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Welcome to the 3Rivers Archer's Den

Archer's Den

Welcome to the Archer's Den. Here you will find a gathering of traditional archery stories, tips and techniques, trophy animals taken with traditional bows, and plenty more. Stay a while and learn something. We hope you enjoy and even submit a trophy of your own, or leave a comment on a post.

Tag Archives: bow hunting

Up Your Odds on a Guided Hunt

Client of a guided hunt with a beautiful buck Mule Deer

As an outfitter and guide in Colorado I am constantly amazed at how ill prepared some people are that show up at my camp. I once had a client miss an animal with me and then say, “Those broadheads seem to fly different than my field points.” Needless to say, he was ill prepared.

Besides guiding clients myself, I am also occasionally a client at other outfitters camps. I usually go on one or two guided hunts every year. I have had some great hunts and others have been a waste of time, money and in some cases even dangerous. To help avoid a bad experience and to help you up your odds on a guided hunt, I have compiled a list of things I check into before spending my money on a guided hunt.

Are they experienced in guiding Traditional bowhunters?

This is more important than many people realize! A lot of outfitters unfortunately aren’t experienced when it comes to traditional bowhunting.  I have been to places where blinds or treestands were set-up for shots at 30+ yards. It is important to either hunt with outfitters or guides that understand traditional equipment and it’s attributes and limitations or it is our job to explain it to them.

Fred Eichler and client with a beautiful antelope

What is the guide to hunter ratio?

Will it be one on one or will you be sharing your guide with another hunter?  It is worth knowing before you go. If your hunt isn’t a one on one guided hunt and that is what you want, talk to the outfitter. Some outfitters will offer a one on one ratio for a higher fee.

How much will I spend including licenses?

Make sure there are no hidden costs. Request in writing, a list of all costs including license fees or additional transportation costs. Is food and lodging included and is there a trophy or kill fee? These are all important questions.

How many days is the hunt?

Does that include travel days? Most guided hunts average 5 to 7 days, however, they all vary. Be sure you are happy with the number of days versus what you will be paying. If you want a longer hunt, some outfitters will allow hunters to extend their trip on a pay per day basis. This is always important to me since I have already invested my money and time getting to camp, one or two extra days may be all I need to get a shot opportunity. Remember things like weather can also knock a few days off of a hunt in a hurry. Bring this up ahead of time. It may save your trip.

Gorgeous buck with a happy bowhunter.

How physical is the hunt?

Obviously, physical ability varies from person to person as do the requirements of different hunts and terrains. A hunter that is totally out of shape can easily walk a hundred yards from a truck to a tree stand, whereas an elk or lion hunt will demand a totally different set of requirements. How much walking will we be doing on average?

How much stand hunting? Will we be using horses? Make sure you can do what may be required.

What percentage of bow hunters harvest their intended species? And how many have opportunities?

Ask for specific numbers. How many bow hunters did you take last year for elk? Out of those, how many harvested elk? How many had shot opportunities? In fairness to the outfitter, I like to ask about shot opportunities, not necessarily numbers harvested. Also bear in mind that sometimes a low success rate may be due to bad weather, inexperienced or out of shape hunters. Try to feel the guide or outfitter out so you understand why the success rate is high or low.

Can you send me references?

Most outfitters have a prepared reference list. Of course, most reference lists are filled with hunters that harvested animals. Ask for a list of specific references and, if possible, for hunters in your state that have hunted with the outfitter. Be sure to ask for bow hunting references that hunted the same area you will be in, or that at least hunted the same species you are planning to hunt. Talking to other bow hunters can often give you a good feel of what to expect from terrain to guides. Also, ask for references of hunters who were not successful. Sometimes your best information will come from these guys.

Does the Outfitter have any game violations?

A simple call to the area game officer can answer this one. If the game officer advises against the outfitter, I wouldn’t go.

One happy client with a big, beautiful tom turkey

Does the Outfitter hunt private or public land?

Some pubic land areas are great, and others are crowded with public hunters. Find out about where you will be or how many other people you will likely encounter. Most outfitters will charge more to hunt private ranches. Just be sure to ask how much land they have available to hunt on. If its 5 acres and 7 people will be hunting it, it may not be such a great deal. Usually an outfitter will charge more to hunt private ranches. I also always ask how much land they have available to hunt on.

What gear or equipment do they recommend that I bring?

Most outfitters will have a list of items they recommend for the hunt you are going on. If they don’t offer one, ask for one.

In general, most of my bad experiences have come from outfitters I have not communicated with enough. I have also had some tremendous experiences with outfitters that will provide me with fond memories for the rest of my life. And while some of these great memories include harvesting an animal many of them did not.

My next column will be about how to be a good client for an outfitter. Your honesty makes a difference!

As always… Have Fun, Fred

By: Fred Eichler
Everything Eichler

Take a Kid Hunting

There was never a point in my life where I thought, “When I have a baby I’m going to take them hunting with me before they can even walk.” But that’s sort of what happened.

When I got pregnant I assumed I would be able to leave Isabella with my husband while I hunted. As it turned out, my husband’s schedule wasn’t ideal and I had two choices. I could either: 

1) stay in the house with Isabella and not hunt,

Or

2) take Isabella with me.

