Archive for the 'Tips/Advice' Category

10 votes, average: 4.40 out of 510 votes, average: 4.40 out of 510 votes, average: 4.40 out of 510 votes, average: 4.40 out of 510 votes, average: 4.40 out of 5 (10 votes, average: 4.40 out of 5)
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Published by Checkmate on 07 Sep 2008

Buying a bow for the first time: A noobie’s insight to selecting the right bow for yourself

Hi,

 

My name is Kyle and I recently became an archery fanatic.  I bought my first bow in December 2007 with full intentions of becoming a fairly skilled archer/bowhunter.  I have not bowhunted in the past and only owned a very old model compound bow when I was around nine years old.  No one in my family or close friends bowhunts or participates in any form of archery.  So I feel that I am fairly qualified to write an article from the perspective of a brand new archer with almost zero knowledge about the sport of archery and no help from trusted family and friends on getting into the sport.  The goals of this post are to help inform new aspiring archers to select the right starting equipment that has the best chance of keeping them interested in the sport with a desire to learn more and become the best archer they can be.  Perhaps this post can help the already seasoned archers by taking a view from a different perspective than one they already hold.

 

Getting Started

 

The first place to start is always with a budget.  There is a WIDE range of archery equipment out there for all different price ranges.  Knowing what you can realistically spend on your gear is going to help you make decisions easier and keep the hurt on your pocketbook to something that is manageable.  One thing that I have learned quite quickly is that archery can get very expensive very quickly.  With proper planning you should be able to minimize the amount of surprises in equipment costs.

My recommendation is that you set a budget for total cost of a ready to shoot package.  Keeping in mind the things that are absolutely necessary versus the nice trinkets and gadgets that fall in the want category.  Things like arrows, an arrow rest, a sight, some form of release either a finger tab or mechanical release, broadheads if you plan on hunting and other accessories that are essential add up to a lot of extra expense.  I would try to find average prices for these pieces of gear and try to match with a bow that will fit the price range you have limited yourself to.  Many pro-shops and outfitter stores will have a good idea of price ranges of entire packages for out the door prices when you talk with them.  These tools are all vital components of the total package, but the remainder of this article will remain focused on selecting the right bow, (keep in mind this article is geared toward compound hunting bows, as that is the only area of archery I have entered so far) perhaps in the future I can spend time on other necessary pieces of equipment.

 

Removing Bias

If you are lucky enough to have friends or family members that already have archery equipment and are willing to help you get started that is great.  I would caution you to be careful of bias in the archery world though.  Many people are very opinionated on archery gear and not very open minded about things.  I think this is one of the biggest downfalls in the archery world.  My recommendation is that you try to keep everything that you have heard in commercials, from friends and family, and from pro-shop techs in perspective.  Although they have very valuable information, be skeptical of hard pressed opinions.  Websites like Archerytalk have a huge wealth of information available at your fingertips; all you have to do is seek it out.  What hasn’t worked for someone in the past that they “will never try again in their life” has more than likely worked flawlessly for countless other people.  Have an open mind when exploring the sport of archery.

 

Research

Archery is a science, and many people have done a lot of work to improve on the equipment that is available.   There are great resources that allow you to get their reviews on gear for free.  I will caution you here however, try to keep in mind that references might not always be playing fair when it comes to reviews.  If a bow manufacturer is a huge sponsor of theirs, you might find biased results.  Archerytalk is a great source of case study and personal experience material.  Archeryevolution.com is a really good source of objective material on hunting compounds.  I would recommend reading up on some of the issues dealt with in their studies and use that information to help guide what you want to look for in a bow.

 

Fling some arrows

The only way to truly decide what bow is best for you is to shoot different kinds of bows.  Head to your local shop and ask for some help on finding a bow in your price range.  Hopefully they will have multiple bows that fall in your price range and you should shoot all of them.  They will be able to give you a release, some arrows and a few instructions on what to do when you start shooting. 

Before you shoot

Have the pro-shop staff determine your draw length.  On many bows today draw length is a set feature and you need different cams to change the draw length of the bow.  Having the right draw length for you is essential, and once you know it you will be able to try out bows that match that length.  Shooting a bow that is either to short or to long is going to be a serious disadvantage for you because it produces bad form while shooting.

Find a comfortable draw weight.  Not everyone is capable of drawing back 70 pounds.  Some people might not even be able to handle 40.  Have the shop staff help you in finding a draw weight that you can comfortably and safely draw back.  Select a bow that is comfortable for you to draw and does not require you to over exert yourself to reach full draw.  Archery is a sport of repetition, if you have trouble drawing a bow five times in a row practice sessions are going to be painful experiences.  On that note, keep in mind that archery muscles are not something used in everyday work.  You will need to build these muscles and potentially have to shoot a lower poundage at first until you have strengthened those muscles enough to pull heavier weight.

Now lets get to testing the bow.  The things to evaluate from bow to bow are:

 

Draw Cycle:

This is how the bow pulls for you and how much effort is required to reach full draw.  Each person can be different and a harsh draw cycle to one person might feel like very smooth to another.  It is important to keep things equal between the bows you are testing.  Make sure they are all set at the same draw weight.  Pulling 70 pounds on one bow and then 50 on another is obviously not a fair comparison.  If they do not have the appropriate limbs to match draw weights on the bows make sure to keep that in mind when you evaluate each. 

 

Hand Shock

This is essentially how much recoil is in the bow after the shot is taken.  If you have ever took a swing at a solid object with a metal baseball bat and the resulting vibration made you drop the bat in pain you have an idea what hand shock feels like.  Of course it is not that extreme in any bow on the market today (at least to my knowledge).  However, like a harsh draw cycle, an abundance of hand shock can make practice sessions with a bow displeasureable.  Try to look for a bow that does not vibrate much when you shoot.  Note that it is probably impossible to eliminate all hand shock from any bow, but you should be able to find something that does not feel like a baseball bat hitting concrete in your hand.

 

Looks

Some people might disagree with me here, but I think it is important to have a bow that you like the looks of.  Many people are generally proud of their bow and like to show it off.  It is similar to having a car or home you are proud of.  Remember to keep this in perspective though as well.  Looks are not nearly as important as functionality.  However, all things being equal between two different bows go with the one you like the looks of better.

 

End Results

If you are consistently shooting great groups with one bow and they fall apart with another, go for consistency.  It might be your form, or torque on the bow that is making you shoot worse, but it could be something that just doesn’t work for you.  Perhaps the grip is different and you can’t hold one bow without torquing at the shot, whereas you can hold the other steady and straight.  Just remember that one bow needs to be consistently different from the other.  Don’t just shoot one group with each and choose the one that has the better group.  Also, don’t think that because one group is closer to the bullseye than the other it is automatically better.  Once again, sighting the bow for yourself will produce better accuracy than when you are just testing the bow.

 

Workmanship

Inspect the bow for manufacturing defects and flaws.  You are paying for a piece of equipment that should be free of them.  Look at the machining on the different parts of the bow.  Check for defects that could affect a bows performance and also affect the look of the bow.  You wouldn’t buy a new car with a big scratch in the paint, you shouldn’t buy a bow with one either.  Also make sure the replaceable parts on the bow are in good shape.  Check to make sure the string is not frayed and looks like it is in good condition.  Some of the bows in shops get used quite a bit before they are sold.  Make sure you have a good string on the bow that is going to last instead of needing to replace it not long after you have bought it.  If you are unsure about the quality of the string you are getting ask the shop to replace it before you buy the bow.

 

Things NOT to worry about

Don’t worry if you can’t hit the bullseye with a bow the shop is letting you try out.  To get accurate you will need to have the bow set up for you and sighted in to your anchor point.  Most shops are going to let you shoot the bow to get a feel for it, I think it would be a rare occasion to have them sight the bow in before you have even bought it.

Brand names.  Just because a bow shop is a Hoyt, Mathews, PSE, Bowtech or other dealer, does not mean that those are the right bow for you.  Most people could be happy shooting a bow from just about any company out there.  Try to remember the points I made about bias.  It comes from all angles in the archery world, so remember to be cautious.

Equipment that is already on the bow is something you shouldn’t put to much stock in either.  If you don’t like a piece that you are trying out such as the rest or the release, remember you don’t have to buy those pieces.  You can dress your bow with whatever you want on it later.

 

Final Thought

 

Ultimately you are looking for a bow that you are going to enjoy shooting.  Try to recognize what makes shooting one bow better than shooting another bow FOR YOU, whatever that characteristic(s) is(are).  Be informed and take your time making this decision, it can be a difficult task to find the right bow, especially the first time.  As with anything else, experience will guide and direct you on what qualities you like in a bow, but hopefully this article will help you make a more informed decision on your first.  If this isn’t your first time buying a bow, hopefully this article will help you refine your decision making process or perhaps encourage you to try something new and compare results.  Either way, I wish you the best of luck and take care.

