"Whitetail Bow Season At Hand" by Luke Clayton Luke Clayton Its amazing just how quickly seasons and, to an old hunter, HUNTING seasons, roll around. Whitetail archery season is just beginning and those of us that like to take to the woods with stick and string are entering OUR time of year. Through the years, Ive packed my Mathews Bows from the wilds of Canada to Mexico in quest of big bucks. I remember well the highlights from many past hunts, such as the time I was sitting on a bow stand on the edge of a creek in the big buck country of south central Illinois. I will never forget the sight of that flock of mallards dropping straight down just at dark into the tranquil waters of the little creek, silhouetted by a full moon. Legal shooting time was gone and the big buck Id been watching spooked just as the mallards hit the water. Ill also never forget that first little 7 pointer I harvested near Groveton, Texas years ago while hunting with my long time friend Mark Balette. The sound of the buck spreading the strands of barbed wire as he entered the little oat patch will be engrained in my memory banks forever; so will just about every other facet of my first successful bow hunt. Ill also long remember the big North Dakota buck I watched through binoculars a mile away, that eventually came to within bow range of my little ground blind and stood broadside long enough for me to make a good shot. Ive taken my share of good bucks and had far more teach me lessons in patience, perseverance and humility. There is absolutely nothing that will humble a person like the challenges of bowhunting. Back several decades ago when I first took up hunting with a bow, I truly thought a successful bow hunter needed to possess the shooting ability of Robin Hood and hunting skills of Nimrod. Granted, harvesting deer with archery tackle is by nature far more difficult than hunting with a rifle or muzzleloader, but a look at the ever increasing number of Pope and Young record book entries each year proves that bowhunting success is definitely on the rise, thanks I believe to increased knowledge and much better archery equipment. I go into each bow season fully expecting to put meat in the freezer and possibly a big buck on the ground and, like many modern day hunters using state of the art archery equipment, I am usually successful. Photo by Luke Clayton HERES SOME TIPS THAT I BELIEVE WILL MAKE YOUR NEXT BOWHUNT MORE SUCCESSFUL: PRACTICE- Make sure your practice includes shooting from positions encountered while hunting, and this includes shooting from elevated positions. Know exactly which sight pin to hold at all distances out to your maximum effective bow range, about 30 yards for most of us. Ive found that when shooting from elevated stands, I need to hold a bit lower than when shooting from level ground. SHOT PLACEMENT- Harvesting game with a high velocity rifle bullet is far different than using an arrow tipped with a fixed or mechanical broadhead. I wait for slam dunk shots that I know that I can make and pass up iffy shots. Broad side or slightly quartering away shots offer the best opportunity of a clean harvest. FIXED BROADHEAD OR MECHANICAL- I shoot a mechanical broad made by Grim Reaper (www.grimreaper.com) and consider it the best on the market, but there are many, many quality broadheads, both mechanical and fixed, on the market today. The Grim Reaper begins cutting the instant the point strikes the animal and, with good shot placement, harvests game every bit as quickly as a rifle bullet. Regardless which type broadhead you choose, make sure and shoot it enough to learn its point of impact at various yardages. My mechanicals fly exactly the same as filed points of the same weight but, I learned that by actually shooting them in practice. LEARNING WHEN TO DRAW- The act of actually drawing a bow when deer are close is one of the most challenging aspects of bow hunting. Deer are extremely wired and are highly sensitive to sight and sound. Movement is necessary to bring a bow to full draw and the challenge is drawing when undetected. Ive learned to watch the animals body language closely and draw only when the animal is looking away or has its head down feeding. The Mathews Drenalin bow I hunt with offers 80% let off. I have the draw weight set at 63 pounds, but when the cam on the bow breaks over, Im only holding 12.6 pounds, something Ive done on past hunts for a couple of minutes until the deer presented the right shot angle. TRACKING- Deer often run out of sight after the shot and learning to follow the trail is a major part of successful bow hunting. Unless you actually see or hear the deer go down, its a good idea to wait at least 30 minutes before taking up the trail, longer if you know the shot was less than perfect. Note: In a recent column, I gave the incorrect phone number for Lake Tawakoni guide George Rule. Rule can be reached at 214-202-6641. In a recent interview, Rule informed me that the channel catfish bite continues to be red hot with 2 and 3 person limits landed in 2 hours. Better catches are coming from holes baited with soured grain, in water around 20 feet deep on the edge of tree lines. Listen to Outdoors With Luke Clayton at www.catfishradio.com and check out the new fishing videos at lukeshotspots.com We have a virtual library of Luke's stories here on the BOC. Just about anything you could want to read about the outdoors. Click here to see a boat load of information!