Beka and Isabella walking the trail

I was extremely nervous the first few hunts…you really have to pack and prepare carefully with a little one. But, our hunts went far better than I expected. My daughter just turned a year old and is my favorite hunting buddy.

I get a lot of questions on social media on taking a baby/kid outdoors. I’m going to share my best tips here. All of this can apply to taking your child hunting, fishing, or simply hiking in the outdoors.

Garris Family out and about

1. Plan ahead. This is definitely BIG. Does your kid wake up early? Nap several times a day? Hunt around their schedules. Morning hunts worked far better for me than evening hunts as my daughter liked to be in bed by a certain time and would get fussy in the evening.

Beka and Isabella all wrapped up

2. Clothing. Make sure your kid is comfortable. If it’s cold, invest in quality cold weather gear and pay attention to hands, feet and face as they will get cold first. Pack an extra blanket and layers and make use of hot hands. If it’s hot out make sure they’re in lightweight cool clothing and stay hydrated.  Babies in particular can’t regulate their body temperature as well as we can so I chose to hunt mild temperatures and nothing extreme.

3. Bug spray/Sunscreen. Yes, so far everything seems like common sense I know! Keep in mind that a lot of bug spray and sunscreen isn’t safe for young children and babies and you’ll want to use something natural without harmful chemicals. I used Bug Off spray with good results, and there are several great brands of baby sunscreen if you’re going to be in the sun. Hearing protection is also another option to have if you are planning on loudly calling (elk, turkey etc) and don’t want to wake up your child if they’re napping.

Isabella riding in a carrier with Beka shooting her recurve bow

4. Pack/Carrier. Isabella was only a few months old when I started taking her on hikes. Since 99% of the places I go aren’t exactly stroller friendly, I opted for baby carriers. If you plan on shooting/hunting you’ll want to get one. For smaller babies you’ll want a soft carrier such as a wrap, sling, or front carrier that supports their head and neck. From roughly 6 months to several years old, a backpack carrier works best. You can shoot with ease while carrying them, which is great. Many of them are pricey but you can find great used backpack carriers online for sale at a fraction of the price. You will want to practice shooting while wearing it, as it does cause you to distribute your weight differently 

6. Snacks/water. This is a big one. For children under a year it can be a little tricky as babies tend to eat A LOT and mostly on demand. You’ll need to bring bottles if appropriate. For older babies and children, bring a variety of quiet snacks and water. I liked to use snacks strategically to keep Isabella quiet when I knew a turkey was close.

7. Diapers and wipes. Self explanatory. You’re going to need them.

8. Toys/Electronics. I brought along some soft (quiet) toys for Isabella to keep her distracted when she got fussy. For older kids you can bring an iPad with games and headphones as a last resort if they get antsy. 

Beka and Isabella on a successful squirrel hunt

9. Blind/No blind. I’ve hunted out of a ground blind as well as spot and stalk hunting with Isabella on my back. Both seemed to work well, just do what is best for you. There is really no wrong answer. There is really no exact science to taking a kid along on your adventures. Stay flexible and remember you want them to enjoy the experience as well. You’re never too young to get out and enjoy the woods.

By Beka Garris
Follow Beka on Instagram

6 Steps for Pre-Season Prep

At the time of writing this, deer season is just days away here in Ohio, and I’ve been running down a mental checklist in my head of all the things I need to do and have ready for opening day.

I’ve always been a very prepared person, so these things are just something I do every year, and I think it’s something every hunter should do.

1. Practice. This is something that should be a given, but you’d be surprised how many people will pick up their bow for the first time in months, on opening day, and expect to be shooting perfectly. Even if it’s just a few arrows a day, practice is something every hunter should be doing. As a traditional hunter, it should be something that you do year round.

Bear Kodiak Recurve with Bear Bow Quiver

2. Bow Maintenance. This is something that needs to be given a once over every year, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have to change anything. Check your bow string and make sure it doesn’t need to be replaced (once a year is roughly the life of a string depending on how often you shoot). Check your hunting arrows for any any cracks and make sure they don’t need to be refletched. If you are shooting feathers in particular, this can be the case. 

Beka Garris Woodsman Broadheads

If you’re reusing your broadheads, make sure they are sharp. It’s easy enough to sharpen fixed blades and a dull broadhead isn’t doing you any favors.

Knowing your bow and accessories are in working order will ensure you can rely on it performing well when it comes down to it. 

Beka Garris Hunting Pack and Hunting Buddy

3. Organizing your pack.  I like to leave the basics in my pack every year (binoculars, arm guard, extra shooting glove, knife, waterproof box) and add whatever I’ll need for hunting that particular game when the time comes. For deer I’ll add a grunt tube, face mask, snacks, water and usually an extra layer of clothing. I like organizing everything so I know exactly what I have and where it is when I need it.

Hunting Blind Prep for Season

4. Scouting and Stand Prep. Most hunters have their spots picked out far in advance, and many sit the same spot every year with success. If you are going to use a treestand, make sure you don’t need to replace any cables or straps. If you’re hunting from a blind and setting it up in advance, make sure you have your chair setup and all crunchy grass and leaves removed from the floor in the blind. Also, do a wasp nest check before opening day. Trust me on this one…you don’t want to be sharing your blind with a dozen wasps when the sun comes up. 

