Attention all! This is a public service announcement for the 2016 fall archery season.
To all my bowhunting brothers and sisters please for your own sake, use an actual camera for your hunting photos!
I am as guilty of this as anyone. We have a nice camera sitting in the house yet in the past five years I have opted to use cell phones to take my success photos. I never thought much of it until my wife and I put together the NBA slideshow for the Banquet last March. It was so apparent then to see the difference between cell phone pics and actual camera photos.
The cell phone pictures were distorted, blurry and simply not as high quality as the ones taken with actual cameras. (Disclaimer, this is not a diss on anyone's photography skills or a personal shot at anyone. Just an observation by someone that has no clue about photography).
"Nine out of 10 photographers agree with me, the 10th one was blind in one eye and couldn't see out of the other." This is a totally made up quote by yours truly but I have to think every professional photographer would agree with it.
Don't get me wrong, cell phones have come a long way. The cameras on the average smart phone are in fact very high quality and can take some great small printed pictures. They are ideal for that snapshot to send out to friends in a group text to show them all who the ultimate hunter in the group is. (You of course!) But remember, cell phones are small and the pictures taken on them are not always meant to be blown up to an 8x11 copy let alone put on a big screen for a slideshow.
These pictures taken in the field are meant to be treasured for a lifetime. Call me old fashioned but I still print off hard copies of my friends and my own hunting success pictures and create actual physical hold in your hand photo albums (yes they still make and sell them). It is an awesome thing to have these photos to sit and look through.
In my own experience, I have had pictures I printed off from cell phones that I was extremely disappointed with. An awesome experience I wanted to be able to remember through pictures turned out to be blurry or very low quality to say the least.
So remember, next time you go on a hunting trip and fill your tag, grab your camera, clean the blood off the animal as best you can and take a high quality picture. You won't regret it when you print it off and it's a picture you can be proud of and show off to people.
Snap a couple on your cell phone of course for the group message to remind your friends and family who puts the meat on the table. Or if they're like my friends give them an opportunity to flip you crap like "did your wife shoot that?" Or "I'm assuming you hit that with your truck on the way to the stand?" Or "Wow! Did hell freeze over today?"
Actually, now that I think about it maybe I should write my next blog about how to choose your hunting friends and how to deal with their extreme jealousy toward your success....well, anyway that's another topic for another day.
Good luck and happy "shooting" this fall!
Well the time of year is upon us again. Next week the Nebraska Bowhunters Association will invade the Halsey National Forest for the annual Jamboree.
I have been attending this event since I was a little tike. It is one of the highlights of my year.
As a kid I remember The Jamboree being the last hoorah of summer before school started. Crossing that river bridge to enter into the forest brought an excitement that caused me to not be able to sit still. Seeing my "NBA family" again and camping together was and still is such an amazing time.
As a kid I remember loving the 3-d ranges and the competition shoots, running wild in the forest and shooting the kids range. As a teen I loved it even more, shooting ranges in the mornings, hanging in the river with friends in the heat of the day, trading hunting stories and good food in the evenings, and onto college the feeling was the same.
I started bringing my wife (girlfriend at the time) with me and she loved it as well and as a family we look forward to it every year.
I have so many great memories from The Jamboree and look forward to the ones we will make in the future as I start bringing my own children to it to let them experience it for themselves.
This year however my wife and I will not make it to the Jamboree as we are expecting our third child any day now. (She doesn't think the forest is a good place to have a child despite my best efforts to convince her it would be!)
So all of you will have to enjoy it this year without us (I know it will be tough).
If you have never experienced the jamboree then I am here to highly recommend trying it out for yourself. This year the jamboree goes from August 4th - August 7th. It is fun for all ages. The forest has many accommodations for camping, whether it be in a camper or a tent they have it. There is also the 4h cabins at the forest, or a nearby hotel in Thedford, Nebraska.
It is a members only event so ensure you go online and Join the NBA or look for the registration table right across from the pay station when you get there to sign in and say hello.
