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How To/Pro-Tips

Boots For Bucks

The deer stalker needs "quiet feet." This means soft-soled boots with a bit of "feel" to them. Unfortunately, many popular hunting boots have rigid soles, which are noisy. They clump on hard ground and crunch in dry leaves. The treestand hunter also needs quiet boots. Hard, ridged soles are noisy on metal ladders and grate on the expanded metal platforms. Either pad your stand with all-weather carpet or go with soft soles. Boot choice is important to scent control. Even to dull human noses, sweaty feet stink. Imagine how it must smell to a deer. Since your feet contact with the ground all the way to your stand, you can lay down some potent scent trails in your hunting area All sewn boots, be they leather, synthetics or whatever, "leak" scent through their seams. Boots with all-rubber, molded feet, such as the leather-topped "pac" boots and all-rubber knee boots hold in human scent. Yes, they are hot and sweaty, but they keep your scent off the ground.

Consistency Counts

Bill Jordan is a sucker for good bows. He owns several and each has some performance feature that he particularly likes. However, he learned a valuable lesson a few years ago while completing a successful Grand Slam on gobblers by bow. Sticking with one outfit for the whole season makes the most of your bow-shooting skills. He made some outstanding shots, primarily because he was comfortable with that one particular archery set up. Shooting the same outfit -- bow, let-off, arrows, release -- eliminates equipment variables and develops shooting consistency. You might want to adjust your draw weight and let-off a bit for your early practice sessions in midsummer. But as soon as possible, get your bow set up and tuned the way you want it for hunting. The same goes for arrows, points, bow releases and all of your other archery equipment. Bill says that his coach at Ole Miss used to say, "you play like you practice". With archery and bowhunting, experience with your equipment means a lot.

Pondering Penetration

Super high-speed bows, over-draws and slimmed-down arrows all produce more arrow velocity. Velocity affects trajectory, which in turn affects hunting accuracy and limits range. However, understand that there are trade-offs. By going super light for speed, you diminish penetration. Just as with rifle bullets, light weight means more velocity and flatter trajectory. Heavy weight bullets or arrows penetrate deeper. The heavier projectile retains energy better and that's what produces penetration. Also beware of trying to equate target penetration and practical penetration on game. Foam targets and flesh are not the same. Foam "grabs" the arrow's shaft; natural tissues do not. Slim carbon shafts that go deep into foam offer no particular advantage on game. Behind a good cutting broadhead, any arrow shaft penetrates about the same. Style and sharpness of the hunting point and arrow energy are the prime players for deep penetration in the field. Balance your needs for flat trajectory with the need to get the broadhead in deep, where it needs to go.

The Bowhunter's Tool Kit

Archery tackle is well-named. There are few serious bowhunters who don't have a tackle box full of specialized tools for adjusting their bow and arrows. Often the box is a large one. But what goes on hunting trips and what stays home? I have three separate archery tool sets. In my shop, I have everything I need to do every job that I need to do on my bows. My traveling tool kit contains the basic tools to do the most common jobs necessary on an extended trip. Most of these "traveling" tools duplicate my shop tools but that's fine. I don't want to have to continually sort and re-sort my tools and perhaps forget to pack a critical item before a big trip. My traveling kit stays packed. In the traveling kit is my "field" kit. This small belt or pack compatible kit holds the tools I actually carry while hunting. The larger traveling kit stays in camp while the field kit goes to the stand.

Bullets For Deer

Deer bullets should be selected to match the game. Deer are rather small and fragile of frame when compared to some other big game species. A bullet designed to shoot through a 3/4-ton moose likely will not expand well on a 150-pound whitetail. Likewise, a bullet designed to blast a small pest might explode on a big buck's shoulder and not penetrate to the vital area. Lighter bullets, in a given caliber class, are designed for lighter game. A 100-grain 6mm bullet is considered a "deer" bullet. A 100-grain .270 bullet is designed for varmints. In the .30 caliber class, bullets from 150 to 180 grains are considered deer-class bullets. Spitzer bullets retain velocity better for long-range shooting. Very long-range shooting demands high velocity and bullets that expand reliably out where velocity has dropped off. However, this same combination can cause bullet blow-up at short range. With high-velocity cartridges or when asking a small bullet to do a big job, consider the so-called "premium" bullets.

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