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Archive for the ‘Hunting’ Category


The Predator as Prey

The wily coyote is America’s number-one predator and the principal query of a new breed of hunters.
 
The deer hunt is a time-honored activity that outdoors-loving men and women hold in esteem. For many it’s an anxiously awaited yearly ritual. The animal is a worthy opponent and a kill can feed a family for weeks.
 
But it isn’t easy. Licensing and equipment are expensive, the season is brief and in most jurisdictions only one animal can be harvested on each license. One and done. What’s more, in many places landowners charge exorbitant fees to hunt deer on their property.
 
But tell them you want to kill coyotes and they’ll welcome you. That’s one reason why predator hunting is growing. To that add minimal or no license fees, generous bag limits and a challenge that tests one’s skills.
 
Al Morris of Foxpro, a manufacturer of electronic calls and decoys, said, “Predator hunting is becoming the poor man’s big game hunting.”
 
Minimal restrictions make predator hunting appealing, so does a cash bounty in some jurisdictions. What’s more furriers will purchase pelts harvested in cold locales. Morris, who along with Abner Druckenmiller and Mike Dillon, co-hosts Foxpro Furtakers on Outdoor Channel, said 18 pelts harvested in Alberta, Canada last year sold for $70 to $90 per pelt, with a large white pelt bringing $130.
 
Successful coyote hunting depends on skillful calling, combined with use of decoys. The Foxpro Wildfire 2 call, for example, weighs only 1.5 pounds with batteries and can store up to 200 animal sounds. ICOtec’s GC300 call has a whopping 300-yard remote control range and a 120 dB speaker to blast long range calls. Use either with a lifelike Lil’ Critter decoy from Lucky Duck or a Foxpro Black Jack decoy and you’ll be hard pressed to find a coyote who can resist.
 
J.D. Piatt, veteran hunter and consultant to ICOtec, said calls are a major tool for the hunter. Both ICOtec and Foxpro libraries include wounded animal sounds, which can attract a hungry coyote, territorial calls that challenge a nearby predator and a variety of sounds that will attract the curious coyote.
 
“Many are live recordings of actual animals,” said Piatt. “In late summer through early winter I’ll work more toward the hunger and curiosity side. I use coyote vocalizations in late winter and spring.”
 
“You can find a sound that will call a coyote on any day of the year,” said Morris.
 
The challenge of figuring out what that sound might be is part of what makes predator hunting fascinating. To that add the marksmanship test and the restorative benefits of a day in the field and you can understand why predator hunting has grown rapidly. Stop by Dunham’s today to get everything you need to join the hunt.
 
-Deer Abby
 
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Bring in the Bucks

Scientifically formulated attractants bring the bucks to your stand.
 
Today’s best hunters have skills that go beyond handling firearms. If you expect to harvest a buck, you have to understand his habits, predict his movements and attract him to your stand. You also have to be sure he doesn’t sense the presence of someone he doesn’t like — that would be you — and does detect something he likes — a doe in estrus or a food source. You have to be part scientist and part naturalist.
 
Among useful tools the thinking hunter uses are attractants. If you don’t have the good fortune of being in a place where bucks happen to find things that make them happy, your best chance of success is to simulate good things and mask bad things.
 
Estrous Scents
 
Estrous (or estrus) scents are meant to suggest the presence of a doe in heat. These scents are usually 100% doe urine collected when the animal is ready to mate. Among products available at Dunham’s is Golden Estrus Xtreme from Wildlife Research Center. Paul Marion of Wildlife Research Center, said the product “was once available only to industry insiders.” Applied to a wick that’s hung from a branch, it’s a potent lure.
 
Dunham’s stocks a number of Code Blue estrous products as well. Greg Roe of PRADCO Outdoor Brands, said their best selling product is Code Blue Estrous Doe Urine, which is effective when used during rut. He applies it with a dragline, a simple device that’s coated with scent and dragged along the ground as he walks to his stand. He then hangs the rope near the stand. He also uses Code Blue Grave Digger – freeze-dried dirt infused with doe estrous. To attract that buck, dig a hole the size of a golf ball and fill it with Grave Digger. A bit of moisture activates it.
 
