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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: Hunter Hack

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.

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

October Hunting Tips

film-canisters-cotton-balls-deer-scents
Film canisters filled with cotton balls socked in deer scents

By Dave Echterling and James McKenzie

October is a favorite time of year for most bowhunters. In addition to hunting, many of us spend every spare second in the woods looking for rubs, scrapes, and general signs. There is nothing better than a fall afternoon in the woods.

Deer hunting is an ever changing challenge. Just because one spot was good last year does not necessarily mean that it will be a productive area the next. Remember, deer patterns can change rapidly. Just as soon as we think we have them figured out, hunting pressure can cause deer habits to change very quickly. Early gun seasons before bow season and youth firearm seasons can contribute to this change in deer habits. So it’s important to keep your options open, be observant, and not get complacent.

Let the wind dictate your stand choice for a morning or evening hunt. Always be on the downwind side of travel routes. Never risk sitting in a stand with a questionable wind. If the wind is wrong wait for more favorable conditions. On days with unfavorable wind conditions, you might want to find a new stand location or set up a ground blind. Fence rows can be ideal locations for ground blinds, as they are frequent travel paths for deer. Even a perch in between the branches of a downed tree can work well in a pinch. Always be on the lookout for new stand locations. As deer habits change do not be afraid to adjust with them.

Another thing you might consider is to not use a cover scent. A Hunter’s Hack that some have found works very well, is to carry three film canisters, each having a cotton ball in them soaked with doe urine. Place each one about ten yards from the tree, always in a shooting lane because there is a probability that a deer will stop and smell one or two. This will hold their attention and possibly allow you to get a shot off. It is also something new, and deer, being curious animals, will tend to check it out. When you leave the woods take the canisters with you. You may find this is a lot better than placing scent on the ground and leaving it, or using it as a cover scent. Even if it does cover your scent you still have a smell and deer will stop to investigate rather than fleeing.

It is good practice to always carry a blunt tip. When you get ready to leave your tree stand, pick a leaf to shoot at. This keeps you in tune, provides confidence, and improves your shooting from an elevated position.

If it’s a rainy day with a swirling wind try hunting from the ground and spend some time stalking. The woods is noisy during a rain shower and deer tend to typically take cover at these times. The noise also helps drown out any sounds you make. Cornfields are also great during windy and rainy weather. You just need to slowly move from row to row looking both ways one row at a time. Always use this time for a little scouting too. See where the deer are moving and if patterns are changing. You might even take the opportunity to still hunt on the way to your stand locations. You never know what you might encounter. The important thing is to not limit yourself.

As deer season progresses toward the rut, the ability to be flexible and think outside of the box can make or break your hunt. But whatever your preference, the most important thing is that you get out in the woods, enjoy nature, and experience the hunt.

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