I promise you will not regret it. It is a "fun for the whole family" event and if nothing else it gives you a great excuse to go camping and shoot some 3-d ranges just in time for antelope season.
In closing I want to remind all of us first timers or Jamboree lifers that this event doesn't just happen every year with no sweat. There are people behind the scenes who work tirelessly for hours on end in the August heat to make this event possible. The NBA is blessed with a ton of great people who volunteer their time to make sure all of us have an awesome experience when we go to this.
Don't let there work go unnoticed, let's give them all a thank you and a helping hand.
There is always something that they need hep with, whether running the registration table for an hour or two, assisting setting up or taking down targets, helping run the competition shoots for awhile, to volunteering your time to the highway litter clean up , along with many other countless details that go into making this event so special.
If you are interested in volunteering your time contact:
Roger Sears: 308-530-3167
Matt Lucas: 308-520-2164
Harlin Welch: 402-760-0532
Last but not least, it is a privilege that the NBA has a location like the Halsey National Gorest to put on such a massive event the forest is an incredible place.
Even outside of the Jamboree. As citizens of the state what an awesome place we ALL have to use for hunting, camping, or any other kind of recreational activities we can enjoy there.
Ensure you thank the forest service for there work they put in to making it such an awesome place.
We must all remember to clean up what we carry in and try to leave it nicer than we found it.
Your help will be most appreciated, most importantly to all of you, enjoy The Jamboree! If you've never been there go check it out it will not disappoint. And you're a seasoned jamboree veteran...may this year be the best one yet! I'll be thinking of you all!
Well my apologies, I have not gotten on here and written anything for quite some time. To be honest I've been blank on what to write about for my next blog...couldn't really think of anything so I decided I'd write a poem....turns out I'm a poet and didn't even know it....(bet you've never heard that clever little line!) anyway without further a due here it is.
A Bowhunter's Life
This world is filled with stress, struggles, and strife
That's why I thank God he blessed my family with a bowhunters life.
Spring has done sprung in the blink of an eye
arrows have flown and the turkeys have died
Sheds have been found and the trophys from last fall
have all been paid for and hung up on the wall
While some have walleye fever burning in their head
Others are busy scratching that bowfishing itch instead.
When summer hits means no time to stop,
there's still fish to be slayed and 3-d's to be shot
Food plots to look after and scouting deer to be done
How else does one know where to set up on that Pope and young?
If all the before mentioned is not a good enough reason
then wouldn't you know it comes August and its antelope season!
Then it's setting in a blind for 12 hours in 90 degree heat.
To get a shot at that goat when he comes in for a drink.
When he finally turns broadside and you watch your arrow hit,
your reminded that all the time and effort was totally worth it.
September hits and wouldn't ya know
deer seasons here and it's time to go.
Up in the tree stand or out in the hills bowhunters are lurking and chasing the thrill,
of bringing down that bruiser they've been watching all year.
Spending countless hours trying to outsmart that ever elusive deer.
October comes round and there's a chill in the wind
The best of all seasons has come round again
Cold November mornings means the rut is coming on
the month every bowhunter wishes was three times as long.
But the end of falling leaves will not get them down,
because here comes winter where their next thrills will be found.
Late season deer and turkey hunts
just means a new set of challenges for the next few months.
Ice fishing, bunny hunting, and processing meat,
means lots of fun to be had and some really cold feet.
Turn the page of winter and spring has sprung again,
the turkeys are strutting, the fish are swimming, and all bowhunters are flashing a big shiny grin.
They'll grab their bow and walk right out the door,
a new year is upon them and the cycle starts over once more.
So take your kids with you invite the husband or wife,
and ignite that fire inside them that fuels a bowhunters life.
This post is dedicated to Andrew Ford. Rest in peace my friend.
In this version of hunting mishaps we are going back to high school with a group of goobers who wanted to go on a bowfishing trip without any "mature" adult supervision. The end result was nothing short of comical.