Code Blue’s premium estrous product, Platinum Standing Estrous is collected during the approximate three-hour window when the doe is standing for mating. “It’s super power stuff,” said Roe, “and works well when applied with a drag line.”
 
When using a dragline, pull on rubber gloves before removing the line from its package. Your odor will not help attract a buck. Hold the line out to the side at arm’s length while walking, so the scent trail doesn’t intersect your footsteps.
 
Other Scents
 
Also available at Dunham’s are Code Blue Doe Urine and Buck Urine. Doe urine is gathered when the animal is not in estrous and can be a confidence builder for bucks. Used prior to the rut it tells a travelling buck that a doe has come this way and deemed the trail safe. Buck Urine is used prior to the rut and suggests that another buck has invaded the territory. That will prompt buck number one to look for the interloper. When applied with a dragline along the trail to your stand, it can lead the buck to you.
 
Buck Bomb’s Dominant Buck is made from whitetail urine and formulated to be used in pre-rut and rut periods. Doe P and Ambush are made from whitetail urine as well and, according the Buck Bomb web site, can be used year round.
 
Scent Control
 
The surest way to make sure a buck won’t go near your stand is to leave your odor in the area. Mr. buck doesn’t want to make your acquaintance. That’s why products are available to eliminate a range of odors and do it well.
 
Among these is Super Charged Scent Killer from Wildlife Research Center. A blend of odor fighting ingredients, it’s applied to clothing and equipment. It continues to work after it dries, so you don’t have to hunt with wet clothing. Marion said the product “was found to be 99% effective at stopping replicated human odor in testing at Rutgers University.”
 
Goodies
 
Dunham’s stocks a variety of food products from Wild Game Innovations. These are proven attractants made from foods deer love. Packaged in 5-lb. bags, they allow for easy handling. Among these are a range of tasty products, including Chestnut Rage Wild Game, Apple Crush, Sugar Beet Crush, Acorn Rage and more. Other products from the same company, including Sugar Beet Crush Narrow Block, are sold as wrapped blocks.
 
Want to grow goodies near your stand? Throw & Gro Xtreme Radish from Evolved Habitats will produce a food plot that attracts and retains deer. The 5 lb. bag will grow up to 1/4 acre of nutritious food.
 
Screw This
 
How about an attractant device that lures bucks with food they love and keeps them busy working to get to it? Sugar Beet Smash Screw and the Corn Holer, from Buck Bomb come in the form of a screw-shaped container that is packed with goodies. Screwed into a hole in the ground, they serve as a feed block that is protected from the elements and cannot be easily carried away.
 
-Deer Abby
 
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Precision Ammunition

Hunters need to be on top of the constant technological advances and innovations in firearms, scent-masking and baiting, but they shouldn’t overlook the trends and changes in ammunition as well. Changes to all types of hunting equipment come as often as opening day, but what should hunters be looking for with this year’s brand-new types of ammo?
 
According to Jessica Kallam of Remington, there are two main focuses for ammunition companies, aside from the new technology. “Price vs. performance remains the focus,” Kallam said. “Hunters are looking for a bargain now that ammo is starting to show back up on the shelves. Quality and consistency of performance is a theme we hear from hunters. After a long period of high rate production, many want to know that overall quality is still a focus in the American ammunition industrial base.”
 
While Remington is keeping up with its tradition of quality performance ammunition, they’ve made some impressive advances to their already industry-leading products, most notably with their HyperSonic models. “HyperSonic Rifle Bonded™ features the Core-Lokt Ultra Bonded bullet at velocities up to 200 fps faster than standard loads,” Kallam explained. “HyperSonic Steel™: The world’s fastest, hardest hitting steel loads at 1,700 fps. HyperSonic Slug™: New for 2014, the world’s fastest shotgun slug at 2,300 fps utilizes proven Xelerator™ sabot-wad technology. The industry leading AccuTip™ bonded slug features 95 percent weight retention, massive expansion and deep penetration.”
 
