Turkey season is finally upon us. The first legitimate big game season of the 2016 archery year means yours truly will be putting together a few trips away from home to try to accomplish my goal of completing what I've dubbed "The Nebraska Slam". The first leg of the Nebraska Slam revolves around shooting all 3 sub-species of turkeys that reside in Nebraska including a true white Merriam's, a hybrid resembling a Rio Grande in color, and the darker fanned Eastern. The rest of the slam involves the pronghorn, the mule deer, the whitetail, and the elk. For this goal to happen I'll have to travel to various places across the state that have the populations necessary to hunt each animal. Leaving the comforts of home almost certainly means I'll be traveling with "Murphy" whose law dictates that if something can go wrong it will. Having just a little knowledge and the right tools to overcome accidents may save your trip from disaster. In this update I'll give you a few bits of advice on what I carry and have learned that may prove useful on your next outing.
As I wrote in a previous post my first elk hunt in 2010 had an incident that could've ruined a hunt for my partner CJ Novak had we as a group not had a little foresight. CJ went to draw back his bow just to check it was functioning properly and his D loop broke causing him to dry fire his bow, which unraveled in his hands. Fortunately we had packed a small repair kit with the right tools to get his bow back together. We also had brought along a spare D loop for just this situation. We also had packed up a small piece of paper with instructions on how to tie the D loop so we could actually carry out the task. D loops can be a little intimidating but they aren't overly difficult. Above is a step by step photo timeline of how to tie one, and here are some instructions:
1) Start by marking the horizontal center nocking point on your bowstring with a sharpie. Black works great on strings of color, while silver is perfect for black strings. You can find the center by aligning your arrow with the middle of the hole in your riser that holds your arrow rest in place. While there are small tools that allow you to clamp your bow into place or allow you to level your arrow, you may not have that luxury in the field and you are just going to do your best to "eyeball" how level and straight you are.
2) Your D loop should be a piece of material, just over 4 1/2" long. You can get the material from any pro shop, or simply ask them to cut and burn a spare for you. I would bet they give it to you at no cost, but should you get charged, it'll be minimal. Burn the ends with a lighter to form a nice little ball, then blow the flame out and smash the ball against the metal head of the lighter. The flattened heads seem to hold better against pressure than heads shaped like a ball.
3) Form the loop into an oblong horseshoe and set it up on the backside of the bowstring, then run the open end with the balls through the closed end and pull one ball tight against the string. Your loop should still look like a long piece of cord tied to the string.
4) Next you simply lay the loop over the top of the string. After that you'll wrap the loop under the bowstring and tuck the loop back inside itself and poke the ball back through the top of the string.
5) Pull the loop tighter and again wrap the ball end of the loop over itself and wrap it under the backside of the bowstring. At this point you should have a small hole to tuck the ball of the loop into. Pull the knot tight and you're set. You want the ball ends of the loop to face opposite directions when finished to apply equal pressure on your string as you pull. This also keeps the loop tighter.
6) The loop will look very small but that's okay because the loop material will stretch as you pull it tight. This is why I like a pliable material versus a hard material when tying loops, the pliable material is just much easier to work with. Before cinching the loop tight, make sure you are still centered and your nock fits in between the knot points of the loop. Once that is all in order, use a pair of nocking pliers to pull the loop tight. Nocking pliers are a cheap investment as well but should you not have them, just make sure your loop is tight, then draw back a few times to tighten the loop up.
Trips can be rough on equipment. Between bouncing around on rough roads or trails, travel itself, bows being dropped, or even thrown in defense of savage rattlesnakes hell bent on destroying the world ( I really really really don't like snakes and may even be slightly afraid of them) your bow can take quite a beating. A quick eye test though can help you make sure everything is lined up where it is supposed to be. I like to take a sharpie prior to season and mark the left and right as well as up and down locations of my rest and sights. Those marks can serve as a quick visual inspection to let me know nothing has moved. Another trick is to set your bow up according to the picture above. Set the bow on your foot, I use my left as that's the same as my non-dominant eye. Close your non-dominant eye and try to align your vision so that your bowstring runs down the middle of the arrow as it sits on the rest. Now at the same time peak up to the top limb of your bow and try to notice where the end of your arrow sits in alignment with the limb bolt of your top limb. In the photo above (you may have to zoom in) you can see the arrow is running just a hair to the right of the center line which would likely throw me off. A simple, small, left adjustment to your rest should bring that in line. Ideally you would be able to paper tune your bow again and feel comfortable in your adjustments, but that is not likely a luxury in the middle of nowhere. Take a target with you or shoot at a make shift target in the field and use your tools to at least allow you to hit where you are aiming. While your bow may not be perfectly tuned you are at least hitting your mark which is the goal anyway. Once you get back home you can take the bow to the shop for the proper tuning, I'm just trying to keep you as lethal as those dreaded snakes while in the field.
None of the advice above will work if you don't have the tools at your disposal to make the fixes you need to. I always carry a small pouch with first aid essentials and basic tools. This can sit in your vehicle, backpack, or bow case for quick access. Here is a list of the basics I carry in each:
1) My first aid kit includes a lighter for starting fires, basic bandages and gauze, super glue for bigger cuts, sunscreen, anti-itch creams for stings, or weeds, neopsporin, alcohol wipes, moleskin for blisters, and iodine tablets for water. This doesn't include maps, cell phone batteries, emergency contacts, and various other essentials that should be pre-planned as a part of any trip.
2) My gear kit includes, a zip tie for who knows what, allen wrenches, a mini screwdriver, a Swiss army knife, a D loop, a couple of levels and rest tools, a spare range-finder battery, a variety of screws and a strip of felt for silencing. This also doesn't include the gear used for cleaning animals, or all other items in camp for the trip.
We wait all year for the chance to get out and chase the game we love and sneak away on new adventures. Nothing is worse than mishaps in the field ruining those outings. Hopefully these tips can keep you afield and salvage your trip. Here's to a successful turkey season and the first step towards your 2016 goals.
The Budget Bowhunter