4 tips for a fruitful, safe bow hunting season
You don't want to find out that your deer stand is broken or missing parts while you’re sitting in it
Editor's Note: The following column is part of our new TacticaList series, a collection of expert columns and features on all things tactical — from fishing and hunting to camping and shooting. These columns are featured in our monthly TacticaList newsletter. Check out our most recent issue and let us know what you think! Click here to subscribe to the TacticaList.
By Bradley Routh
The season is almost upon us. No, I'm not talking about the holidays, I'm talking about bow season. Here in Missouri, bow season starts on September 15 and it has been a long awaited event that’s taken plenty of preparation.
In July, I wrote about step one of successful hunting: the yearlong process of scouting. Step two is ensuring that you and your gear are ready for the season.
1. Maintain your plots and equipment
We have been checking game cameras all spring and summer, keeping and inventory of the deer in our area. We have been able to do this by attracting deer into places we plan to hunt. But it has taken hard work and a lot of effort to make those places attractive to deer. We put in strategically-placed food plots and well thought out mineral sites and have captured some great photos of potential shooters this fall. Without all this hard work, it would be just a guessing game at what’s in our area.
Even though we have brought and hopefully kept the deer in our hunting spots, that is no guarantee we will be able to harvest one when the opportunity arises. That’s why it is essential to check and double check your hunting equipment. Most people never touch their bows or equipment after they put them away at the end of the season. That is a mistake that can rob you of a potential harvest the next season. You need to have those bows out and shoot them on a regular basis to make sure they are functioning properly and make sure you are still placing your arrows in their desired spot.
2. Exercise to avoid injury
It’s a terrible feeling to attempt to pull your bow back and find out you either don’t have the strength to do it or you injure yourself trying.
At least one month before season I like to start working those shoulder and arm muscles, getting them ready for that once-in-a-lifetime shot. I also begin to walk and prepare my lungs for those hikes to my deer stands or if I have to drag one out of the woods. A little exercise now means fewer injuries in the field.
3. Inspect your deer stands and blinds
You don't want to find out that your deer stand is broken or missing parts while you’re sitting in it. Before taking your stand and/or blinds to the woods, take them out and examine them for missing screws or broke welds so you can make the appropriate repairs or replace them entirely.
Also, make sure they aren't making any noises that could spook game. Oil all the moving parts and make sure they work like they should.
4. Bring a safety harness
Okay, we have pulled our bows and equipment out of the closet and begun to practice. We’ve been strengthening up and are ready for the physical trials that come with hunting, as well as made sure our deer stands are in perfect working order.
Another safety concern that people don't always think about is once they are in the stand, what will keep them from falling out? I am a huge advocate of safety harnesses. It doesn't matter if you’re ten feet up a tree or 20, a fall can cause serious injury and ruin your hunting season — or worse. I've heard it said that harnesses are cumbersome and get in the way, but I've been using one for many years and while they’re sometimes annoying, I won't climb up a tree without one. It's not worth making this season your last season.
These are just a few of the safety concerns that, in my opinion, are not up for discussion. You will have a better season knowing you are safe and your equipment is in top working order. So go out and enjoy the outdoors and happy hunting.
Bradley Routh is the founder and host of the Missouri-based television show Full Draw Madness TV. Although he hunts using many different styles, bow hunting is his area of expertise. He has been hunting for 30 years with many successful hunts under his belt. Bradley writes hunting articles for two Missouri newspapers and a national Midwest hunting magazine.