12 votes, average: 3.83 out of 512 votes, average: 3.83 out of 512 votes, average: 3.83 out of 512 votes, average: 3.83 out of 512 votes, average: 3.83 out of 5 (12 votes, average: 3.83 out of 5)
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Published by Klyph on 05 Sep 2008

The Wolf Pack, by Lone Wolf – Review

As an archery hunter who hunts many locations that require me to take my stand both into and out of the woods each hunt, I have been searching for the best way to minimize and consolidate my hunting gear. For the last few years I have altered many packs so that they can be attached to my climber tree stand while entering and leaving the woods. Until now, I have found many different variations in packs and other companies that make variations of straps that are used to make carrying my stand a little more comfortable than using the “free” or manufactures straps, but until know I have not found a combination of the two.

Setup:

My first impression of The Wolf Pack wasn’t all that great. There are straps everywhere and it initially looked way more complicated than I would think that it should. But, once I got my hands on it, my opinion changed.

After taking The Wolf Pack out of the packaging I found that there are six (6) detachable straps that attach directly to the tree-stand (Lone Wolf calls them: “receiving straps”). Lone Wolf hits a home-run by lining the buckles with a neoprene cover to help quiet the “click” as the buckles are attached. I attached two (2) straps at the top, middle, and bottom of my stand. I found that the top and bottom straps worked best about 8 inches apart, while the middle straps are best spread as wide as possible. 

Receiver Strap Placement

Receiver Strap Placement

Once the receiving straps are attached to the stand it is now ready to connect it to the pack. Connect all six (6) recieving straps to the six (6) male buckles located on the pack. I initially thought that I would want the bottom straps as tight as possible so that the stand would be as high on my back as possible… Boy was i WRONG. I found that by keeping the stand as low as possible on my back, the weight of the stand is taken off of my shoulders and is much more comfortable to carry. So in other words, keep all the straps loose as possible until you get the unit on your back… it’s much easier to tighten up the straps once the unit is on your back than to loosen them. After taking the pack on and off a few times, making adjustments here and there, I found that the pack does hold my stand comfortably.

At the Tree:

The Wolf Pack, with all it pockets, straps and elastic, makes it easy to stay quiet. For me, there is plenty of space for all the essentials (range-finder, scents, bow rope,  toilet paper, grunt tubes, other calls, gloves, and other misc. items) while making them truly all accessible without routing through a big pack.

Pack loaded with gear

Pack loaded with gear

There is a built in carry handle at the top of the pack that makes it easy to attach to your bow rope and pull it up to the stand once you are at your desired height. There are two (2) straps that are used to attach the pack to the tree and all the “inside” pockets (while wearing the pack) are now right in arms reach now that it is attached to the tree. The back of the pack also acts as a padded back rest for your stand and removes all noise from any bark that would have other wise been right against your clothing.

Over all thoughts:

I found that overall this pack meets almost all my expectations. It was easy to use (once setup) and it kept all my gear quiet while keeping it easy to get to when needed. I really like the padded back rest, which is a bonus to me since I hadn’t thought it was all that necessary.

I do have some concerns (as I haven’t hunted with the pack yet, maybe they will all work them selves out) but, once you get all your gear in the pockets and strap it to your body, there is not much air movement. So, it might not be the best option in the early hunting season when temps around here can be in the 80’s. I use a HSS and when putting both on, it gets hot fast… So when using the pack, you may want to carry the HSS into the woods, rather than wear it. To bad they didn’t make the pack a safety system also… I better patent that right away.

Overall, I am glad I spent the 99.00 for this product and would recommend it to friends.

13 votes, average: 3.38 out of 513 votes, average: 3.38 out of 513 votes, average: 3.38 out of 513 votes, average: 3.38 out of 513 votes, average: 3.38 out of 5 (13 votes, average: 3.38 out of 5)
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Published by tim9910 on 21 Aug 2008

Preparations for Fall

By

Tim Hicks

It’s almost upon us, the time of year that brings little tingling feelings on the back of our necks. The excitement of finding a heavily used trail and seeing the beginnings of a great mast in the canopy above your favorite stands can be almost overwhelming.

That is of course, if you go out and do some scouting and put your efforts into being prepared for opening day. For many, they poke around a week before season, half-heartily throw up a stand, blow the dust off their bows and hope for the best. But for successful hunters, it began right about the end of last season. Unfortunately for us in northeastern Oklahoma, a blizzard hit the last weekend of archery season. And now, heavy downpours and heavier clouds of mosquitoes are keeping us out of the field. But it’s always a good time to stay on top of your game, shooting the many 3D tournaments of the summer, and just practicing out in the back yard help keep your abilities tuned. Passing the time by thumbing through the catalogs and magazines to see the newest gear and read about the great far off hunts of the past season can also thwart the onset of preseason blues. It’s a great time to drag out your hunting garb and make sure the off season didn’t make your clothes “shrink”. You should also check your hunting arrows and broadheads, refletching and replacing blades as needed. I usually start shooting broadheads a month before season so there are no surprises when that opportune moment presents itself come October. I like to scout and hang a trail camera to get an idea of the deer using the area I plan to hunt. Plus this gives you something to get excited about, even though the patterns will change before opening day. Talking with locals in the area you hunt is also a great benefit, they can tell you about the “big one” that comes to pasture each evening right before dark. Anything you can do to get the mindset and the blood pumping for the days ahead.

A great thing about September is the fact that here in Oklahoma, dove season opens. That gives us a chance to rekindle our hunting spirit, and form friendships with other hunters. It’s also a good time to meet new land owners, most are not objected to dove hunting on their property, provided you remember to pick up your spent shells and take care of their land. This can lead to a possible archery hunt in the future as some will see you are a good steward, and grant permission on their land. This is also a great time to scout, usually the action of dove hunting dies off, and you can walk the crop edges looking for good trails. Following these trails back and finding staging areas and hopefully some good stand locations along the route. Then you can hang a trail camera or two, and check out the quality of the local population. Walking in the fields also helps to condition you for the hunts ahead, but jogging or a regular exercise program is recommended. I don’t know how many times I have had everything ready, take a deer in the first couple days, and then nearly have a heart attack dragging him out. I always seem to find reasons not to prepare myself, and usually regret it soon enough.

The great thing about early scouting, as opposed to right before season, is the fact that you can march right in and turn over every blade of grass. I even check bedding areas that I would normally avoid like the plague closer to season. This gives the chance to find any new trails or feeding areas you may have overlooked last season. You can hang stands early and get shooting lanes cut, and maybe block a trail or two and hopefully funnel the movement in your direction. One of my favorite things is walking the fence lines on our property, noting the heaviest crossing route. I also tighten up the fence and then tie down the top strand to the next lower near that area of travel. This insures deer will continue crossing here, as using the easiest route is in their nature. Then I will place a stand 20 to 30 yards back in the woods from this site to avoid detection before they cross the fence. Once they have crossed a fence, it has been my experience that if they feel something awkward they typically won’t go back over the fence but run towards me. That is if they haven’t seen me or caught wind of a two-legged predator. I also like planting a fall clover or the like, giving the deer and turkey a different menu than the normal summer browse. Hanging a feeder or two in the area also works great, I don’t hunt within sight of them but it keeps the deer moving on a predictable route prior to the pre-rut. I have seen more bucks this way early on in the season than I ever have during the rut. I always want to be in the field as much as possible during the rut, but the buck sightings seem more like a chance encounter if they are truly chasing does. It’s just the excitement of knowing that huge deer can walk out at any given moment that gives me the drive to stay on stand as long as possible. But the early days are a great time to stock the freezer and get a good idea on the herd you are hunting. I had so many pictures and regular sightings last season, I named most of the deer in the area. Passing up several different four and six pointers, and a couple of does that still had twins with them. There are enough deer in the area I hunt that I try not to orphan little ones prematurely, and let the young bucks grow a couple more years.

As I sit here right now, I am ready to go stomping about in search of that perfect spot not remembering the chiggers and seed ticks until I am already covered with them. My pulse is quickening just thinking about that first morning on stand, watching the world wake up beneath my feet. It’s one of the best feelings in the world, a time when one can relax and be at peace, if only for awhile. But then I awake from the daydream, and realize there is three months left before season, and about a million things left on the “honey-do” list. But at least I have run through a beginning stage of mental preparation for the season ahead.

11 votes, average: 3.36 out of 511 votes, average: 3.36 out of 511 votes, average: 3.36 out of 511 votes, average: 3.36 out of 511 votes, average: 3.36 out of 5 (11 votes, average: 3.36 out of 5)
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Published by tim9910 on 21 Aug 2008

A god friend of mine Dean Cote with a nice mulie taken with a bow.

A good friend of mine Dean Cote with a nice mulie taken with a bow.

