Tag Archives: Archery

Archery problem solved!

February 2, 2012

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Going back to late October, I have had accuracy issues with my compound bow. In about mid October, I went to Schaffer Performance Archery in Burnsville to get a new arrow rest developed by the shop owner, John Schaffer. It’s called the Opposition rest and it’s supposed to increase accuracy by minimizing the amount of contact with the arrow after at the string is released.

It seemed to work fine initially, but my accuracy started getting worse and worse, especially within the last month or so. Then, it hit rock bottom on Sunday when one of my arrows hit 4 feet left of the mark and 2 feet down at only 20 yards. Needless to say, I was freaked out.

So, yesterday afternoon, it was off to Schaffer Archery I went to look for answers. Surely, I hadn’t regressed in my shooting skills, I thought, rookie though I may be.

Thankfully, it took John a matter of seconds to diagnose the problem — a loose string dampening rod. It’s basically a plastic rod with a rubber piece on the end that is tightened down by screwing it into the back side of the bow. When the string is released, it eventually hits the dampening rod, which stops the string as the arrow leaves it. I hadn’t bothered to check the tightness in a while, and John discovered that it was very loose. That causes the rubber piece to turn and move which, in turn, causes erratic arrow flight like I had experienced.

John tightened the rod down and shot three arrows himself before handing the bow to me. Here’s the amazing part — John normally shoots left-handed, but he got a tighter group shooting right-handed with my bow at 20 yards than I ever had. In fact, two of the arrows he shot were touching.

Then, it was my turn. My three-shot groups weren’t as tight as his, but they were far better than I had been getting. On one series, I got a 2-inch group, with two of the arrows touching.

Hallelujah! “Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about,” I said to myself as I pulled the arrows out of the backstop. Now, here’s perhaps the best part of all — it only cost $10. John diagnosed the problem, tightened the rod and even adjusted my sight when we discovered that my arrows were hitting an inch or two to the right. I only had to pay a $10 range fee for shooting, which, in my opinion, was a small price for solving this aggravating problem.

I anticipate lots of better shooting ahead. Can’t wait to get out there with my newly repaired bow. Meanwhile, I couldn’t help but reflect upon the experience and wonder if there are any loose string dampening rods in my spiritual life that are making my efforts to follow the Lord miss the mark. Perhaps, I can give that more thought when Lent begins on Feb. 22.


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A beautiful morning in the woods, but where were the deer?

October 17, 2011

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I couldn’t resist the urge to get out in the woods yesterday morning and sit in my stand for a few hours of bow hunting. I was hoping  the deer would be moving during the cooler weather we’ve been having the last few days.

But, what greeted me in the opening minutes of legal shooting hours were not the footsteps of whitetails heading to their bedding areas, but shotgun blasts. Apparently, there were some busy waterfowl hunters nearby. The area I hunt near Lino Lakes in the northern suburbs features a lot of wetlands, and it was obvious that ducks were flying in the area.

So much for peace and quiet. It sounded more like the firearms deer opener. Yet, being in an archery-only area, I figured maybe the deer wouldn’t get spooked so much by the noise that they would sit tight.

Nothing moving

Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. Whether for that reason or some other, no deer were moving. With most of the leaves down on the ground, I could see much farther than I could on opening weekend, so I figured I might see deer a ways off.

No dice. I suspect that there were at least two factors that led to the lack of deer activity in the woods. The first is what my experienced bow hunting friend calls the October lull. It seems that in mid-October, the deer will slow down their movements for about two weeks or so right before the rut kicks in. He thinks it has to do with the deer wanting to rest up a bit before the breeding starts and they move much more than normal. In fact, the rut features the highest amount of deer movement of the entire year. That’s a big reason why hunters like getting out in the woods in November.

Reason No. 2 is the wind. It has been very windy the last few days and, although the wind died down a little bit, it still was strong yesterday morning. That will often shut down deer movement, except during the rut, which is about two weeks away.

