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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: DIY

Setting Up a Clicker for Hunting

Denny Sturgis Jr showing a clicker on his hunting recurve bowA clicker, or draw check, makes an audible noise (click) when an archer hits his desired draw length. They are used by almost all Olympic archery shooters to achieve the precision accuracy needed to succeed in that field. They work great as a signal, or trigger, to release the arrow.

I recently decided to use a clicker as a training aid. I needed to get back to the basics of anchoring on every shot instead of short drawing and trying to “sneak up” on it; as my coach Rod Jenkins informed me I was doing. I set a commitment goal of using a clicker religiously for three months. Part of that three month period included spring turkey season though. Which I most certainly was not going to miss.

Styles of Draw Check Clickers
There are several styles of clickers for bows. On the left is one that mounts to the bow’s riser and slides along the arrow. On the right is a style that mounts to the bow limb and attaches to the string.

Clickers are available in several different styles. For hunting, the type that attaches to the string as well as the bow works best with all arrow points including broadheads and blunts. What I used here is the Crick-it Draw Check Clicker. While the light string and adjustable ball chain that comes with clickers works fine on the target range, I felt concern over its longevity in the field and the noise of the click when trying to take a super quiet, close hunting shot.

Jason Wesbrock with whitetail buckI consulted with Jason Wesbrock who has successfully used a clicker for years. Jason is an amazing bowhunter, world champion archer, and star of Masters of the Barebow Vol. 5. I took some tips from Jason and incorporated them into my own experiments and came up with a system that worked well for me on the hunt.

Steps for Setting up a Clicker for Hunting

Step 1 is to disassemble the clickerStep 1: Remove the clicker blade, the piece of metal that makes the noise, from the clicker. For the Crick-it clicker mine required a Phillips screwdriver.

Step 2 for setting up a clicker is removing the metal ball chainStep 2: You want to remove the chain grommet from the clicker blade. It may require a small amount of force, but be gentle.

Step 3 for setting up a clicker is to slide a nylon cord through clicker bladeStep 3:  Slide nylon cord through the hole where the ball chain was. As not all nylon cord is the same diameter, it may require drilling the hole to pull the cord through. You want it to be a tight fit though. 

Step 4 for setting a clicker is to singe the cord in placeStep 4: Using a hand lighter, singe the end of the nylon cord and extinguish it by pushing it straight down into a couple drops of water on a flat, non-combustible surface. This should leave a hard, flat collar on one end of the cord. You can test to see if the end will hold by pulling on the cord to get the blade to make the click sound.

Step 5 for setting up a clicker for hunting is to wrap the blade in tapeStep 5:  To silence your clicker blade you can apply heavy duty outdoor tape to the center of the blade. The more layers you apply, the quieter it will get. It is up to you how much this will be.

Step 6: Reassemble your clicker by screwing the blade back onto the plate in proper position. It is now ready to be installed on your hunting bow.

Step 7: Clean your top bow limb with denatured alcohol and a clean rag several inches below where the string separates from the bow limb. You want the clicker on the top limb so the least amount of nylon cord is used, and it stays out of the brush when moving.

Mounting the clicker to the upper bow limbStep 8: Remove the sticky backing from the clicker and press onto the center of the top bow limb with the string positioned down.

Step 9: Mark the bow string where you would like the clicker nylon string to be located so it resembles the photo.

Step 10: Unstring your bow, divide the bow string strands at the mark and insert the end of the cord through about a half inch.

Step 11: String your bow, and double check brace height and position of the cord. Sometimes the string will twist. If the cord is twisted unstring and remove the cord and insert again from the other side.

Step 12: Once the cord is straight you can adjust the length by pulling it to the correct length to click at the desired draw length. I cut off the extra leaving about ¾” of cord and burn the end (be careful here). On a Flemish twist string the cord will stay in position. On an endless loop type string you may need to serve above and below the cord to maintain position.

For silencing the clicker, I tried a number of different suggestions and ideas and have settled on what I believe is the perfect solution. A piece of Scotch brand outdoor mounting tape stuck to the face of the blade silences the click consistently; the bigger the piece the quieter the click. You can even make it silent if you want and still feel the clicker break in your string hand. I ended up preferring a piece of scotch tape approximately ¼” by ¾”.