Beka Garris Prepping her Hunting Blind

Check shooting lanes and then check again. Trim anything that could even remotely prevent you from getting your shot.

5. Wash your camo. It seems this varies from hunter to hunter… Some hunters like to wash their clothes in scent free detergent and store them in tubs. Others like to air them outside and spray down with scent killer. Whatever you do, make sure it’s done before opening day!

Beka using the slow cooker for dinner prep

6. House and Food prep. This one may sound a bit out of the ordinary on this list, but in truth it is extremely helpful. Especially if you’re planning on being away from home for long periods of time, it’s nice to have things prepped. No one likes to clean their house, but organizing and cleaning your house before hunting season just means you won’t have to worry about it during hunting season. Planning easy meals and making them ahead of time to stick in the freezer has been a game changer…meal prep and throw something in the crock pot before you leave in the morning. When you come home at night you’ll have a hot meal without having to actually cook. 

By Beka Garris
Follow Beka on Instagram

Turkey Hunting Gear for the Traditional Bowhunter

As the snow melts away, my mind starts to turn towards turkey hunting with traditional archery equipment. Now is the best time to make sure you have all your gear ready for hunting turkeys. When the first day of turkey hunting arrives you need to have confidence that your gear performs when you get within bow distance of a strutting tom turkey.

Shred Head Turkey Broadhead by Dirt Nap
Dirt Nap Shred Head Turkey Broadhead

Zwickey Broadhead Stopper with broadhead attached to arrow
Zwickey Scorpios Broadhead Stoppers

Turkey Broadheads:

The number one thing I hear bowhunters talking about is finding the right broadhead for turkey hunting. The wing of a wild turkey is difficult to penetrate and does a good job protecting the vitals, which is why I like a cut-on contact type broadhead. I want the broadhead to penetrate, but not pass through. Dirt Nap has a turkey broadhead called the Shred Head which does just that, it penetrates well, but the separated edges limits how far the broadhead actually goes inside the bird.

If you are happy with the way your current broadheads perform and just looking for a way to slow the arrow down, you might want to consider using Zwickey Scorpios Broadhead Stoppers. These are placed directly behind the broadhead. After the broadhead hits the target, they slide back to the end of the shaft,  slowing penetration down. They work really well and are a great option to consider.

Jake decoy from Montana Decoy Purr-Fect Pair (Jake shown)
Montana Decoy Purr-Fect Pair Turkey Decoys

Fanatic XL Turkey Reaping Decoy by Montana Decoy
Fanatic XL Turkey Reaping Decoy

Turkey Decoys:

I have found decoys to be very effective for getting toms within bow shooting range. Although I hate carrying the big bulky decoys around with me while I’m turkey hunting. Montana Decoys offer a couple of great solutions.

I generally set up a blind and wait for the turkeys to come in on their own and this is where I prefer the Montana Decoy Purr-Fect Pair Turkey Decoys. These decoys fold up small enough to fit into a pack, are easy to setup, and have a very realistic look about them. Setting up the jake and hen pair really drives a boss tom crazy and almost always seems to bring him in. The other great thing about this setup is the fact that the tom is focusing on the decoys, not you. It makes it much easier to draw a bow back and avoid detection with this system.

When the hunting is slow and you want to be more active searching out the toms, the Fanatic XL Turkey Reaping Decoy is the decoy to have. This large decoy helps conceal the hunter while allowing freedom of movement to shorten the range when you start stalking turkeys that are out of range. The mesh window keeps the hunter behind the decoy, yet still be able to see in front. It also has both the front and rear image of an actual wild turkey to further enhance toms.

String tracker mounted to longbow
Leather String Tracker

String Tracker:

Another thing about turkeys is that they typically don’t leave much of a blood trail. A string tracker can make a short job out of what would be a long trail. The Leather String Tracker works by attaching a small spool of string to the riser of your bow. The string is then tied to the front of the arrow. After the release of an arrow, the string starts unwinding from the spool. From there, it’s just a matter of following the string to your turkey.

Turkey Targets:

Wild turkeys can be surprisingly difficult to bring down. Many bowhunters misjudge the small vital locations on turkeys and learning proper shot placement is important. One of the best ways to learn is shooting targets.

Camo Chair for hunting blind
Portable Swivel Chair

Pruning Shears for hunting
Ratchet Shears

Camouflage face-mask for turkey hunting
3D Camo FaceMask

Ben's 100 Deet Tick and Insect Repellent
Ben’s 100 Deet Max

Other Turkey Necessities:

For turkey hunting, you’ll find a wide variety of needs that can help you become more successful. A wild turkey has great eyesight that can easily spot movement. So it’s crucial to remain still while hunting out of a blind. For me, that means I have to be comfortable to keep from fidgeting. I almost always carry a chair with me when I’m turkey hunting. The Redneck Portable Hunting Blind Chair does a good job and works well on uneven ground as the legs are adjustable. It’s easy to carry and the seat swivels allowing you to turn without a lot of movement.