Celebrating its 75th year helping hunters land their trophy bucks as the “deadliest mushroom in the woods,” Core-Lokt ammo is extremely popular ammunition that can be found at your local Dunham’s.“The Core-Lokt bullet was the first controlled expansion bullet designed to retain its jacket for maximum weight retention, expansion and penetration for stellar terminal performance on game,” Kallam said.
 
For those looking for a bargain in addition to their prey, Remington has some special offers that hunters should keep in their crosshairs, such as the Remington Nitro-Steel waterfowl loads. Nearing waterfowl season, this ammunition gives hunters an affordable price without sacrificing Remington quality.
 
Remington will also be offering some rebates on their already affordable products. Hunters should be on the lookout for rebates on all Core-Lokt and premium rifle ammunition, Express buckshot, Slugger™ shotgun slugs, Premier AccuTip™ slugs and Premier Copper Solid™ slugs.
 
With opening day getting closer by the minute, don’t forget to take advantage of some of the fantastic updates in Remington products as well as the rebates to save a few bucks. With the quality, tradition and performance of Remington and the selection and know-how of Dunham’s, make it a hunting season for the record books.
 
-Deer Abby
 
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Hide and See

Successful hunters locate the target before it sees them.
 
Hunting from a tree stand is great for youngsters. But some of us seniors aren’t inclined to rise to those heights. What’s more there are prime hunting areas where the trees are too small or too widespread for stand hunting. That’s why ground blinds are becoming ever more popular. Because much of deer and turkey hunting involves waiting patiently, a ground blind can make the hunt much more pleasant, since most can accommodate a comfortable chair.
 
A blind is a great choice if you’re hunting waterfowl as well. The key is matching the blind to the environment and shooting position. That’s why a deer blind at the edge of a stand of trees and a duck blind located in tall grass have little in common.
 
Constructing a blind used to be tedious, but they’re now available commercially. You’ll find an excellent selection of Ameristep blinds at Dunham’s. Most can be erected in minutes – less than a minute with experience – and they come in a variety of styles and sizes for the lone hunter or a group.
 
The outside of most blinds features a camouflage pattern. For deer hunting, you’ll want something with natural colors that can blend in with dense shrubbery or trees. The best blinds have a black lining that can help make the hunter less obvious even if the windows are open. While you want to wear hunter orange while moving through the woods, you can remove it and wear dark colors in the blind.
 
Jackie Allen and Pat McKenna of Plano Synergy, marketer of Ameristep blinds, say the most popular deer and turkey hunting blind available at Dunham’s is the affordable Doghouse® Blind. Spacious enough for bow hunting and an ideal choice for firearm hunting, it can accommodate an adult and youngster comfortably. It features the effective Realtree Xtra camo pattern, black interior and replaceable mesh curtains. Bow hunters using a fixed blade broadhead can shoot through the mesh.
 
Another great choice at Dunham’s is the square Care Taker Blind. With a 69-inch by 69-inch shooting area and 66-inch height it easily accommodates two adult hunters, yet breaks down into a small package for transport. Dunham’s also carries the Ameristep High-Back Chair and Tripod Stool that can provide comfortable seating at the right height in the blind.
 
In the end, hunting success is largely about seeing the prey before it sees you, and a quality blind greatly improves the odds of that happening.
 
-Deer Abby
 
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Camouflage Your Attire and Scent, For a Successful Hunting Season

The most popular hunting prey throughout the world is the white-tailed deer. Along with speed and agility, white-tailed deer use their sight and sense of smell to avoid predators … and that includes hunters. To increase your chances of a successful hunt this season, you must practice and you must be properly attired. That doesn’t mean suit and tie for men and a cocktail dress for the women. It means clothing that will keep you comfortable in various weather conditions, help you blend into the background and mask your natural odor.
 
