THE ARCHERY SHOP
What's In Your Hobby?
Column By Bob Peck
Let’s just get this out of the way. Archery is not a hobby. It’s a sport. My hobby is preparation for all things including bowhunting.
I know this is not unique. I also know I’ve said this many times over the 14 years I’ve been writing this column. Imagine this, its 84 degrees outside, the summer swelter is upon you and your task is to put your mind into “autumn mode” at a time when everything is green and dense and you’re wearing shorts. I’ve never gotten used to this, but it comes with the territory of the outdoor writing business. All this may sound like whining and on one level I suppose it is, but think for a moment. This mental transition is exactly what you do as the peak of summer begins to wane. The days get noticeably shorter, occasionally there is a crisp and cool morning and that pop of color in the deer woods begins to fade. You know what’s coming without even thinking about it. Soon you’ll be inventorying your hunting gear and hopefully beginning to regularly practice with your bow.
If I have a hobby, I suppose it would be summer long preparation. Some are the sit-on-the-beach, lay-in-the-hammock, float-the-boat or tinker with wood and making furniture. Not me. I’ve got to keep moving. As weird as this may sound, clearing brush is my favorite thing to do. It’s the before and after picture that is wholly satisfying. Bowhunting is a close second. These are my therapies. And you? What is your therapy?
I’m told I’m on the OCD side of bowhunting preparation, so I’ll share with y’all how it all comes together.
BOW – I tear it down completely every year!
When I say “completely” I *do* mean completely! The string and cable sets come off. The axles come out. The bearings are inspected, degreased and then freshly lubricated. The optics come off and batteries replaced. I use a heads-up display red dot vs. a peep. I’ll admit this complete dissembling of my rig is a bit extreme but, in the past, I’ve discovered cracked limbs obscured by the limb pocket, strands of the string cut inside the string bundle and semi-seized bearings. At the very least take your bow to your local shop and have someone else do this work. You want to assure yourself that Murphy’s Law won’t happen on your hunt. On one end of the danger spectrum is the bow blowing up in your face and on the other end is a malfunction that causes you to miss an easy chip shot. What happened?! You ask yourself. Maybe it’s an out of tune bow?
ARROWS – If I spun them last year, I spin ‘em again the following year. In fact, I’ll spin ‘em frequently throughout the season. You know and I know during the season our gear is in all kinds of weather and in and out of the truck. In other words, arrows take some abuse. I carry a three-arrow Soft Loc detachable quiver so there’s not allot of room for error if one or more is bent or cracked. As I was writing this article, I checked the “active” quiver (vs. back up quiver) and found 2 of the 3 arrows had a wobble even though when I put them away for the season, they were perfect. How is this possible? I suspect even though the bow was in the bow case some tools inside the case shifted and pressed too hard on the quiver bending the shafts.
QUIVER – This takes maybe 5 minutes.
No one I know ever checks the quiver but let’s face it, the quiver shot-after-shot absorbs serious vibration and honestly can be an annoying source of noise and vibration over time. Rubber mounts and rigid machined aluminum mounts crack.
RELEASE – No matter the style, the age, the geometry or hours of use, the jaws of your release are going to wear. Two years ago, while hunting in Nelson County Virginia, sitting in a tree for hours and bored out of my mind I was messing around with a looped piece of string and my release. I was connecting and pulling, connecting and pulling when I noticed slight click just as the string released. On closer inspection I realized the swaged set pin that secures one side of the jaws was half in and half out. That’s supposed to be impossible but there it was. This didn’t ruin my hunt. I simply tapped it back into place and promptly bought another release when I got home, but then you start thinking of what might have happened if the jaw holding the D-loop gave way at full draw.
BOOTS – They’ll give your position away every time.
Be paranoid about scent on your boots and don’t rely on sprays that claim they are 99% effective. You’re the only one who can be 99% effective. Scrub the heck out of the outside and inside of your boots at the end of the season with baking soda and water. Air them outside for as many days as weather will permit. Make sure they are completely dry. Give them a very light antimicrobial spray and put them inside a plastic tub that has a gasketed lid and latches. During the season, that antimicrobial spray is your friend but don’t soak them after the hunt. Light spray and back into the plastic tub. Hunting boots are for hunting not for driving to the grocery store and fueling up the truck.
OPTICS – Duh.
Besides putting the lenses away spotless get a can of compressed air. Blow out the pivoting points, lens caps, protective case and attachment points for the bino harness. Use Q-tips to get out every spec of dirt and debris.
