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How To/Pro-Tips

Blind Stands

We aren't talking about stands where you can't see anything; we are talking about stands where the deer can't see you. This has become more important as deer have responded to hunting pressure by becoming more wary. Nowadays, deer look up and if they see you sitting on an open platform, they don't much like it. If you hunt from a ground blind, camouflage is critical.

Camouflaged and covered stands are the answer. Many modern deer stands are equipped to accept an optional camouflage screen that can be wrapped around the stand. Any stand that has a box-like construction or a shooting rail can be draped with camouflage cloth with a few simple ties or connections.

Natural camouflage is good. When preparing your stand site and cutting shooting lanes, leave a bit of natural vegetation around your actual stand. However, it must be open enough to allow a variety of shots. The ideal combo is a bit of natural growth backed up with a camouflage-covered stand.

Stand Contamination

If you hunt one area enough, the deer are going to know about it, particularly wise old bucks. If you use permanent or semi-permanent stands, erect them early enough for them to weather-in, absorb natural odors and for the deer to get used to them.
If you use a portable stand, take it in and out of the hunting area. Also take your seat cushion and other personal gear in and out with you. Leaving your scent-soaked stuff in a buck's backyard is sure to tip him off.
When approaching or leaving your stand, be careful with your scent. Do not grab or brush against trailside vegetation and it is best to wear rubber boots to avoid leaving you scent about the area.
If you hunt one stand a lot, the deer figure it and you out. Don't hunt from the same stand every day. The hotter that stand site is, the more you should rest it, hunting there only when the conditions are most favorable.

Getting It Out

If you think an elk is big on the hoof, wait until you try to deal with one on the ground. Particularly in warm weather, the carcass should be gutted and opened to allow air circulation and the start of the cooling process as soon as possible. It's just like field-dressing a deer on a really big scale.
If you are hunting with friends and are real lucky, your elk fell where a vehicle or a horse can get to the carcass. If not, you are going to have to do some serious heaving and rolling to get the job done. I carry a small block and tackle to help with this. I also carry a meat and bone saw. An elk can be disjointed with a big hunting knife but the saw is much easier.

The final step is cutting the elk up into transportable hunks to haul out. Again, vehicle, horse or backpack transport are the options that dictate how big the hunks should be.

Duck Calling Tune-Up

I didn't win any of my duck-calling championships by showing up at the contest with no practice and otherwise unprepared to compete. Neither do I go to the blind unready to do my best calling job to waterfowl. Neither should you.
If you get a new call, it is a very wise idea to get the instructional tape or video that goes with it. Calls from different makers often blow a bit differently. Listening to the guy who made the call tell you how to blow it best is a far shorter learning curve than trial and error.
If you are using an older call, clean it up. All calls perform better when the crumbs of last season's sandwiches, weed seeds and pocket lint are removed. A thorough cleaning requires removing the reed or reeds. Study their original position before removing them and replace them properly.
For a quick clean-up in the field, carry some dental floss or use a dollar bill to clean between and under reeds without disassembly.

Plinking Around

We should all strive to become better shots, either with bow or gun. Most of us can still shoot bows in the backyard. However, in this crowded world, gunshots ringing through the neighborhood are severely frowned upon. This is particularly so with centerfire deer rifles, which produce a lot of bang.

Yet there are still many places where .22 rimfires create no problem. This, plus the fact that .22 ammo is quite cheap, is a boon to shooters. Shooting 500 to 1000 rounds of rimfire ammunition over a summer will do wonders for your marksmanship. It's best to duplicate your deer rifle with a .22 with the same action type and sights.

Punching holes in paper can get boring. "Active" targets are more fun. Tin cans are fine if you clean up your mess. Glass is a no-no. Shotgun clay targets leave many fragments that are hard to clean up. I like charcoal briquettes. They are cheap, available, biodegradable and make a nice puff of dust when hit.


How to Use a Bow Stringer

One of the first things you need to know when stringing a Recurve bow is that the large

loop of the string goes on the top limb, while the small loop goes on the bottom limb.

This order is important because the small loop will generally stay in position on the

lower limb while stringing and unstringing the bow. And, the upper loop, or large loop,

will be traveling up and down the limb when stringing and unstringing the bow. Since

the limb tip is smaller than the width of the limb below the tip, the loop needs to be a bit


The position of the bowstring is very important. The strings bottom loop must fit

securely in the groove in the bottom limb. Before releasing pressure on the limbs, make

sure that both string loops are still in the grooves on the limbs. Stringing the bow can be

dangerous if not done properly.

The cord stringer method is the safest and most commonly used method.

The cord stringer comes as a long cord with leather pouches at both ends of the string.

These pouches fit over each end of the limb.

To use the cord stringer, first hold the bow with the front face of the bow facing


Grip the center of the riser with the hand that has the most control and strength.

With the bow facing down, put the larger pouch over the tip of the lower or bottom limb.

Then put the smallest pouch over the tip of the upper limb.

Make sure that both pouches are fitted securely over the tips.

The stringer cord should now be hanging below the bow.

Step on the stringer cord using the same side as the hand used to hold the bow.

Make sure the cord is in the middle or "ball” of your foot.

Pull upon the riser just enough to make the string taut, making sure that the lower end

of the string is still securely sitting in the grooves on the lower limb.

While still pulling up slowly on the riser, guide the string into the notches of the upper


Watch that your fingers stay to the sides of the limb, making sure not to place them

between the bow string and the face of the bow.

To unstring a recurve bow, just reverse any of these processes.

When stringing the bow, there are a few important things to remember. First, always

make sure that the string is seated properly in the grooves of the upper and lower limb

before releasing pressure. Also, always remember that the archers’ safety is the most


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