The Native Americans had sticks, string, rocks, and a loincloth, yet they managed to kill enough deer to provide for entire tribes.
“I just got into bow hunting last year, and I don’t think I’ll pick up a rifle ever again.”
“I immediately saw blood coming out. It was just gushing out when he ran off so I knew I had made a good shot.”
With your head low and light in hand you will search the dark edges of the timber this fall looking for the buck you just arrowed. Having confidence in your shot you are sure to see the shine of a red stained, white belly any moment. It won’t be long, and you will be reliving the story with family and friends over a well-cooked meal, or will you? This story started long before you drew your bow. The preparation you made prior to this point could make or break your evening hunt. Benjamin Franklin said it best, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
We took a ride to Simmons Sporting Goods in Bastrop, La to visit with Richard Albritton and Michael Little and speak about bow prep and concluded a few things. We made a list of the most important bow checks for your season preparation below.
1. Bow String: “The first thing you should look at when you break your bow out of the case is the string!” said Richard starting our conversation. When looking over your string take notice to any fuzzy places or broken strands. This could indicate a possible string break in the future. Clean any dust or debris from it and be sure to apply string wax on the entire string. “Right now, you’re 7-10 days out for a string and it will get worse closer to season.” stated Michael. String failures can bankrupt an opening day as it did mine a season ago. Be sure to store all broadheads away from the string or you could be up a creek without a paddle come season.
2. Cams and Limbs: Starting on the outside and working towards the middle we advise that you begin at the cams and limbs. Visually inspect for stressor marks like cracks or chips. Dirt or debris within the valley where your string rests can cause string roll and potentially a blow up. You want to pay close attention to the spacers and keeper rings holding everything in place. One small piece amiss and you could have a failure in store ahead.
3. Riser: Continuing to work towards the center, check your riser for some of the same things as your limbs. With today’s bows you are less likely to find an issue here, but you don’t want to be the exception to the rule. Any chips, cracks, dents, or dings could lead to a major issue if not resolved speedily. Be sure to check all points where bolts or screws enter the riser, these are potential weak points.
4. Arrow Rest and Sight: Secure and solid should be the only thoughts when you get to your rest and sight. Check all screws for tightness. If you have a lighted sight you will want to check the batteries in it. Take a moment to see that your rest is level and in line with your nocking points. If you don’t notice by visual inspection don’t worry it will show when you shoot your bow.
5. Arrows: Take a moment to check the entirety of your arrows. A fletching may be loose or broken. A nock may have a chip or crack in it. Visually inspect each arrow you plan to use. Take each arrow and do a small bend/stress test to see or hear a crack or split in the carbon. “If you hear any creaking, cracking or popping you need to throw that arrow away.” mentioned Richard as he explained the importance of inspecting each arrow.
6. Release: Our release is one of the last things we think of when preparing our bow. However, if you have ever made it to your tree without your release you know the gut-wrenching feeling of leaving it at the truck. Rust is the enemy with a release be sure to keep it in a dry area and lubricate when needed. Also be vigilant of loose threads or broken straps depending on the release type you use.
7. Shoot!: With all our checks behind us and a bow that looks ready to shoot what are you waiting for?! “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it!” as Richard would say. Shoot from the ground, shoot from the tree, shoot from the bed of a truck, just shoot! The old adage “Practice makes Perfect” rings true most of the time. For us, if our groups are tight, aim true, and confidence high this season will be a prosperous one.
Austin Bradford – Louisiana Bowhunter Contributor
Tuesday October 16, 2018 in South Louisiana marked the first real feel of fall weather, at least in one man’s opinion. The first real feel of a true north wind, a little bite in the air. As I sat on the tailgate of my truck observing my two sons go through pee-wee football practice, I can say honestly, I felt a slight chill. Most every other day of the supposed beginning of fall has felt a lot more like just extended late, and wet, summer. Lots of rain!