Comfortably Blending In
 
With the level of technology incorporated into today’s hunting apparel, hunters can be comfortable throughout the season.
 
“Our Knock Out lightweight jacket and pants are great early to mid-season products. Available for men, they feature four-way material stretch for optimal of movement. This line is available in Realtree camouflage patterns,” said Mike Swan of Robinson Outdoors.
 
When the weather turns colder, Swan suggests his company’s ProTec HD garment series. They are warm, lightweight and windproof and feature the company’s BodyLock technology.
 
“BodyLock incorporates fasteners at entry and exit points – such as the neck, wrists, pant cuffs. It traps air inside the jacket so odor gets filtered through our Trinity Scent Control, which prevents odor,” Swan said.
 
Also ideal for colder weather hunting is UnderArmour’s Coldgear Infrared technology. It’s being introduced in hunting apparel for the first time this year.
 
“This highly advanced ceramic technology goes inside the fabric. It actually absorbs the wearer’s body heat and retains it to hold warmth longer. Coldgear Infrared is available from baselayer to outer apparel,” said Kevin Perry, UnderArmour.
 
To keep the wearer scent-free, UnderArmour products feature Zeolite technology with antimicrobial silver. According to Perry, UnderArmour is the only company that uses both Zeolite and antimicrobial silver. Products are available in Realtree and Mossy Oak camouflage patterns.
 
“Our Trinity Scent Control is different from traditional scent control, which has been carbon. The problem with carbon is that it has to be applied to paneled fabrics for maximum effectiveness. Instead, Trinity Scent Control allows us to create products that are lightweight, breathable. Our technology also does not wash out, since it’s bonded to the fabric,” Swan added.
 
Just for Women
 
Ladies, Dunham’s Sports also has you covered during your hunting forays with a multitude of brands and styles, including two new offerings from Habit.
 
“Our women’s Techshell jacket and pants are fitted bow hunting-style garments that offers Habit’s Scent Factor technology. They feature a fleece liner for additional warmth. Actually, the Techshell jacket looks so good that I wouldn’t be surprised if women wore it when not hunting, as well,” said Habit’s Lee Mahan.
 
Also new for 2014 are Habit’s Scent-Factor jacket and pants. They’re also waterproof, windproof, scent proof and available in a variety of colors, including RealTree and Mossy Oak.
 
Keeping Your Toes Toasty
 
Don’t overlook the importance of keeping your feet warm while hunting. After all, our extremities are susceptible to frostbite, so keeping your feet warm is extremely important in an outdoor sport. Dunham’s Sports offers hunting footwear from a number of leading companies.
 
New at Dunham’s this year is one of Muck Boots top sellers, The Woody Max boot. It features a 5-mm neoprene-fleece liner with an added 2-mm of thermal foam under the foot.
 
“The Woody Max boot is specifically designed to keep hunters toasty warm. Whether they’re on a tree stand or in a blind, these boots deliver proven protection in frigid temperatures,” said Rodney Robeson of Muck Boots.
 
Also available from Muck Boots is the Wetland line of premium boots. They’re designed to keep your feet warm at temperatures as low as 20 degrees below zero and feature a breathable air mesh lining.
 
“Our Wetland boots are available for men and women and are a favorite of those who hunt waterfowl and anyone who shovels snow or works outdoors,” Robeson added.
 
Another great option is the Rocky SilentHunter insulated rubber boot. Because of their price point, they’re ideal for newer hunters.
 
“The SilentHunter boots feature 600 grams of PrimaLoft insulation for optimal warmth and comfort, leaving you to focus on your prey, rather than on your feet,” said Jordan Gottke of Rocky Boots.
 
Even more warmth is delivered by the company’s Rocky Core neoprene rubber boot. They feature 1,000 grams of Thinsulate Ultra insulation and are waterproof.
 