With graduation looming and the four of us excited to move on to college and learn how to "adult" on our own for the first time my good friends Jake Runyan, Orrin Seidel, and Andrew Ford decided it would be a good idea to go on an all day adventure to the backwaters of Merritt reservoir and shoot carp with our bows.
We planned a day and decided we would leave a couple hours before light on a Saturday and make the roughly 2 hour trek from Ainsworth Nebraska to the back side of Merritt.
With permission from our parents and excitement running high we soon had one thing hindering us from making this trip happen.
None of us had a big enough or reliable enough vehicle to make it out there...at this point we should've decided to go to one of our closer backwater spots we frequently shot carp at.
But no! We would prevail somehow!
Finally our answer came when Andrew fibbed to his parents telling them we were going to the dam at Merritt so there would be no problem getting there in there mini van. In reality we had to drive for miles and miles through pastures on a two trail road to get where we wanted to go.
(We were not the brightest crayons in the box)
They agreed and we were set!
We awoke the next morning to a windy drizzly wet morning (once again we should've decided against it) "I bet it'll clear off" one of us said so we were off down the highway! We arrived at Merritt right around sunrise...or what should've been sunrise. It was a foggy,rainy, windy cold mess.
Onward we went!
Finally, we arrived at the trail head! The two track trail started off by going straight up a sandy hill and turned into pasture after that. We stopped at the base of the hill and sat there in silence.
In the back of our minds I think everyone knew this looked pretty grim but nothing was said for quite awhile. After a bit of silence someone (I don't remember who) broke it by saying we can't make this in a minivan.
I would like to think it wasn't but I'm pretty sure that was the first time it hit us that we couldn't make this trek in a 2wd minivan.
After someone had mentioned that the next thing we heard was Andrew scream at the top of his lungs "yeeee haw" at the same time he laid on the horn and stomped the gas pedal to the floor.
The van took off in a flash and here we went......about 20 yards before the van bogged down in the sand and we were buried.
With his hand still slammed on the horn and a look of pure determination on his face Andrew continued to look straight ahead, the van not moving and all of us watching him until the horn literally quit working.
He then put it in park turned to look at us and we all started laughing our fool heads off.
After about an hour of digging and laughing we got the minivan dug out and back main road.
Not to be defeated We decided we would walk coves and the dam to shoot some fish even though it was maybe 45 degrees and the rain was drizzling down with the wind whipping.
After a couple hours of trying and not seeing a single fish, feeling defeated we called it a day and headed back to town to get breakfast We were home by noon, soaking wet, the van a mess with a broken horn, and wiser in the ways of off road vehicle necessities.
To this day it is one of the most treasured memories I have because it was one of the last bowfishing trips we got to take with Andrew.
He passed away a few years later and we all miss him much.
So in closing no matter how bleak a trip may seem, no matter the weather, if there is a chance for you to get out and experience the outdoors with your family or friends, go for it!! The memories made wil last a lifetime! Just remember to bring an off-road approved vehicle!
the third edition to the series takes us back to Merritt reservoir once again. Mike Albrecht, Harlin Welch, Matt Gideon, Trent Philbrick, Jess Hurlbert and myself decided to go to the backwaters of Merritt for a weekend of bowfishing.
It proved to be one of the funnest most memorable trips I have taken to date.
Harlin, Jess, Trent and I drove the vehicles back (this time using 4wd pickups) while my dad (Mike) and Matt Gideon put there boats in the water and drove them back to our campsite.
I remember pulling up to the big bluff overlooking the water and seeing splashes from carp shooting 10 foot in the air.
Harlin who was in front of me jumped out of his vehicle and started dancing around and hollering "we hit it! We hit the spawn!" Big common carp we spawning in shallows and as far as you could see there were big carp with there backs out of the water!
The four of us grabbed our bows and started wading around through the water piling up big commons as fast as we could get our arrows knocked.