One thing that is an absolute must for me when turkey hunting is to use some type of tick repellant. While mosquitos are bad enough, ticks can carry Lyme disease that can cause serious health issues. Ben’s 100 Deet is what I like to use and have found that it works well on keeping these insects away.

A facemask is another item I always keep in my pack. QuietWear makes a 3D Grassy Camo Facemask that does an awesome job. It’s made like in a ghillie-like style that really blends in and well worth the price.

I also like to carry a set of ratchet shears with me. I use them for numerous situations, but mostly for clearing out places where I’m going to make a ground blind and shooting lanes. They don’t weigh a lot and come in handy so often that it’s another item I always carry with me.

One last thing I keep in my pack is some camo rope. Obviously, it comes in handy for so many numerous things. I find myself using it not only for tying down blinds, but also to help haul my turkey out of the woods. I tie a loop with a slip knot and slide the turkey’s legs through it beneath the spurs, and then I tie a stick around the other end for a handle. This makes it easy to sling the turkey around my shoulder using the stick as a handle.

Now that the weather is starting to break, it’s time to start getting ready for turkey hunting. Getting a turkey with a traditional bow can be difficult, but a very rewarding experience for those that put in the time and effort to be successful.

By R. Strong

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5 Tips for Bow Hunting the Rut

by Denny Sturgis Jr.

Implementing these five tips into your rut hunting game plan could tip the odds in your favor this season.

Denny Sturgis Jr with a Beautiful Buck

When the rut approaches, numerous things are changing in the whitetail world. Priorities change for most bucks. Food and security slide down the list to make room for propagation and buck movement increases dramatically. Crops are being harvested in agricultural areas and leaves are dropping reducing available cover. Temperatures are falling and many food sources begin shifting also. As hunters, we need to adapt our thinking for these changes.

#1 THINK LIKE A BIRD DOG

When bird dogs encounter a large strip of cover to search out for game they don’t have to cover every inch. They can simply cruise on the downwind side of the cover Bowhunter using the 'Bird Dog' method and effectively search the whole strip with their sense of smell. Bucks in search of receptive does do the same thing. John Hale, a noted hunter of big bucks with traditional equipment, shared this with me back in 1991. I was hunting down in Illinois when we met to have dinner one night during the rut. The bucks were constantly harassing the local does. The does were sneaking around with their tails clamped down tight and bedding in the thickest cover to avoid the aggressive bucks. John was easing into the downwind side of the thickest bedding areas he knew of and climbing into a treestand on or just inside the area he figured a buck would walk through. He didn’t even place his stands that high depending on the cover. He said many times setting his stand at eight feet high was plenty high to go undetected. He reported seeing and passing shots on numerous bucks so far that season and had proven the method numerous times on big bucks over the years. Later in the week on that same hunt I used John’s advice to collect my first Pope and Young buck. I placed my stand fifteen yards in the off the downwind edge of a thick, brushy hollow choked with honeysuckle. Sitting in the stand since first light I’d passed on shots at several smaller bucks. At 2:15 pm a bigger buck popped up out of the hollow chasing a doe and hesitated within easy range allowing me to shoot.

#2 HOT WEATHER RUT? – WATER

Whitetail does drinking water during the Rut When temperatures rise during the whitetail rut it seems to shut down a lot of the normal increased movement. The rut will carry on though because fawns are still born the same time every spring. Since I started hunting water sources, I no longer dread heat waves during the rut. In fact some of my hunting buddies and I use it to our advantage. We’ve had nice bucks drink in the morning before going to their day beds and also come in the first thing after rising in the afternoon. Does need water also and can attract bucks in during the rut. I was sitting all day in a large woods during a hot spell years ago. At high noon, a huge buck appeared from a draw and plodded over to a tiny pot hole in the woods with his mouth hanging open. He tanked up like a camel and sauntered back into the draw he came from.

I’ve had good luck hunting over small water holes and ponds. The banks and mud are easy to check for tracks and figure out how to set up. Other areas are more difficult to figure out. Nick Niblock with big buckOne area I used to hunt had multiple swamps. At times they all had standing water in them. While the deer could drink anywhere, they had a couple preferred spots where they watered. Both were located on outside corners of the swamps. I’m not sure why they preferred these spots, but I know on warm days in November they are great treestand or blind locations. I’ve also noticed dried up drainage ditches and creeks will sometimes have pools of water left behind in low spots that can become prime water sources.

Rich Niblock, is one of my hunting pals from Michigan. He has killed several of his best bucks over water. One of the farms he hunts has a beautiful, flowing stream snaking through it. While deer do drink from it, he says they prefer a stagnant pool on the edge of a marsh that was dug out decades ago for some reason.

#3 HUNT THE DOES

'The Gauntlet' hunting the rutI’ve had some early season spots that are doe and yearling paradise. We seldom see any bucks in these areas early. When the rut starts though buck sign appears seemingly overnight. My wife and I hunt a quarter mile strip of trees that we call the gauntlet. It’s normal to have three to five groups of does filter past early in the season. When the rut comes, buck rubs and scrapes appear and bucks seem to wait in ambush for the does the run the “gauntlet.” Remember the doe spots you find early and check them when the rut comes. If the does are still there chances are they will have male company.

