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BOWFISHING 101

During the summer, most of us shoot into targets to prepare for the fall bowhunting season. This time of year, there is one thing you can do to keep your skills sharp that is more fun than just shooting into a pile of foam. You can go bowfishing. Bowfishing is increasing in popularity largely because it is action packed. Getting started in bowfishing doesn’t need to break the bank. Brodie Swisher, founder of the Bowfishingtour.com, knows a few things about bowfishing. “Bowfishing is a great sport that bowhunters can participate in almost any time of the year. One of the great things about bowfishing is people can get involved in it without breaking the bank,” Swisher explained.

Some guys have high-end bowfishing boats equipped with fancy motors, expensive lights and raised platforms, but you don’t have to start there. “Many people start by picking up a pawn shop bow and a bowfishing real kit that comes with a bowfishing arrow and tip, away they go,” Swisher added.

The most sought after fish is the carp, but many go after garpike, dog fish and a few other species. “The cool thing about bowfishing is there are many carp to go after. It isn’t like going deer hunting where you might hunt for weeks without a shot opportunity. Most people who regularly bowfish rarely go home empty-handed.”

The best time to go bowfishing is during the late spring and early summer when carp and other garbage fish are spawning in the shallows of lakes and rivers. “If a person is starting out in the sport, they can wade around and shoot fish during the heat of the day and have a great time,” Swisher noted. “It’s fun and it keeps a person’s muscles strong and helps with eye hand coordination. I think it can help a person become a better all around archer.”

People who want to take the sport to the next level can bowfish at night while using spotlights. “Bowfishing at night is a blast. Shooting at fish as they go swimming by under the light is fun and there are many all night tournaments around the country that add friendly competition to the mix, which makes it even more exciting.”

If you get into bowfishing, you will end up with piles of carp. “Many people use the fish for fertilizing gardens and rose bushes. Some people even eat them. Regardless of what you do with them, shooting them is a great way to pass the time in the summer when there is nothing else to hunt,” Swisher suggested.

When bowfishing, most people use a recurve or bow like a Mathews Genesis. These bows can be fired quickly and without being at full draw. If bowfishing sounds like fun to you, get a cheap bow, outfit it with a bowfishing kit, a set of Pine Ridge Archery Finger Savers so you can quickly and easily draw, and fire the bow. You will be good to go.


BY TRACY BREEN
About the author: Tracy Breen is a full time outdoor writer, consultant and game dinner speaker who often discuss how he overcomes cerebral palsy. Learn more about him at www.tracybreen.com

 

KIDS ARCHERY 101 - BY TRACY BREEN

In the last five years, a plethora of movies have hit the big screen that portray archery in a positive light. The Hunger Games is by far the most popular movie series out there that has put archery front and center in today’s culture. Brave from Disney and others have also helped shed some light on how awesome the sport of archery can be. As a result, more kids are asking their parents if they can shoot a bow. John Schaffer from Schaffer Performance Archery in Minnesota has noticed an uptick in bow sales. Schaffer owns a pro shop and manufactures bow sights and arrow rests. “We have noticed many people bringing kids into the shop asking for a kids’ bow in the last few years. It is really cool that parents and kids are interested in the sport of archery,” Schaffer said. Getting started in archery is not like learning to play basketball. Some attention to detail is required. It is best if a child gets a quality bow and quality instruction. Below are a few tips to get a child started properly started in archery.

VISIT A PRO-SHOP

John Schaffer is quick to point out that if a parent is planning to purchase their child a bow, they should purchase a bow from an archery pro shop, not a box store. “When a person comes into a pro shop with a child, we spend a lot of time making sure they purchase a bow that fits them. We also make sure they are pulling the proper amount of weight,” said Schaffer. “I see many parents purchase a bow that doesn’t fit their child and the kid often ends up pulling too much weight so it is hard for them to pull back the bow. If a child can only pull 10 pounds, that’s fine. Eventually they will pull more weight. In the beginning, we want them only pulling what they can comfortably draw,” Schaffer explained.