Christmas in November

By

Tim Hicks

“The bucks are chasing!”. This statement brings excitement to the hearts of hunters. Towards the last week of October, the doe’s begin showing signs of the forthcoming mating season, more commonly known as the rut. The bucks have rubbing, and sparsely scraping for awhile now, but more territorially and “practicing up” if you will. But now you start finding the sign post rubs, highly visible rub lines, and what may have been a twelve by six inch scrape a week ago is now the size of a four wheel drive tire, sometimes with several under the same tree.

This time, for me, is my favorite time to be in the woods. The chances of trophy buck encounters are better, albeit early or late in the day typically, and they can be coaxed in since the doe’s aren’t completely receptive to the bucks displays of “alpha male syndrome”. Setups are simpler, because the deer are still predictable and the odds are still in your favor. When it gets into this stage, I usually target food sources just as earlier on in the season, making a point to locate heavy mast white oaks if possible. This will congregate doe’s, and therefore also lure in bucks. The difference as compared to early October, is try and find out of the way food sources, because even though the bucks are starting to chase they still have their wits about them. They are just a little more curious and likely to investigate potential mates or threats to their territory. I use a different approach for stand placement also, by finding likely routes for deer to move from bedding areas to food sources. But now I look for cross routes running perpendicular to these main routes. I have found that more mature whitetails in search of receptive doe’s cross main trails in this way to pick up on the pheromones left behind and are able to cover several travel routes quicker with less risk of exposing themselves to danger. To find a likely candidate, I look for things like a ridge with either a bluff or extremely thick cover on one end. If one side of the ridge is extremely steep, and their backs are protected by the bluff or cover, the bucks can bed with their backs to the cover and can see or smell any danger approaching from the front or the other, less cumbersome side of the ridge. When you can find a sanctuary like this, you will also find an escape route. Somewhere along this route is the place to ambush them. The trick is getting in and setting up undetected, and not having your scent carried by the thermals all over the ridge. You can almost bet there is another escape route you missed. Scent control is paramount, and staying on stand for the long haul is the best way to succeed.

There are many other ways to attack “grand daddy tall tines” at this time also though. A lot of hunters have good success lightly rattling and using grunt calls. Decoying with a smaller buck decoy also proves highly productive. Just don’t go setup a decoy that looks like Michael Waddell just arrowed it in Pike county, and go banging horns together like there’s an all out war.

You will scare the acorns out of every buck in the region around the places I hunt. Don’t laugh, I have seen it done before. Be reasonable with your approach, even subtle, and use scents sparingly. I have no doubts that quality pheromone scents produce good results, but at the same time I don’t want to be targeted as a doe-in-heat while I am walking the woods. I have also attracted other things besides deer, I once had a bobcat trying to climb my tree near Copan, OK. That will wake you up real quick!

As this session passes by, then the real thing begins. For about ten days, it’s full on rut time. Bigger deer are breeding as many doe’s as possible, and chasing away younger bucks from potential mates. Getting their attention now can be tough, once they catch scent of a ready doe, it seems like it takes a Mack truck to pull them off the trail. If you hunt in an area with an abnormally high buck to doe ratio, they may be more willing to respond to scents or more aggressive calling, if they are having a hard time finding a mate. Bucks are known to move very long distances at this time, so you may encounter deer that have never been seen earlier in the year. One of the biggest deer I have seen in my life came through right before dark on the last couple days of black powder season. I had never seen him before, or any sign that he had been around. Later that year I heard a farmer talking about a huge buck that lived on his property, about five miles away. His description of the buck he saw in velvet sounded exactly like the one I saw chasing does. I did get a shot off at that deer, but missed clean. After he heard the shot he turned his head towards me raised it high, he was about eighty yards out and the size of his rack got me so rattled that I opened the wrong end of my speed loader and all the powder fell from my treestand. Luckily I always carry two, and the second made it all the way out of my pocket before it bounced of the stand and landed some twenty feet below me. By now he was onto me, and I had my worst case of buck fever ever. Anyway, back to the point, big buck sightings are a lot more common during this heavy rut period. This is why in my opinion, everyone gets so excited about it. I like the opportunity to chance a sighting at trophy deer as much as the next guy, but have found that harvesting one can be pretty much summed up by being extremely lucky. They are cruising around, their caution is pretty much thrown to the wind, and if you happen to have a stand by a place a doe leads him, then you just won the lottery. I typically find myself driving by check stations grumbling at all the nice deer hanging on the scales, while I drive to the house empty handed and still shivering from hours on stand.

Then, as this period grinds to a halt, it’s like someone hit a light switch. The bucks are exhausted from chasing and fighting, and not getting proper nutrition, that they lay up and can be hard to come by. There is always a few immature bucks still looking for action, but the ones we dream about are usually bedded down and staying close to their lair. Going back to the locations like you hunted in the first phases of the pre-rut, near his home on an escape route, is a profitable option at this time. If you hunt public lands, gun season has usually passed, and the deer are much more alert and harder to hunt. Throw in all the quail hunters, and you have a real mess on your hands. But that shouldn’t slow you down, late season bow hunting can be a very good time to be in the woods. There are less deer hunters in the woods, and if it is a hard winter, food sources are in high demand. There is also the so-called second rut, where some of the does that were not bred before come in heat late. It’s usually not very eventful, but has been proven to occur by wildlife biologists. I try not to hyped up about that, and just get back to basics. Find bedding areas, water sources and feeding grounds, then find the yellow brick road in between. This is a great time to stock up on venison and manage the herd a little. Unseasonably warm temperatures which we seem to experience a lot in recent years, followed by a strong oncoming cold front, can really amp up the action. As soon as the barometer starts falling, it seems like the deer are running around like people preparing for a hurricane. Then after it moves through and you get those “blue bird” clear sky days, with a high and steady barometer, someone flips that light switch again. I wish I could find that switch myself, I would rewire it so it’s on in both positions.

In closing, I just wanted to give you a run down on some of my theories and experiences with this time of year. I dream of it like every other red-blooded American with a bow in hand, and hopefully this will be the year. I killed my biggest buck to date during the peak of the rut, yes I was one of the lucky ones who happened to be crossing the same opening as a buck at the same time. And that time I had a rifle that luckily held its own bullets, so I couldn’t drop them!

The next buck to see my living room though, will be harvested by arrow. I take more pleasure and remember smaller deer harvested with a bow at ten steps, than one I dropped with a rifle at a hundred yards. So as the rut approaches your area, have your spots ready and pack a lunch. I’ll be on stand from daylight to dark, and I don’t want to be the only one freezing and cramping up out there! Good luck on your hunts this winter, and remember to harvest a doe or two if you have the tags. It will help ensure a balanced herd for years to come, and more chances at a trophy for yourself or your kids. Hope to see you out there!

2 votes, average: 4.00 out of 52 votes, average: 4.00 out of 52 votes, average: 4.00 out of 52 votes, average: 4.00 out of 52 votes, average: 4.00 out of 5 (2 votes, average: 4.00 out of 5)
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Published by djohns13 on 26 Jun 2008

Indiana 2008 Deer Forecast

Well, the days are getting hotter but shorter so it is about that time of year where most of us start to really get excited about the upcoming fall. We are starting to see some potential bruisers on the trail cameras and the fawn sightings are also fueling our obsession. The practice shooting is going well and our scouting is producing new ideas for that “can’t miss” stand site.  Maybe we have even gotten a glimpse of the giant that eluded us last fall.  Is this the year that we finally arrow that dream buck?
Well in Indiana, this just might be the year for us bowhunters to fulfill our dreams. The prospect for a record harvest is very good in 2008.  Whitetail harvests in Indiana hit a record level in 2005 with 125,526 animals being checked-in after harvest.  Epizootic hemorrhagicdisease (EHD) popped up in Indiana in 2006 heavily in Clay, Fountain, Parke, Putnam, Sullivan and Vermillion counties in the west central portion of the state, and in some areas the local deer populations were devastated.  Even with the EHD crisis in 2006, checked-in harvests totalled 125,381, just off from the previous record year.  In 2007, EHD reared its ugly head again but not nearly to the degree originally feared.  Checked-in harvests dropped to 124,427 but much of this drop was attributed to weather conditions during hunting season.  The antlered deer harvest was just about the same as in 2005, with the non-antlered harvest being reduced by approximately 1,000 deer.  During the three year period, the button buck harvest remained consistent at approximately 7% of the total harvest.

 

This brings us to the upcoming 2008 season.  The winter of 2007-2008 brought heavy snow to much of Indiana but very few conditions that would cause a heavy winter kill.  The summer drought of 2007 has been replaced with heavy rains and flooding over the central and southern portions of the state.  June rainfall over the southern two-thirds of the state have averaged 500% – 1,000% of the normal rainfall for the month.  In spite of this, very little wildlife loss is anticipated.   Agriculturally speaking, the loss is devastating and is anticipated to be the largest agricultural disaster in Indiana history.  In many areas of the southern portion of the state, the crop loss will be greater than 50% with corn suffering the largest losses but soybeans will also be affected. 