APPAREL – It’s well known clean hunting clothing means a stealthy bow hunter. Here’s three tips:
1. Don’t waste your money on specialty hunting laundry detergent. All major laundry detergent manufacturers make perfume & color free detergent with THE SAME exact ingredient called Triclosan. This chemical is in soaps and body washes, toothpastes and some cosmetics. What about UV brighteners that are in common laundry detergent brands? These chemicals bring out the vibrancy in multi-colored fabric dyes. You’re wearing camo and besides the occasional greens you’re dealing mostly with brown, gray, tans and black. Who cares if there are UV brighteners? I want my clothes clean and without scent.
2. After you clean your apparel it’s not good enough to put them away in your dresser drawer or plastic bag or even a plastic tub. Those methods will assure that over time the permeable nature will contaminate your clothing with human scent. At the end of the season I use “Space Bags” readily available at Walmart. This method shrink wraps your hunting clothes and yes, the bag material is also permeable but then I put the shrink-wrapped bags into plastic tubs with rubber seals in the lid. Again, maybe I’m crazy but I do this after every hunt.
3. I segment clothing by season and by marking the tubs so I’m not searching for insulated gear I don’t use during early bow season. All gloves, hats, socks and facemasks in one tub, all late season insulation in another and all rain gear in yet another. I have two packs with exact duplicates of game calls, compasses, drag line, first aid, spare release and spare batteries. The difference is size and intended duration. The “go” pack is lightweight, has 1 liter of water and intended for ½ or full day knowing I will exfil at some point. The other is a pack that I use when going “deep woods”. I could be spending the night and I could get hurt way, way back in there so this pack has temporary shelter, space blanket, pack stove, fuel, freeze dried food, emergency beacon, handgun, ammo, extra water and multiple fire-starting materials. I may or may not be intentionally spending the night, but I’d rather be safe than sorry.
Land – By the time you read this it’s probably too late to do much in the way of major improvements to your hunting land. Running chainsaws and brush hogs too close to the season opener just creates a chaos amongst the unseen deer. But … you can do simple things like clear debris out of the way of the approach to your stand. You can also pile brush in key traffic areas to funnel the deer in directions you want them to travel. You can plant late season crops that provide late season sustenance. Don’t give up on improvements but next year develop a plan!
I have spent an awesome career in the hunting industry. By and large “innovation” touted by manufacturers is mostly just generic hype. As one manufacturer jockeys for market share over the other marketing types come up with whiz bang terminology that sounds sexy or tech or sufficiently complicated but at the heart is a very simple premise. Make the archer feel like what he/she is using is inadequate or worse they must have the “innovation” to “improve” their hunting experience. Bull. But every now and again a true innovation pops up that is self-evident and real. This true innovation came on my radar and I believe holds great promise.
Bowtech has rolled out a new line of bows in the Revolt that ditches the yoked 2-track cam system. This new, 3-track yokeless cam design is truly a new approach in cam technology and geometry. Bowtech calls it a “Dead Lock” system. This tech falls into the “why didn’t I think of it” category because it’s so dang simple but immediately effective. To make cam lean a thing of the past you simply move the cams left or right on the axles with a turn of a screw. Then you lock it down with another set screw to more efficiently direct more of the bow’s energy behind your arrow. Once you lock it down for what Bowtech calls permanent, repeatable accuracy shot after shot that’s it. A more reliable shot is ready time after time. It’s the only cam built to specifically “lock in” accuracy.
To compliment this new approach to cam design and tuning is an improvement to the limb pocket Bowtech calls this the “Deadlock Pocket”. Again, simple but to my knowledge not on any other design. Besides the atypical limb bolt there are Allen head screws through a clip on the side of the limb. The limb bolt does its job with downward pressure anchoring the limb into the limb pocket “sandwich”, now as a result of these side set screws torsional twist of the limb is
eliminated. Do you actually feel the difference? Yes. The combination of these two technology innovations you can count on a legitimate machine that generates a consistent shot because variables have been eliminated. It’s a rock-solid pocket system. No shifting. No unwanted movement. And oh yeah, it’s killer quiet but at $1,200 this bowhunter won’t be rushing out to buy one anytime soon! I love bowhunting but not at that price. Fellow bowhunting brothers and sisters? Are you listening? Wear the dang safety harness and learn how to self-recover should you fall! C’mon. If you’re not wearing one, you’re gambling with your life.