PURCHASE A BOW A CHILD CAN GROW WITH

It is important to note when picking out a bow for a youngster that a bow is chosen that the kid can grow with. “Many companies including Mission Archery, PSE and others make bows that have adjustable draw weight and draw length so a kid can use the same bow for years as they grow.” Once you have a bow for your child trick it out in colored accessories from Pine Ridge Archery. “Kids all have a favorite color,” said Bychowski. “Tricking their bow out in all matching accessories makes shooting more fun for a kid.”

START THEM OFF CLOSE 
When introducing a child to archery, Schaffer suggests starting them close to the target. “Because adults often shoot at 20 or 30 yards, many parents think their kids should be shooting at the same distance. Kids will have a hard time hitting the target at that distance when they are just starting out. I start every kid at five or ten feet. The goal early on is to just hit the target. I am not worried about accuracy. When they can consistently hit a target, I lengthen the distance between them and the target.” Schaffer also starts kids off shooting at balloons because kids love hearing the balloon pop when the arrow hits it. “The goal is to make archery fun and exciting and shooting at balloons does that,” Schaffer added.

BUY A TARGET

Once a child is set up, it is important that they shoot at home if possible. “We always encourage parents to get their kids a target so they can shoot in the backyard if it is legal where they live. Parents shouldn’t just purchase any target. There are youth targets on the market. Morrell Targets and others make targets that are built to be shot at with lightweight bows. It is really discouraging for a kid if they shoot at a target and the arrow bounces off the target. Arrows will not penetrate targets built for kids and the arrows will be easy to remove for the kids, which makes shooting fun. After a kid is pulling plenty of weight, buy them a few 3D targets for the backyard. Kids love shooting at animals. It also helps teach them about the anatomy of animals which they will need to know if they start bowhunting,” Schaffer noted.

TRY A LEAGUE OR A TOURNAMENT

Archery is just like any sport; the more a child shoots their bow, the more accurate they will become. “We have youth leagues in our store and it has become very popular. Children enjoy competition so kids are attracted to leagues,” Schaffer said. Brian Bychowski from Pine Ridge Archery has taken it one step further. His daughter, Elena shoots in tournaments all over the country and they both have a great time doing it. “The wonderful thing about archery is a child can quickly see the results of their hard work. My daughter loves to shoot competition. We never get too serious; we just have fun with it. There is no doubt that she will be bowhunting with me when she gets a little older. The goal right now is to make archery and tournaments fun,” Bychowski said.

HAVE FUN 

Schaffer echoed what Bychowski said. “I tell parents they need to keep it fun. We never try to overload a kid with too much technical information when we start them out. We put a bow in their hand, teach them a little bit about proper form and technique, and let them shoot several arrows. Keeping it fun is a necessity and when it is fun, they will keep doing it.”

GET INVOLVED IN ARCHERY PROGRAMS

P.J. Perea from the NWTF knows all about keeping archery fun. The NWTF has partnered with N.A.S.P (The National Archery In The Schools Program) and Scholastic 3D Archery to promote archery to kids in school and after school. “These programs teach the sport of archery and show kids how much fun archery can be. The N.A.S.P. program gets kids started with archery while they are at school. The S3DA is a program to get kids into 3D archery. Of course, if you get kids into shooting 3D animals, eventually many of those kids are going to want to archery hunt which gets more hunters in the woods which is a big plus for hunting and the NWTF,” said Perea. “Getting kids involved in archery is a great thing all the way around. Archery is a sport anyone can participate in and many kids who start out just shooting for fun take up bowhunting.” Matt McPherson from Mathews Archery once told me the thing that makes archery cool is that a kid doesn’t have to be athletic to excel it. Many of us were not born to be baseball or football stars. Yet we can all excel in the sport of archery. If you have a child who needs a little confidence booster, put a bow in their hand and watch their face light up. Many kids who have grown up with a bow in their hand have gone on to be some of the best archers in the world. If you haven’t done so already, bring your child into a pro-shop and get them started on the right foot. The smile on their face when they see the first arrow hit the bullseye will be priceless.