 

Because of the heavy rain, the wetland, woodland and meadow areas are experiencing strong growth and health.  Vegatation is lush and thick across the state with the berry production looking very good at this point.  It would appear at this point that browse will be in great supply this year notwithstanding any drought activity that comes along later in the summer.  For those who plant foodplots, the growth prospects look great.  Foodplots not hampered from the spring floods are looking very healthy.  The reduction in viable agricultural crops will no doubt push many more deer toward the foodplots.  I personally have seen an unprecedented number of mature deer utilizing foodplots this June.  So many, in fact, that I am mowing and spraying more areas to get even more foodplots planted in early July.

 

Since mid-May, the fawn sightings seem to be above normal compared to most years.  Throughout much of the state, the youngest mothers are producing healthy singles while the 2.5 years old and older does are producing twins and triplets in some cases.  By most accounts, it appears to be a bumper crop year for whitetails.

 

So far, all conditions point to a record harvest this year throughout most of the state.  The northeastern counties, which have led the harvest totals for several years are expected to again reign supreme as they have not been affected by weather or EHD.  Steuben and surrounding counties will continue to lead the deer harvest without a doubt and for the first time could see harvest figures reach 4,000 deer per county.  The central portions of the state continue to have an exploding deer population so harvests should be strong provided the hunter count remains consistent.  The southern counties will continue to produce large quantities of deer that are heavy in both weight and antler size.

 

As certain factors such as QDM and the Indiana one buck rule, among others, continue to play out the size of the average buck taken has improved.  Also improving is the number of record book bucks taken in both the Boone & Crockett and Pope & Young systems.  Many so-called experts are now listing Indiana as one of the top states to harvest a record book buck.  Most hoosiers have known this for several years now, but the word seems to be spreading.  While we are no Iowa yet, the odds of seeing a record book quality buck are decent to good across most parts of Indiana.  And we all know that big bucks produce baby big bucks so the trend should continue over the next few years.  Several bucks over 200 inches gross score were taken in Indiana in 2007, and many more 160 to 180 inch deer were harvested than ever before.

 

While we won’t know the actual harvest until after the fact, 2008 is setting up to be a record year in Indiana based upon both total deer taken and record book bucks.  Practice regularly, scout hard and maybe 2008 will be a hunting year that you remember forever.

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Published by bigbearsarchery on 21 Jun 2008

What It Means To Be A Bowhunter

What It Means To Be A Bowhunter

By

Craig Gillock

 

 

Bowhunter.  That’s a word many of us use to describe ourselves.  We say it with pride and conviction.  It describes who we are and what we do.  We wear it as a badge of honor.  Why?  What is it about that word and what it implies that motivates so many of us to do all the things we do?  What does it mean to be a bowhunter?

The answer to that question is very complex and no one answer is enough to explain it all.  Add to that the fact that bowhunting means something different to everyone and it makes the question almost impossible to answer.  So with that in mind I’m going to explain what being a bowhunter means to me.

Bowhunting is more than sitting in a tree stand, waiting for an animal to come walking by.  Bowhunting is a 365 days a year commitment.  It’s scouting, planting food plots, putting out game cameras, making mineral licks, studying maps, acquiring hunting ground, setting stands, constant practice with your bow, and so many other things.  Bowhunting isn’t a hobby, it’s a lifestyle.

 

Post Season Scouting and Winter Leagues

 

My hunting season starts in late January and February as soon as the late archery and muzzleloader season close.  During this time I pay extra attention to the deer I see, trying to make a list of which bucks made it through and where I’m seeing them.  This list provides me with a good starting point when I’m picking locations for mineral licks, food plots, and setting my trail cameras.

Another important habit I’ve developed during this time of year is shooting in as many winter leagues as I can.  If you want to become a better shooter and improve your accuracy nothing will help you accomplish this faster than shooting in a league with other bowhunters.

One of the truly great things about bowhunters is the feeling of family and friendship that develops between the guys and gals who share the range and the woods.  When you shoot in a league you’re giving yourself the opportunity to watch and be around other shooters and to learn about and see new products.  I consider winter leagues to be one of the most important things I do all year.

 

Deer Health and Shed Hunting

 

Early spring rolls around and for most of March and April I find myself in the woods and the fields.  This is the time when I put out mineral licks and begin preparing the ground for food plots.  I refer to this point in my season as promoting deer health.  The mineral licks serve two purposes.  First, they act as an attractant, drawing the deer into my hunting areas, allowing me to again take stock of how many animals are around.  Second, and more importantly, they provide the deer with the vital minerals and nutrients they need to promote good health and antler growth.

Shed hunting is another activity that takes up a lot of my time early in the spring.  I shed hunt mainly because it’s fun and it gives me another opportunity to be in the woods.  But shed hunting is also an important scouting tool because it gives you yet another chance to see what bucks made it through the previous season.

 

Food Plots, Turkeys, and Foam

 

As spring gets into full swing and the first signs of summer start to show on the trees and in the fields it’s time that I put in my food plots. My favorite places to plant are tucked back into the corners of fields or next to a good watering source.  I tend to plant mainly clover with a little bit of chicory mixed in.  The added forage not only helps attract deer but will help hold them well into hunting season.

Late April and may also offer another opportunity for bowhunters, turkey season.  Taking a mature gobbler with your bow can be one of the most challenging endeavors a bowhunter can undertake.  A turkey’s eyesight makes drawing a bow on them next to impossible.  When I first started hunting turkeys with my bow I approached it in much the same way as I approached deer hunting.  I would set up along a field edge or in some timber, call and if I got one to come in range, draw my bow.  The problem was that’s as far as I’d get.  When I’d draw they would bust me and bug on out.  I once even tried stalking to within bow range on some birds while hunting in Oklahoma.  The result was a recreation of the scene in the movie Jurassic Park where all the velociraptors rush past the camera, only instead of dinosaurs it was two or three hundred turkeys running or flying away.

I have since started hunting turkeys from a ground blind and have met with much greater success.  Blinds conceal your movement and allow you to set up virtually anywhere.  Just this past April I set up my blind in the middle of a wide open 300 acre hay field and took a nice gobbler at only 7 yards.  My friend Aaron sat in the blind with me and videoed the hunt.  That’s another great thing about turkey hunting; it provides plenty of opportunities to hunt with your friends.

The onset of warmer temperatures in April and May also signals the beginning of the 3-D season.  In my opinion competing in 3-D tournaments is one of the best ways to prepare for hunting season.  It allows you to take realistic shots at realistic targets in realistic hunting conditions.  Competing in these tournaments is also a fantastic way to hone your skills at judging yardage.  Besides, they’re also a lot of fun.

 

Pushing Down the Stretch

 

We’ve now arrived at one of the most critical and challenging times of the year for bowhunters, the dog days of summer.  The months of June, July, and August often leave little time to think about hunting.  Most of our time is taken up with work, family vacations, picnics, or any number of other activities one can enjoy during these warm weather months.  In spite of all this you need to find the time to put out your scouting cameras and begin placing your stands.  The information gathered at this time can be the best indicators of where deer will be at the start of hunting season.  Photos gathered now will tell you what bucks are around and how big they are.  These final pieces of the puzzle will help you make the best plan possible for the fast approaching bow season.

All this time I’m also continuing to practice my shooting.  There are numerous 3-D tournaments all summer long, plus this is the best time to practice with your broadheads.  Taking the time now to properly tune your equipment will pay off big this fall.

 

I am a Bowhunter

 

Summer begins to fade and the cooler temperatures and vibrant colors of fall start to show.  This is the time of year you’ve spent the past eight months getting ready for.  It’s the time when all your hard work and information you’ve gathered is put to use.  It is the reason you are the way you are.

So what does it mean to be a bowhunter?  It means a lot of things to a lot of people.  For me it’s a year round adventure, for others it’s something to occupy the time for a while.  What it means to you is for you to decide.  It can be as much or as little as you make it.  Whatever you decide, have fun.  That’s what being a bowhunter is really all about.

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Published by supernova on 02 Jun 2008

All About Optics

The information contained in this article was obtained from Vortex Optics’ brochure with the same title.

How do binoculars work?

All binoculars, regardless of their size and shape, function in the same, straightforward way:

  1. Light comes to and moves through the objective lenses.
  2. Light then travels through prisms (which correct the image orientation in all directions; up-down, left-right).
  3. Finally, light moves through the eyepieces (which magnify the images) and then on to the user’s eyes.

What determines image quality?