#4 KEEP SHOOTING SHARP

Zwickey Judo small game point
Zwickey Judo screw-in point

The rut can be a challenging time for most bowhunters. We want to spend as much time in the woods as possible, but with all the other obligations in life it can be frustrating at times. I think it’s important to keep in top shooting shape; especially during the rut. This is the time of year that most of us practiced all summer for. I carry a hammer or judo tipped arrow and try to get in a few practice shots at the truck or walking in and out. I also have a bag target in my garage. I can only get a five or six yard shot, but I think it helps to stay focused, keep shooting muscles toned and also lets me check to make sure gloves and heavier clothes aren’t going to alter my shot.

 

#5 HUNT WITH YOUR EARS

During the rut, your ears can be a great aid to your hunting. Most of us hear buck grunts, fighting, wheezing and chasing. Grunting or wheezing back can sometimes provide positive results. Some of the areas I’ve hunted are super thick. I’ve had good luck moving to the chase/grunting areas undetected and climbing a stand (if available) or setting up on the ground. I’ll often use the sounds I heard in the morning to select an afternoon stand location.

Dale Karch with big non-typical whitetail buckThe best example I can think of for using your ears to hunt was experienced by my friend, Dale Karch. Dale and his wife, Sandie, own 3Rivers Archery. He was invited by True Flight Feathers to hunt their property in Iowa for whitetails. One morning in November, Dale positioned himself in a ten foot high ladder stand 10 yards inside the edge of woods that necks down between a creek and a high weed, CRP field. He heard a deep grunt resembling a hog when he entered in the dark. Around 9:00 he heard a grunt again. It sounded close, but scanning and glassing the area provided no clues. A lone doe walked between the CRP field and his ladder stand a short time later. Dale said the doe was staring at a clump of brush about fifty yards away from the ladder stand. She walked closer with her ears rotated forward and bobbing her head up and down focused on the brush. Dale figured the grunts were coming from there. The doe wandered off finally around 10:00 and Dale quietly climbed down and stalked the brush pile. Upon arrival, he found nothing and glanced around puzzled. Twenty-five yards away he noticed a crab-claw antler tine sticking up out of the CRP grass in a slight gulley. He nocked an arrow and crept closer. A big non-typical buck was bedded, facing away on a narrow ledge cut into the bank of the gulley. Dale eased into less than twenty feet, rose up and delivered a Woodsman broadhead into the vitals. On impact, the buck jumped up and into the bottom of the five foot deep gulley where he mired into two feet of mud and expired right there.

GOOD LUCK THIS RUT!

There are no guarantees in hunting, but here’s hoping that following these five rut hunting tips help you with arrowing a trophy buck. Be sure to share in the comments below any tips you have and email in any success you have this deer season.

How to Layer Hunting Clothes for All-Day Comfort

When you layer hunting clothes you control your core temperature in any weather

This story has been re-published with the permission of Core4Element. The link to the original story is no longer available.

One of the most important things a hunter must consider before going out into the field is choosing the best hunting clothing for the conditions. But even the best gear is useless without knowing the best way to wear it. The Core4Element line of hunting clothes is designed to be used as a system of three layers: a base layer, a mid-layer, and an outer layer. Dressing in layers like this allows you to control your core temperature in any weather, which helps you stay focused on the hunt instead of your clothes.

Layering allows you to prepare for all weather extremes, but there is a right way to do it. The first thing you need to keep in mind when creating your layering system is to abandon the thought of wearing cotton on your hunt. Cotton is a light fabric, yes, but it also traps moisture and chafes after wearing it for a long time. These are not ideal conditions for anyone, especially hunters competing with the elements for long periods of time.

Merino Wool Base Layers

Begin your layering system with a base layer. This layer will have direct contact with your skin, so you’ll want to choose something relatively lightweight, breathable and comfortable against your skin. At Core4, we create our base layers with 100% Merino wool, which is soft to the touch, anti-microbial, and has moisture wicking capabilities. Base layers should fit snuggly to make the most use of the wicking technology and allow for other layers to be put on top without bunching up. Depending on the climate of your preferred hunting area, you may want to consider heavier (thicker) or lighter base layers. Since base layers are pretty much impossible to remove once you’re out in the field, do your best to anticipate the weather conditions of your hunting grounds so you can choose the appropriate weight.

Versatile Mid-Layers

Mid-layer hunting clothes allow for a little more versatility than base layers because you can either wear one or several, depending on your comfort level. Mid-layers tend to be looser than base layers, but they do not need to be baggy by any means. The mid-layers are where you really control the body temperature. Adding multiple mid-weight layers for colder temperatures will better protect your from the cold than a heavy, bulky outer layer. Core4Element hunting apparel is tailored to an “athletic fit” to maintain contact with the base layer in order to optimize wicking capabilities. This will keep you warm while still being moisture and odor free. Mid-layers typically have special features to provide maximum comfort and breathability. Core4Element mid-layers often have underarm zippered vents and extra long front zippers for superior ventilation on all-day hunts. Layer the Mid Mountain Vest over the Selway Zip for extra warmth or use the Pivot Shirt as your mid-layer on warmer hunting days.

