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New Year's Resolutions for Bowhunters

I'm forever at a loss regarding New Year's Resolutions.  I've never smoked a cigarette, can't remember when I last drank too much, and remain physically fit with 50 quickly approaching.  So, I'm left to ponder archery deficiencies and form votives based on shortcomings there.  Here's some you might want to consider:

Conquer Target Panic: Target panic — the inability to aim precisely (freezing), rushing the shot (snap shooting), jerking at the trigger as pins sweep across target faces (trigger punching), just to offer some obvious symptoms — prevent you from shooting your best, causing easy misses afield.  It's a huge problem most refuse to admit to suffering.  Do yourself a favor this summer; hire a qualified shooting coach or buy a book addressing the ailment (I dedicate an entire 8,600-word chapter to the subject in my book "The Bowhunter's Guide To Better Shooting," Intermedia Outdoors, 2011) and get the situation under control.  You'll be a much happier archer, and kill more game this fall.

Expand Horizons: Whitetails are nifty, but there's more to bowhunting this great big country than backyard deer.  There's a world of public-lands, do-it-yourself opportunities waiting out there; from prairie pronghorn, to mountain mulies and elk, to northern black bear, or Southwest Coues whitetail and javelina.  These are all adventures you can plan and execute affordably, with just a little bit of research and gumption.  These are also subjects we'll be addressing in coming months.

Try Traditional: Most of us idolize archery icons such as Fred Bear, Glenn St. Charles and Ben Pearson (just as examples), but few follow in their hallowed footsteps.  To my mind this means occasionally leaving the high-tech, speed-demon compound outfit at home and "Hunting The Hard Way," as Howard Hill so simply put it.  I'm certainly not advocating abandoning compounds altogether, but simply taking up a recurve or longbow to expand your enjoyment of archery, a simpler mode of operation transforming even does or "management bucks" into cherished trophies instead of QDM freezer fodder.

Hunt On Your Own Terms: We've certainly strayed far from what bowhunting was once about.  Today it seems to be so odiously ego driven — collecting the biggest antlers or largest numbers.  But are you still having fun?  I certainly hope so, as that's what bowhunting is supposed to entail; respite from nasty lives filled with tedious toil.  If bowhunting tree squirrels — or rabbits, or bowfishing, or tagging "average" bucks -- makes you happy, then by all means continue.  Hunt for yourself, not your peers.

Invest In The Future: Bowhunting can make narcissists of us all.  We're all too often focused on the ultimate goal, forgetting to include youngsters, family or significant others in our passions.  Make a sincere pledge this year to introduce a friend, child or spouse to bowhunting, even if this simply means inviting them to share a pop-up blind with you during a morning turkey hunt.  I promise you'll discover a whole new world of outdoor enjoyment and satisfaction — perhaps even a lifelong hunting partner.

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