Denny Sturgis Jr with jake turkey taken with his bow with a clicker installed

My turkey hunting was very slow that year. When a jake came into my hen calls I decided to take the shot. I hit anchor and pulled while aiming until the muffled click went off and my arrow disappeared in the sweet spot.

I have shot larger toms, but I’ve never been more pumped about making a great shot under pressure and staying on the road to shooting success.

Chase Niblock
Even ‘quick to jump’ African game can be shot with a clicker on your bow… If you have it set up right.
Chase Niblock with BIG buck
Monster deer taken by a bow with a clicker installed.

By Denny Sturgis, Jr.

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.

DIY Traditional Archery Targets

Yellow Jacket Supreme 3 Field Point Archery Target

For the traditional archer, high quality archery targets are awesome, but they can get expensive quick. Personally, I love my Yellow Jacket Supreme, but there are many people who love traditional archery because of the DIY aspect, which seems to accompany the sport. It’s for those reasons that I’ve decided to do a DIY traditional archery target blog.

Note: These DIY projects are meant as traditional archery targets; although they may work, they are not meant for compound or crossbow shooters.

All supplies are not created equal, for this reason I recommend taking a few practice shots at close range at half draw to make sure the target is stopping your arrows. Slowly increase your draw until you’re at full draw at close range. If the target is still doing its job, then feel free to enjoy your new DIY traditional archery target.

The Dressed-Up Bag of Mulch

Difficulty level: 1/10

Cost: Less than $15

Time: About 5 minutes

Morrell Polypropylene Target FacesThe name of the game for this project is “Cheap.” We’re keeping costs down while maintaining functionality. For this project you’ll need a Polypropylene Target Face and a bag of tightly packed mulch or peat moss from your local hardware store. You want the bag of mulch or moss to be at least 12” thick and VERY TIGHTLY PACKED. I prefer moss because it’s less likely to mess-up your arrows. This target is great because any mess that’s created will benefit your lawn, so there’s really no impact on the environment when the target starts to fall apart.

After you’ve got your supplies, simply affix your burlap target face onto the front of the bag of mulch or moss (unopened). You’re done. What’s bad about this target? It’s not going to stand the test of time. So, although it is cheap and easy to make, be prepare for it to break down quickly.

For a more lasting target, you might consider putting your mulch or moss inside of the U-Fill It bag target or, for an even better (self-healing) target, put your bag of moss inside of the Replacement Cover for the Yellow Jacket Supreme. You’ve just made a long-term, outdoor target that is good for your lawn for less than $25.

The Saran Wrap Filled Box

Difficulty level: 1/10

Cost: Less than $10

Time: About 10 minutes

Peel & Stick RealGame® Target Face

If you saw the Dressed-Up Bag of Mulch and thought that the price was still a bit much, then this is the project for you. You’ll need an empty box, a bunch of used plastic wrap (enough to fill the box), some duct tape, and a Peel and Stick Target Face.

Note: If you ask a local business (try a superstore or hardware store) you might be able to get the box and plastic wrap for free, which would really keep the cost down. You could also try factories, as they have a ton of excess plastic wrap from shipments.

The bigger the box, the bigger the target – however, the bigger the box, the more plastic wrap you’ll need.

After you have all of your supplies, stuff the box with the plastic wrap. Stuff it in until it’s impossible to fill it anymore. Just like the Dressed-Up Bag of Mulch, you want this target very tightly packed. After you’re sure it’s packed, close it up and tape it shut with the duct tape. Finally, stick your target face on the box and voila – you’re done.

This project is not only easy, but it can be nearly free for those traditional archers who can easily come by the supplies. However, cardboard will not hold up in the rain (or in any wet conditions) and it will break down quickly if you use it often (as it is not self-healing).

The Compressed Carpet Target

Difficulty level: 3/10

Cost: Less than $50

Time: About 2 hours

Whitetail Deer Paper Archery Target

If you’re a bit more adventurous and you’re not afraid to spend a few extra bucks then this is the target for you. For this project you’ll need to visit your local hardware store and pick up a pressure treated 2x12x8 (should be about $12), four 36” x 5/8” standard threaded rods (about $6 each), eight 5/8” x 1-3/4” zinc-plated standard flat washers (less than $0.20 each), and eight 5/8”- 11 zinc-plated standard hex nuts (less than $0.20 each). You’ll also need a decent target face and some target face pins. Finally, you’re going to need a whole lot of scrap carpet. This is really the biggest variable in price for this whole project. If you’ve got the scrap laying around then you’re going to save yourself a lot of money. However, if you have to buy it, try and find the extra carpet from you local big-box hardware store, you should be able to buy a lot of it for not a lot of money.

