December 22, 2015
By Mark Kayser
Yes, it's that time of year again. It's time to make New Year's resolutions€¦ and then break them two months later. If you're a bowhunter, it may be a bit easier to keep resolutions that impact your passion. Consider these bowhunting options as you set aside traditional resolutions that oftentimes fade away.
Update Your Gear
If you shoot traditional archery gear, your options may be more limited. If you embrace the compound bow craze, you need to keep up with the Joneses.
Archery equipment innovation has been exploding. Bow limbs store more energy than ever before with smooth efficiency. Cams propel arrows with speeds that blind. Arrows fly straighter with broadheads that slice with devastating results. Bow sights come in options to fit any hunting style, including easily-adjusted, single-pin models. And rocket-science rests drop away silently to launch arrows with unrestricted flight.
Even bows and equipment that date back five years are on the verge of antiquation compared to what's on the market now. Sure you've hit a comfort level with your old archery friend, but stop in at a shop and test out a new bow to see what you've been missing. You'll definitely leave the range thinking an update might be in order.
Hone Your Skills
Be honest with yourself. Do you want to shoot more accurately at longer distances? Is target panic a gremlin that haunts you from time to time? Do you only practice at pre-established targets in range-perfect settings? If you answer "yes" to any of these questions, or others on your mind, you may need to hone your skills with targeted remedies.
Your first step is to ensure your archery gear is in top, tuned shape. A qualified pro staffer at a certified archery dealer, like your local Cabela's store, can double-check your setup. Pro staffers and your expert shooting buddies can also aid in reviewing your shooting form and offer assistance in areas you deem worthy. You may also want to consider instruction from archery trainers.
Once you have gear tuned and shooting form tweaked, be sure to practice in a natural environment. Hunting settings are unforgiving. They include brush, terrain, steep angles, rain, wind and a myriad of other factors. Push your practice sessions beyond the target in your backyard to be the best when hunting season arrives.
Who wouldn't want to embrace this resolution? It's the easy route to becoming a better bowhunter and that's something we all strive to achieve. Hunting more doesn't necessarily equal expeditions to Alaska or Africa, though. Decisions like those are between you and your bank account. Hunting more can begin easily and economically.
First, consider bowhunts for small game. Thumping cottontails, squirrels, upland game and even turkeys can improve your shooting skills on living targets, and provide fodder for a great stew at the same time. Plus, these species exist in every backyard from coast to coast.
To tame the lurking adrenaline beast inside you, bump your pursuits into the big game realm with antlerless tags. Deer numbers are burgeoning in many zip codes and to manage the numbers wildlife agencies routinely offer extra tags, particularly to bowhunters in urban environments. One of the calmest bowhunters I ever guided annually tagged 25 or more deer a year, most of them does. He beat buck fever and fed the needy through his ritual.
You can also hunt more cheaply by considering public-land hunts for deer, elk and pronghorn. Regardless of your quarry, hunt more to conquer buck fever.
Make New Bowhunters
It's no secret that the recruitment of hunters isn't exactly exploding like the number of new smartphone users. That means it's up to you and me to create new hunters to carry on the hunting heritage. Make it your resolution this year and beyond, to take your kids, neighbor kids, mentored youth or your spouse hunting.
Begin your new hunter quest by enrolling interested parties in hunter education or a shooting sports program. Look into programs like the National Archery in the Schools Program, 4-H Shooting Sports, the Jakes National Wild Turkey Federation program and others. These organizations teach, engage and offer competition to keep new bowhunters excited. That's what's needed to hook a newcomer and create a lifelong bowhunter.
Yes, this one does fit the traditional resolution definition, but wouldn't you someday like to pursue elk high in the Rockies or moose deep in the Yukon? You can't do that by carrying the weight of a full backpack in the jiggly layer around your belly button.
Nearly 70 percent of Americans are obese or overweight. Stop looking down and start a regime to make you as stealthy as a mountain lion. Visit with your physician, set a goal and create a realistic fitness program.
I know. Work, family and other obligations eat up your time, but think out of the box. Take a healthy lunch from home and skip Taco Bell. Work out before work or think about a noon workout. You can even watch "Duck Dynasty" while on an elliptical instead of from the couch in the evenings. And yes, pick up that snow shovel or use a push lawnmower from time to time. It's great for keeping your bowhunting muscles toned.
Good luck with your resolutions and hopefully you have the best hunting season ever in 2016. Happy New Year!