  1. Optical glass – The quality of optical glass that is used in binoculars will make a difference in how bright, sharp and colorful the view will be. Quality binoculars use dense optical glass that is painstakingly designed, shaped and polished to eliminate flaws. The more sophisticated the glass and techniques employed in its design, the better the images.
  2. Anti-reflection coatings – Binocular lenses are coated with anti-reflection coatings to eliminate internal reflections and light scatterings, reduce glare and produce sharper images with more detail. The type of coatings and the number of coatings applied to the binocular lenses matter tremendously to how brilliant and crisp the view will be.
  3. Exit pupil – The exit pupil is the beam of light that exits each eyepiece of the binocular and enters the users’ eyes. The larger the exit pupil, the brighter and more superior the image will appear, especially under low light conditions (when comparing optics of similar quality). The exit pupil is measured in millimeters, and is calculated by dividing the objective lens by the magnification. An 8×42 binocular, for example, has a 5.25mm exit pupil (42/8=5.25).

Binocular Design

Though they may look different on the outside, on the inside binoculars can only be designed in a few ways:

Galilean design: Used almost exclusively in opera glasses, the Galilean design is very primitive and uses only lenses (no prisms).

Porro prism design: Named after their Italian optical designer, Porro prism binoculars are characterized by the objective lenses being spaced wider apart than the eyepieces. The design is reversed in compact binoculars, with the eyepieces spaced wider than objectives.

Roof Prism design: Named for the “roof-like” appearance of the prisms, the more modern roof prism design features a more complicated design, resulting in the objectives and eyepieces being position in a slim, straight line.

What do the numbers mean?

When you look at a pair of binoculars, you’ll notice a few numbers printed on the binoculars, such as 8×42 (read as 8 by 42), or 12×50. What do these numbers mean? What do they refer to?

  1. Magnification – With a pair of 8×42 binoculars, as in our example, the first number, 8(often expressed as 8x), refers to the magnification the binoculars provide, or how many times larger an object will appear. Binoculars vary in magnification from 4x up to 12x and even higher, but 8x and 10x are most common.

Higher magnification is not necessarily better. As magnification increase, users may have troubling holding the binoculars steady, causing the image to become blurry. An increase in magnification will also generally cause a decrease in image brightness and clarity. 7x .8x magnification is considered adequate for woodland settings, while 10x is preferred for viewing at greater distances.

  1. Objective lens size: The second number in our example binocular 42, refers to the diameter of the objective lens (the lens farthest from your eye) in millimeters. Objective lenses vary in size from 15mm to 50mm and beyond.

The size of the objective lens determines how much light the binoculars can receive and hence how bright and clear the resulting images can be. The size of the objective lens also affects how large or small a pair of binoculars will be. Let your needs and desires help you decide what size objective lenses are right for you. If you use your binoculars only during the brightest times of day or in well-lit areas, then smaller objective lenses (say, under 25mm) will do just fine. If, however, you want the brightest possible image and will be using your binoculars during near-dark conditions (such as at dawn, dusk, or in heavy forest cover), you’ll want to choose larger objective lenses, from 35mm to 56mm.

The greatest factor in determining the weight of a binocular is its objective lens size; the larger the lenses, the heavier the binoculars will be. Again, let your desires dictate what weight is comfortable for you. Compact binoculars can weight between a few ounces to under a pound, while modern full-size binoculars will weight from twenty ounces to around two pounds.

  1. Field of view: Another important number to know is the field of view. The field of view is the widest dimension from left to right that you can see when looking through the binoculars. This specification is usually measured either in linear feet at a distance of 1000 yards, or in angular degrees.

A wider field of view is desirable for many reasons, including but not limited to: following fast moving action, and when scanning in denser backgrounds (grasslands, woodlands, etc.) Note that when magnification is increased, the field of view narrows (sometimes considerably).

Other useful specifications

The following specifications and definitions will aid in your understanding of how binoculars can function best fro you and provide you with the maximum benefit out in the field.

Eye relief: The term eye relief refers to the furthest distance behind the binoculars’ eyepieces at which the whole field of view can be attained, and is measured in millimeters.

The eye relief measurement is of great importance to those that must wear eyeglasses/sunglasses while looking through binoculars, but is also important to anyone planning to use binoculars for long stretches of time.

Binoculars with long eye relief will satisfy the above considerations and will have an eye relief measurement of at least 15mm.

Close focus

The minimum distance to which a pair of binoculars can be focused is called its close focus. Some users desire binoculars that will focus down to 10 feet or less.

Weatherproofing

Binoculars that effectively keep out the elements will inevitably last much longer and keep you satisfied.

Waterproof/fogproof binoculars are sealed with O-rings at all open points to inhibit moisture, dust and debris. The inside of the binoculars is then purged of its atmosphere, which is replaced with an inert gas that has no moisture content. This process, called purging, ensures that the binoculars will not fog internally from high humidity or altitude changes. Nitrogen is the most common gas used when purging optics. A more unique gas, Argon is utilized in select optics to provide a higher level of anti-fogging protection that is maintained over a longer time period.

Warranty

A manufacturer’s included warranty ought to be considered a feature of the binoculars, especially if you plan to get a lot of use out of tem in the outdoors where anything can and usually does happen.

Most manufacturer’s offer a warranty limited only to initial defects, which do not protect you if anything accidental happens in the general course of using your optics.

More progressive warranties, such as the Vortex VIP warranty, keeps your covered in literally any situation, regardless of what happened or who is at fault. The VIP warranty is an unconditional, unlimited warranty that offers the ultimate in customer service and protection.

Spotting scopes

How do spotting scopes work?

A spotting scopes functions essentially the same way a binocular does:

1. Light is gathered and moves through the objective lens of the scope.

2. Light moves through the prisms (which correct the image orientation in all directions; up-down, left-right)

3. Light moves through the eyepiece(which magnifies the image) and then on to the user’s eye.

Spotting scope specifications

Spotting scopes are essentially small telescopes designed primarily for land viewing at longer distances. A spotting score features greater magnifications and a larger objective lens than those offered with binoculars, and as such requires a tripod to be use effectively.

Spotting scopes are generally offered in two sizes, relating to the size of their objective lens; 60mm and 90mm.

60mm scopes are fairly portable and compact, and will offer good image quality for a generally lower price.

80mm scopes will be much brighter than a 60mm scope but will also generally be heavier and potentially bulkier. An 80mm scope will deliver very good image quality at up to 60x magnification.

Spotting scopes are often made available in two body styles, a straight-through design (where the eyepiece is in-line with the objective lens) and an angled design (where the eyepiece is set at a 45-degree angle). One design is not better than the other, but each design does offer some distinct advantages.

Straight-through design advantages:

-Works well with a car winder mount

-Provides natural line-of-sight

Angle design advantages:

Allows for lower mounting height; improves stability, enables for smaller, lighter tripod

-More comfortable for extended times of viewing

As with binoculars, there are other specifications (such as eye relief, weatherproofing, warranty, etc.) that you may want to think about. Eyeglass wearers should look for scopes with at least 15mm of eye relief. Your spotting scope should be fully waterproof and fogproof. As with binoculars, a scope should carry a progressive warrantee. All Vortex spotting scopes are fully waterproof, fogproof and carry the Vortex VIP unconditional unlimited warranty that will offer more piece of mind when out in the field.

What determines image quality?

Most spotting scopes use a Porro prism design that offers a rich three-dimensional view with good image quality. Similar to binoculars, spotting scope image quality is derived from the types of optical glass and optical coatings that are employed in its design. The better the glass and optical coatings, the better the image quality.

Some spotting scopes are offered in two different versions of glass; a “standard” version, and a “high-grade” version. The standard versions employ regular optical glass in their design and generally offer good to very good image quality. The high-grade versions make use of more exotic (and more expensive) glass types that deliver heightened resolution and color. Consider the high-grade versions (if available) if you desire the best possible image in all lighting conditions.

In-Depth, technical instructions on the design, function, and features of binoculars and spotting scopes.

Advanced Optical Design

Binocular and spotting scope optical design is comprised essentially of three components:

  1. Objective lenses
  2. Prisms
  3. Ocular lenses

  1. Objective Lenses:

The Objective lens has one job, to gather light and transmit it to the user’s eyes. In order to gather more light, an objective lens must be made larger. Transmitting more light (which is just a fancy way of saying “delivering” more of the light to the user’s eye) can be achieved by using a higher density optical glass that is carefully cut and polished (and also by applying anti-reflective coatings, which are discussed later). With the relatively small objective lenses in binoculars, high-quality images can be obtained using standard optical glass. Vortex incorporates a XD high-density glass in select binocular models for the absolute highest quality images. In spotting scopes, with their very large objective lenses, Vortex uses the exotic ED glass to achieve the highest possible image resolution, contrast, and color fidelity.

These remarkable ED / XD glass types reduce or eliminate the inherent problems of chromatic aberrations. Chromatic aberrations are the result of a physical reality of color; different colors move at slightly different wavelengths, which means they will have slightly different focal lengths when they pass through optical glass. Chromatic aberrations diminish the resolution and the color fidelity of normal binoculars and spotting scopes. They show up as green and/or purplish ghost images, and are especially apparent under low light conditions.