For tools, it would be best if you had at least two pipe clamps or some ratchet straps, but if not, then your elbow grease will have to do. You will also need a knife, saw, measuring tape, drill with a 5/8” drill bit, and a 5/8” wrench.

You’ll want to cut your 2x12x8 in half, which will give you two 2x12x4s. Drill a hole in each of the four corners of both boards. You’ll want to make sure each hole is 1” away from the end and side of the board. After you’ve threaded one side of each of your standard rods with a washer and hex nut push each rod through one of the holes on one of your boards (use your measuring tape to make sure the same amount of rod is sticking through each nut).

Now, you will want to cut your carpet in 12”x3’ 10” sections (you’re not cutting them 4’ long because your holes are 1” deep on both sides, which effectively makes your target 2” smaller). After you’ve cut your carpet, start stacking it on top of the board that has the rods threaded through it. Stack it as high as you can – ideally until it’s almost at the top of your rods.

Next, you’re going to put your second board on top of your pile of carpet. Thread the screws through the holes you drilled earlier. Put on the washer and the hex nut – make sure the hex nuts are all finger tight. Gently lay the target on its side and pack it down with your feet to make sure the carpet on one side of the target is flush. Stand the target back up and tighten the boards down with your pipe clamps or ratchet straps. Get them as tight as you can and then re-tighten your hex nuts. If you don’t have pipe clamps or ratchet straps, then you’ll have to tighten the hex nuts with your wrench as much as you can. If needed, you can sit on the target, or apply pressure with your knee to aid in compressing the carpet. After you’ve gotten the hex nuts as tight as they’ll get, use your measuring tape to make sure an equal amount of the rod is coming out of each hole.

Now you’re ready to apply your target face and send some arrows down range. This target is great for those traditional archers who want a target that will last a long time and are determined to make their target themselves.

Clear as mud, right? If you’re having trouble visualizing it, then the below video might help

The Sandbox Archery Target (great for broadheads)

Difficulty level: 5/10

Cost: From $110 (if you use only plywood instead of 2x6s) to $150 (if you use 2x6s)

Time: About 4 hours

Rinehart Woodland Series 3D Targets

So, you want a high-quality target, something that’s going to last a long time AND you want to be able to shoot broadheads into it, but you still want to build it your self –because you’re a masochist.

Although I’m not a masochist, I do love DIY projects and this is one that I think just about anyone can do. What makes it cool is the fact that you can shoot just about anything into it. Yes, that means you can shoot this target with broadheads. However, this is a sand target, which means it can make your broadheads blunt – no problem if you have a few that are for practice anyway or if you know how to sharpen them.

For this project you’ll need a saw, measuring tape, and a drill. You’ll also need to visit your local hardware store and buy six 2x6x8s (about $6 each), one 5 lb. box of 3” screws (about $23), two 4x4x8s (about $10 each), one sheet of 3/4″ pressure treated plywood (about $35), 10 50 lb. bags of all purpose sand (about $3 each).

As this build is a bit more complicated, I’ve made a graphic (above) to help out.

First, cut a 4’x2’ section out of your piece of plywood – this will act as the floor for your new Sandbox Archery Target. If you want to keep costs down, you can cut your plywood into four 4’x2’ sections and use it for the floor and three walls – otherwise, use the remainder of your plywood as a backstop behind your target.

Then, cut one of your 4x4x8s into four sections and screw them onto the bottom of your 4’x2’ piece of plywood 1’ apart from each other. Cut your other 4x4x8 in half and attach it to the other side of your plywood (as shown above).

Next, cut four of your 2x6x8s in half. Cut your remaining two 2x6x8s into four 2’ sections.

If it were me, at this point I would cut two holes in the ply wood, so that you could slide a 2x6x2 down into it – helping hold the sand. Affix the 2x6s together as shown above. Next, simply fill with sand and get shooting.