So this article is about when to call for whitetail bucks, so why am I talking about the weather? Well, a phrase that has recently been coined by a very popular outdoor industry group answers the question pretty simply, “A whitetails movement ultimately revolves around the weather….”. Deer science tells us the testosterone level of whitetail bucks begins to elevate and their tendencies begin to shift towards hierarchy and breeding as soon as the velvet is shed from their antlers in late summer, that is across all regions and subspecies. Velvet comes off in a month (maybe 2 month) window across the country. However, the rut can be found from August – February across the contiguous United States. One word, weather, and not just daily but seasonally and how it impacts the herd and its natural sustainability in a given region. So armed with that basic concept, let’s cover a few basic things about deer vocalization and how to look at them as a hunter and how to plan for when to use them based on your hunting opportunities.
As we consider the idea of calling to or calling for bucks, it’s safe to say we are assuming some phase of rut behavior and relative deer activity associated with these calling plans and strategy. And as an old baseball rat, I’ll tell you that’s good plan, because as any good baseball manager plays the odds over emotion, your best odds with any calling for whitetail deer is to play on the natural instincts of breeding and the competition created within the herd during this period. However, I feel we often times get too caught up in a sensationalized emotion where our imaginations are of bristled angry monster bucks grunting and growling and snorting and challenging like Connor McGregor before his next UFC fight. That’s fun, that is what great hunting films are made of, but deer are not prize fighters, they are a prey animal and they are survivors. The family groups and herd dynamics are crucial to how the live, survive, and thrive. So let’s start by being logical and playing the odds, deer do get aggressive, but typically from the late summer shedding of velvet until actual breeding activities begin, progressive interaction to establish hierarchies in the herd unfold. Aggression happens in close personal outburst, it’s not the entire season and it is most certainly not typical, they aren’t running around throughout the fall talking smack and fighting.
I believe the best strategy is to focus your calling around the weather and highly active periods and formulated around peaking curiosity within the herd at optimal times. I’ve heard it explained this way…
If you were in your home, office, or anywhere of comfort you spend a lot of time and a stranger’s voice came upon you aggressive and booming, how would you respond? I’ll answer, it would scare you or at least startle you and put you on high alert, you would instantly go into the “Fight or Flight” natural response. In another scenario, if you were walking through your living room and you heard a social conversation taking place in the next room that was unsuspected but not startling, you’d almost certainly check it out.
Deer do not operate on ego, or humility for that matter, they are not burdened with that instinct as we humans are. Fight or Flight mentality is a 50/50 proposition for people, for deer it’s safe to assume it’s far more off balance. As a survivor, there is no ego and protective instinct it’s FLIGHT every time. So when you call to or for a deer, especially blindly, take into account this and you can make some logical considerations about how to approach it. Attempt to fit in and be social, engaging but subtle, don’t’ be weird and out of place. Think like a deer and remember that if you startle a deer with your calling the reaction will likely not be what you hoped for.
Calling when and how often and what times is also very different in different locations. I personally believe this has more to do with herd density than anything else. If you walk into a private office with 2 or 3 people, likely you won’t hear much, even if there is some communication ongoing it’s subdued between small numbers of people. Inversely, during even the observing a “moment of silence” at a well attend sporting event, it’s almost never really silent. That many people and constant verbal communication is almost guaranteed. During a recent early season archery hunt in Oklahoma, I was privilege to spend 4 days on a private ranch with a very high density of deer. I was shocked at the number of deer vocalizations I heard from deer of all age ranges during the first week of October! I’m lucky to hear that much deer talk during best rut hunts of the year back home. It dawned on me quickly, the social interaction I was witnessing was easily contributed to that fact that rather than see 2 or 3 deer pass by or feed in my presence, I was watching 4 to 5 times that many come to food sources and once congregated, the natural interaction was inevitable. I can only imagine what it sounds like when breeding vocalization comes into play on that place! For what is the majority of hunters, don’t go into an average or low-density area where deer aren’t in large congregation and start yelling at everyone. Simply put, that will probably freak them out, just like the folks in the local insurance office would probably be a bit taken back if you walk into their lobby and started yelling like you did when you and your buddy were trying to communicate among a large group of friends at a party.