The other two in the boats arrived and we spent the afternoon wading around in the water and shooting big fish!
That evening we all set up camp. As the sun set we decided to load up in the boats for some after dark bowfishing.
We started cruising the coves and were into good fish and having a ball. One of the members of the party Jess Hurlbert was having s difficult time connecting with a fish off the boat.
After "a few" missed shots and some heavy duty razzing from the rest of us in the boat Trent Philbrick spoke up and said "the way you're shooting were going to have to find a crippled one for you to actually get a fish" frustrated, Jess had a few choice words for Trent and went back to looking for fish.
Well, as luck would have it not 5 minutes later the spot light lit up a nice carp, Jess took aim and the fish just sat there, he released the arrow and we all seen it center the fish. Jess excitedly turned to us and said something along the lines of "woohoo, smoked that one!!"
I had kept my eye on the fish and after the arrow hit him I knew something wasn't right, the fish didn't swim off, in fact it sat in place and wiggled itself like a someone trying to run on sheet of ice. Jess got the fish pulled out of the water and that's when we noticed it,
the carps tail had been cut off and healed up that way.
It was unable to swim and really was a completely crippled fish. The entire boat erupted in laughter. So loudly in fact that Harlin Welch, who had stayed back to watch the poles we had set out on the bank at camp heard us. Needless to say Jess has never lived it down.
After that incident we decided we'd go back and fish for walleye off the bank at camp.
After laughing about Jess's fish we started really getting into the walleye late into the night. At one point, one f Mike Albrechts poles about bent in half, After hooking it he knew he had a big fish on!
I grabbed the light to help him and as the fish surfaced we noticed it was just a carp. Trent Philbrick who was watching from a distance very intently did not notice this. "Do u need the net?" He asked eagerly. "Yes!" Hollered Mike. "This is a huge walleye! One of the biggest I've ever seen."
Being the good friend he is Trent grabbed the net and without hesitation piled into the water, waste deep, he stood there with the net waiting to bring in this monster walleye, he scooped the fish into the net and held it up out of the water only to hear roars of laughter behind him.
After a few choice words he climbed out of the water and walked over to dry off by the campfire, where he placed his one day old pair of Hunting boots by the fire to dry off.
As we all stood around the poles we started to notice a strong smell of burnt rubber, that's when we noticed trents new boots were not so new anymore. The fire had shifted to the side he had set them by and completely melted the soles out of them.
Trent later stated ruining a new pair of boots is totally worth it if it means getting to eat a delicious carp!
The next afternoon things got a little western. As we were all out bowfishing a storm started to roll in, we got back to camp just in time before the monster of a storm rolled in on us.
Later we found out the winds were gusting upwards of 70+ miles an hour at times and there was a tornado somewhere awfully close to our location.
With nowhere to run we decided to all climb in An Alaskan guide tent and ride the storm out. Not before Matt Gideon pulled his pickup right next to the tent so we could tied it to the pickup.
We rode the storm out without any of us getting an ounce of water on us. I now will always swear by the cabelas Alaskan guides tents! If you don't own one...you should!
Finally, after the storm had passed we got out to see sunshine and an awesome double rainbow flowing across the sky. We checked our poles and decided to just hang at camp the rest of the afternoon all of us feeling fortunate to be alive!
The next day we awoke to a drizzly rainy cold day and with some of us remembering to bring rain gear and not wanting to sit in the tent all day. It turned into a pretty comical fashion show. Harlin Welch fashioned himself a nice rain jacket out of a garbage bag while dad decided to wrap himself in a boat tarp.
Jess Hurlbert being the mountain man he is was not phased by the rain and cold and said a cold can of chef boyardee beef ravioli was enough to keep him warm! He offered all of us a can of it stating "it cures what ails ya" but we all kindly passed and ate fresh fish instead.
With the colder temperatures the carp moved back into deeper water the last day proved to be tough bowfishing so we all stayed at camp and had good luck catching walleye.