Time for some scouting

At 9:15 a.m., I climbed down from my stand and headed over to a second stand that I had put up last week. It’s much farther back into the woods and I needed to finish putting up some trail tacks on trees so I can find the stand in the dark. I began that task last week, but ran out of tacks. So, yesterday, I was able to finish the job.

I also did a little walking around the area to see where deer might move and where I might see them. Turns out, I am in a nice bottleneck area that features a point of tall grass coming in from the west and a big swamp coming in from the east. And, to my left is a creek bottom with a thicket of woods behind it. There is a crossing to my left that’s about 15-20 yards from my stand and one to my right that’s about 25 yards. Both crossings lead right into the thicket. I know deer will use them to come in and out of the thick cover, so I think there’s a good chance of some movement on these trails when the rut kicks in.

Preparation is key

When it comes to bow hunting, advance planning and preparation is crucial to success. Of course, it starts with practicing with your bow and developing shooting proficiency. I think hunters should be good to at least 20 yards, if not 30. I have been practicing at 20 yards for several months, so I feel confident I can make shots up to that distance. I tried a couple at 30 yesterday. One was wide right, but the second shot hit the center of the bullseye. I adjusted my sight a little because I had been shooting right of the bullseye consistently. After moving my sight, I was back on the bullseye. Experts say not to correct for mistakes in your shooting form, but I had been shooting to the right for two whole sessions, so it was time for a change. If I start shooting left, I will simply move the sight back.

Another part of preparation is having the right setup in your stand to accommodate all the directions where you might have to shoot. One change I made to accomplish this is getting a new safety system. I was using a safety harness that attaches to my upper body and both legs. But, I found it to be cumbersome and restrictive when I would try to rotate a lot to the left or right.

Silent Slide is the answer

Then, I found out about a product called the Silent Slide. It’s a marvelous device invented and patented by a couple in Wisconsin that is very simple in its design and well made. I was nervous about trying it at first because it’s a belt and not a full body harness. But, once I understood how it works, I felt it was worth a try.

I bought one and used it for the first time yesterday morning. All you do is put the belt around your waist before you go into the woods, and roll up the belt that attaches to the tree. Then, once in your stand, simply put the belt around the tree at waist level of a standing position. The tether on your waist belt allows you to move however you need to with no restrictions or binding. And, it has quick release buckles that allow you to get out of it when you need to. Because there is only 12 inches of strap from your waist belt to the tree belt, you’ll merely fall against the tree if you have an accident. When this happens, you simply turn your body to the tree and either climb back into the stand, or release the belt and shimmy down the tree.

I have full confidence in this product and I think it’s a brilliant piece of engineering. It’s easy to set up in the dark, and that’s something hunters should always think about when trying to get a stand ready for hunting. During the rut, mornings can be very good times to hunt, and experienced bow hunters often preach about the benefits of getting into your stand before legal shooting hours. Now, I’m ready to do just that.

Bring on the rut!

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Deer encounter on the archery opener

September 19, 2011


I was excited as I headed out Saturday morning for the archery deer opener. Optimism ran high as I walked into the woods to my stand at about 6 a.m.

I had put up the stand two weeks ago in an area where there were lots of tracks. After practicing all summer — even once from the stand — I was confident I could make a 20-yard shot, possibly even a 30-yarder. It was just a matter of waiting to see if any deer would walk by.

I set up the stand so that the platform was parallel with the trail, which was to my left. That would put me in position for the kind of shot I could make.

Once in the stand, I saw a small clearing to my right that I hadn’t paid attention to when I put the stand up. I wondered what I would do if I a deer passed by there.

Early action

Wouldn’t you know it, that’s exactly what happened. At about 7 a.m., a doe appeared in the clearing, but I was facing the wrong way. I decided to try and grab my bow and turn all the way around to my right and toward the deer. I did so and stood up, and the deer looked up at me. But, it didn’t spook. So, I knocked an arrow and started to draw back.

Unfortunately, I accidentally hit my release and the arrow zinged harmlessly into the ground about 10 yards away. Amazingly, the deer did not spook or even react to the shot. So, I reached back around to my left to pull another arrow out of my quiver.