A good idea would be to staple a rugged outdoor target face to the front of your new Sandbox Archery Target, so you have something to shoot at.

The below video shows what a Sandbox Archery Target should look like after it’s completed:

DIY 3D Style Target

Difficulty level: 8/10

Cost: Less than $20

Time: A weekend

That’s right; I’ve saved the best for last – a DIY 3D style target for less than $20. However, this one is the most time consuming and can be the most technically difficult. Expect this project to take at least one full day if not a weekend. If you value your time, you might want to stick to a traditional 3D archery target. However, if your times not worth that much, or your pretty budget conscious and don’t mind tedious work, this is the project for you.

You’re going to need a sheet of plywood (about $15, but if you want to go all-out get pressure treated plywood for $35), a pencil, tracing paper, a ruler, a computer with a printer, and a jigsaw (if you want it to look a bit more lifelike, then get some paint as well). An old school projector would also be a huge help with this.

First, find a picture of an animal that you would like to turn into a 3D target online. Print the picture, make  sure that it will fit in a 4”x8” box (if you don’t have a printer, use the tracing paper to trace the image one the screen – don’t press too hard, you don’t want to puncture your monitor). Next, use your ruler (or measuring tape) to measure out a 4”x8” box on your tracing paper. Next, make 1” squares in that box, making a grid pattern. Next, lay that tracing paper on top of the picture you printed out earlier. Trace the outline of the animal onto the paper. If you have an old school overhead projector, now would be the time to put your outlined image onto it and project it onto your plywood. If you don’t have a projector, then lightly (using pencil) draw your grid pattern (except instead of 1”x1” squares they will be 1’x1’ squares) onto your plywood and transfer the image onto the plywood that way. After you’ve traced your image onto the plywood it’s time to cut it out using your jigsaw.

Be sure to cut out the vital area of your new target. Place a box target behind the vital area of your target and you’re good to go!

If you opted to buy paint, now would be a good time to paint the target to your liking.

Here is a video that might help explain it:

 For even more great DIY ideas and toturials, check out the book “Bow Accessories” by Volkmar Hubschmann.

By Jason D. Mills

How to Make and Use Eric Krewson’s Tillering Gizmo

Some time ago I wrote an in-depth build-along entitled the “Beginner’s Guide to Building a Hickory Longbow.” Well, in researching how to build a selfbow it is impossible not to hear about Eric Krewson’s tillering gizmo. As such, I felt it would be natural for me to reach out to Eric and see if he’d be okay with me sharing some of his secrets. Not only was he happy to share the information, he generously sent me a tillering gizmo as well.

Tillering Gizmo

This information has been republished with the permission of Mr. Eric Krewson.

By Eric Krewson

Since I made my initial tillering gizmo there has been an input of ideas to make it work better from other bow makers. Consequently, it has evolved into a differently made tool than my original design.

Here is how to make the latest version. I use a drill press, bandsaw, and belt sander (because I have them). This tool can be made out of any scrap wood, holes drilled by hand, out of square and work just fine.

I cut a large downed cedar looking for a bow stave. I may or may not have found a stave, but I definitely found a bunch of beautifully grained gizmo material.

I start by cutting a piece of wood 1″ square and 6″ long. You can make the gizmo longer if you want to, but I have tried a bunch of lengths and always come back to 6″.

Tillering Gizmo

A little sanding to get rid of the saw marks.

Tillering Gizmo

Mark the center of the block lengthwise and center.

Tillering Gizmo

Drill a 5/16″ hole on the center mark.

Tillering Gizmo

Use a 1/2″ Forstner bit to cut a 1/2′ deep hole over the 5/16′ hole you just cut. The Forstner bit cuts a clean hole, but any 1/2″ bit will work just fine.

Tillering Gizmo

Next, mark the ends of the block with a 45-degree angle to shorten side opposite the pencil of the gizmo. This allows one to run the gizmo closer to the tips while tillering.

Tillering Gizmo

Here is and update for a slimmer shape for your gizmo that will go further up the limbs without string interference.

I tap a 5/16″ nut into the 1/2″ hole and seat it all the way down with a piece of dowel.

Tillering Gizmo

Screw a pencil into the nut(I put the pencil in a vise and screw the gizmo on it) and you are ready to tiller. I sand the pencil a little after I cut thread on it so it will screw in and out easily. It only took me 10 minutes to make this tool, start to finish.

