Free Shipping on orders of $99+ click for details

Ask the experts: 260.587.9501 | Customer Service

Call Us: 260.587.9501 | Customer Service

Your cart is currently empty.
Free Shipping on orders $99+ click for details
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: Recurves

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.

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.

Introduction to 3D Archery

What is 3D archery? Generally, when an archer talks about 3D, they’re referring to shooting at three-dimensional life-like targets – normally made from foam and situated in such a way as to simulate a true-to-life hunting experience. At its inception, 3D was focused mainly on hunting practice, as such most of the targets were shaped like game animals, but 3D quickly evolved into a sport of its own, with rules, scoring, and a nearly limitless cornucopia of targets.

What is 3D archery? Generally, when an archer talks about 3D, they’re referring to shooting at three-dimensional life-like targets – normally made from foam and situated in such a way as to simulate a true-to-life hunting experience. At its inception, 3D was focused mainly on hunting practice, as such most of the targets were shaped like game animals, but 3D quickly evolved into a sport of its own, with rules, scoring, and a nearly limitless cornucopia of targets.

3D archery can be a family affair.
3D archery can make for a fun family outing.

As such, 3D is a great way to get ready for an upcoming hunt, or to just have some fun. It can be practiced alone, with friends, or family. In fact, it’s common for young children to participate in 3D. It’s a great way to experience the outdoors (if shooting at an outdoor range) and gain experience in shooting your bow in a realistic situation.

Before you head out to the range, there is some basic equipment you should bring with you. That said, there’s no special 3D bow that you’ll need; just shoot the bow you’re most comfortable with or the bow you plan to hunt with. You should used field points (don’t shoot broadheads at 3D targets!), it’s a good idea to have a pair of sunglasses handy, some sunscreen, an arrow removal tool (just in case you hit a tree, a cheap arrow puller and target arrow release fluid are good ideas too), a decent quiver, a towel for your hands and gear, and some arrows. Many outdoor shoots can be a mile or more in length, so it’s a good idea to bring something to snack on as well as some bottled water, but please don’t litter.

Six arrows should be plenty, but feel free to carry as many as you need. There are many archers who will bring an extra dozen and leave it in their vehicle just in case they need them. If you plan on shooting for score, you’ll want to bring something to write with and on (sometimes that’s not needed, but it’s better to be safe than sorry). Misses do happen and arrows will be lost (arrows are a lot easier to find with lighted nocks). When you do miss the target, don’t take too much time looking for the lost arrow, as it will slow down the whole event.

Most ranges will charge a small fee for shooting, whether you’re competing or not. This money covers normal wear and tear on the targets and on the range.

On how 3D is scored; typically, the high score shots will be in the vital section of the animal you’re shooting at. There are two primary scoring formats used: ASA and IBO. The ASA, or the Archery Shooters Association, uses 14-12-10-8-5-0 scoring areas. The IBO, or the International Bowhunting Organization, uses 11- 10-8-5-0 scoring areas.

When shooting for score, one arrow is shot at each target; the score is determined by where the arrow enters the target. Below is an example of what the ASA and IBO scoring rings look like.

ASA IBO 3D Scoring
(I can hear you asking, “why is the 14 score in such a weird spot?” While it’s true, you wouldn’t want to shoot a deer there in a real world situation it has to do with risk and reward for those trying to get the highest score possible. The ring is pretty small, and if the shooter misses in any direction they’ll end up with either an 8 or a 5.)

However, this scoring system does pose a problem in some situations. What if the animal is at an angle facing away from the shooter? Under normal circumstances a hunter would shoot the deer so that their arrow would hit midway between the front and rear legs, which would be a lethal, clean harvest. Despite being the most lethal shot in a real-world application, this shot would result in a score of 5 at a 3D shoot. Instead, the archer would need to aim as if they were trying to pass through the outer shoulder, which would result in a much higher score. Further, some targets will have multiple scoring areas marked. In which case, just ask which one is being shot at – if you’re shooting alone just use your best judgment.

Now, what happens if your arrow is on the 10 and the 12 mark? In most situations you get the higher score, if your arrow is touching it, then that’s your score. If you can’t see the scoring rings from the shooting stake, just aim for what would be the most natural lethal area. Some shooters opt to bring a good set of binoculars, but if you choose to bring binoculars remember to be courteous of other shooters and not take too long. There are also some archers who will bring reference cards of each target, so they know where to aim for the highest score.