I turned back toward the deer again, and still, it didn’t spook, although it froze where it stood and continued looking up at me. It was standing perfectly broadside, so this was good news.

Because I was in an awkward position, I didn’t have good leverage to pull the bow back. In fact, it took me three tries to do it. Then, I encountered another problem. I had trouble seeing my 20-yard pin, which was the one I needed to use. But, I managed to find the deer’s body in my sight line and released the arrow.

I heard the telltale smack as the arrow hit the deer. She jumped up and ran off to my right.

Let the tracking begin

She disappeared quickly, and I knew the second phase of the hunt was now beginning — tracking. At that moment, I realized how little preparation I had done for this task. Unfortunately, this would end up costing me.

The first thing I did was send a text to my friend and hunting mentor, Steve Huettl, who works for Gamehide camouflage clothing. He advised me to wait an hour before attempting to find the deer. I had no problem with that. I was in no hurry, and the last thing I wanted to do was push the deer. Often after they’re hit, deer like to bed down. Sometimes, they will die right there.

I wish I had gotten his followup voicemail message before I went looking for the deer. In it, he said that if I’m not sure where I had hit the deer, I should climb down, leave the area and come back several hours later. That way, if the deer wasn’t hit in the vitals, it might bed down and, eventually, die from loss of blood.

At about 8:20, I climbed down and started walking toward where my arrow hit the deer. On my way over, a deer jumped up a ways to my left and ran off. Wow, I thought, another deer. Later, I would find out I was wrong — wrong in the worst way.

Enter agony

I found the arrow after  a few minutes and looked to see if it had blood on it. I was saddened to see that it did not. I wondered if I had missed, then noticed a brown, slimy substance covering the arrow. Then, it hit me — a gut shot!

That is every hunter’s worst nightmare. In many cases, the deer will die, but it can go a long ways, especially if it’s pushed. And, on top of that, gut shot wounds don’t bleed much. Thus, it’s very easy to lose the blood trail.

That’s exactly what happened. I saw some blood at first, then followed it a ways. The blood trail curved around and went back left, heading right in the direction of the deer I had spooked after climbing down. I then realized that the deer I had jumped was, indeed, the one I had hit. I saw a small pool of blood where it had been standing, then it went back to just a few drops here and there. I decided to go back and get some blaze orange tape so I could mark the blood trail.

Once back at the car, I called Steve one more time. He answered and told me about his earlier message. But, it was too late. The damage had been done — I had spooked the deer.

What’s sad is that it had been standing for a while in a spot very close to where it had stood when I hit it. Maybe, it would have bedded down right there, making for an easy recovery several hours later, which is the amount of time it takes for a gut-shot deer to die.

Time for learning

Well, now I know what to do the next time this happens. When in doubt, back away and wait several hours before tracking. Another thing I learned is that pin brightness matters in low light. The next day, when I hunted in the evening, I noticed that my red pins (for 20 and 40 yards) went dark well before legal shooting hours ended. But, my green pins seemed to stay bright a lot longer.

I wondered about this phenomenon and took my question to an expert — John Schaffer at Schaffer Performance Archery in Burnsville. He is a bow hunter himself, and when I asked him about pin brightness, he said yes, indeed, the red ones go dark in low light. He said I should make a green pin my 20-yard pin.

That won’t be a problem. I had the top one, which is green, as my 10-yard pin. But, I don’t need a 10-yard pin anymore because my bow shoots almost exactly the same at 10 yards as it does at 20, thanks to increasing the draw weight from 48 to 55 pounds. So, I’m good on that pin to at least 20 yards, probably 25. Then, my next pin, which is red, will become my 30-yard.

Nothing beats a good rest

This is an example of one of the little things that can make all the difference in bow hunting. Another is arrow rest, which I have been learning a lot about recently. Steve uses a new one designed by Schaffer Performance Archery called an opposition rest. Basically, it holds the arrow in place with two sliding plates that move horizontally. When the string is released, the plates slide away so that the arrow fletching does not touch them. Thus, you get a clean release. That, in turn, leads to greater accuracy and, ultimately, tighter shot groups.

