With the early archery season kicking off on Oct. 1 in the Southern Zone of the state, now is the time to make sure you are prepared. In fact, you may be a little bit late! If you act now you can get yourself headed in the right direction to ensure a much better chance for success, in a safe and conditioned manner.
Timing is critical. Jeff Pippard, owner of Niagara Outdoors in North Tonawanda, recognizes the importance of hunt preparation – whether you are hunting in your back yard or out of state on a deer or elk hunt. The first task at hand is the Special Early Archery Season Oct. 1 to Nov. 18 in the Southern Zone, and that’s only a few weeks away. One important thing to recognize locally is that the special regulations imposed last fall have been rescinded … even though the changes were not made in the current state hunting guide for 2016-17. This includes Wildlife Management Units 9A and 9F which takes in all of Niagara County and portions of Erie and Genesee counties.
“The areas that were previously antlerless only for the first 15 days of the early archery season, and the late archery/muzzleloader seasons, have reverted back to the way they were when a hunter could take any deer he wanted,” says Pippard, who insists that there is still a lot of confusion out there.
“Now that the season opens on October 1st, hunters have found that they can easily pattern a bigger buck because they are still in a late summer mode. And if it doesn’t work out for you and the buck has figured out that something is just not right, get out of there and leave it alone until late October. There’s still plenty of time for that buck to settle back into its normal patterns. The wild card is that those bucks will also be starting to feel the effects of the rut, too, so you have a better chance of connecting with him.”
Getting your equipment ready for the hunt is critical. Pippard notes that it’s important to check the string on your bow, as well as the servings – that main layer on the protective body of the string. If they are frayed at all or turning white, it may need some lubrication or it may need to be rebuilt.
“The strings need to be waxed, but not too heavy,” says Pippard, who’s been running his Niagara Outdoors shop for nearly three decades. “Sights are also important. Make sure the peep sight is tight and locating correctly. Check the fiber optics on the front sight and inspect it closely so that there are no cracks. Start practice shooting at shorter ranges, such as 10 yards, to gradually test your accuracy. You don’t want to lose an arrow if you can help it.
"If you are shooting carbon arrows, check for cracks or any splintering. Also, always number your arrows. If you are shooting well except for one arrow, you’ll know it’s not you but the equipment. Shoot three or four times a week, but don’t overdo it. Get your body used to pulling that bow back and shooting on a consistent basis. And once the season starts, don’t stop your practice regiment. Too often, I hear about the hunter who spent a month in the tree stand, only to be disappointed when the moment of truth arrived – and missing the deer due to poor shooting.”
Speaking of shooting, one of Pippard’s pet peeves is not practicing from a tree stand. “Probably 85 percent of my customers hunt from a tree stand but very few of them actually practice from one. You need to get the angles right, especially if that deer is closer to you than what you’ve been practicing. It’s a different aim point at that distance and I remember where I need to hold when faced with that particular situation.”
Tree stand safety is important, too. Check the straps on any stand by climbing up half-way and giving it a good wiggle. Trees grow and animals can actually chew those straps.
“I’ve had porcupines gnaw on straps before and had I not check them beforehand, it could have been an accident waiting to happen.”
Another important consideration is the moon phases.
“I love to hunt the dark moon," Pippard said. "The moon has a minimal impact then. A full moon is a pattern-breaker. The deer can become more aggressive or they can settle right down. Whatever Mother Nature will throw at you, adapt accordingly. Keep a diary and look back on similar situations or conditions. If the weather turns warm, deer may get lazy. You may need to get more aggressive by rattling or calling in the morning or you may need to move closer to their bedding areas. However, this is a ‘go for broke’ technique that can get you busted. If that happens, you may have to abandon the area and go someplace else for the time being.”
Niagara Outdoors can be reached at 695-LURE or through its web site, www.niagaraoutdoors.com.