Bass Pro Shops & Cabela’s Canada

The First Two Seasons

Learning Archery Part 2

When I look back on my first two seasons with a bow, I cannot help but kick myself. I went about archery hunting with the same mentality as I used in my first season with a rifle. Cover ground, cover ground, and more importantly cover ground! You see, I felt that the more I walked and hiked, the better chances I had of seeing deer. This method worked great for seeing deer in the archery zone, however it provided very few shot opportunities.

I will break down a few of my most memorable experiences from each of these two seasons.

First of the two seasons:

Opening day, September 1st, we left the farmhouse we were staying at and started cruising. The area we hunted has two main, deep and wide coulees with treed draws every 3-400 yards surrounded by canola, pea and hay fields. Unable to move easily through the standing crops we hiked the edges of the coulee and worked our way down draw by draw.

Unknown to us, the canola fields were the go-to day time bedding areas for the majority of the deer. Creeping, or what we thought was creeping, around these fields caused deer to blow out repeatedly and all we could do was watch the white rear bouncing away. We must have seen close to 35 different deer that first day. Already we had decided that learning to bow hunt was the smartest decision we had made haha. The highs of opening day did not last long.

The agonizing view of a nice buck deep in the Canola

It was clear that the mosquitoes had other plans for our enjoyment. Hunting around crops and coulees with standing water can lead to a cloud of misery, a cloud of blood thirsty mosquitoes that is. After the first few days, both J and I looked as though we had a full blown rash covering our upper bodies.

We tallied almost 200km that year. We would just walk, sun up to sun down, covering near 5-10 km each day. It led us to purchase a blind after the first weekend and set it up at the tip of a good draw. I learned two valuable lessons from the blind. First, I do not enjoy sitting still for hours on end. Second, even on private land leaving a blind or stand is risky. In fact our blind walked off two weeks later never to be seen again.

J covering some ground

My only good opportunity that year came later in October. My brother J and I were sticking with the game plan of walking coulees, as we cleared a small set of trees a good sized lone doe was standing just on the other side of the draw. I quickly knocked an arrow and came to full draw. J was behind me and gave me the range, 40 yards, I placed my pin and shot. I shot high, quite a bit high, a clean arrow. We sat and wondered what went wrong. It wasn’t until I drew my bow back again and went through the shot process that I realized my error. I mis-counted my pins. As I mentioned in my review of the IQ 7-pin bow sight, as a new archer the 7-pin shot window coupled with the excitement of the opportunity led me to use the wrong pin.

The archery season came to a close and we headed back to the mountains. This led to my first whitetail deer which I wrote about previously.

Second of the two seasons:

With the lessons learned from season 1, and the close call near the end of the season we felt pretty confident that season 2 would lead to an archery harvest. That season was the first year that we decided to take my trailer out to the farm and have a hunt camp. The first thing we noticed as we pulled into the farm was that all the crop had been harvested already, an early year.

This greatly changed where the deer were bedding and how they were travelling between the draws. We keyed in on two fields, both had pea crops and the deer would come out to feed on the cuttings each night. Opening week was slow, so in order to maximize hunting time we were driving after work and sitting the field edges for the evening hunt. This would give us roughly 2-2.5 hours of hunting time and we saw lots of deer. The frustrating part of sitting the fields is that you have zero control. In a stalk situation, you can control how far you go, how fast and if it fails you learned a lesson. Sitting still the deer may or may not pass within bow range, and it seemed that “the not” was the norm.

I took two shots that season, neither of them resulted in a hit. The first came from still hunting in the draws. Slowly walking along I saw a doe working across my line of sight. I drew without her seeing and thought I had a clear shot window. I was wrong, my arrow deflected off a small limb about half way to the doe. She ran off and my arrow was clean as clean could be.

The second shot I took is a shot I had no business taking. My brother J and I were split up and a doe walked right between us leaving the field. I could tell he would have not had an opportunity as she had him pinned down. With her attention turned away I drew and settled my pin, after the shot I heard a thwack sound. I thought I had made a great shot. After getting to my brother he laughed. I was so sure I made a good shot but he had heard my arrow embed itself into a tree. This told me that an archery shot with a loud bow setup, and an alert deer was not going to work. The minute that doe heard noise she bolted and I missed clean.

J’s only opportunity of the two seasons was thwarted by his equipment and our lack of tuning knowledge. He had a doe feeding across at 25 yards. He was sitting in the open so any movement had to wait until the deer was feeding. He came to full draw but couldn’t see through his peep, the strings had stretched and his peep was rotated. As he tried to use his nose to turn the peep, the doe caught movement, that was it, she ran off.

The lessons learned with equipment over the first two seasons, the 7-pin miscount, the noise generated by our bows and J’s peep issues led us to want to spend more time, and research better equipment and come into year 3 more prepared.

Stay tuned in this little series for Part 3: Our New Setups.

Hope you enjoy hearing about my journey! Let me know!


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