The only downside is the price — $140. It’s a little high for me, but how can I say no to something that will improve accuracy? After all, I’ve already lost one gut-shot deer. I don’t want that happening again this season — or ever.

The guys at Schaffer say they can install the rest (at no charge if there aren’t any complications) and have me shooting accurately with it before I leave the shop. With more than three months left in the bow hunting season, maybe now’s a good time to switch.

My wallet may hurt, but that’s better than the pain of failing to recover a deer. Another tip I got, this one from shop owner John Schaffer, had to do with the peep sight mounted on my string. I told him I think this may have contributed to the visibility problem. My string is split three ways to hold the peep, which does cause some visibility issues, which, I believe, were compounded in low light when I tried to aim at the deer.

John said there is a better peep that only splits two ways and will not obstruct my vision in any way. I plan on paying a visit to his shop for a peep change.

Incidentally, I went back out Sunday night and saw a deer in the exact same spot as the one the day before. This time, the doe that came through spooked after I turned to grab my bow. That’s OK. Not sure I wanted to try that shot again anyway. I may try to move the stand so I can get a better shot angle on this spot. And, I’ll buy a pole saw to do some trimming.

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Important steps to prepare for bowhunting

September 1, 2011


With the archery deer season set to begin Sept. 17, I am getting more focused in my preparations. Not sure if I will hunt on opening weekend or not, but I want to be ready in case I decide to go into the woods.

I completed two important steps this week: 1. I brought my bow in for tuning and, 2. I picked up the broadheads I will be using and a quiver for carrying my arrows out into the field.

After much deliberation, I decided to go with Rage 2-blade expandable broadheads. I was leery of mechanical broadheads because of the risk of the blades not opening up on impact, but an archery expert whose opinion I value, Steve Huettl of Gamehide camo clothing, said he has had great results with these broadheads, as have other bowhunters he knows.

Thus, I decided to give them a try. The company claims these broadheads fly just like your field points, and Steve said that’s been true for him. Often, fixed blade broadheads can fly differently than your field points, which means you have to adjust your sight pins for broadheads, not to mention take lots of shots at a target to get them sighted in. Unfortunately, not only is this time consuming, but it can chew up your target.

Probably the most important thing I did was get my bow tuned. I went to the archery department at Gander Mountain in Lakeville and one of the guys did what’s called a paper tune. This tells him if he needs to make any adjustments on the bow. Turns out he needed to adjust my arrow rest. Maybe not a huge deal, but leaving it alone may have affected accuracy. It’s tough enough to get good arrow groups, but getting your bow tuned can help.

In the process, I had the guys at Gander increase the poundage on my bow. I was at 52 foot pounds, and they moved it up to 55. That’s where I plan to stay this year. Steve recommended shooting at 55 pounds, so I have worked my way up to that after starting at 48.

Next comes the big decision — whether to hunt from the ground or up in a tree stand. Steve says it’s better to hunt up high, so that’s probably what I’ll do. I’ve got one ladder stand available, but I’m doing research on another one made of wood and built by a guy in Wisconsin. I may give that a try this year.

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On target

July 12, 2011


Image licensed under Creative Commons license.

I have been diligently shooting my compound bow since I picked it up from Gander Mountain about five or six weeks ago. This week, it seems like the practice is paying off.

When I first started, I was trying to get nice groups at 10 yards. If I got a bullseye or two out of six arrows shot, I was happy. Now, I am hitting the bullseye nearly every time, or within an inch of it.

Then, I went to an outdoor archery range in Eagan at Walnut Hill Park and tried some longer distances — 20, 30 and even 40 yards. The results astounded me. I hit the bullseye a number of times at 20 yards, and the other shots were within two or three inches, with one exception.

Then, I moved to 30 yards and put three out of four arrows in a bullseye I made with duct tape — about two inches wide and three inches tall. Then, I tried one shot at 40 yards, and the left/right alignment (called windage) was good, but the arrow hit about 4 inches high. That’s an easy fix by adjusting my sight pin.