The memories of that trip to this day make me laugh from crippled fish to burnt boots to huddling in a tent while a tornado rolled past. As the youngest member of that group I would like to thank them all for including me in on it. I will never forget it. (Below are a few extra pics of the trip in a slideshow
Howdy friends, I've decided it's time to share some hunting stories with you all. Although I have a few success stories that is not what this content will consist of. After talking with a couple of my long time friends we realized we have some pretty entertaining stories to share most of which consist of a comical mishap.
Some are simply funny, some are heartbreaking tales of misses or blown hunts and others are downright bad luck so over the next few days I am going to share one or two stories per day in a series I am naming "hunting mishaps" so...here goes nothing.
A few years ago my good friend Orrin Seidel and I were in Wyoming hunting antelope. It had been a slow hunt with a couple of the guys in camp filling tags and some not seeing any antelope within shooting range. Orrin was one of the lucky ones to fill his tag and decided to sit in the blind with me the day after he had killed his goat.
We sat up on a watering hole that was a dam made from a windmill up the hill from us. The dam was roughly 35 yards across and went uphill on the other side of us. We arrived before light and got setup with plenty of time before sun up. Soon enough the sun rose behind us and we were eagerly waiting to see antelope crest the hill to come into water.
After a couple hours of daylight we had seen nothing and it was a windy chilly Wyoming morning. So windy in fact one of us had to keep weight on the blind to keep it from blowing away. Much to our surprise before long over the hill waddled a big badger on the opposite side of the dam. Since this was the first living thing we had seen all day it was pretty exciting to watch him start making his way around the pond trotting straight for us.
At about 20 yards away we thought this was a pretty cool sight, at about 15 yards away we started to wonder. When he stopped directly in front of our blind at less than ten yards away and started sniffing and digging we began questioning the spot we had placed our blind. As the badger started digging he was intently looking over his shoulder the opposite direction of us, soon enough we saw it, a Boone and Crockett skunk waddle sprinting straight at us. Needless to say that was an interesting but unwelcoming sight.
The skunk went straight up to the badger and got right in its nose. The badger seemed to not be phased at all by said skunk and continued to dig. Next the skunk started lifting its front legs off the ground and slamming them down right by the Badgers head.
Once again the badger couldn't have cared less.
Up until this next point Orrin and I were calm and enjoying this close up show that neither one of us had ever even heard of happening. As far as we knew we were watching the first ever heavy weight bout between a badger and skunk in history.
The next round is where things got really interesting!
As you all may have guessed Pepe lepue decided it was time to bring out the heavy artillery. Slowly he turned his hind end straight toward the badger and slowly backed up until he was about a foot from its face as if to say don't make me do this bud! Once again the badger didn't seem to be intimidated at all...dumb move. Mr. Skunk then unleashed his stank right on the tip of mr. Badgers nose and from there all heck broke loose.
The badger jumped a foot in the air and started pawing at his face whilst we were pinching our noses and gasping for air. Then in a blind sprint the badger turned and ran straight for the blind until we couldn't see him anymore. My first thought was "he is coming straight in here with us...so this is how I die..." In a split second I dove straight out of my chair let out a scream that sounded like a teenage girl at a horror film, almost knocked Orrin over, and flew to the back of the blind, like if I backed up two foot I would be safe.
In the process of my move I happened to shove a broadhead straight through the wall of Orrins brand new blind and sent stuff flying all over the place only to realize the badger turned at the last second and ran off back the way he had come.
The skunk sniffed around a bit turned away and swam across the dam as if to take a victory lap.
After Orrin stopped laughing and cursing me at the same time for the nice new hole through his blind we gathered ourselves and calmed down. In my excitement I said something that to this day I have never lived down. Orrin asked "what do you think that badger was digging for?" In all my knowledge of how mammals operate I answered with "I bet he was digging up the skunks nest to eat its eggs."