Although many 3D courses are set outdoors, there are just as many indoor 3D ranges, which is nice when the weather gets too nasty for outdoor shooting. Most shoots will have between 20 and 30 targets arranged at different distances and positions. Usually traditional shooters will have a maximum distance stake at around 30 yards, but not always. If you’re participating in a tournament there will normally be club rules that you’ll have to obey in order to qualify (it might be a multiple day shoot or there might be different classes). During outdoor shoots be prepared to shoot off of elevated platforms, down hillsides and through brush. Some areas might be highly wooded and other areas might be in wide-open fields. Most targets will not have any indicator of what the distance to the target is, which gives the instinctive shooter a real advantage.

Indoor 3D Range

Indoor 3D ranges usually have a single line where all archers shoot from. Generally, archers are grouped by class and skill level. Targets can be as close as 2 yards or as far as 50 yards, normally distance is only limited by the venue.

Outdoor 3D range

Outdoor ranges, in my opinion, can be a lot more fun as they are usually a walk-through course (just like mini-golf). Normally, there will be three or four archers per lane – your group will finish one target and then move on to the next. Be aware if you or your group is moving slowly – it’s courteous to let faster archers pass you. Each class and skill level will have a designated stake to shoot from – most shoots are operated via the honor system, so no cheating. The shooter is normally required to touch the stake with at least one part of their body (i.e. foot or a knee) when shooting.

Obey the rules

Although each club will have its own rules and restrictions, here are some basics to remember:

  1. Although archery is generally a safe sport, it can be dangerous, so stay smart and stay safe. Know what you’re shooting at. Know what’s behind your target. Make sure there are no children about to dart out in front of you or behind your target. Be aware of other shooters at all times.
  2. Try not to talk or be disruptive while others are shooting. If you’ve brought children, make sure they’re not making too much of a ruckus.
  3. Take your time, but don’t stall other shooters. Some people like to really take their time, others love to move quickly – be courteous either way. If you’re a slower shooter, then let the faster archers “shoot through.”
  4. Avoid foul language. These are often family activities and no one wants their children exposed to that.
  5. Feel free to bring something to snack on and some water to drink (in fact, I’d encourage it), but don’t litter.
  6. When you miss a target, don’t take all day looking for it, as it will slow down the entire event. Misses will happen (so be prepared) and arrows will be lost.
  7. You might want to bring a ‘throw away’ arrow for novelty targets, such as steel or iron elks.
  8. Have fun!

By Jason D. Mills

Archery, Getting Started

Are you thinking about trying archery, but you’re still not quite sure where to start? Olympic silver medalist Jake Kaminski is here to help.

In this useful video, Kaminski covers what the different parts of the bow are called, basic bow set-up, eye dominance, proper bow size, draw length, arrow selection, form, grip, release, and aiming.

Although this is not the end-all-be-all guide, it’s a good place for new shooters to start.

If you’d like to learn more about accessories, the difference between wood, aluminum, carbon, and fiberglass arrows; general arrow selection, or how to string and unstring a bow, visit our website for additional resources.

Who Are The Best Bowhunters in the Country?

By Dr. Dave Samuel

Dr. Dave” spent 30 years as a professor of wildlife management at West Virginia University. He is now in his 43rd year as the Conservation Editor of Bowhunter Magazine, where his KnowHunting column still appears. Much of his teaching and writing has centered on white-tailed deer.

This article has been re-published here with permission of Dr. Dave.

Sometime in the 1960’s I joined the Professional Bowhunters Society.  And sometime in the 1970’s, via that organizations publications, I was exposed to Gene and Barry Wensel.  Identical twins who shot recurve bows and took monster bucks in Montana.

In 1981, Gene Wensel published “Bowhunting Rutting Whitetails,” and I learned more about hunting big bucks in two nights reading than the previous twenty years bowhunting. I just pulled my ragged, well-worn copy from the shelf and inside the front cover, it reads, “Good hunting Dave—Hope to meet you someday soon. Gene Wensel, 10/10/81.” I’m not sure when we finally did meet, but over the 33 years since that time, I’ve become friends with Gene and Barry.

In my opinion, these two fine bowhunters are the sharpest minds in bowhunting. Although they’ve hunted other species, and done quite well, the Wensels are whitetail bowhunters extraordinaire. When I read “Bowhunting Rutting Whitetails,” I realized that Gene and Barry think about whitetails at an entirely higher level than most of us. There is a level of knowledge that allows one to take younger bucks often. Then there is a level of knowledge that allows a bowhunter to take mature 2-4 year-old bucks fairly often. Then there is a level of knowledge that allows a bowhunter to take Boone and Crockett bucks once in a while. Then there is the Wensels. They are out there all the time, studying, scouting, learning about the biggest of all bucks. They commonly pass up bucks that most of us would call bucks-of-a-lifetime. Like I said, Gene and Barry think about whitetails at a level far beyond what most of us can even imagine.