  1. Prisms

The prisms in a binoculars or spotting scope have two jobs:

-They revert the image, which otherwise be presented to the user upside-down and backwards.

-They shorten binocular length (light bounces in the prisms; its path is shorter through the whole of the binocular than it would be without them)

Porro prism or roof prism?

Porro prism have rich depth and wide field of view and usually employ large prism. However, Porro aren’t very rugged and many people feel they handle poorly. Porros are generally heavier than roof prisms due to the prism size and the use of larger prism housings (the housings are larger due to the bigger prisms, but also from the optical design of the binoculars).

Roof prism can achieve image quality similar to porro prisms, but it costs more (and involves phase correction coatings, discussed later). Also, most roof prism generally can’t replicate the 3-D feel of good quality Porros. However, roof prisms are generally more popular because of their ruggedness and superior handling (more streamlined and lighter weight).

What determines prism quality?

The density of prism glass is important in determining its ability to deliver high-quality images. Also important is the care taken in grinding and polishing the prisms. There are two kinds of glass used to make Porro prisms, boro-silicate (more commonly known as BK-7) and barium-crown (know as BaK-4) glass. BK-7 glass is of inferior quality to BaK-4 glass, and is commonly used in the less expensive binoculars.

The type of glass used in roof prisms is of less consequence than with Porro prism. Roof prisms involve more complicated engineering and have stricter tolerances on their design – these factors have a greater determination on quality. Many manufacturers

Use BaK-4 glass in their roof prism, but some manufacturers don’t release any information on the prism glass type used – it’s a trade secret.

Determining prism glass type:

BK-7 glass prism transmit a distinctive light beam shape, seen when you see the exit pupil of a binocular or scope at a distance of about 8 inches from your eye. BK-7 prisms lose some light as it passes through the prisms.

BaK-7 prisms (or other exotic prism types) transmit more of the light through the prisms, and hence feature exit pupils with a clearly defined circle.


Phase correction?

Many modern room prism binoculars advertise “phase-corrected roof prisms” but what are those? This special kind of coating corrects for an inherent flaw in all roof prism designs.

After light passes through the objective lenses, it is reflected off the mirrored surfaces of the roof prism and split into two out-of-phase beams of light. Light reflected from one roof surface is ½ of a wavelength different from the light hitting the other roof surface. This is sometimes referred to as “out of phase” or “phase shift” Although the light waves are subsequently forces back together when they reach the viewer’s eye, there is a slight reduction in image resolution and contrast.

The phase correction coating, which is applied to the mirrored surfaces of the prism, forces the light beams back into phase, thus improving a roof prism’s resolution and contrast. The coating also enhances color fidelity.

  1. Ocular lenses

The ocular lenses magnify the images that the objective lenses have transmitted. Ocular lens designs incorporate between three-to-six different lenses, but overall quality is determined mostly by the care in manufacturing and polishing of the glass and also the quality and quantity of anti-reflective coatings employed.

Many of the important optical specifications (such as field of view, eye relief, etc.) are determined primarily by the design of the ocular lenses.

Advanced image quality elements

Exit pupil

The shaft of light that meets your eye when you use a binocular or scope is its exit pupil. The exit pupil is seen by holding the binocular or spotting scope a short distance from your face.

The exit pupil should appear as a clear circle surrounded by a uniformly dark background. Exit pupil is calculated by dividing the objective lens by the magnification and is measured in millimeters. An 8×42 binocular will have an exit pupil of 5.25mm.

Why does exit pupil matter? The human eye pupil (which is controlled by the muscles of the iris) can change in size from roughly 2-8mm in diameter, depending on the lighting situations. The eye pupil dilates to about 2-3mm in regular lighting conditions, dilates out to about 4-5mm in lower light situations, further dilates to 7-8mm in near-dark conditions. A binocular will appear brightest when its exit pupil is equal to or larger than your eye pupils. This is most important when viewing in low-light conditions.


Optical Coatings

When you look at the lenses of a binocular or spotting scope, you’ll notice tints in the glass that are usually purplish/greenish in color. What you are seeing are the anti-reflective coatings that have been put on the lenses. These coatings serve to reduce light reflection and scattering at the air-to-glass surface. When light strikes uncoated glass, a percentage of it (4-5%) is reflected back from the surface, and with 10-16 air-to-glass surfaces in a pair of standard binoculars or a spotting scope, almost 50% of the light passing through uncoated optics would be lost! By applying just one layer of anti-reflection coating, loss due to reflection can be reduced 2-3%, and by applying multiple layers of coatings, light loss can be reduced to a mere .5% per surface.

Optical coatings are made from certain metallic compounds (including the compound magnesium fluoride) that are vaporized and applied to the optical glass in very thin layers (measured in microns; millionths of a meters) inside a vacuum chamber. The quality and quantity of optical coatings maters a great deal in determining how bright and sharp a binocular or spotting scope will be. There are some standardized terms concerning the level of coatings applied to binoculars and scopes. With optical coatings, more is better! With more coatings comes increase resolution, contrast, color fidelity, and increased light transmission.

-fully coated optics – All air-to-glass surfaces are coated with a anti-reflective coating film. Many modestly priced binoculars offer fully coated optics and have good but not great image quality

-multi-coated optics: One or more surfaces are coated with multiple anti-reflective coating films. Image quality with multi-coated optics can be quite good, except perhaps in lower light settings.

-fully multi-coated optics – All air-to-glass surfaces are coated with multiple anti-reflective coating films. Fully multi-coated optics offer the highest image quality.

Important optical terms:

Resolution: The ability of a binocular/spotting scope to separate and distinguish thin lines with clarity. Resolution is essentially the same as image sharpness.

Resolution test: A chart on paper containing a series of sets of lines at progressively smaller spacing and used to ascertain the limiting number of lines per millimeter that a binocular or spotting scope is capable of resolving clearly.

Contrast – The ability to distinguish differences in brightness between light and dark areas of an image. Because we see much of the color spectrum, contrast also refers to the ability to distinguish differences in dimensions of hue, saturation, and brightness or lightness. Optics with superior contrast transmit colors that appear very dense and saturated.

Transmission – The percentage of light that passes through the binocular or spotting scope and reaches the user’s eyes. With expensive optics (those that have more and better optical coatings, better optical designs, and better glass) the light transmission will be higher than it will be higher than it will be in more modestly priced optics. There is currently no universal industry standard for measuring and comparing light transmission.

Chromatic aberrations: Because different colors move at slightly different wavelengths, they will come to focus at slightly different lengths when they pass through optical glass. The resulting false colorations (seen most often as purplish and greenish ghost images) diminishes resolution and color fidelity. Chromatic aberrations will be negligible with binoculars and scopes that use better optical coatings and/or higher quality glass.

Astigmatism – The lenses used in a binocular or spotting scope usually have a curved shape, and thus all light rays passing through will not converge on the same focal plane. If this physical reality isn’t remedied in the overall optical design, a binocular or spotting scope will provide images where either the center image or the edge image is in focus, but not both (without refocusing) Astigmatism cannot be eliminated completely, but it can be kept to a minimum. Users will want to avoid binoculars or spotting scopes that exhibit too much astigmatism, as it cuts into the image quality.

Distortion: The disability of a binocular or spotting scope to deliver an image that is a true-to scale reproduction of an object. There are principally two types of distortion to be concerned with; barrel distortion (where images bow outward and look bulged), and pincushion distortion (where images bend inward). In both cases, the distortion is due to a poor or compromised optical design and any binocular or scope that exhibits distortion should be passed up.

Alignment and collimation: In binocular or spotting scope, the optical components must, for the best performance, be situated as they were initially designed. Poor or rough handling of the equipment can cause any or all of the components to become misaligned, resulting in diminished performance.

In a binocular, the optical components (primarily the prisms) in both barrels must be pointing in the exact same direction, known as collimation. Viewing through binoculars that aren’t perfectly collimated (whether they became miscollimated through poor construction or mishandling) can cause great eye strain and fatigue. Porro prism binoculars are much more susceptible to collimation issue than roof prisms. You can test a binocular for collimation by looking through them at a horizontal line (a door frame at about 15-20 feet works very well) and then slowly and carefully pulling the binocular away from your face so that you can start to see where the two exit pupils intersect. The horizontal lines in each exit pupil should match up correctly. If they do not, they are out of collimation and need repair.


How to use binoculars properly

Adjusting for your interpupillary distance.

In order to see one singular image, you must adjust the two barrels of the binocular to your interpupillary distance (the distance from left pupil to right) To do this, turn the barrels of the binocular on their central hinge until you see one singular field of view with no disturbing shadows.

Using the eyecups.