Sidebar 1- PROPER SETUP AND TECHNIQUE

Some parents want their child to shoot a recurve or longbow like they see in the movies. Some parents want their child to use a compound bow, especially if the parent already owns a compound bow. Schaffer recommends a compound. “If a child is under the age of 6 years old, we start them on a Mathews Genesis bow without any sight or gadgets except a kisser button. If a child is over the age of 6, we have them start with a compound bow that has an adjustable draw weight and draw length. We set them up with a kisser button, a sight and a rest. This allows them to start learning proper form and shooting techniques right off the bat. A kisser button really helps a child learn how to shoot the same way, shot after shot. Learning on a traditional bow takes more time and they are much harder to pull back. A compound is typically a better choice for a child.”


BY TRACY BREEN
About the author: Tracy Breen is a full time outdoor writer, consultant and game dinner speaker who often discuss how he overcomes cerebral palsy. Learn more about him at www.tracybreen.com

30 Day Plank Challenge

We are getting in shape for hunting season and we want you to join us!  Take the 30 Day Plank Challenge (#pineridgeplank) and be in better shape come hunting season.  This is of course one part of a full fitness program, but we think it is a great start or add on.  

Simply follow the daily chart below and post a photo(s) of yourself "planking".  We will pick some lucky folks to get some Pine Ridge Archery swag along the way.  Be sure to post your photo on http://facebook.com/pineridgearchery and use the #pineridgeplank

You do not need a special trip to the gym for this, simply carve out a small space and dedicate a couple of minutes.  It is that easy!  

Ready...set...GO!


TIPS FOR BOWHUNTING LONGBEARDS

Turkey guide Jeff Budz with a bow killed longbeard.Spring is coming and now is the time to consider bowhunting gobblers this spring. Taking a turkey with a bow can be extremely challenging. The eyesight of a gobbler combined with the fact that they spook easily makes getting to full draw difficult. If you want to kill a turkey with a bow this spring, below are some tips to help you prepare for opening day.

  • Practice from a blind if you intend to hunt from a blind. Shooting from a blind isn’t always as easy as it sounds. Set a blind up in your backyard and shoot at your target at a variety of different yardages. Shoot at the target at five and ten yards, not just at 20 and 30 yards. Turkeys often come in close and shooting high happens often in the turkey woods. Knowing exactly where to aim when a bird is in close is a necessity. Don’t guess because the vitals on a turkey are extremely small.
  • Know where the vitals are located on a turkey. The vitals are only the size of a softball and knowing where to aim, especially if a bird is strutting, can be difficult. If you know where the vitals are located, you will know where to aim regardless if the bird is strutting, facing away from you, or standing broadside. Check out turkey vital diagrams online or look at a Master Target face target.
  • Consider shooting a turkey in the head. A head shot can be difficult but the wonderful thing about a head shot is if you hit the head, the bird dies; if you miss, it lives to see another day. You don’t have to worry about wounding a bird. If you are considering shooting only at the head, purchase one of the broadheads designed especially for the headshot.
  • Use a top notch decoy. Avian X and others make decoys that look life like. The closer you can get a longbeard to your decoy, the better chance you have of going home with a gobbler in your vest. Realistic decoys pull birds in close. The best turkey decoy is a real stuffed bird. If that is out of your price range, consider buying a Turkey Skinz. Turkey Skinz are a real turkey skin that wraps around any foam decoy to give the decoy a lifelike look. The skin has feathers and wings attached so it makes any decoy look great.
  • Use bright fletching. Pine Ridge Nitro Vanes are available in many bright colors. You will always want to know where the arrow hits when shooting the bird. Bright fletching will help you determine where you hit the bird. I always aim right above the drumsticks and love watching the arrow disappear into the bird about three to six inches above where the legs attach to the body.
Turkey hunting with a bow is fun and challenging. Try it this spring.

