BOW SEASON OPENER AT HAND Luke Clayton With whitetail archery season on the horizon (opener is September 29), we bow hunters are making last minute plans to arrow that mossy horn old buck or fat whitetail doe. I plan to begin the season in a ladder stand strapped to an isolated oak tree situated on a little spot of whitetail heaven.. The work part has all been done, thanks in large part to my two bow hunting buddies that live close to the property. Stands are set; feeders have been slinging a mixture of corn and peas for several months. We even supplement the deers nutrition with high protein feed. A couple of trail cameras strapped to trees tell the story: there are some bruiser bucks in the area and they are still running in bachelor groups. In a month or so, when the hormones begin to flow and rut begins, these good old boy bucks will break away and actively pursue does in estrus. When this annual breeding ritual begins, the whitetail herd, especially the bucks, can be likened to dominoes being shuffled. The bucks abandon their pre rut patterns that were so easy for we bow hunters to decipher a few weeks earlier. Photo by Luke Clayton For the first few weeks of archery season, the bucks will be in pre rut and much, much, easier to pattern. Their daily habit of traveling from bedding areas to staging areas to feeding areas will remain almost as constant as the Polar Star. I like hunting bucks during the rut but I LOVE the pre rut when things are a whole lot more predictable. Photo by Luke Clayton The invention of the trail camera has revolutionized the way many of us hunt whitetail and educated a bunch of us old hunters as to when deer truly are up and moving. Granted, the moon does play a big part in predicting when to be on stand. Ive learned this, through osmosis if nothing else, after hunting deer more than four decades. When the moon is shining brightly, its a good bet that deer hunting will be best during the first thirty to forty-five minutes of daylight; when the deer are heading back to their staging and bedding areas to digest the food they spent the night eating. Close scrutiny of our Bushnell trail camera proves that, when the moon is bright at night, deer bed up earlier in the morning but, they are often back up feeding around mid day. Hunters that remain on stand during mid day often harvest the biggest bucks in their camps. I have a real problem with setting all day in a deer stand. I can stay put until around mid morning but by 10:30, Im ready to head back to camp and enjoy a cup of coffee. I just HAVE to be on stand well before first light, regardless the moon phase. When hunting during a full moon, I am convinced hunters like myself would do better to sleep in and get in their stand around 10 in the morning and stay put until early afternoon, then head back to camp, relax and get back on stand in time to catch the deer when they get up to feed during late afternoon. We that love to hunt deer with archery tackle are sticklers for practice. All aspects of good shooting form are perfected through practice. Its one thing to pick up a center fire rifle thats properly been sighted in once every month or so and achieve accuracy. Shooting a bow is different. The muscles in the back and arms used to draw a bow are usually not used in other endeavors. Shooting regularly is the only way to keep these muscles strong and to prefect the skills of settling the sight pin on the proper spot and releasing the arrow. Even if you have not had time to practice much lately, you have plenty of time to get ready for the opener. Shoot as often as possible and make sure and practice from positions you will encounter under actual hunting conditions. If you will be hunting from a tree stand, make sure and spend plenty of time shooting from elevated positions. Know where to place that sight pin under every conceivable angle and distance thats practical. AFTER ARROWING OVER 60 HEAD OF BIG GAME ANIMALS THROUGH THE YEARS, HERES A FEW TIPS THAT LUKE CONSIDERS IMPORTANT: MAKE POSITIVELY SURE YOU KNOW WHICH PIN TO USE AT EVERY DISTANCE FROM 5 YARDS OUT TO YOUR MAXIMUN SHOOTING RANGE (USUALLY AROUND 30 YARDS) KNOW WHERE TO SET YOUR SIGHT PIN FROM ELEVATED POISTIIONS, AS WELL AS GROUND LEVEL. CONSIDER SETTING ONE SIGHT PIN DEAD ON AT 25 YARDS. ON MOST MODERN BOWS, THIS SETTING WILL SUFFICE FOR A CENTER OF SHOULDER HOLD ON GAME FROM POINT BLANK OUT TO 30 YARDS. MAKE SURE AND CHECK YOUR POINT OF IMPACT AT ALL DISTANCES. WAIT 30 MINUTES BEFORE TAKING UP THE TRAIL. THIS CAN BE TOUGH TO DO BUT ITS THE BEST POLICY TO AVOID SPOOKING GAME. The Dallas Duck Unlimited Banquet is scheduled for Thursday, October 4 at Eddie Deens Ranch 944 South Lamar, Dallas. Doors open at 5:30 pm.; dinner at 7. $100 per person (includes dinner, open bar, and one-year membership. For more information, call 214-372-3825 or online at www.dallasducks.org Luke is on the Mathews Bows Pro Staff and loves bow hunting. Listen to his outdoors radio show at www.catfishgold.com or www.catfishradio.com.