Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Bow Hunting Tips - The Mental Side

The power of the mind can be amazing, but if your focus is on things like fear rather than success, you can kiss your hunt goodbye. Here are some tips to help you stay in the game, despite a troubled mind.

Several years ago I found myself sitting at a desk going through my second session of court-ordered anger management. The class was going into its third hour and I was paying less attention this time than I had the first (probably why I was attending a second time). But, somewhere in the middle of that third hour a new instructor came in and started talking about something that caught my attention.

The instructor was covering the “fight or flight” response of a human when faced with a stressful or dangerous situation—basically how one deals with fear. When broken down, the moral to his story was simple. You’re going to have one of two initial reactions: 1. Come out guns blazing and both fists swinging (the fight response). 2. You run like a school girl scared to death (flight).

The instructor’s job was to help each person understand his or her own specific reaction and then harness that reaction to turn it into a positive outcome (instead of a third session of anger management). Now this subject may not seem like it has anything to do with wilderness bowhunting, but when you simplify things, you only have two choices when heading into the backcountry—complete your goal and stay for the entire trip, or talk yourself out of the hunt and head back early.

Each year hundreds of bowhunters head west with the hopes and dreams of tagging a big bull or buck on a multiday wilderness hunt. They’ve spent thousands of dollars on tags, gear and fuel, trained in the gym, lost weight and got as prepared as they could for the great adventure ahead. In reality, it’s always easier to visualize the ideal hunting adventure sitting on the couch. Unfortunately, many underestimate the physical and mental rigors of wilderness hunting and often talk themselves into cutting the hunt short.

Most hunters won’t head down the mountain early because of a specific incident that has made them fearful; but, the general concept behind the “fight or flight” response will eventually get the best of them.

Bow Hunting - Hot Deer Items

Take a look at these proven performers and must-have items for 2012.

When it comes to bowhunting whitetails, good gear is a must. That’s why each year I try to report on what I think are the very best. Here’s my take on the best deer-hunting items for 2012.

Creating the Right Setup
Before one can harvest deer, you have to have them on the property, and it does not hurt to keep them there. Having worked as a consultant for some of the top outfitters, as well as managing ground, I have experimented with many different commercial seed blends. In the end, I always keep coming back to Antler King products (www.anterking.com).

This past year I was given the management responsibilities for a 1,550-acre property. The first thing I realized was that the land was woefully lacking in food sources and very overpopulated with deer.

Matters were made worse by experiencing a wet planting season, only to be followed by a bad drought. In the end, the only plantings to make it were Antler King’s Trophy Clover and Fall/Winter/Spring Food Plot Blend.

Of course, the food plots also serve as great locations to setup scouting cameras. Over the years, I’ve tried every camera on the market. My goals were seemingly simple: find a unit that doesn’t spook deer, captures deer on a consistent basis and doesn’t break down. Good battery life would also be a bonus but not as critical as capturing my targets without altering their patterns. I’ve been burnt by that too many times and refused to do that again.

Luckily, I finally found my answer on that same 1,550-acre chunk of ground. The owners set me up with 26 assorted Reconyx cameras. Though I’d used Reconyx units before, this was the first time I’d tried the HC600. In just a couple weeks, I was so sold to the point that I bought four myself. From mid-August through mid-January, I ran 30 Reconyx units, 10 of which were the HC600s. Not a single unit broke down and each consistently caught deer that entire time (www.reconyx.com).

One of the biggest problems with the vast majority of scouting cameras is the noise they produce. Out of over 400,000 pictures, not once did a deer appear to spook from camera noise. Additionally, not a single deer showed any indication that they noticed the HC600s in any way, and I routinely placed them in very close quarters.

I know the price of the HC600s is a bit overwhelming, but I’ve felt the sting of my cameras spooking the buck I was after too many times. I’d rather run one or 2 HC600s than 5 of any other I’ve ever used.