The eyecups on a binocular or spotting scope aid in maintaining proper eye relief for the user (which allows for the most comfortable and widest view) There are essentially two types of eyecup design: A flexible rubber design and a retractable design which is usually lightly rubber armored.

If you wear eyeglasses/sunglasses, rest the eyecups of the binocular/scope right up against your glasses. Since your glasses sit away from your eye, they generally provide the proper distance for seeing the full field of view comfortably. The rubber eyecup must be folded down to be able to rest on your glasses. The retractable eyecup will stay flush with the eyepiece to accommodate glasses. If the rubber eyecups aren’t folded down or the retractable eyecups are twisted out, it will appear as if you are looking through a tunnel.

If you don’t wear eyeglasses/sunglasses, you will rely on the eyecups to provide the proper distance for seeing the full field of view. The rubber eyecup stays “as is” and it fits right around your eyes, while the retractable eyecup must be twisted or pulled out fully in order to see the full field of view. If the rubber eyecup is folder down or if the retractable eyecups aren’t retracted out you will note disturbing black “crescents” in your field of view.

Many retractable eyecups offer multiple positions or “stops” With these eyecups, experiment to see which position is most comfortable for you.

Using the diopter/Focusing your binoculars.

Most binoculars feature a center focus wheel and also an adjustment ring (either on the right eyepiece or integrated into the center focus wheel) known as the diopter. The diopter adjusts fro differences between your individual eyes (many people have one eye that is “stronger” than the other). The procedure for attaining proper focal balance using the center focus wheel and the diopter is:

  1. With your right eye close (or with your hand over the right objective lens), focus your left eye on an object approximately 20 yards away with the center focus wheel unit it is in sharp focus.
  2. Now adjust for your right eye. To do this, close your left eye (or, again, place your hand over the left objective lens) and focus your right eye on the same object 20 yards away. Focus using the diopter until the object is sharply focused. Not: Some diopters have a locking feature that you’ll need to unlock before moving the diopter ring.
  3. The binoculars are no set for your eyes. Make a note of your diopter setting if you are sharing your binoculars with someone else.

What to disregard and why:

There are a number of specifications and product “features” that are often confusing or misleading which should just be ignored or avoided.

Specifications to ignore:

Twilight factor: This specification gives a measure of viewing efficiency in low lighting. The bigger the number, the more efficient (shaper) the binoculars is in low light. Twilight factor is calculated by taking the square root of the power times the objective lens diameter, so the value is usually between 12 and 25. Twilight factor is a dubious specification because it says nothing about actual optical coatings or glass quality, nor does it take into account the light transmission of the binocular.

Relative brightness: This specification is a measure of overall image brightness, and is calculated by squaring the exit pupil of the binocular. Relative brightness is misleading in that there are different binoculars that can have the same values. A 7×35 binocular and a 10×50 binocular will both have a relative brightness value of 25, but the 10×50 gather much more light than the 7×35 and will often present a bright image. It also doesn’t take into account different light transmissions.

“Features” to avoid:

Focus-free binoculars: Binoculars that offer an “instant-focus”, “permanent-focus” or “focus-free” feature are advertised in many department stores. The main reason to avoid this type of binocular is that optical quality is very poor as a result of its focus-free design. Focus-free binoculars are also often difficult to use it you wear glasses.

Ruby coated lenses: Often advertised in sporting goods stores and department stores, these are seen as bright reddish-orange coatings on the objective lenses of several binocular models. Ruby-coated lenses reflect most red out of the optical system. This skews all colors to the cool end of the spectrum and takes away from the overall brightness of the binocular.

So why use these binoculars? Shortening the color spectrum increases contrast and resolution somewhat. However, better glass and better coatings are capable of excellent contrast and resolution without giving up color and brightness.


Trade-offs

Unfortunately, there is no such thing as the perfect binocular or spotting scope. In the design phase there are many inherent trade-offs that have to be made.

-The main trade off that you have to make involves objective lens size. The larger the objective lenses, the brighter and sharper the binocular/scope, thus the more useful it is, especially under low-light conditions. The larger the objective lens, however, the heavier and bulkier the binocular/scope will be, and unless you plan to hire a porter, remember that you have to carry it!

-Higher quality optical glass is by design heavier, so when it is employed the binocular/scope will weight more. Vortex incorporates lighter housing materials to offset the weight of the glass components rather than not using the heavier glass.

-There are a number of trade-offs with binoculars and scopes regarding higher magnification. With higher magnification binoculars, comes a diminished field of view, a shallower depth of field, and more chance of image shakiness. With higher magnification spotting scopes comes diminished optical quality with magnified heat waves and atmosphere dust and debris

-There are trade-offs inherent to some of the optical specifications as well. There is an inverse relationship between eye relief and field of view and close focus and depth of field. The greater the eye relief, the narrower the field of view (the wider the field of view the shorter the eye relief) Similarly, a binocular with an extreme close focus distance will generally have a shallow depth of field. More expensive scope eyepiece designs can offer good compromises and give the user very good (but not great) specifications.

The final word

For many people, this guide may only be the beginning of the journey into learning about binoculars and spotting scopes. There is a lot more information available; you need only to look for it.

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Published by soularcher on 14 May 2008

Cubicle Psychology…

Cubicle Psychology…

 

Joe Shuhay

 

I’m not sure if it’s the few good memories that I have of my dad, if it’s the chill-up-my-spine adrenaline rush when a shot presents itself, or if it’s the peace and solitude that I only get when in God’s green woods.  I do know that something draws me out there.  It’s something I just can’t put my finger on.  I can say that I almost always leave the woods feeling refreshed, and recharged.  I find myself thinking that if I could, I’d spend most of my time there, among the pines and oak, breathing in the cold fresh air of morning, awaiting a glimpse of movement, or traversing a ridge in pursuit of the elusive Hart of lore.  A good weapon in hand, me versus the unknown.  This is what I live for.

 

7:59 a.m., and I sit dejectedly into my padded swivel chair of my gray, artificially lit cubicle for another 9 hours of staring at a computer screen.  “How did I get here?”  I look out of the office window down the hall from me.  The bright morning sun falls on the green spring leaves of a nearby maple tree, and I feel a yearning deep within my soul to venture outside, feel the warm sun on my face, and hear the wind in the trees. 

 

Throughout the day my mind drifts to hiking and scouting, shed hunting, open fires and the like; but mouths need to be fed, and bills have to be paid…

 

There is a part of a man that no one can touch, something wild and dangerous, something that is forced to live in the gray area between the cold oppressive bars of the rat race, and the limitless wilderness.  Most boys are raised to suppress their “wild” part in favor of what is considered to be more socially amicable qualities. This goes way beyond raising our children to have respect and manners.  In these days of sexual immorality, and metrosexuals, boys are emasculated, and taught to be “nice guys”.  Then society laments the lack of “real men” in society.  No toy guns or bows, no aggressiveness.  Those boys grow up, and society then asks them to be leaders at work, on the battlefield, and in the home. 

 

Most men today live lives of quiet desperation in their offices and garages, watching action shows on television rather than living out the very things that we are programmed to do. They are slowly dying inside for want of less rat race, and more wilderness in their lives.  That reason alone is enough to understand why we hunt, and what is so attractive about the out of doors.  Don’t get me wrong, I love being a father. For me it’s God and family first.  But God also put this love of hunting and the outdoors in my heart, and I plan to pass this on to my kids, and anyone else that is interested. 

 

There is a part of a man that no one can touch, something wild and dangerous, something that is forced to live in the gray area between the cold oppressive bars of the rat race, and the limitless wilderness…

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Published by csinclair on 12 May 2008

Archer and Hiker does not equal Bow Hunter

(a.k.a. 10, (more), practice tips for new Bow Hunters

Last weekend I had the first chance ever to take my bow out into the bush for a long hike on 160 acres of farmland interspersed with forests and tree stands on some private property owned by my family, where I have permission to hunt.

I didn’t actually hunt on the property this time, (not being licensed to hunt in Ontario yet, (anymore)), I was however there to get some practice and experience in getting up early in the morning, (5 AM – 1/2 hr before sunrise), gearing up with all my camo and archery gear and going for a long stalk through the fields, as well as spending some time shooting from a tree stand, (pre-existing), in full gear just to see what it was like. Lucky for me one of the neighbours came by with a big old Tom Turkey (20+ lb’s), that he shot on the first morning with a 10 Guage shotgun, (nice looking bird) we shared an after the hunt drink on my father in law’s back porch while he told me the story. He called out this old Tom with a box call, and put two rounds into him, (which may explain why I’d heard lots of them clucking on the first morning and none on the second).

First thing that I did on the first morning was set up a distance string that I’d prepared with trail tape marker measurements on it the night before. I marked the 20, 40 and 60 meter intervals on it so that I could tune my sights for some longer distances than the usual 20 to 30 meter shots I practice at home. I set my pins for 20, 30, 40 and 60 meters, I won’t take a shot any longer that at this point, maybe later with practice.