BY TRACY BREEN
About the author: Tracy Breen is a full time outdoor writer, consultant and game dinner speaker who often discuss how he overcomes cerebral palsy. Learn more about him at www.tracybreen.com

JOIN A WINTER ARCHERY LEAGUE


The snow is practically knee deep in my backyard right now. The temperatures are in the single digits and shooting my bow outside is somewhat out of the question. If you live in the northern part of the United States, you are probably in the same boat. It is cold outside and going out to let a few arrows fly isn’t much fun. What should you do? One option is to join an archery league. John Schaffer from Schaffer Performance Archery in Burnsville, MN says joining a league can really help archers improve their skills and make them an all around better archer. “Many bowhunters take six months off from archery. This is not the case with bowhunters who shoot an indoor league. By shooting during the winter, a bowhunter can keep his muscles strong, his form in good shape, and even learn how to shoot better under pressure.”

Shooting indoors during the winter is a great time to experiment with new gear. If you want to try a new sight, rest or arrows, doing it during the winter will help you get dialed in long before hunting season. Maybe you want to try out the new Nitro Vanes from Pine Ridge Archery or a new Nitro Stabilizer. Trying them out during the winter is much better than late August!Shooting at deer can be very nerve racking. Shooting in a league can also be intimidating, which is one of the reasons Schaffer recommends shooting in a league. “Shooting when a lot of people are watching you can be very nerve racking, especially if you are trying to beat your buddy who is watching as you shoot. This little bit of pressure will force a person to concentrate on making the shot. If a person shoots in a league consistently, they get over the problem of shooting under pressure which will make them a better bowhunter.”

It is easy to say you are going to shoot during the winter in your basement or in the garage but the truth is signing up for a indoor league often forces accountability with the friends you are shooting with. This often results in you showing up every week to shoot which means when spring comes, you will be driving tacks instead of trying to shake the dust off your bow. Joining a league can help any bowhunter take their level of accuracy with a bow to a whole new level.

BY TRACY BREEN
About the author: Tracy Breen is a full time outdoor writer, consultant and game dinner speaker who often discuss how he overcomes cerebral palsy. Learn more about him at www.tracybreen.com

ANTELOPE ON A BUDGET




When most people think about going on a bowhunting trip, the first thing that they think of is going after whitetails. Whitetails are the most sought after game animal in the world so it isn’t a surprise that most bowhunters would want to pursue big bucks. What most people don’t realize is that the success rate when bowhunting with a whitetail outfitter is only about 30%. If you want to save up your money and go on an adventure, there are several game animals that offer a high success rate and a less expensive price.

One of my favorites is the antelope. Antelope hunting doesn’t cost much money and the odds of success are extremely high. Most bowhunters who hunt antelope out west with an outfitter have a shot opportunity. This fall I hunted with Trujillo Creek Outfitters in Southern Colorado. They offer a Trespass hunt where you are dropped off on private land each day to hunt. You hunt in a comfortable ground blind that sits on a waterhole. A waterhole hunt is fairly easy and the success rate is extremely high. The cost of a trip like this is often $2,000 or less.

On top of having a really good opportunity of tagging an animal, you get to experience a different part of the country. I brought my family on my Colorado antelope hunt. While I hunted, they got to experience all the west has to offer. From visiting tourist towns to swimming in the pool at the La Quinta hotel, my hunt was more than a hunt; it was a family vacation. It is hard to turn a guided whitetail hunt into a family vacation unless the entire family is hunting.

Going on a bucket list hunt that brings you to an area of the country you have never seen and being successful on top of it is hard to put a price tag on. The cool thing is the price tag on an antelope hunt is inexpensive.... and when ground into burger, antelope makes great table fare.

On a side note, shooting a bow at extreme ranges when getting ready for an antelope hunt is necessary. The vitals on an antelope are fairly small and if the waterhole hunting doesn’t work out, long shots are the norm. In preparation for my hunt, I regularly shot at 60 and 70 yards. When shooting at these distances, having a fine tuned setup is a necessity. I used a Pine Ridge Archery Nitro Peep and a Nitro Stabilizer.