“The aggressive rubber outsole on the Rocky Core neoprene boot provides traction that helps you grip the terrain and is comfortable to walk on,” Gottke added.
 
Also delivering 1,000 grams of Thinsulate Ultra insulation are the Cabrine 1000 from Itasca.
 
“These boots are warm, waterproof and include a comfort cushion insole. They feature a Realtree Xtra camo upper and a camo EVA midsole,” explained Marty Lynch, Itasca.
 
For those who are likely to trudge through water, Lynch recommends Itasca’s Swampwalker 1000. In addition to the aforementioned 1,000 grams of Thinsulate Ultra insulation, the Swampwalker 1000 feature a comfort cushion insole and a top side cinch strap. They’re made of scent-free rubber for added stealth.
 
Wear, Don’t Wash
 
All of the clothing mentioned in this article features some proprietary scent-blocking technology, allowing you to hunt without being noticed by the deer. As a general rule, it’s not necessary – or recommended – to wash your gear unless it is soiled.
 
“To regenerate our Trinity Scent Control technology, we recommend putting the hunting gear in a household dryer and using a high heat setting, Robinson Outdoors’ Swan said.
 
The process is different for UnderArmour apparel.
 
“Thanks to our Zeolite technology, there’s no need to place the items in the dryer to reactivate the scent control since it’s good for the life of the garment. Simply wash and wear them,” Perry said.
 
Outfitted with the proper apparel, there’s no reason you can’t have a successful hunt this year. Good luck!
 
-Deer Abby
 
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Keep Your Eye on the Target

Target practice can result in a successful hunt.
 
Like all sports or hobbies, it takes practice to become proficient and hunting is no different. Chances are, ardent bow hunters have already started tuning in their bows and aligning their sights by the time this issue of Get In The Game arrives at your local Dunham’s Sports store. To sharpen your skills (and keep them sharp year round), Dunham’s Sports offers a variety of targets that can help improve your chances of a successful hunt this year.
 
Portable Targets
 
The most affordable targets and the most convenient ones are portable targets. They can be set up in seconds and weigh next to nothing. One popular option is the new Block Black line from Field Logic. This square, cube-style archery target features a black background with white bull’s-eye graphics for optimal visibility.
 
“The targets on the Block Black line are offset to increase target life and enable hunters to practice on four sides,” said Field Logic’s Mike Weinkauf.
 
Further prolonging the targets’ function is the company’s use of a layered core; it stops the arrow with friction, rather than force. The Block Black line allows hunters to practice with any field tip or broadhead all year long without the fear of wearing down the target.
 
“We’ve put over 20,000 shots in this type of target and it was still good,” Weinkauf added.
 
Dunham’s Sports also carries Field Logic’s Hurricane Bag Targets that are specifically designed for steel points.
 
“Most other bag targets are hand-packed. Ours use compressed materials at 1,000 pounds per square inch (psi) of pressure. That eliminates arrow pass-through. These are bright green targets with orange dots on them for exceptional visibility,” Weinkauf said.
 
Field Logic also offers the Gen Z Block Black line that is specifically designed for kids. It’s intended for bows of 40 pounds of draw or less.
 
Another option for portable targets is the Yellow Jacket line from Morrell Manufacturing. It also features patented technology to make arrow extraction easy, thereby increasing product life. As the name implies, it features a bright yellow background with red and black bull’s-eye graphics.
 
“Our Yellow Jacket targets are great for those who love to hunt or practice. They are durable, affordable and the yellow color makes them really easy to see,” said Butch Thomas, Morrell Manufacturing. “For the money, it’s a hard target to beat.”
 
Thomas also recommends the Yellow Jacket Discharge target. It’s designed for hunters to discharge their bow into the bag and features super easy arrow removal.
 
3D Targets
 
As the season approaches, most hunters will switch their practice to more realistic targets. That’s where 3D targets come into play.
 