With a little Tru-Oil this will be a beautiful little tool, it has a wonderful grain pattern.

Older version:

Tillering Gizmo

Newest version:


After floor tillering your bow, bend the bow slightly on your tillering tree or tillering stick using the long string. Retract the pencil in the Gizmo and run the wood block up the bow’s belly and find the widest gap. Screw the pencil in the block to a point it is almost touching the bow’s belly at the point where you found the widest gap. I change the angle the pencil has been sharpened to a very short angle and sand the tip of the pencil flat for the best results in marking the limb. This lets you work very slight bends.

Tillering Gizmo

Initially, I set my gizmo pencil about 1/8” off the limb for the first few corrections. This course setting will mark only the stiffest spots. If you set the pencil too closely for your first few passes it will mark the whole limb.

Run the Gizmo up the belly making sure it is centered on the limb. The pencil will mark non-bending areas, which need wood removed. Always check the entire limb with the gizmo every time you use it and scrape wood from all the stiff spots at the same time, not one stiff spot at a time. Start on the long string, continue at brace and up to about 20” of draw. You do need to have a way to hold your bow string while you mark the limbs with the Gizmo.

I often set my gizmo for one limb and use this setting on the opposite limb as well. This way you will end up with two closely matched limbs.

I have holes in my tillering tree and insert a 3” piece of dowel in one of the holes to hold the string with the limbs slightly bent while I mark the limbs with the gizmo.

Tillering Gizmo

Go slowly, no more than ten scrapes on the marked areas of the limb, flex the limb 30 times and recheck. I have found it usually takes five or more check, scrape and check sessions to get a stiff spot moving, so be patient. You can get the limb bending perfectly this way. You will still have to eyeball bending in the fades, but the rest of the limb will be perfectly tillered. Hinges will be a thing of the past.

Tillering Gizmo

Make a few passes with the gizmo on your limb and the areas that need attention will be perfectly obvious. You can fine tune the tillering by closing the gap between the pencil and limb to almost nothing. At this point, I like to use a cheap orbital sander to remove both wood and any tool marks that are left. With course sand paper, the sander will leave tiny swirls in the wood so I like 220 grit for my final tillering work with the sander and follow with a light hand sanding.

The gizmo doesn’t work in the fade out area of the riser so you will have to eyeball the bend in this area or put a flat board across the back of the bow in your tillering tree and watch the gap between the back of the bow and the board to see where the limb is bending.

Tillering that once took me hours to get close takes me about 45 minutes with the Gizmo and the end result is close to perfect.

The key thing to remember for proper tillering is using a scraper or sandpaper and work slowly, only scrape off your pencil marks, flex the bow and recheck. I often make a zig-zag pencil mark from one side of the limb to the other over the gizmo’s pencil mark to make sure I remove equally from one edge of the limb to the other.

If you ever get the urge to grab a course rasp or use a belt sander to speed things up even more, take a coffee break and come back when these thoughts have passed.


What about using this with character bows, especially yew that has rollercoasters rather than snakes?


The gizmo won’t work with a stave with a lot roller coaster (a limb with a lot of dips and humps). I almost always take the roller coaster out of my osage before I start a bow, because it is such a pain to tiller. If the roller coaster is only in one place in the limb I eyeball that section and use the gizmo on the rest.


Eric, are you sanding down the nut side once things are finished so it’s sitting flush? or is it still recessed in the finished gizmo?


I drill the big hole deep enough to tap the nut about 1/4″ below the surface of the wood. I drilled a shallower hole on the earlier version and sanded the wood and nut flush but often lost too many threads of the nut in the process. The new version with the recessed nut works much better.

This nut is in a little over 1/4″ deep.

Tillering Gizmo

How to Clean, Whiten, and Mount a Whitetail Deer Skull

Skull Hooker
From the field to the wall; you’ll love bleaching and mounting your own trophy.


By Jason D. Mills and Art Myers

During hunting season, there are three great days for every successful hunter: the day you get your tag, the day you fill your tag, and the day you hang your new trophy. However, shoulder mounts are expensive, costing anywhere from $400-500, and aren’t necessarily suited for every deer. This DIY should take between 1-3 hours of labor throughout the course of 1-2 days.