There are some occasions when aggressive calling could be the right call, my opinion is that its limited and should be used judicially. If you can see and gauge the temperature of a whitetail buck during your rut and he is in your presence and hormonally driven to breed, you might coax him into a fight with aggressive calling techniques for dominance or coax him into falling in love with bleating and grunting techniques. However, I feel this should be done only at very certain times and with very certain purpose. It is high risk for majority of hunters and places they are hunting, it can ruin a hunt as fast as it makes one and your odds of blindly stumbling into such a scenario aren’t high! The better odds with a deer in your area unseen is social and curious interaction, curiosity kills cats and bovines. Being invisible works WONDERS as well…. I’m just saying, play your odds.
It’s a hard picture to paint, but I think it comes with experience and when you see deer respond and you see deer act naturally without your interaction you begin to understand their communication better. Always remember you are trying to fit in, there is no product on the market that hypnotizes an animal into its own version of language and sucks them in. Deer are not birds, and they are not human…. your best chances are to identify the deer herd you are hunting, how it’s established and when it’s most vocal, then attempt to subtly draw the curiosity of your mature deer in the heard by being social and being real. Deer don’t walk around bellowing like cattle and they don’t aggressively communicate with one another like a turkey. Use logic, play on the deer instincts to be social and then to breed in order to survive. And don’t let a call company ever convince you their sound is the end all be all that will trick them into acting in a way the we know is not instinctual for a whitetail deer…. it’s a grunt, it’s not a complicated sound!
Oct. 23, 2018 – The water supply system at the Sherburne Wildlife Management Area (WMA) main camping area is no longer available to the public, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) announced.
The system was discontinued because it does not meet regulatory requirements set forth by the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals. Campers and other WMA users must bring their own water for drinking purposes, washing dishes, toiletry, etc.
Sherburne WMA is located in the Atchafalaya Basin, between U.S. Highway 190 and Interstate 10. The main camping area is located approximately three miles south of U.S. Highway 190, off Louisiana Highway 975 and approximately 13 miles north of Interstate 10.
For more information on this WMA, go to http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/wma/2763 or contact Tony Vidrine at firstname.lastname@example.org or 337-735-8682 or Steven David at email@example.com or 337-735-8683.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is charged with managing and protecting Louisiana’s abundant natural resources. For more information, visit us at www.wlf.la.gov. To receive recreational or commercial fishing email and text alerts, signup at http://www.wlf.la.gov/signup
If there is one thing that outdoorsmen have in common, it’s the love of sharing the stories of our time spent in the outdoors. Whether its standing around the campfire describing the monster buck that was just out of range or gathering at the water cooler talking about how the trout bite was on fire this weekend, we love sharing our experiences in the outdoors which is what lead me to begin filming my hunts. I wanted to have footage to go along with the story. One positive side effect that has come out of a society that loves to see ourselves captured through a lens is endless options of how to get yourself started filming your hunts. In this article, I will discuss the ones that I find to be the best combination of useful, cost effective, and user friendly.
The first thing you should do before jumping into the world of filming is decide just what you want to get out of it. Is your goal to win an Emmy award for cinematography? If so, this probably isn’t the article for you. Would you like to capture the kill shot of that nanny that’s been hanging around your stand every afternoon so you can show your friends? If so, continue reading. For our purposes, I’ll focus on filming your bow hunts.
Like any outdoor hobby, this is a subset that can get just as expensive and involved as hunting itself. One option that has become very popular is the use of action cameras. The upside of these cameras is that they are durable, easy to use, versatile, and they have a wide assortment of mounting options that allow you to film many activities and varying angles on those activities. Some of my first steps into filming were mounting my GoPro to my bow or gun and heading to the woods. I’ve dropped it, crashed it, thrown it, sunk it, and attached it to various moving objects including trucks, ATV’s, boats, and dogs. Some of the down sides of these cameras are the lack of zoom (although some companies are starting to combat that) the lack of camera settings, the generally terrible audio, and they usually lack a view finder. The majority of these cameras offer you a great option for filming wide panning shots of scenery or skyline, but leave something to be desired when trying to film tighter impact shots in thick woods. I still carry my GoPro with me every time I step in the woods to film and it has become a great option for capturing a second angle of close activity.Another popular option for filming your hunts are handy cam style camcorders. I personally have a Canon Vixia RF700, but there are many great options out there. This style of camera offers you a step up in many of the areas where an action camera may fall short. You will have a drastic increase in zoom and camera settings as well as a view finder that will make it considerably easier to line up your shots. While the audio on these cameras is nothing incredible, you will have a noticeable advantage over an action camera and you can easily take an even greater step up with the addition of an external microphone. Camcorders are also known to be simple to use. For most people filming their hunts, the most difficult part of using one is remembering to turn it on when the pressure is on; which I know from experience. These cameras are also fairly cost effective and can be found for just a few hundred dollars.