Antelope are cool looking critters that inhabit an awesome landscape. Do yourself a favor and try antelope hunting next fall.
BY TRACY BREEN
About the author: Tracy Breen is a full time outdoor writer, consultant and game dinner speaker who often discuss how he overcomes cerebral palsy. Learn more about him at www.tracybreen.com

JUST RELAX


Whether you are new to archery or you are a veteran, one thing many of us struggle with is relaxing before, during, and after the shot. Many bowhunters love to have a death grip on the bow while they are shooting. Many believe if they want to keep their bow steady, they need to grip it tightly. The truth is the tighter the grip on the bow, the greater chance there is of making a bad shot. Why? Because when the bow is tightly gripped, we often move our bow arm upon the release of the arrow. The lack of follow through results in not hitting the mark. A relaxed grip often results in hitting the mark. When the bow arm is relaxed and you aim and shoot, the bow doesn’t jerk or move around much. It basically stays in about the same place as when you shot. Relaxed form and shooting is how the professionals shoot.

To shoot with a relaxed bow hand, you need a wrist sling. A wrist sling helps support the bow and keep your hand where it needs to be to make a good shot. Pine Ridge Archery offers a wide variety of wrist slings including the Nitro Wrist Sling and the Kwik Sling. When adjusting your sling, make sure it is snug around your wrist so it can help support the bow when you are shooting so a good shot is made. A simple wrist sling can really help shrink arrow groups at short distances and extreme distances.

When talking about shooting with a relaxed bow hand, it is also important to discuss your trigger hand. Many bowhunters, especially when in high pressure situations, tend to jerk the release and punch the trigger when shooting. This can result in a loss of accuracy. Any retired military sniper will tell you that if you want to hit the mark every time, you have to gently squeeze the trigger, not punch it. When choosing a release, make sure you buy one that has an adjustable trigger so it can be adjusted to be a smooth trigger that doesn’t take much pull to go off. Teach yourself to slowly squeeze the trigger. When the arrow gets released, it should be a surprise. In order for it to be a surprise, you need to learn to slowly pull the trigger.

Learning how to relax the trigger hand and the bow hand when shooting can greatly shrink your arrow groups.
BY TRACY BREEN
About the author: Tracy Breen is a full time outdoor writer, consultant and game dinner speaker who often discuss how he overcomes cerebral palsy. Learn more about him at www.tracybreen.com

BIG THINGS COME IN SMALL PACKAGES

If you are into long range shooting one way to ensure you can split hairs at 60 yards and beyond is to shoot an arrow equipped with Nitro Vanes and a compact broadhead. A small broadhead coupled with a Nitro Vane is a deadly combination that can put more meat in the freezer and antlers on the wall. below are a few of the compact broadheads on the market that fly great and bring down bucks quickly.

FALL TURKEY HUNTING WITH STICK AND STRING

When people think about hunting turkeys, most people think about hunting them in the spring. If you are a hardcore bowhunter, you should also think about hunting them in the fall. There are a many reasons to hunt them in the fall. For starters, very few hunters hunt deer all day.

SUBURBIA MONSTERS - A BOWHUNTER'S DREAM


 When most bowhunters dream of big bucks, they think of hunting on some large track of land in Illinois, Kansas or Iowa. Those places produce monster bucks every year but they are not the only place to find a big buck. In fact, more and more large bucks are being found on small parcels of woods tucked in behind a subdivision or next to a shopping mall than ever before.

Finding big bucks on a small parcel of land isn’t rocket science but the truth is it requires a lot of hard work, just like killing big bucks on large parcels is a lot of work. Suburbia bucks beat to a different drum than big woods bucks. One guy who knows more about suburbia bucks than most is Steve Esker from Ohio. Esker has been featured in many magazines because he killed a 216-inch buck on a small parcel back in 2009. Since he killed that buck, he has tagged several big bucks... one with a higher score than the 2009 buck. Esker has killed over a dozen bucks that score more that 150 and most of them have been killed in suburbia, not on a large farm somewhere. “Killing big bucks on small parcels of land can be done, but it requires a lot of work,” Esker said. “What I have discovered over the years is just because a buck lived near a housing development does not mean that he is trapped. I have scouting camera pictures of a monster buck one night on a small parcel of land and a picture of the same buck a few days later several miles away. Suburbia bucks can cover a lot of ground just like big woods bucks.” One of the differences between the two bucks is many of the suburbia bucks live to a ripe old age so they sport large racks.