If you can’t begin the cleaning and whitening process immediately, you’ll want to store the head in a freezer – this will stop any staining. Take the head out of the freezer about 24-hours before starting the cleaning and whitening process to give the meat plenty of time to thaw.

You’ll need

  1. A sharp knife
  2. A high-pressure garden hose with adjustable nozzle
  3. Outdoor propane cooker (with a regulator)
  4. A large pot
  5. Needle-nose pliers
  6. Turkey baster with a bulb
  7. Large container to place to skull in
  8. Rubber gloves
  9. Eye protection
  10. Apron to wear while washing
  11. Bottle of 40 volume peroxide
  12. Oxiclean
  13. Borax (used in removing smaller, more stubborn pieces of meat that’s stuck to the skull)
    (You also have the option of using our Skull Bleaching Kit

Pro-Tip: Never use bleach when whitening a skull as it could cause serious, irreversible damage to your trophy

Fill a large pot of water; it should be big enough to completely submerge the deer’s skull

Pro-Tip: Don’t get to much water covering the antlers because it may discolor them

Add one scoop of Oxiclean into the water, this will act as a degreaser

De-flesh the skull; you want to clean off the head as best as possible, removing all excess meat

Pro-Tip: Once the water has started to boil turn the burner down just enough so that it does not overflow

Once you’ve cleaned the skull as best as you can, place it into your pot of boiling water. Ensure the water covers all the meat on the back of the skull. The water should be about 1/2″ above the base of the antlers.

Pro-Tip: Keep an eye on the skull through the whole boiling process to make sure it stays submerged. If not any meat on top will be very difficult to remove later on

Leave the skull in the boiling water for about 30 minutes

Pro-Tip: Do not get antlers to hot. Most antlers will rest on the edge of the pot, which can scorch them

Pro-Tip: You’ll know it’s the perfect time to pull the head out of your boiling water when the flesh on the skull cap just begins to split

Remove skull and begin spraying it with a high-pressure garden hose .If the tissue can be easily removed you can start pulling it off with pliers. Once the skull starts to cool down the tissue and fat will start Harding up. If this happens place it back in the water and wait half an hour before removing more.

Pro-Tip: Anytime you will be handling the skull after it has been in the pot wear gloves. Bone can be very hot and holds heat well

Be sure not to get to close to the nasal cavity, as high pressure water can blow right through it.

Once all tissue is easily coming off you can remove the lower jaw bone. The lower jaw is typically easily removed by spreading the mouth open as long as the tissue and mussel have had plenty of time to soak.

Pro-Tip: Although there is some debate on whether or not to remove the nasal cartilage, it’s near impossible to completely clean the skull with it in tact. That said, before beginning the washing process you will want to use a pair of needle-nose pliers or forceps to remove the nasal cartilage.

After you’ve removed 70-80% of the meat from the skull re-submerge it into your boiling water and leave it for another 20-30 minutes

Pro-Tip: On deer there will be two nasal covers that will need to come off while boiling so you can clean all membrane from the nasal cavity. If any teeth or any other bones fall off during the cleaning process do not get worried. All pieces will need to be cleaned and can be glued back on later. Also a lot of times the lower jaw will split in two half’s which can be glued back together if it is to be used with the finished skull.

Pro-Tip: Do no rush the removal of the lower jaw. If it does not want to dislocate soak it longer.

One the jaw has been removed now it is time to remove the brain matter. I prefer to take a piece of copper wire about 10 to 12 inches long and make a J hook on the end I will be inserting into the skull. The J hook will help grab on to brain mater and pull it out.

Pro-Tip: The Borax will aid in tedious tissue removal. Sometimes the tissue is greasy and neither pliers nor your bare fingers can grab it. Add a little Borax and you will be able to grab right on to it.

Wash off the remaining meat (including any meat you might have missed in the nasal cavities and brain)

Repeat all processes until you are sure that all tissue has been removed. If it has, you now can dry all pieces off and wait about a day to glue any teeth or bones back on. Make sure that you have removed all tissue from the skull. The last thing you will want is to find out that you missed some after it has been hanging in the house.

