By Bruce Beal
The dream of November bow hunting has come and gone. The craze of the rut and its pull on big mature bucks has passed. If you’re a bowhunter, the late season could be your chance at redemption. The tactics and techniques you have used thus far for fall will not work, so you will have to reevaluate and adjust your hunting specifically for the late season. Here are some bow hunting tips and tactics to help you get within bow range of a late-season mature whitetail and salvage your season!
Before You Go Out
Cold weather makes bows stiffer, which puts more pressure on string and limbs. In other words, the cold makes the bow harder to pull back. Before heading into the woods, check your bow’s condition to make sure it is prepared for winter weather!
Your strings and cables should be well waxed. Wax will protect strings from moisture that could damage them over time and extend overall longevity.
In addition, ensure that bow limbs are in good shape with no damage like cracked or delaminated areas. The cold can make damaged areas like these more brittle. Wooden bows must be well protected from the elements. Ensure there is no exposed bare wood.
If your bow needs a tune-up, our Archery department can help! Our trained experts can make sure you’re ready for any weather.
Practice in The Cold
Over time, as you sit in your tree stand, your muscles will stiffen. Therefore, if you plan to shoot your bow in below zero temperatures, it is crucial to practice beforehand. Stiffened strings and limbs can affect the range and accuracy of your equipment. Sights may need to be adjusted or steps taken to compensate for the shot in cold weather. Every bow will be affected by the cold to a different extent, so it is critical to test how your gear performs in different conditions.
Cold weather clothing may get tangled in your string, change your anchor points, and make it hard to handle your string correctly. Practicing beforehand can help work out these issues or give you time to swap out some of your cold-weather gear for items that may be more streamlined. It is essential to find the balance between mobility and heat retention while firing bows in cold temperatures.
Particularly practice shooting wearing the gloves you will actually use in the field.
Once in The Field
Be aware; it takes time for your bow to adjust to the cold. How your bow fires will change as the day progresses, and you and your bow get colder.
While out in the snow, it is vital to keep a close eye on your cams. If snow or ice builds up, it could cause damage to your bow. Always ensure your cams are clear of obstructions before firing.
Other important areas to check for obstruction are axels, drop away rests, and whisker biscuits. Cold parts may respond sluggishly; parts jammed with snow or ice may not work at all. This may affect the flight of your arrow, drastically changing your point of impact.
Not only will your bow get stiff, so will you! From time to time, it’s a good idea to stand up and move a little while hunting in cold weather. Sitting for long periods of time will lead to tired, cold muscles. Simply alternating from standing to sitting can keep the blood flowing, your muscles limber, and your mind focused. It’s also a good idea to draw your bow at least once or twice an hour – this will keep your muscles warm and keep your bow from freezing up and making a lot of noise while drawing back. It’s not a bad idea to pack some hand and toe warmers as well
Once You Get Home
Ensure that you clear off any snow or ice on your bow. A bow’s number one enemy is moisture, and cold weather can compound moisture problems. Make sure your bow is clean and dry. Your bow should be stored away from moisture in a temperature-controlled area.
If you’re prepared, winter bow hunting can be challenging and rewarding. I encourage you to stop by the Archery Shack to ensure you have the right gear and ensure your bow is properly tuned. When you come, bring all your winter gear and try shooting at our indoor range while wearing that gear. And, as always, ask for help! It’s our passion to help you be the best you can be, both in the range and in the field.