men.

The good news is that you now can buy a bow designed especially for you, a decided improvement over trying to use your husband’s or boyfriend’s bow (one or the other, please!), or buying one made for a child.

This is a great development for women interested in getting back into bow hunting. The challenging news, however, is that to a great extent, your budget will determine your choice.

Here are some tips for choosing the best bow for your budget.

Decide on a Price Range

Newbie female hunters are often shocked at the money required to get started in this exciting hobby. At the low end, you can find bows for $300 and accessories for $100. On the other end, a bow that will grow with your skill and offer long-term use is closer to $600, with accessories running $300-500.

One archery store owner I talked to insists, “I tell people that if they can’t afford to spend $600 on a bow that quite honestly they should save their money until they can.” If sticker shock is a problem and you are sure you want to continue with the sport, renting is an option. A number of shops rent archery equipment, a good way to find the best setup at a price you can handle.

I think that’s a load of you-know-what, to be honest. Stores want to sell their bows and accessories, and better equipment lasts longer. But, please, please, please, do not think you need to drop a huge pile of money just to get started! You really don’t, you’re better off with a starter bow and becoming proficient in hitting your targets first. Having a $600 setup does nothing when you can’t hit your target!

Long-time users recommend putting the most money you can afford into the bow and just getting by with components. They point out that it is much cheaper to move up to better components that it is to upgrade your bow. For example, buy a $50 release and later get a $100 model. Pay $80 for a rest now, buying a $120 one when you can afford it.

Essential Features and Components in a Women’s Bow

This is my shortlist of essential features to look for in a new bow. For beginners, experienced bow hunters recommend these accessories:

Arrow Rest – A fall-away rest is considered the most accurate.

Release – Reduce noise is by buying a buckle type release instead of a hook and loop release.

Sight – Buy one that lets you adjust the second and third axis, which means the string will be squared to the head. Choose sights with as much optic fiber as possible, and the ability to make multiple micro-adjustments, including windage and individual pin movements.

Stabilizer – Find one that is light, but also directs significant weight away from your hand.

If you’re more the technical type, you can find more details here on how compound bows work.

Cams

A compound bow with a hybrid cam is recommended for beginners. Essentially a hybrid is a cam and a half and is usually found on bows that are in the $400+ range. Experienced hunters give three reasons for this choice:

  • Needs the least amount of maintenance.
  • Remains closest to its peak weight.
  • Changes less at the impact point than single or dual cams

With a single cam, the string and cable hook on to the same component. The string on them has a tendency to stretch, which in turn can change the poundage.

A dual cam is considered the fastest of all three types of bows, but the abundance of moving parts means things break or need regular tinkering to stay in peak form.

Poundage

New hunters often worry about the poundage. Teachers suggest training your upper body by shooting four or five arrows a day to start, gradually upping the number. This gives your back muscles time to strengthen. As you feel more comfortable, adjust the draw weight. Form is always your first consideration, not the amount of poundage you can handle.

Though the price of the sport of bow hunting might give you second thoughts, it’s an exciting sport, one that requires focus, fitness and consistent practice. Once involved, you can look forward to years of camaraderie, peak outdoor experiences, a lifetime of learning, plus the chance to provide meat for your own table.

How to Shoot a Compound Bow

Here is a video from Ike’s Outdoors that will get you familiar with the components and features of the compound bow.