Allow the skull to dry completely

Pro-Tip: Although you don’t have to, it’s not a bad idea to wait a full 24-hours

Put on your gloves and eye protection, you’re about to start working with the 40 volume peroxide – you do not want to get this stuff on your skin. It will burn you. In fact, it’s a good idea to keep your apron on as well as a long sleeve shirt, just in case.

Set the skull into your plastic container

Pro-Tip: Shrink wrap the base of the antlers to protect them during the bleaching process. Silicone tape works well too; just avoid any tape with adhesive

Pour about 1/2 a cup of the 40 volume peroxide into your plastic cup

Draw the peroxide into the baster

Pro-Tip: Do not get any of the peroxide onto the antlers, as it will turn them white as well

Using the baster, completely coat the skull in peroxide

You can apply as many as four applications, but you will probably only need two

Pro-Tip: Use the baster to draw up the peroxide that drips into your plastic container and reuse the peroxide – this will save you some money

Allow time for the skull to completely dry

Pro-Tip: Putting your skull in the sun will not only help it dry, it will also assist in the bleaching process

To hang your European skull mount

Skull Hooker's Little Hooker
Skull Hooker’s Little Hooker

Take your Little Hooker out of its box

Pro-Tip: When it comes to European skull mounts, Skull Hooker’s Big and Little Hookers are really some of the best products out there. They’re cheap, require no drilling into the skull, hang securely, have full adjustability, and are exceedingly easy to install.

Locate a stud in the wall where you want to hang your new mount

Hang the plate vertically on the stud

Assemble the arm with the prong attachment

Put the arm onto the wall plate

Slide the resting arm into the back main, natural opening in the skull (the spinal cord cavity)

Straighten or angle your new European wall mount to your liking


Skull Hooker's Skull Cap in Use
Skull Hooker’s Skull Cap in Use with the Bone Bracket

If you only whitened the trimmings, instead of using the Little Hooker, you’ll want to use the Bone Bracket with Skull Hooker’s Skull Cap.

Building Your Own Custom Arrows

By Jason D. Mills

Arrow building, like bow building, can be extremely satisfying. Arrow building, however, is much cheaper and easier to get started than bow building. Besides, every archer will need more arrows at some point, and crafting arrows can give the archer one more way to be connected with their beloved sport and enable them to be the master of every facet of their rig.

Not all shafts are created equal. That said, this build-along should help DIY-ers turn most carbon shafts into true-flying arrows.

Choosing your arrow

There are a few things you need to know before starting to build your arrows. First, you must know your draw length and draw weight. These two numbers will tell you what arrow spine you’ll be looking for. An arrow’s spine is how much the arrow flexes during flight. You want your arrow to recover as fast as possible, which means you want the correct spine. Ensuring you have the proper spine is arguably the most important thing to consider when choosing an arrow.

Finding your arrow length

Your draw length is the distance from the back of the bow (the point furthest from the shooter) at your grip to the maximum distance you draw the bow. Find your draw length by measuring your arm-span in inches from tip-to-tip of each middle finger and then divide that number by 2.5.

Pro-Tip: This is your draw length, not your arrow length.

If you have someone around to help, another, arguably more accurate, method you could use to find your draw length is by drawing back an extra-long arrow to full draw and having someone mark the arrow right in back of the handle. Measure the arrow from the mark to the deepest part of the nock groove. The measurement you get is your draw length.

Easton Draw Length Indicator Shaft

Finally, you could simply use the Easton Draw Length Indicator Shaft to check your draw length.

The next thing you need is your bow’s draw weight. If you don’t have hand held bow scale you’ll just have to go with what is written on your bow, which might not be the most accurate information. First, your bow’s draw weight can be as much as two to three pounds different for every inch of draw length. Second, bow manufactures are allowed to be two pounds off of what is printed on your bow, so your 45# bow could actually be 43# or 47#. This will affect your spine.

Using your hand held bow scale, draw the string until you hit your draw length and hold. Observe the weight on the scale. This is your actual bow peak weight.

Once you have determined your draw length and your actual bow peak weight you are ready to find your arrow length. It’s recommended that your arrow length be 1″-2″ longer than your draw length for the safety of keeping the arrow point outside the bow. Arrows that are less than the recommended arrow length can fall from the string, jam or otherwise cause damage to the arrow or the bow, and could even lead to personal injury.