Killing suburbia bucks starts with having permission to hunt private land. “I recently killed a buck on 2-1/2 acres that scored over 170,” Esker said. “I get permission to hunt these small pieces of land by knocking on a lot of doors and asking for permission. Many people say no at first,but over time say yes. I always look professional when I ask for permission and am very polite. I have asked permission on the same piece of land three times before getting permission but eventually many people eventually say yes because I am always polite and never look like I just crawled out from under a car.”

Esker has dozens of small parcels that he hunts on; many of them are ten or twenty acres. Some are larger; some smaller. His key to finding the needle in the hay stack on those pieces of land is scouting cameras. “I hang many scouting cameras to try to pattern suburbia bucks. Most suburbia bucks spend the daylight hours bedded down and spend the few of daylight hours they are up and moving transitioning between feeding areas and bedding areas. I try to locate these transition areas where they travel. I try to find where bucks live and bed,” Esker explained. In 2010, Esker found a 217-7/8” buck living in a 30-acre tree nursery that had been abandoned. The buck would rarely leave the overgrown nursery during daylight hours. Esker had scouting camera pics that showed the buck repeatedly in the same area. “Because this buck never left the overgrown trees during daylight, I had to figure out a way to kill him in the nursery. It was really tough because there weren’t many big trees to hang a stand. The trees were all overgrown so I had to crawl in to hunt the area. I ended up putting my treestand in a young oak 15 feet off the ground. I eventually killed that buck.” The buck spent most of his life in the nursery that had housing developments around it.

Another thing Esker has noticed when hunting suburbia deer is that they can tell the difference between a person mowing the grass and a hunter. “These bucks are acclimated to hearing, seeing and smelling people but they get edgy, just like any other deer when they feel hunting pressure.” Esker said. “Deer will be bedded down and watch a person blowing leaves or mowing the lawn a short distance away and not have a problem with it but the moment a guy in camo comes walking into the woods, they leave. I have entered the woods with a leaf blower in my hand just to outsmart deer before. Suburbia bucks are smart; just like bucks that live in large sections of woods.”

You might think that suburbia bucks don’t care about human odor because they smell it all the time, but that is not the case at all. “I always hunt the wind. The deer really get spooky when they come in to a setup and smell human odor.” Just like when hunting big woods, Esker says the more hunting locations you have, the better so you have several backup plans. When looking for a new hunting location, Esker leaves no stone unturned and has learned over the years a monster buck can live almost anywhere. “There is one spot my brother and I hunt that the land owner has a gazebo that the deer are comfortable with. We actually put a popup blind right in the middle of the gazebo and hunt. We have killed a lot of deer out of that blind.”

The best time to kill a suburbia buck is between the middle of October to the first week of November. “I have the best of luck around the middle of October through the beginning of November because that is when the bucks are starting to move around during daylight.” Esker has also killed bucks early in the season. “Early in the season can be good as well because the bucks still have a pattern but many of these bucks only move first thing in the morning and just before dark in the evening. I like to hunt when the bucks start thinking about the does. To be successful, I must do everything right from worry about scent to hanging my stand in the right location. Every little detail must be thought out.”

One thing is certain: getting permission to hunt farms and large parcels of ground is getting extremely difficult. If you want to tag a big buck but don’t have deep pockets, consider hunting in suburbia. Like Esker says, it isn’t a cake walk but with a little hard work, you might kill a monster right behind the sand box.
BY TRACY BREEN
About the author: Tracy Breen is a full time outdoor writer, consultant and game dinner speaker who often discuss how he overcomes cerebral palsy. Learn more about him at www.tracybreen.com