Yes, I'm a natural blonde...My friend just stared at me with a look of disbelief waiting for me to say I was joking....by the time he was rolling in laughter I had realized how stupid of an answer that was. Needless to say later that night the entire camps entertainment was at my expense.
So friends the Moral of the story is if you're ever setting up a blind in Wyoming try to avoid setting it to close to a skunks nest!
Well it's the time of year where all the fall hunting seasons are quickly coming to end if they haven't ended already. A new year is already growing close to a month old and almost all the late seasons will be officially closed up.
As bowhunters we start looking forward to March when it's time again to go after the mighty thunder chicken. Until then it's the perfect time of year to ice fish, call coyotes, trap some critters and last but not least hone your archery skills on some bunnies.
If you've never really went out and hunted hard for rabbits with your bow I would highly recommend trying it. It is one of the most fun things you can do in the late winter months when all other hunting seasons are closed. I just returned from our annual bunny hunt and once again it did not disappoint. What an awesome time! We have been getting together for 18 years now and there is never a dull moment.
We have tried many different strategies out in pursuing rabbits and have learned what really works in rabbit hunting. Believe it or not there is a strategy to it and today I am going to share with you my knowledge in having good success when chasing bunnies.
First and foremost if you can round up 4-8 people to go along with you it will greatly help your odds in seeing rabbits and getting someone in the group a shot at more bunnies. Next is finding places to go. In my experience big thick tree groves around farms or homes seem to hold the largest amount of cottontails and make it easier to keep them contained and allow for more shots. Rather than big wide river bottoms or canyons. I'm not saying you can't kill rabbits in any terrain because you can but it's ideal to find them in shelter belts where there is tight cedar groves or thickets.
Once you have your group and your places to hunt, now is where the strategy comes in to play. The best way to flush rabbits is to get a group of of guys to push the grove and a group to sit and block the end.
I would recommend getting enough guys to push each lane of the grove and if feasible a guy on each side of the grove as well. Put enough guys at the opposite end of the trees and have them set up and be ready to shoot them as they come out. The walkers push the grove straight to the blockers and you will be shocked at how many rabbits your group can get shots at.
We always use rubber bludgeon points. They are the safest thing to use and do quick work on rabbits.
My last point/recommendation is to clean the rabbits you kill and eat them. They are delicious and fairly easy to clean and prep. Our group most always will pull the skin off, cut out the backstraps, and cuts off the hind legs leaving the meat on the bone. Slow cooking them is the one of the best ways to prepare them but they are also great either smoked or grilled or in soups. There are a ton of rabbit recipes out there but it is great meat and a ton of fun to go out and shoot some.
If you find places that are filled with cottontails they offer a lot quick action and a challenging hunt.
In these upcoming month of the year I would urge you to get together with your hunting buddies and try killing some rabbits if you have never tried it. It's an exciting hunt and I assure you you will all be itching to get out and do it again.
Good luck and in closing I'll leave you with one of my favorite bunny hunting quotes "I'm the roughest toughest ombré that ever locked horns with a rabbit" - Yosemite Sam
My mother used to watch an old soap opera called the "days of our lives" and the intro to that show has always stuck with me. It started with the narrator stating, "like hands in a shower cap, so our the days of our lives." I never quite understood it but when we heard it we knew it was time to be quiet or go outside because it was my mothers thirty minute break from all of our nonsense.
Why am I bringing this up? A couple years ago I learned that it actually said "Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives." Ping! Light bulb! That quote really does make sense and it fits perfectly into what I want to write about.
In the blink of an eye it seems I have grown up and now have my own children who want to do everything dad does, including hunting. I now find myself teaching them how to shoot a bow and including them in most everything I do. In doing this I can't help but think back to how many people impacted my life by letting me tag along on all of their outdoor adventures. I'm sure it wasn't always easy to drag me along but I was fortunate enough to have a father and his friends who always let the pipsqueak tag along. Looking back, it meant the world to me. I'm sure many of you reading this can relate.