I was thrilled! That makes me think I will be ready to bow hunt in the fall. Of course, I realize that hitting a standing target is different than hitting a moving deer, but I think I’ll be ready to at least try hunting, and be reasonably confident. In bow hunting, confidence is the name of the game.

Thinking ahead to hunting

As I continue to practice shooting my bow, I’ll also do research on the next piece of the puzzle — broadheads. Based on what I have seen so far, there are some excellent choices out  there. I have debated between fixed blades and mechanical (blades open up on impact), and am leaning toward fixed blades at this point. They’re cheaper, reliable and work for a lot of hunters based on the reviews I have read.

That’s one nice thing about the Internet — you can find product reviews on just about any product you’re interested in. Two good sources for me have been Cabela’s and Bass Pro Shops. Both stores carry a wide range of hunting and fishing products, and have lots of reviews posted online. I find that to be very helpful.

As I have researched fixed-blade broadheads, several brands have emerged as both widely used by bow hunters and highly effective for hunting — Muzzy, Montec G5, New Archery Products and Slick Trick. All have gotten numerous great reviews, with hunters telling story after story of taking deer with them.

Seems to me like you couldn’t go wrong with any of them. The key is to practice with them and make sure they shoot the same as your field points. Also, it is important  to keep the blades sharp, as sharp as you can get them. With some broadheads, you replace blades when they get dull. With others, you can resharpen them. One company, Montec, actually makes a sharpener for its broadheads.

The right broadhead for me?

At the moment, I am leaning toward either Muzzy or Montec. Muzzys have been around for a long time, and I have seen many reviews  in which the hunters have used them for years and have been very satisfied.

But, the Montec appeals to me, too. It is a one-piece design, which eliminates installing blades and replacing them. Thus, it is a simple head to use. Also, the blades can be resharpened, using the Montec sharpener.

Perhaps, I will buy a set of each and see which one flies closest to my field points. I have no doubt that either head will do the job. I have been told by at least one archery expert that broadhead technology has advanced so far that most of the brands will perform well.

That’s good news for novices like me. Probably the best advice I have gotten so far about archery and bowhunting came from the manager of the archery department at the Lakeville Gander Mountain store. He told me to keep everything simple. That’s the best way to have consistent success with both shooting and hunting.

I agree. Thus, when it comes to broadheads, I more than likely will go with the simplest one to use. Can’t wait to try shooting with them!

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Arrows away!

June 10, 2011


I shot a compound bow for the first time yesterday. It was so cool. I had purchased a Diamond Stud a couple of months ago at Gander Mountain in Lakeville.

I have wanted to get into archery for a number of years, but was scared off by the difficulty, complexity and expense involved. Finally, I was swayed this year by the fact that my 13-year-old son, William, wanted to not only try archery, but get a traditional, recurve bow.

That got me thinking about trying it myself. When I asked William if he would like me to do it with him, he instantly said yes. So, I bought one for myself.

Getting started

My research back in March showed that more bow manufacturers were making bows costing less than $500. And, more than one source said the Diamond Stud was the best bow in this price range. So, I decided to check them out.

The best part is, when I went to Gander Mountain, I discovered that the store carries this bow, and it happened to be on sale for 40 percent off. So, the original price of $499 was down to $299. There were only two left, so I bought one of them. The store was trying to clear out inventory due to a major remodel, plus close out inventory of 2010 products.

When I bought the two bows, the head of the archery department, Junior Garcia, said it would take two to five hours to get the bows set up for target shooting. It seemed like a big investment, but it was well worth it.

Learning how to shoot

He started with William, and first showed him the proper form. He emphasized being relaxed and shooting from a relaxed stance. That advice was helpful to both William and I. William was a little tense at first, but Junior made the shooting process so easy that William was able to get comfortable after a while.

Same with me. In fact, once Junior adjusted my first sight pin, I was consistently hitting the bullseye at 10 yards. I know that’s not very far, but Junior went on to say that the average shot distance at a deer is only about 20 yards. So, if I can be consistent at 20 yards, I will be ready to hunt.