“Our GlenDel line is by far the leading 3D archery target. Available in sizes that simulate 200-, 250-, and 300-lb. deer, they feature a removable, four-sided core, allowing you to shoot at all four sides,” Weinkauf said.
 
“You get four times the life that you would with some other targets. The core is also bigger, so it’s going to last a really long time. It will stop any arrow you can shoot at it,” Weinkauf added.
 
As Weinkauf explained, the core on the GlenDel line of products uses PolyFusion technology, which creates a more uniform layered compression. This allows for easier arrow removal and promotes longer target life. This 3D target stops field points, fixed and expandable broadheads.
 
Choosing The Right Target
 
With so many targets to choose from, it may be difficult to decide which is right for you. Here’s what our experts recommend.
 
“The Hurricane Bag is a great choice for the novice hunter. From there, the Block Black and the GlenDel are pretty even step points. Choosing the proper size of the GlenDel depends on where you live. You also get more target life out of the bigger ones versus the smaller ones,” Weinkauf said.
 
He recommends practicing with the Hurricane Bag year-round, starting to shoot the Block Black in July or so, then transitioning to the GlenDel in August or so to get your eyes focused on the target.
 
For more information about hunting targets, please consult with a knowledgeable Dunham’s Sports hunting consultant. Here’s to a successful hunting season!
 
-Deer Abby
 
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Practice Gun Safe Safety

Any responsible gun owner knows the importance of practicing proper safety techniques and precautions. One of the best and most responsible things you can do is purchase a reliable gun safe.
 
A gun safe can protect you and your family and ensure that your firearms do not end up in the wrong hands. That can mean protecting them from theft or even people in your home who should not be handling guns, like children. The National Institutes of Health suggests keeping a gun in a rack or safe to prevent children from gaining access to them.
 
Pasquale Murena of Cannon Safe suggests that gun owners take the eventual location of the safe into consideration when shopping for one. If you are putting the safe in the basement, for instance, it can be larger than one you plan to keep in your closet. Many gun owners choose to keep their safe in a closet or attached to a nightstand so that it is safely away from children but nearby if needed. The weight and size will be important considerations if you know where you want to keep the safe.
 
When looking for a gun safe, consider the hinges as well. Safes with exterior hinges can be easier to crack into. The safe you select should have interior hinges and a bolt length of at least four inches.
 
Another important tip Murena offers is to bolt your gun safe to the ground.
 
“You should always bolt your safe to the ground,” he said. “Cannon Safe gives you four predrilled holes for securing your safe to the ground. Safes are harder to get into when they are upright. Laying them on their backs are easier targets.”
 
A quality gun safe can also protect your valuable firearm collection from the elements, such as fire. Cannon Safes are tested with the “True Fire Test,” which involves testing the safe at 1200 degrees Fahrenheit to insure durability. The Cannon Safe warranty offers customers freight, locksmiths and a new safe at no cost should your safe be in a fire, burglary or natural flood.
 
Dunham’s Sports offers a wide range of Cannon Safes from the Safari, Armory and Scout Series. The Armory Series safes feature the EMP lock, which offers a mechanical lock as a backup to the electronic lock. The safes are available in an array of sizes and styles to fit any gun owner’s needs.
 
Hunting season wouldn’t be much fun if your firearms were stolen or damaged. So head to your local Dunham’s Sports to find the Cannon Safe that works best for you!
 
-Deer Abby
 
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To the Hunt! Safety.

With the arrival of fall, hunters have a lot to consider. Firearm safety should be first on the list.
 
Gun safety should be top of mind for every hunter. And statistics indicate it is. According to the National Safety Council, accidents involving firearms in the home have decreased significantly over the last twenty years. Data indicates that we’re being cautious in the field as well, as hunting is now ranked among the safest activities in America. But while we’re doing well, the beginning of hunting season is an excellent time to reinforce good habits and remind ourselves about the common-sense precautions that helped build that excellent safety record.
 