In that first book Gene talked about scrapes, pointing out things that wildlife researchers didn’t learn for another twenty years.  Six years later Gene wrote another classic titled “One Man’s Whitetails,” and by then all bowhunters knew that these brothers were way ahead of their time.  Yes, it was a long time ago, but the Wensels were learning things that deer biologists would not confirm with real data for many years. As a wildlife professor who knew a little about deer, every time I walked away from a discussion with Barry or Gene, I just shook my head in amazement. We all walk through deer woods, but when these guys do, they observe a lot more than the rest of us. A lot more.

Six years later Gene wrote another classic titled “One Man’s Whitetails,” and by then all bowhunters knew that these brothers were way ahead of their time. As their website Brothers of the Bow states, when Gene wrote this book, “There were no videos, DVDs or television shows about deer hunting in those days. Specialty magazines were non-existent. One could count on one hand the number of hunting magazines on newsstands. Many books were so old they offered little more than ancient history and market hunting techniques. No one raised deer in those days. A live Boone & Crockett whitetail had never been photographed. Camo was mostly military. Things like food plot seeds, compound bows, carbon gear and trail cameras were unavailable.”

The Wensels had knowledge, shot recurves as if they were born with them in their hands, set ethical standards that many emulated (and a few fools ignored), and passed on that knowledge to thousands of us. Yes, and they did it with a great, sometimes a bit weird, sense of humor that carries on to today. An example of that humor can be seen on the inside front cover of one of Genes later books, “Come November.” My copy was loaned to a friend (and I don’t know who that was) and I never got it back, but I remember the inscription inside the front cover. “To my good friend Dr. Dave. The only guy I know who has a twin brother uglier than mine.” (Yes, I have a twin brother. There’s a scary thought for you). And while we are on books, Barry came out with a wonderful book in 2009 entitled “Once Upon A Tine.”   It too is a gem.

Over the years these brothers gathered a lot of outstanding videos of free ranging deer and other species. Around 2009 (I’m not sure of the exact date, but this is close), the Wensels got together with three other brother/friends, Mike, Mark and David Mitten from Illinoi, guys who also had tons of video, and they produced a video titled “Primal Dreams.” In my mind this is the finest hunting video ever made. Two hours long with breathtaking scenery and incredible footage of animals in their natural habitat. Interesting is the fact that there are no kill shots in the film and few dead animals as well. But this video, more than anything ever produced, lets the non-hunter know what hunting is really about. As their website states, “For those who hunt, it stirs the instinctual primal need we feel to hunt. For non-hunters, after soaking in the experiences, they say, Wow, NOW I get it! Now, I understand why you hunt, and I’m OK with it.”

These two sets of brothers wrote the script, edited the film, narrated the film, put the music together and produced an award-winning video that every hunter, every bowhunter, should watch. It earned three Telly awards for cinematography/video, editing, and use of music. And when you’ve seen it, and your wife and kids have seen it, and your neighbors too, then you need to give it to your kids teachers and then to the local library. It is that good. Actually, it is better than that.

A few years later they came out with a second video, “Essential Encounters.” If you ever wanted to show friends, family, neighbors, why you hunt, these videos do just that, and better than anything that has ever been produced. Yes, give them as Christmas gifts to your hunting and non-hunting friends.

A few years ago I took five of my friends to Barry’s Trophy Whitetail Boot Camp in Iowa.  It was the best 2-1/2 days of learning about deer hunting that I’ve ever spent. Barry walks you into his woods, to his stands, and teaches you exactly why that stand is where it is. I thought I knew how to get to my stand, but I didn’t. I thought I knew how to set a stand relative to wind, but I did not. Barry explains the terrain, the approach, the wind, and a lot of other variables, some of which I’d never thought of. You can watch all the videos and read all the books and watch all the TV shows on deer, but getting in the woods with Barry Wensel will teach you more than all those things put together.

The Wensels live whitetails and in my opinion are the best, most ethical, whitetail bowhunters in the country.  Ethical hunting, the values of hunting, why those things are so important, is in the blood of Barry and Gene Wensel.

Back to Top