The key will be to practice a lot between now and the opening of archery season in September. The first step will be finding a place to shoot. I put William to work trying to find outdoor archery ranges in the Twin Cities. Then, we’ll have to commit to shooting regularly.

The only things left for me to buy are a case, quiver and broadheads. Junior recommends the Muzzy brand for broadheads. I have done research online, and these broadheads have gotten very favorable reviews, especially the three-bladed ones. A lot of new products and product styles have come on the market in recent years, but the Muzzy broadheads are considered reliable and dependable. Sounds like a good way to go. And, they’re not that expensive — $30 for six.


For those thinking about getting into archery and bowhunting, I offer these tips on both products and shooting:

— Keep the process simple. Stay relaxed, and keep your head straight. Then, simply raise the bow and bring it to you.

— Find an anchor point and use it every time you shoot an arrow! Junior told William and I to touch the knuckle of our index finger to the little indentation behind the right ear lobe (for right-handed shooters). Then, simply touch your nose to the string. In the case of a compound, you will then look through the peep on the string, which should be adjusted so it’s level with your eye and you can look through it without moving your head. The way Junior adjusted it was he had me find the anchor points with both my index finger and nose, then close my eyes to make sure it felt right. Then, he would have me open my eyes. We did this several times until I was able to look through the center of the peep as soon as I opened my eyes. This is an important adjustment technique for the peep that Junior says a lot of people miss. We got it right on mine, and now I won’t have to worry about it again until I replace my string.

— A good arrow release is very important. I have a friend, Steve Huettl, who’s a bowhunting expert, and he recommended what’s called a single-caliper release. His favorite brand is Scott, and I ended up buying one called the Little Bitty Goose. Worked fine at Gander’s indoor range, and I have every confidence it will be a reliable release. Some people buy cheap releases to save money, but this is a very important piece of equipment, and not the place to try and save a few bucks.

— For bowhunting, Steve recommends using carbon arrows. I bought some made by Gold Tip, though Steve said most of the carbon arrows on the market are good.

— When it comes time to hunt, make sure you do some target shooting with your broadheads, and be sure to buy broadheads of the same weight as your field points (75-grain, 100-grain, etc.). There may be a difference in where your arrows hit the target with broadheads versus field tips, in which case you will have to adjust your sight pins.

— Be sure to wax the string on your compound after every shooting session. The wax is cheap (I paid $1), and it only takes a couple of minutes. That will keep the string from getting frayed and, ultimately, will help it last longer.

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Mark your calendar!

March 28, 2011


A sure sign of spring happens this week. It’s the annual Northwest Sportshow, which takes place March 30 through April 3 (Wednesday through Sunday).

Even though the weather has been feeling more like February than late March, walking through the doors of the Minneapolis Convention Center will make you feel better by turning your thoughts — and dreams — toward the upcoming fishing sesaon, not to mention the turkey season just around the corner and, later on, the fall hunting seasons.

Walking the numerous and spacious aisles of the main auditorium is always fun for me, as I have made this an annual adventure. In addition to looking at lots of gear and trip destinations, I have been able to find some good prices on stuff. For example, about two or three years ago, I saw a Nikon Pro Staff scope at the Reed’s booth for $99. It normally sells for $139. So, I bought it for my son’s 20-gauge.

Nikon makes excellent scopes and this one has performed well. This year, we went to the gun range to sight in the shotgun with the Nikon scope. My son, Andy, took three shots at 50 yards to see if the scope was still on (it’s very important to check your scope every year). All three shots — with two different brands of ammo, no less — landed in the bullseye. In fact, they were all touching!

That’s the kind of performance you want in a scope, and the price was great. In fact, I don’t think I have seen a price that low on this scope since then. Some companies offer great deals at the show, so it’s worth looking. My advice would be to price items you are interested in buying, then check the prices at the show to see if there’s a deal to be had.

