Another archery season upon us
It felt good to be once again shooting my bow and being with my family. (Andrew Aughenbaugh photo)

A new archery season will soon begin. I'm ready.

With a renewed interest and excitement, I am eager to start the season. More so than the last few seasons. My life has seen some dramatic changes over the last few years and as a result, the bow grew dust. Archery had been a part of my hunting since hunting was a part of my life. Which I guess you could say began when I was born.


Early in the morning last Saturday, I stood in the yard and shot my bow. My daughter and mother sat in the shade of the old pine and watched. We talked of past hunting seasons. We talked of my plans for the first days of the season. It felt good to be once again shooting my bow and being with my family.

Are you ready for the coming archery season? Are you ready for what life may bring you way? Are you prepared?

Tuesday night I honed the edges of my broadheads. For when the time comes to draw my bow and release the arrow, I want to be sure the cutting edges are as sharp as possible.

The archery market is filled with many different styles and types of broadheads. Each one claims to be the best. Archers have their favorites. Myself, I prefer the older style of solid one piece cut on impact type of broadhead. Other archers prefer the mechanical heads with moving blades. Indians once killed deer with sharpened pieces of stone. Which type blade resides on the end of our arrow is of less importance than the sharpness of the blade and the ability of the archer to place the blades in the correct spot for them to do their job quickly and humanely.

We spend hours waiting for the moment to draw our bow. When the time finally arrives will your edges be sharp?

The broadhead is only one part of the whole. For the broadhead to cut, the complete package must be in proper working order. My bow is several years old now. The string and cables have been waxed. The screws have been checked for tightness. The arrow rest is properly tuned and the sight pins align the arrow on the correct path. Each of the individual parts must be in good working order for the broadhead to reach its mark and execute its job. If any one part fails to perform, the broadhead will fail. Before the season begins have you checked your equipment? Are all of the parts in good working order and ready to perform?

With proper maintenance a bow with serve the archer for many years. Each year bow manufactures introduce new and improved bows with quicker arrow speeds and smoother draws. A new bow cannot overcome poor marksmanship on the part of the archer. Only knowing your equipment through repetitive practice will ensure your arrow hitting the mark. A successful archer does not require the latest equipment. A successful archer is intimately familiar with and has spent countless hours learning his equipment. No amount of new and improved equipment can replace the hours of practice required to be a proficient archer.

For when the time comes when the deer walks into bow range, will you be able to easily draw, take aim, and release the arrow confidently without fumbling with your equipment?

My final act of preparation for the coming archery season is a continuation of years of learning. This weekend I am camped in the mountains scouting the woods looking for the place to make my opening day stand. While I know these mountains well from years spent exploring these hill sides and valleys, there is always more to learn. Time changes all.

There are overgrown thickets that may have matured enough to be huntable. There are new areas that have been logged. Have the apples trees produced fruit this season? This weekend I will use my knowledge of the area to learn more. There is always more to discover. A successful hunter does not forget what he has learned from his years of experience, but does not rely on old information. The deer's feeding habits and travel corridors change with time. The successful hunter learns from his past, embraces the present and prepares accordingly.

This season I plan to shoot a few does. Do I dream of shooting a large racked buck of bragging size? Sure, what hunter doesn't? Deer hunting is not the means to prove my worthiness through the size of the antlers on the bucks I shoot. Having my arrow connect on a deer and the process of harvesting a deer for the table is the final act of the hunt and an important part of completing the hunt. While hunting is so much more than the kill, the kill is an important part, completing the experience. The shooting of does provides not only food for the table, which is the basic core of the why behind hunting, but also gives completion to the experience.

To not shoot only for the reason of wanting a bragging size buck precludes a hunter from the total experience. There is a time and place for everything and sometimes even the best hunters shoot does.

My equipment is ready. I have put in the practice. I have scouted the woods. I have done my part in preparing for what may come. Hopefully, the coming archery deer season will be filled with new experiences. Ones formed through learning from the past and preparing for the future.