In the home
 
Safety considerations in the home are most critical, because home is where your family will be exposed to danger if firearms aren’t handled properly. As a firearm owner, you’re responsible. You have to know how to take care of guns and how to store them safely. If you’re not willing to assume that responsibility, you shouldn’t purchase a firearm.
 
Do unload outside. Don’t load inside. Before taking a sporting firearm into the home, make sure that it is unloaded. When unloading, point the firearm in a safe direction. Never load the firearm in the home. The best way to protect your family is to make absolutely certain that a loaded sporting firearm is never allowed in the home.
 
Store unloaded firearms out of the reach of children. A gun safe is the best alternative for this. See “Practice Gun Safe Safety” on page 24 for more information on the gun safes you’ll find at Dunham’s. Store ammunition in a different location, such as a locked cabinet or a second safe. When you remove a firearm from storage, check to make sure it is unloaded, even if you’re absolutely certain it’s unloaded.
 
A firearm-locking device can render a weapon unusable. Dunham’s carries both Remington cable locks that prevent a round from being chambered and Remington trigger blocks that make the trigger inoperable. Use a lock any time your weapon is in the home or otherwise not in use. A lock is additional security that comes at a small price.
 
Do it now. You might be tired when you return home from a hunting trip, but you must store your unloaded weapons and ammunition before you do anything else.
 
A contract with your kids. The National Shooting Sports Foundation suggests you have your children sign a firearms responsibility contract. A suggested format can be found on this page. Basically, it helps ensure that if your child does encounter a firearm, he or she won’t touch it.
 
In the Field
 
That first day of the season is thrilling, and enthusiastic hunters can’t wait to get out in the field. But before you grab your gun and go, take a few minutes to reflect on some standard precautions.
 
Don’t shoot yourself in the foot—or in any other body part. Self-inflicted gunshot wounds are common. Make sure the safety is on when you’re walking and keep your finger off the trigger. Keep the gun pointed at the ground or sky. If you tuck the gun under your arm and point it straight ahead, you could shoot your partner in the back. And check the safety over and over again. If you’re new to hunting or have just purchased a firearm, study its operation thoroughly before taking it out in the field.
 
Do you look like a deer? If you’re not wearing hunter orange, another hunter might very well mistake you for game. If you want to live to hunt another day, you have to make yourself visible while on the move. According to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, in states where hunter orange is mandatory there has been a dramatic decrease in the number of vision-related shooting incidents. In many states, firearm hunters are required to wear an orange hat, cap, vest, jacket or rain gear. Camouflage outer garments are legal if 50% or more of the surface is hunter orange.
 
That firearm is loaded. Or at least you should treat it as though it is. Never assume that a firearm is unloaded, even if you know it’s unloaded or think you know it’s unloaded. Many hunters and innocent bystanders have been shot with “unloaded” guns.
 
Look beyond the target. If deer are moving toward you it could well be that other hunters are driving them in that direction. Before you pull the trigger be certain that no one is behind the prey, lest they become the prey. If someone is driving the deer, let’s hope they’re wearing hunter orange.
 
A dirty barrel is deadly. If you fall in the field and the barrel of your firearm strikes the ground, you have to make sure that it is clear. A fouled barrel can cause the firearm to explode in your hands. But before checking the barrel, make sure the firearm is unloaded and, if possible, that the safety is on.
 
It’s hunting season, and that’s cause for both joy and reflection. A little thought can go a long way toward keeping our loved ones and us safe in the home and in the field. There is no subject more important to the hunting community than firearm safety. Don’t ever forget that.
 
-Deer Abby
 
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The Simple Pleasures of a Silent Hunt

There’s no greater joy for hunters than that first day in the field, when they escape the rigors of modern life and return to their roots. At one Michigan company where I worked, the first day of deer season was a holiday. As it should be.
 
Now, thanks to an expanded crossbow season that includes much or all of the weeks allotted to archery and firearm hunting, that special day can come a bit sooner for many of us.
 