The show also features numerous seminars dealing with a wide range of topics, including fishing and turkey hunting. Most of them are designed for beginners, so keep that in mind when you’re trying to decide which seminar to attend.

Often times, more advanced tips can be found by talking to people who work in the booths. One of my favorite booths is Ammo Craft, which sells primarily hunting gear. The owner, Ron Becker, is an avid turkey hunter, and he has carried on the tradition of the store’s previous owner, Don Parsons, in supplying a wide array of stuff for turkey hunters.

About two years ago, I bought a push button call from him called the Pro Push Pin Yelper made by Quaker Boy. It’s a great call that is very easy to use. It makes the softer calls like clucks and purrs that can help bring a gobbler into gun range.

Ron recommended the call and I have used it a lot over the last two seasons. It’s my go-to call when I’m trying to get a tom to come those last few critical yards. I have a lot of confidence in this call, and I highly recommend it. Other companies make this type of call, called a pushbutton call. The funny thing is, these calls are so easy to use that they are often overlooked by hunters.

I think what happened is that, when they first came out, they were marketed to hunters who had a tough time using other calls, like box, slate and mouth calls. But, let me tell you, I am proficient with all of these calls, yet I still like my Pro Push Pin Yelper for the soft calls. And, make no mistake, soft calls are very important in turkey hunting, though you hear lots more about the basic mating call of hens in the spring — the yelp.

I remember going to the show way back when I was a preteen. It was held at the Minneapolis Armory, and one of my favorite booths to visit was one run by a guy who called himself The Rat Man. He made a series of jointed wood lures that can best be described as sexy in the water. These lures had more gyrations than the scantily clad women you see on Dancing with the Stars.

Funny thing is, I have never caught a fish on one of these seductive lures. Maybe I didn’t use them often enough. But, that didn’t matter. The Rat Man, complete with his black eye patch — probably used primarily for dramatic effect — was one of the most entertaining characters at the show. And, quite frankly, there has not been anyone like him since he vanished from the scene a number of years ago.

That’s OK. I still like going to the show. I’m fired up about the upcoming turkey hunting and fishing seasons, and I’m fired up about making my annual trip to the Northwest Sportshow.

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Archer in the making?

March 7, 2011


I brought a group of seventh-grade boys to Bwana Archery in Little Canada Saturday morning for the chance to do some shooting.

My 12-year-old son, William, was in the group. He has shot a few times at summer camp, and expressed the most interest in archery when I presented him with three options. The other two choices were swimming and bowling.

The person at Bwana who helped the 12 boys get set up was great. The shop has both a range for traditional targets and a video station, in which video of animals are projected on a large sheet of canvas and shooters take aim at the moving images. Then, the hits are scored. A hit to the outer edge of the vital area scores 5, and a hit to the heart scores 10.

I watched William shoot at both ranges and he did well. He was able to score a 10 on one of his shots at the video range. Later, when I talked to him more, he expressed a strong interest in doing archery. When I asked if he’d like to have his own bow, he said yes, but wanted a traditional recurve and not the modern compound.

The compounds have a higher pull weight and, thus, shoot arrows faster and flatter. I explained this to William, but he did not waver in his desire for a recurve. He said he likes the challenge of shooting a recurve, and also likes that it is more traditional.

I think this could be a great hobby for him. I may take it up, too. Then, we can do it together. The guy at Bwana said that it’s not necessary to spend $700 or more on a bow anymore. The companies are putting a lot of their effort into their less expensive bows, so the quality of those is going up, he said.

That’s good news for guys like me. I had an interest in taking up archery a few years ago, but the high prices of decent bows scared me off. Looks like I wouldn’t have to spend nearly as much. I have always thought about bowhunting, and I may try it.

Interestingly, when I asked William about bowhunting, he said he wasn’t sure whether he’d like to do it. He likes deer hunting, but at least for now, prefers hunting with a gun.

The beauty of archery is that it can be worthwhile even if you never end up going hunting with a bow. At Bwana, the staff put up animal targets, and even added balloons to increase the challenge.

It also increased the fun, and the boys had a great time!

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