I’m very glad that I did take the time to go out get the practice like this because as I’ve been reading the articles on this site and a few others like it, I’ve come to the conclusion that no amount of archery practice and hiking can get one ready to be a bow hunter and after this weekend I think I’m beginning to understand why.

I actually had a big old Tom walk right out of the bush towards where I was practicing from in the tree stand on the first morning out, he came out of the woods about 120 meters away from the stand and came closer until I think I moved and spooked him at when he got to around 80 meters away from me, he was gone in a flash not to be seen or heard from again by me.

Top things I learned on this weekends excursion into the world of bow hunting training & preparation:

1.) Be prepared, although it was early May, the mornings were cold, I forgot to pack gloves and my hands were quite unexpectedly cold on the second morning. Make sure to get all your gear together the night before, check it and double check it, triple check it, (the first morning out I forgot my field glasses even though I’d packed them with my gear, I left them in the truck, doh!).

2.) Humans are very noisy, Walking through the forest in boots it’s very difficult to be stealthy, hunt from a stand or blind and learn to call your prey, the chance of you sneaking up on an animal on it’s own turf are slim in most cases.

3.) Be patient, what better way to spend the morning than sitting out in nature, being silent, scanning for animals with field glasses, (which I did remember to bring on the 2nd morning).

4.) Practice shooting from your treestand in all directions and distances, I could shoot quite easily some in some areas but really had to shift my position and harness to shoot in other directions and distances, practice and be prepared for all scenarios.

5.) Shooting unmarked distances in the wild is very difficult, (it’s critical and quite difficult to judge distances properly this is probably why so many hunters use range finders), shooting from a tree stand is also very difficult, (due to the angles involved), until you get used to it, (I was much more accurate by the end of the 2nd day).

6.) Experience is the best teacher, reading about and watching videos on a topic is not the same as doing something, if you thing you want to be a bow hunter, get out into the woods and actually spend a few damp chilly mornings in the bush doing stuff for real.

7.) Always carry a compass or GPS device, even though I was on familiar land, it would have been easy to get lost at certain points, forests can be deceptive at times and it’s easy to walk the wrong way and become lost, (it happens).

8.) Hunters who get up early, (before sunrise), dress up in Camoflaged clothing, (I was wearing Real Tree HD head to toe), and spend hours in the woods being as quiet as possible see all kinds of wildlife, (during my 2 mornings out I saw: 2 raccoons, 2 groundhogs, lots of Canada Geese, (2 Canada Geese in particular at waters edge of a pond with a nest of 5 eggs), 3 or 4 Mallards, a Great Egret, a wild Turkey, a pair of yellow bellied sap suckers, lots of crows, red winged blackbirds, sparrows and yellow warblers, (although I spotted some droppings and tracks I didn’t see any deer this time out).

9.) Talk about Bow Hunting and your desire to be a hunter with others, (I was slightly surprised by the reception that my interest received from my family and friends), I’ve been invited out hunting with a few different groups now, to hunt for various game and I’ve got permission to hunt about 1000 acres of privately owned land if you totalled up the various offers from kind folks who I’ve talked to about my interest in the sport.

10.) Being out in the bush with the Bow is like nothing else, what a great feeling, memories in the field are irreplaceable. I can only imagine the high that comes with bagging big game with a bow after my brief taste of the sport and the tiniest bit of experience that practice in full gear could provide me with, I’m more eager than ever now.

I figure that I’ll spend a few more weekends this summer up at the same spot practicing and getting used to full camo hiking, stalking and tree stand shooting before next years season, at which time I’ll be licensed for small game and hopefully pull a ticket for turkey and who knows what else. In the meantime, practice, practice, practice.

Happy Hunting!

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Published by tim9910 on 08 May 2008

Success for Beginning Bowhunters

For most hunters that decide to make the transition from barrels and bullets to strings and arrows, it can get off to a tricky start. I began hunting with my dad when I was young, probably 7 or 8 years old. I remember when I finally got to carry my own gun, a 20 gauge pump action with slugs. Back then, we were not allowed to harvest does in the county we hunted, so although seeing many deer I wasn’t able to close the deal. I got my first bow when I was 12, an old Bear Grizzly II from a pawn shop. I shot daily until I could shoot 3-4 inch groups at 30 yards, shooting barebow with fingers. When I was 13, on that same property I had hunted all those years, I set up a stand for my first bowhunting experience near a pond with a steep ridge to my back loaded with white oaks. That first morning, a nice 8 point came trotting towards me grunting lowly and checking the ground, as if there was a doe ready for his acquaintance. I was so excited about seeing a buck in the woods, I didn’t even raise my bow to shoot! I saw him again the next day, but this time he was right behind a doe and never came within 50 yards of my stand. Finally at 14 I harvested a doe with my bow and the rest is history, I have been hooked since that day.

Fast forward now about 15 years, a friend of mine has a better story. In 2006, Byron Howton, a friend and colleague of mine, started bowhunting. He bought a bow early in the year, practiced until he was sure about himself, and sought all the info he could gather from friends and more experienced bowhunters. He scouted a piece of public land, on Skiatook WMA, and found some good places to hang stands. Then, to my amazement, he harvested a legal doe in the first few weeks of the season. We were all happy for him, especially being his first bow kill and doing it on heavily pressured hunting ground. Then, rifle season rolled along, he took the week off work and bowhunted the entire time. On November 16, he and his wife Melissa took to the woods. She set up in a ground blind about 60 yards behind his treestand. They were on stand well before legal light, and the weather was calm and clear. It was a quiet morning, a few hours passed and Melissa decided to leave the confinement of the ground blind and still hunt a little. She hunts with a crossbow, so there is the advantage of being able to shoot without movement. After Byron saw her moving out further, he decided to give a couple soft grunts with his call. After the second or third grunt, a nice 8 point cleared the brush about 60 yards out. He was in no hurry, not like was seeking the call, but made the journey towards it anyway. After he got within 30 yards, Byron drew his Reflex bow, and settled the second pin behind the bucks shoulder. He released the arrow, but with the excitement, didn’t see the impact. But then he saw as the buck was running off, the quarter of his arrow shaft sticking out from the side of the deer. He waited about 20 minutes, then decided to get down and check for blood. He and his wife found the deer only 35 yards away, hit through both lungs. You can imagine the excitement now, two deer in his first season, one of which is a nice buck. I’m glad everybody is not the successful their first season, or there would be no place left to hunt!

No matter if it takes a week or 10 years, harvesting an animal with a bow is an experience to behold. I have forgotten deer taken with rifles, but remember every arrow flight that penetrated a kill zone. It’s always like slow motion for me, and the excitement never goes away. I still shake like a squirrels tail even when it’s a doe I just took. I guess if that ever went away, it wouldn’t be so addicting. If you are a beginning a bowhunter, and having bad luck like so many of us have had, don’t get discouraged. Use every moment in the stand as a learning experience. Remember where the deer came from, and where they went. What time they moved, the time of year and what the food sources were at the time. After you spend time and keep compiling this data, you’ll eventually put the pieces of the puzzle together. Success in the woods is not always harvesting animals, but seeing them in their natural state undisturbed. You can learn things in early bow season about deer that you never would have known if you weren’t out there, putting in your time. Not everyone is going to have a first season like my friends, but if you keep at it, eventually you will get something on the ground, and then start doing it consistently.

It’s even more of a challenge for an experienced hunter to teach children. They want results, and if they have multiple outings with no sign of deer, they can quickly become frustrated and bored. Reassuring them that success will come, and maybe mixing in a few squirrel hunts in between deer hunts will help. If they can get out in the woods and move around a little more, and bring home some squirrel for the pan, it can help to rekindle the drive to pursue more challenging game. The main thing is to find something positive about each outing. Something you see in the woods that may seem insignificant to you could spark a lot of interest in someone of lesser experience. A good example is as the sun goes down in a draw, feeling the rush of cooler air. Thermals are a complicated but interesting event that happens in the woods. Explaining what causes these and how they affect scent control and stand placement can be very educational to a beginning archer. At the same time though, don’t overload them with information and confuse them to the point of boredom again. There is a fine line between good hunting education and cramming for a final exam type of education.

Byron has been bitten by the bug now, and he has started to shoot 3D tournaments with us now. He has talked about hunting non-stop since Jan 15th, the end of our season in Oklahoma. He has also kept the fire burning in me, which usually dies about December, when I have spent so many hours in a stand I begin getting burned out. I didn’t harvest a single deer last year, but had several within a few yards of my stand. I count that as successful, I could have easily taken a couple of deer, but decided to let them walk for another year. That’s easier to do on private land, where they have a chance at making it. Only the good Lord knows what this October will bring us, but I know one thing for certain, my friends and I will be in a tree somewhere waiting to find out!

-Tim Hicks

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