If you had a friend help you mark the bow, simply add an inch or two to your mark and, voila, you’ve got your arrow length. If you used math to find your draw length, I’m afraid you’ll have to use math to find your arrow length too (that is unless you can find someone to help you mark an arrow while you’re at full draw).

Traditional Only Test Kit

Once you have your arrow length and actual bow peak weight, you are ready to select your correct arrow spine. For your benefit, we’ve created a handy chart for just that purpose. The 1/2″ marks over lap on the chart. That said, if you are on two different spines we highly recommend getting a test kit first.

Time to Cut Your Arrow Shafts

  • Wear safety glasses before cutting
  • Never touch the blade while it is moving

Lock your arrow saw in at your desired measurement

 Weston Precise Cut Arrow Saw

Pro-Tip: It’s a good idea to double check your measurement after each arrow, the lock can move

Ensure your nock is pushed flush against the lock at all times. Otherwise, you could end up with different sized arrows

As you cut your arrows, ensure you bring the arrow to the saw rotate it backward until it is cut all the way through

Squaring the arrow

Arrow Squaring DeviceFirst, lets square the arrow. The cutting process sometimes lead to an uneven edge. The blade can cause slight imperfections, which you won’t see until you put your insert into the arrow shaft or even when you go to spin test your arrows.

Pro-Tip: Let 3Rivers do the cut and mount for you when you buy your shafts. We can cut to length and mount inserts.

Place the arrow on your arrow square, putting the cut end flush against end of the square tool. Rotate each arrow for approximately 30 seconds.

Clean out the inside of the shaft to a depth of 1″ with a Q-tip and some clean water or acetone.

Glue the insert into the shaft Brass Point Inserts

  • Read warning and first aid instructions before use
  • Wear safety glasses
  • Do not handle inserts by gluing surfaces, doing so may lead to improper adhesion
  • Disposable gloves are recommended
  • Do not use heat directly on carbon

Bohning Insert IronWhile holding the insert, apply an even amount of glue onto the back half of the insert

Pro-Tip: You apply it to the back half because as you push the insert into the shaft it will push the glue forward onto the rest of the insert

Rotate the insert while pushing it into shaft

Pro-Tip: It helps to finish this process off by pressing the insert tightly against a table or other hard surface

Immediately clean off the excess glue

Installing the arrow wrap

Cap Wraps Arrow EnhancersInstall an arrow wrap for an instant arrow cap dips, but with no paint, no fumes, and no waiting. Arrow Cap wraps not only make your arrows look good, they make it easier to fletch and allow for easy re-fletching.

Peel cap wrap from backing

Place adhesive side up on a soft surface, such as a mouse pad

Align the edge of the cap wrap with the bottom of the nock

Press down and roll all the way through.

Fletching the Arrows

Bitzenburger Dial-O-Fletch Fletching Jig

In your fletching jig, nock down place the arrow firmly into the nock holder, if it’s not in the same place every time, you will end up with arrows with different fletchings

Holding the clamp in one hand, place the feather into the clamp Bohning Feather Fletching Tape– start the arrow about half way back in the clamp, open the clamp slightly and use your index finger to gently push the arrow the rest of the way into the clamp.

Line your fletching tape up with your fletching and cut to length. Apply the tape downward, the entire length of the feather. Use a knife beard trimming scissors to take off the fletching tape’s backing. Install the clamp onto the fletching jig and apply downward pressure. Repeat these steps to apply all of your fletchings.Bohning Fletch-Tite Platinum Fletching Glue

Although you have the option of using glue, fletching tape is cleaner and simpler

Time for the spin test

Large Spin Tester

Place your arrow on the spin tester and rotate the arrow backward. You will want to watch the broadhead end and the fletching end – you should see a perfect spin. If you see any wobble it means that something was off during the arrow building process.

Weigh the arrows

 3Rivers Digital Pocket Grain Scale

Turn on your arrow scale and place an arrow holder onto the scale; zero out the scale to ensure the holder isn’t included in your measurements

Arrow Holder for Digital Scale

Place the middle of the arrow on the arrow holder

Using a permanent marker, write the grain weight on your arrow

Pro-Tip: It makes sense to write the arrow’s grain on one of the fletchings or the wrap, so you can see it easily

Repeat this process for all of your new arrows

Congratulations! You’ve just built your own custom arrows.

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