Protective Outer Layers

The outer layer of a system is going to be the most important layer in terms of protecting against the elements. Whether hunting in rain, wind or snow, Core4 has the high-performance, high-quality gear you need for creating the best final layer to your system. The key to the most effective outer layer is durability. Your pants and jacket need to be able to stand up against tree branches, rocks and whatever else you may encounter in the woods or backcountry. All of our pants and jackets are treated with Durable Water Repellent (DWR) to provide maximum protection against the elements. This is exactly what you want in an outer layer. Pay attention to the weights of the pants and jackets, as some are made for colder conditions than others. Pay close attention to the moisture in the weather. An outer layer protected by a DWR treatment will keep the rain and snow out for a while but if heavy rain or wet snow is in your future you’ll want a fully waterproof outer layer like the C4E Torrent jacket and pants. Torrent is waterproof, breathable, and just as important on the hunt, quiet.

When building your layering system, be sure not to neglect your head, hands and feet. Core4 offers Merino wool or synthetic options to keep you as comfortable as possible on your hunt. Be sure to keep your head covered on bitter hunts, as heat leaves most quickly through the head. Keep extra pairs of wool socks in your pack in case your boots do not protect your feet from water, as they should. Nothing ruins a hunt faster than suffering from soggy socks. Choose a pair of gloves that provides warmth, grip and mobility.

Layering is one of the smartest choices you can make on a hunt. Using the right method, you won’t have to worry about your clothing and comfort for the rest of your hunt, and that’s how it should be. Stay dry, warm and odor free when hunting with the Core4Element layering system. Ready to turn your hunting clothing into a system of specialized gear? Build your system now.

But How do I Bowfish?

Bowfishing from a boat

By Jason D. Mills

You know what bowfishing is, and you’re interested in trying, but you’re still not quite sure how or where to start. Bowfishing is unique in the world of archery in that it can be practiced day or night, on land, while wading in the water, or on a boat.

To get started you’ll need a bow, a recurve is best simply because smaller bows are a bit easier to manage while bowfishing. There is no need for sites because of refraction and because they can’t account for depth. You’ll probably want a bow that shoots 45 pounds or greater in order to have sufficient force.

Bowfishing rig

You will also need a reel and special bowfishing arrows; typically, bowfishing arrows are heavier, use barbed broadhead, don’t have fletchings, and are longer than traditional arrows. They are also attached to a fishing line. On that note, never tie a line to the back of an arrow, it should always be attached to the slide near the front of the arrow. If tied to the back, the line could get tangled in the bowstring, causing the arrow to snap back at you, resulting in facial injuries and even death.

You might also want to bring a pair of hip waders, some gloves, sunglasses (if you’re fishing during the day), sunblock, and a hat. If you’re fishing at night you’ll probably want to bring a decent flashlight or spotlight.

If you have the option, and if you’re shooting from a boat, you’ll probably want to use a flat-bottom vessel, so you can take it into shallower water. Like sport fishing and hunting, individual states regulate bowfishing, so you will probably have to pickup a fishing license.

When you’re bowfishing on fresh water you’ll be looking for fish like carp, eels, suckers, perch, catfish, gars, or even alligators. If you’re saltwater bowfishing you’ll probably target fish like dogfish, sharks, and stingrays. The exact type of fish that you’re allowed to bowhunt legally is regulated by the state, so check on your local regulations.

Something that seems obvious, but should also be mentioned about bowfishing. there is no catch-and-release in this sport. Bowfishing kills the fish.

If you decide to give bowfishing a try, but you don’t have access to a boat, then you’ll be limited to wading or bank bowfishing. You’ll want to do this kind of bowfishing in the spring, while the fish are spawning, before and after the spawn the fish can be harder to find. If you’ll be bowfishing from a bank, you’ll want to target lakes, rivers, and ponds with shore access. If you’ll be wading, you have the option of heading to a marsh with tall grass, where the fish feel safe.

If you’re having trouble narrowing down a good spot for your first bowfishing trip, just give your local DNR fisheries biologist a call and tell them you are looking for heavy concentrations of carp, eels, suckers, perch, catfish, or gars.

If you’ve got a few places in mind, but you’re still not sure about the perfect spot, the most important thing you should consider is the consistency of water depth and overall water clarity – clear water that is between 3-4’ deep is ideal for bowfishing.

Now, if you’re like me you don’t hunt what you won’t eat. That said, many of the fish that you’ll be after (such as carp) can contain contaminants, so it’s a smart idea to contact your local DNR office and ask about fish advisories before heading out.

Refraction

When you finally do get to your fishing spot, the main difficulty that most new bowfishers have is refraction. When light waves pass through water they are deflected, which makes things look like they are where they are not. This is most easily demonstrated using a straw and a glass of water.

Refraction

To compensate for this, you’ll want to aim about 10” below the fish you’re aiming at; keep in mind this is just a general rule of thumb and you should be prepare to miss quite a bit your first time out.

Don’t Leave Your Bow Hanging This Summer!

