Chris Ellis: Getting prepared for archery season
With archery seasons starting in West Virginia next month, my backyard has been the local hangout for young bowhunters and my son practicing shooting their bows. I love the energy and anticipation toward the archery opener seen through the eyes of youth.
With each and every arrow released, their confidence and readiness for the moment of truth grows stronger.
If you are like me, archery season can sneak up on you. Growing up with the season opening in mid-October, it can still take some time to adjust to a September start date. Old habits die hard.
Whether you’re an avid archer or a first timer to the sport, I offer the following as a resource in grand anticipation of the archery opener.
Pre-Archery Season Checklist
1. Rekindle relationships with landowners. It’s never too early to obtain written permission for this year’s season. Remember, the early bird gets the worm or in this case, keys to the gate. Often times the difference between the buck of a lifetime and a scrub is hunting where they live. A couple hours of homework now can really pay off later.
2. Get out and scout. Look at topo maps for natural funnels, bedding/feeding areas and travel routes. Locate mass trees and areas deer are traveling between food and bedding areas. A picture says a thousand words and aerial photos are readily available on the web. Trail cameras come in handy and can save you a bunch of time and energy during the scouting process. Plus the trail cam technology has evolved into some truly remarkable cameras at just about every price point.
3. Inspect your bow and have it tuned. Replace frayed strings, silencers and realign peep sight. Strings stretch and wear out so visit your local archery counter and get a tune up. Trust me, its money well spent and finding a good bow shop technician is priceless.
4. Perfect a pre-shot ritual through practice. Field points are fine for tuning and the initial sighting-in process. Shoot practice broadheads and number the arrows. Putting the best fliers in your hunting quiver will greatly increase your odds when the shot matters. Buy your broadheads now to avoid not being able to find the ones you want to use this fall.
5. Practice like it is game day. We don’t hunt in shorts and flip flops, so why practice that way? We all know it is hot, but practice the same way you are going to play. If you prefer hunting from elevated platforms, hang a stand in your yard the same height as your tree stand.
6. Inspect both permanent and portable treestands. Examine the overall condition of the structure, nails, and bolts of your treestand. Make sure everything is secure and quiet.
7. Purchase necessary licenses and tags. Don’t wait until the last minute like you do every year.
8. Buy a good pair of binoculars. A “must have” piece of hunting gear. I won’t leave home without them. By routinely using them while on stand you will become a better hunter.
9. Take a kid or someone new to the sport hunting. Open a door behind you for the next generation of hunters and shooters. It is time well spent and can perhaps be the most rewarding days afield this season.
I hope this helps you get ready for the upcoming archery seasons and adds to your enjoyment afield. May the sun be at your back and the wind in your face. Shoot straight. West Virginia archery season for deer, boar and bear opens Sept. 29. Check the WVDNR regulations for more details.
Chris Ellis of Fayetteville, W.Va., an outdoorsman and Marshall University graduate, is owner of Ellis Communications, a public relations agency serving the outdoor industry. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.