Let me start with a big thank you to all of you who drug me along on their hunts, whether it was a simple evening fishing trip, sitting in a treestand or turkey blind, calling coyotes, bird hunting, or bowfishing...Thank you! Thank you from the bottom of my heart for including me and having the patience to let me keep up with you or even ruin the hunt due to being to cold or too loud. Thank you for showing me the tricks of the trade and making me take part in setting up camp or field dressing and skinning the animals we killed. The lessons you taught me and the passion for the sport you instilled in me have impacted my life more than you'll ever know.
I remember one specific time my dad was going to set in a tree stand for an evening set. I begged a pleaded for him to take me and assured him I'd be fine setting in a tree, being quiet, and holding still. Finally he caved and I got to come along. We climbed in the tree...I freaked out, started crying, we got down and left. It was most likely the outcome he suspected but I will never forget it.
Another time when I was a bit older and able to sit in a tree stand, Kevin Martin, a friend of my family, invited me to come set with him. I told him I really wanted to see him shoot a deer, he told me he was not going to shoot a doe because he was holding out for a buck. I begged and pleaded and finally he agreed to shoot a doe. Soon enough a doe presented a shot and he drew back and took aim. I got so excited watching him draw back that I forgot to watch the deer. He released the arrow and made a perfect shot, he looked at me excitedly and asked what I thought of that!? Needless to say I had to inform him I didn't see it. He still laughs and tells that story to this day. I may not have seen the shot but it is another memory I have that I will never forget!
Now, as an adult (well...at least my age says I'm an adult) I realize it is my turn to pass the "hunting torch" on to the next generation. As I've stated in an earlier blog, I can see my oldest son already showing interest in this way of life and I know that his passion for hunting starts through me. All of us, no matter what your age, had someone who acted as a mentor, someone who helped light the fire that still drives you today. The impact we have on the youth today is immense, especially in today's society that has so many voices against the hunting way of life. Not only is it important to take our own children hunting, it is equally important to take other kids out as well. In my own experience it meant the world to me when one of my fathers friends (or my hunting uncles so to speak) would ask me to go along. So to my generation I write this as a simple reminder to take a kid hunting even if it means the hunt might not be as successful (or as long as you would like) because it might change that child's life.
So to all of the "geezers" I say thank you. Whether you were part of a mentor program, took a neighbor kid hunting or simply took the time to take your own kids hunting, you have made a difference. You did it right and helped to carry on this tradition we all could not live without. All of us should remember to say thank you to the ones who took the time to include us when we were starting out. When you see them take the time to talk with them, invite them on a hunt (even if it means pushing their wheel chair to the blind), and always send them pictures of your success. I am sure they would love to hear from you.
I would also love to hear from you, The NBA has been kind enough to let us bloggers do some giveaways! All you have to do is enter a story, picture, or just mention someone who was an inspiration or a hunting mentor to you in the comment section below and you will be entered to win a Nebraska Bowhunters Association hat! If you have photos, email them to email@example.com. I look forward to hearing from you and until next time hunt hard and shoot straight!
I want to talk to you about something that, should you ever find yourself diagnosed with, can and will ruin your hunting season.
I am talking about target panic.
Even though it isn't an actual diagnosis (despite my best efforts trying to convince my doctor) it is, however, a major issue that can truly make the best archery shooters not be able to make a simple 10 yard shot. I have personally struggled with target panic and am here to to tell you I would rather sit downwind of a frightened skunk than deal with it again.
For those of you who have never heard of it or don't understand it let me explain it to you.
Every time you pull back your bow it triggers a small panic attack. It is nothing more than a mental block that forces the shooter to feel a sense of urgency to release the arrow or to freeze up and not be able to put their pin on the target as soon as they get to full draw. It may seem like nothing to those of you that have never dealt with it but I assure you, it flat out sucks and it feels like it is impossible to overcome.
I'm here to tell you though that there is a way out from under its spell. Take it from a guy who had target panic so bad I couldn't hit the broadside of a barn if I was standing in it. I struggled so bad with it for so long I was honestly contemplating giving up bowhunting completely.