By Patrick Durkin

Bowfishing has been growing in popularity in recent years as more beginning archers look for fun shooting opportunities for spring and summer. As with almost everything in archery, you can get into bowfishing at nearly any price point you choose.

For basic equipment, some archers simply buy a kit that includes:

One solid-fiberglass fishing arrow

Fishing points

bowfishing reel

Some people who bowfish transfer all the equipment back and forth to their regular hunting bow, or buy a new bow for hunting and put their bowfishing gear on the old bow. Regardless of what you choose to do, our expert techs at 3Rivers Archery can guide you into the right product whether you’re just starting out or looking to upgrade your equipment.

Carp 101

Various species of carp are the most commonly targeted fish. Carp aren’t native to North America. They were brought over from Europe in the 1800s and released across much of the continent.

Because carp are destructive rough fish that reproduce readily almost everywhere they’re found, archers who bowfish typically shoot all they can, often using the fish as fertilizer for gardens and flower beds. Some also are smoked, canned or added to fish stew. About the only requirement is that those who bowfish take home everything they catch.

Bowfishing Is a Good “Next Step” From Recreational Shooting to Bowhunting

Bowfishing provides multiple shooting opportunities. For those archers interested in expanding their interest and archery skill into an outdoor adventure, it’s an ideal stepping-stone between target archery and bowhunting. No two shots are ever the same in bowfishing, and there’s usually much more action than in bowhunting. When bowhunting deer, elk or bears, bowhunters can go weeks – or several hunting seasons – between shots.

It’s also accessible.

Bowfishing can be done from piers, shorelines, and boats. This includes canoes, kayaks, airboats, motorboats, and Jon boats. As paddleboards become increasingly popular across the U.S., bowfishing from paddleboards is also gaining traction, particularly among a younger demographic eager to get outdoors. Several years ago, the Florida-based company, BOTE, partnered with ATA member Realtree, to offer its customers several camo-clad boards.

With bowfishing, you’re seldom restricted to one small area like you are when bowhunting deer from a tree stand or turkeys from a ground blind. If you see carp or gar nearby, you can stalk closer to try intercepting them. Those experiences also help prepare you for stalking or setting up on deer, elk or other game animals.

Gators Too?!

Carp and other rough fish like gar and buffalo make for exciting bowfishing, but perhaps the ultimate in big-game bowfishing is an alligator hunt. States like Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina allow bowfishing for ’gators, but no state offers more alligator tags each year than Florida. This requires specialized equipment, however, so it’s probably best to hire a guide or hunt with an experienced friend before taking on an alligator.

Amy Hatfield contributed to this story.

Tales From the Rut: Spur of The Moment Bowhunting Success

By Patrick Kelly

This story has been republished with the permission of Patrick Kelly, who, at the time of writing this article, was preparing to go on a bear hunt.

I was planning on leaving for my bear hunt early Friday (June 12) morning, but I decided to leave Thursday (June 11) instead, so I could make a stop on the way. I cleared it with my hunting partner, and got off of work around 7:30 p.m. on the 11th, and headed home. After dosing a sick horse with some medicine, I decided to go grab a battery from a light by a feeder, so that I could charge it and put it out tomorrow morning before I left, so that, hopefully, it would last through my bear trip.

“No sense in not taking a bow,” I thought to myself. So, I grabbed my Silvertip recurve, and one arrow tipped with a 175 VPA 3-blade broadhead and a lit nock and began the 1/2 mile walk to the feeder.

I got there around 8:30 p.m. and, wouldn’t you know it, there was a hog under the feeder who spotted me and took off – with a raccoon hot on his heels.

“Oh well, nothing ventured, nothing gained,” I thought.

I decided to back off into a small cluster of trees around 90 yards from the feeder and see what happened in the short time until dark. I promised my wife that I would head home by 9:45 p.m. to eat the steak she was cooking.

A little before 9:30 p.m. came around, and I was just getting ready to head out, and I saw a hog sneak out of the drainage to my east and make it’s way to the feeder. I figured it to be around 100 pounds or so.

I was wearing very faded jeans that seemed to glow in the low light, so waited a few minutes for it to get a little darker to make my move. I slowly moved to the west to put the light (a slow glow light, which was already in position) between me and him, and then headed toward the feeder.

The stalk was a little complicated, because between me putting on some weight and my jeans having shrunk some, they actually were squeaking when I walked, and the wind was dead still. I was also wearing a pair of hard sole Wellingtons and the ground had dried out considerable in the last two weeks in which we haven’t had any rain. I actually covered the distances sidestepping as quietly as I could, while holding my pants to keep from squeaking, all the while bearing in mind that a light wind could swirl at any minute and bust me.

I quickly covered the distance, and as I approached the light, I could see the hog, which now looked more like 175 pounds, under the feeder, and a raccoon feeding between him and the light. The light is not even 10 yards from the feeder.

Just before I made it to the light, the raccoon heard my slight noise, which the hog didn’t hear with his corn munching, and stood on it’s hind legs. He couldn’t smell me, and the light was blinding him, but he knew something wasn’t right. He decided to head for the drainage, and I moved a couple steps closer to the light, now only around 8-10 yards from the hog.