The latest option I have started to use is my DSLR camera. I use a Cannon Rebel T5I with a Canon 18-55mm lens. As a beginner myself, this is overkill. The options and settings available to me are beyond where my talents lie, but I like having them. Positives of filming with a DSLR are the availability of lens options, the quality of footage that can be obtained, the low light filming capability, and the fact that you now have the ability to take high quality photos with the same camera. The combination of settings and lenses available make the footage quality far beyond what can be expected from a camcorder. On top of that, the low light capability of DSLR is simply unattainable with a handy cam style camcorder. If you’ve ever tried to film a deer slowly approaching just before day break or right at dusk, you know that low light filming can be a nightmare with the wrong gear. Lastly, don’t forget that you now have a high quality still image camera to capture all your trophy photos. All that being said, filming your hunts with a DSLR has its drawbacks. These cameras are slightly more difficult to use, they generally don’t have the zoom that’s available on a camcorder, and they are more expensive. A DSLR camera can give you incredible footage and range in the field, but you won’t be able to do that with a single lens. Lenses are more expensive than camera bodies and can get into the thousands of dollars. For the average hunter, that’s out of the question. Another drawback of these is that they are slightly more difficult to use. The whole point of stepping up your camera game is to get better footage, but if you don’t know how to use it, the footage will be the same or worse than your camcorder. The last thing you want when the pressure it on is to be fumbling with a difficult to use camera in the stand.
Assuming you chose one of the two latter options and you don’t have a permanent cameraman, you’ll likely need a camera arm to free up your hands while hunting. This is yet another subset of a hobby that can cost you lots of time researching the best options and lots of money if you choose the newest and best set up. I have tried several different camera arms and mounting set ups and have narrowed down a few key features that you need to consider before purchasing. I want a camera arm that is light, easy to set up, quiet, smooth, and stable. Anyone that packs hunting gear in and out of the woods during the early season in the south knows that every ounce of weight you can save is a few less beads of sweat rolling down your face. Being easy to set up and quiet are features that should be obvious. The last thing you want to happen after you sneak into the woods before daylight is to start fumbling with a difficult to setup piece of equipment that makes lots of noise in the process. I prefer a ratchet strap method of attaching my camera arms. This provides me a simple to set up and very stable filming base. While a ratchet strap isn’t the quietest system, its noise can be combated with a few simple steps. If you wrap your strap around the tree, connect to the other side of the arm, and pull out all the slack, you will be able to sufficiently tighten it down with just a click or two or the ratchet. While there are quieter methods of attaching an arm, the strength you gain from a ratchet strap is worth the small sound it makes. Camera arms can vary in price range just like the cameras themselves. The very first arm I used was only $40 and did everything I needed. I still have these cheap camera arms set up in a few of my permanent stand locations. I have since upgraded to Fourth Arrow camera arm. This set up is certainly superior to my cheap starter set up, but it is definitely not necessary for most.
Whichever of these options you choose to go with, make sure you remember that you are out here to enjoy hunting first. I am a bow hunter before I am a self-filming bow hunter. I have made certain promises to myself when it comes to capturing kills on video, but If that target buck that I’ve been chasing steps out and I can’t get the camera on him, his last moments won’t be captured on video. Get the kill first. If you don’t get the kill on video, you can always exaggerate the story around the campfire later.
Louisiana Bowhunter Contributor