But the advantages of crossbow hunting go well beyond a longer hunting season. Rob Bluthardt, a Michigan hunter who has been harvesting bucks since he was a kid with both firearms and conventional bows, has been shooting with a crossbow for several years. “The main reason I love crossbow hunting is you get the challenge of bow hunting but the reliability and accuracy of hunting with a rifle,” says Rob.
 
Hunters haven’t always held crossbows in high regard. Bow hunters thought them to be a cheat, and complained that the archery season was no longer theirs alone. Firearm shooters considered crossbows inefficient. But most have come around. Many bow hunters have seen that a crossbow enables accurate shooting while preserving the silence and challenges that distinguish archery season. And firearm shooters now recognize that today’s crossbows are accurate weapons that can both extend the season and fill the freezer.
 
Upside, Downside
 
Crossbows offer advantages over conventional bows. A crossbow can be armed in advance, so you’re ready to shoot when opportunity presents itself. Pre-arming also enables shooting from a relaxed position, allowing accuracy at close range. A safety device helps prevent accidental discharge.
 
The downside is limited range. While a firearm can bring down a distant deer, crossbows are restricted to about 40 yards. That means no yapping in the deer stand, and factors like wind direction become critical. Plus you get only one shot. Second shots are usually not part of the program. But accuracy and stealth are skills every hunter should develop, so hunting with a crossbow can make us better.
 
The Modern Crossbow
 
While state regulations that encourage crossbow hunting are new, the weapon is an ancient one that was used by Chinese and Mediterranean civilizations prior to the first century. Early crossbows were conventional bows fitted with a trigger device. Today’s recurve crossbows are similar in concept. They’re quiet and light, but power and range are limited.
 
The majority of current crossbows are of a compound design. The draw is shorter than that of a conventional bow or recurve crossbow, so a cam system is used to enable plenty of draw weight and optimize delivery velocity.
 
Cocking devices are available for most crossbows. The mechanism pulls the string into a loaded position and can enable those with strength limitations to join the hunt. However, many able hunters employ a cocking device, as it makes loading more precise.
 
The Barnett Ghost 410, which is available at Dunham’s, is a great example of a modern compound crossbow. With a draw weight of 185 lbs., it can generate 149 ft. lbs. of energy and deliver a 22-inch arrow at a velocity of 410 feet per second. Yet it weighs only 7.2 lbs. That minimal weight is the result of a design that employs advanced carbon construction.
 
Dunham’s also offers less expensive crossbows. For example, the best-selling Barnett Wildcat C5 is a reasonably priced weapon with a draw weight of 150 lbs. That’s sufficient to deliver a 20-inch arrow at a speed of 310 feet-per-second. The SA Sports Ambush Crossbow is very affordable and is a good entry-level weapon. The Titan Extreme by Ten Point is a medium-priced alternative. With 180 lbs. of draw weight it can deliver an arrow at 333 feet- per-second. A built-in crank cocker reduces the cocking tension to a mere 5 lbs. Dunham’s sales consultants are well educated in crossbow technology and can help you choose a bow that’s right for you.
 
Getting to the Point
 
Crossbows fire arrows, called “bolts,”are similar to those used in conventional bows but shorter and heavier. Extra heft means they hit the target with plenty of force. The best bolts are made of carbon fiber and can retain more velocity downfield than less expensive aluminum bolts.
 
At the business end of the bolt is the penetrating broadhead. Available in various configurations and weights, it must be matched to the game to achieve a quick, humane kill. A lighter broadhead can achieve greater speed but won’t hit with as much force as a heavier one.
 
Fixed-blade broadheads require some preparation before going out in the field. Because broadheads differ in flight characteristics, scope adjustment and bow tuning should be worked out on the target range. Retractable blade broadheads, which expand only on impact, fly true and are a good solution for hunters who can’t put in time on the range. The blades of all broadheads should be sharpened every time the arrow is fired to ensure maximum effectiveness.
 
Deer season is upon us. See you in the field.
 
-Deer Abby
 
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