I could see him bending at the knees to get under the feeder, and I could see his front leg clearly, but waited a few moments to see if I would get a better shot. He was facing to my right, and he decided to back up to my left and step just away from the feeder. When I saw his front leg clear the feeder, I quickly came to draw and release. The nock lit up, but the hog took off toward the west (my left), banging the arrow off of the feeder legs and breaking the nock. I heard him circle into the brush toward the south and it sounded like thrashing. I thought that he probably was dead, but I texted my wife to tell her I was on my way to get flashlight, and that I had shot a 150-175 pound hog.

I headed home, ate some steak, and went back out with my wife and the dog to make a quick track and get started. Poor blood on the dry ground, but the dog found the hog in a couple of minutes, and I was pleasantly surprised with my very quick glance that the hog would go 225 pounds. I marked the spot, drove my wife back to the house, headed in to town to pick up a couple bags of ice, then came back to start the field dressing. When I got a good look, I was very happy. I didn’t weigh him, but I am sure that he would go 275 pounds. What a chore it was getting him into the truck. I really had to be creative.

I double lunged him, and he went around 50 or 60 yards, but no more. The arrow stopped on the far side of the shield and broke off when he dropped. Dropping this hog off at the butcher for my mother-in-law, but I’m going to really be needing another freezer if my luck holds up on this bear hunt.

Traditional Archery Community Fights Childhood Illness

Above is Edward Seales, one of the auction donors, and his son Asher, who is now deceased. Asher is the reason Edward is participating in the auction . “We don't even understand the disease that killed him. It doesn't have a name, just a location on a chromosome. He may have been the only person to have it,” he said. “We know it has some relation to Marfan syndrome, as it had connective tissue abnormalities, but it was far more severe than anything I have ever experienced.” “I hate to hear ‘I don't know what this disease is.’ I've heard it enough, and nobody could ever figure out my only son. Maybe the money we raise will help one family not go through this.” You can bid on Edward’s donation here.
Above is Edward Seales, one of the auction donors, and his son Asher, who is now deceased. Asher is the reason Edward is participating in the auction. 
“We don’t even understand the disease that killed him. It doesn’t have a name, just a location on a chromosome. He may have been the only person to have it,” he said. “We know it has some relation to Marfan syndrome, as it had connective tissue abnormalities, but it was far more severe than anything I have ever experienced. I hate to hear ‘I don’t know what this disease is.’ I’ve heard it enough, and nobody could ever figure out my only son. Maybe the money we raise will help one family not go through this.”

It’s a fate no parent ever wants to face, but it’s something that tens of thousands of families face each year – serious childhood illness.

Children, often too young to speak, many times cannot express exactly what ails them, which can make diagnosis go from difficult to nearly impossible. This coupled with the high cost of specialty medical care in the United States can make an already stressful situation go from challenging to emotionally crushing.

This is where St. Jude Children’s Hospital tries to help. Despite the more than 65 thousand children they see annually, no family is ever sent a bill and every patient is given top-level care and attention.

This is part of the reason why the administrators at TradGang.com, an online traditional archery forum, decided to hold an annual auction to benefit the children’s hospital. Started in 2004, the members of the forum have raised more than $735 thousand to date.

This year they are hoping to donate at least another $75 thousand more, but Terry Green, a site administrator, explained that the economy isn’t what it was when the annual auction was founded. He said that he isn’t sure if the turnout will be as pronounced this year.

However, he said that, “The kids are sick regardless of the economy” and that they will hold the auction as long as the traditional archery community is willing to give.

So far, this has been a great system and everyone has benefited. However, it takes a massive amount of work.

The auction had such a huge influx of participants the administrators had to setup on a different server. Green explained that between everyone involved there are hundreds of man hours donated before a single item ever gets shipped.

Each year a group of administrators get together and donate their time to run a benefit auction , where 100% of all proceeds are donated directly to St. Jude Children’s Hospital. The members of the forum will donate items to the auction and then other members will bid on those items.

“I had seen it done on another website and a member suggested doing it on TradGang,” said Green, on the initial motivation to have the auction. “Now, we’re one of their biggest annual donors.”

In fact, Doug Campbell, another administrator of the site, visited St. Jude to accept an award on behalf of TradGang, which recognized them as one of the hospitals largest donors. The site even made it onto the hospital’s wall of fame, which proves that even the smallest donation – when combined with the strength of others – can make a huge difference.

Green explained that no one from the site ever touches the money; everything goes directly to St. Jude Children’s hospital.

The auction features everything from custom bows to home made cookies.

“It’s a lot of fun, there’s some bantering that goes back and forth,” Green explained. “We had a lady donate two dozen cookies and one guy bid a pretty large amount and another guy got some buddies together to out bid him.”

Things ended up escalating and the two dozen cookies ended up going for a whopping $6,000. The next year? The same two bidders went at it again and a pound cake went for $7,000.

“Donate whatever you want to donate; we take anything but firearms and ammunition. I’d just like to encourage folks to visit and bid high,” Green said. “One hundred percent goes to the kids.”

By Jason D. Mills

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