I shot everyday, I upgraded my bow, I tried different tactics all of which fell flat and I was still stuck being a prisoner of my own mind. Finally for me getting so fed up with not being able to shoot my bow actually worked out for me and I found a way to get over it.
Everyone who gets target panic has to find there own way to get over it, since it is a mental block each one has to find what helps their mind get over the hurdle and gets you back out there driving tacks. That being said here are some tips you can try if you in fact are or find yourself struggling with a case of the "punch its".
Stand close and close your eyes
Get a big target, stand about 4-5 yards away, pull your bow back, close your eyes and concentrate on your form and follow through. Squeeze the trigger, DON'T PUNCH IT! If you punch it keep trying until you can calmly squeeze the trigger off or calmly release the arrow if you're a finger shooter.
Shoot at this yardage for at least a week and try to shoot every night. Even if it's just a couple arrows...consistency, consistency, consistency! After a week of doing this, step back to any yardage you want and ease into it. If you feel "panicky" at all, go right back to your previous yardage and keep trying this method.
Have someone count to ten
This one is simple but effective. Have someone stand beside you and give you a countdown or tell you when to shoot and simply don't shoot until you're told. This is a big help on getting you to hold you're pin on your target.
Aim small, miss small
In the same regard to my first tip, stand close to your target with this one. This was the most effective for me getting over the hump.
When I did this I put my block target downstairs in my house about 4 yards from me, turned on the tv, sat on the couch and shot my bow at that range every night for a month solid. Even if it was just one arrow, I made sure to shoot every day. (I would advise asking your spouse before zipping arrows in your abode.) Better yet, maybe just do it outside. Although, the couch is pretty dang comfortable and being comfortable for this exercise is the most important part!
Anyway back to the point. I'm not saying you have to do this for a month straight, but however long you choose to do it don't shoot at any other range. Stand close to where you're completely comfortable, pull your bow back and aim at a small little speck on your target. Focus on holding dead on and smoothly releasing the arrow without rushing the shot at all.
After doing only this for a month I became a better shooter than I was even before target panic reared its ugly head. I was taking my time, squeezing the release off instead of punching, aiming smaller and holding my pin rock solid for as long as I wanted. It really helped in all aspects of my shooting.
Some other simple tips to try
Sometimes just trying something a little different can be enough to get you over the hump and shooting like that buddy who never misses and can't understand why you don't just "aim your bow, take your time, and shoot the target!"
Turn up the pressure
My last but definitely not least point on this is tricky but crucial. Once you have gotten over your target panic and feel completely comfortable shooting again, (and when I say completely comfortable I mean 100% positive you are over it) its time to put it to the test.
I'm trying to drive that home because if you're not ready for this step and try it anyway, it can and will take you back to square one!
Get yourself out and shoot in some high pressure situations. Shoot next to people in leagues, 3D shoots and high stakes competitions with your buddies. Whatever you used to do and not think twice about but now seems like a nightmare...go do that! I know it seems like torture but it is the only way to truly get over the mental block and be able to make that shot when it counts come hunting season.
There is no better practice than live animals. Obviously we can't shoot animals year around but honing your skills in the late winter months on rabbits, squirrels, etc. is the best practice a person can get.
Remember, target panic can be defeated but it takes dedication and determination to get it done. (insert motivational picture)
Some may get over it in a matter of hours, others it may take a figurative push of the reset button.Try not to rush through this process. Confidence is the key, patience is a virtue and if you follow these tips in a way that works for you can overcome target panic.
Good Luck! If you have any questions for me please comment below.
The fall season is at our doorstep and Thursday marked the opener for antelope season in Nebraska. This hunting season has presented me with a great opportunity, what I hope to be the beginning of a new era.
I have been prepping for August 20th for a couple months now by scouting, glassing, practicing etc. I have not been alone in this process, my newest hunting buddy has been with me every step of the way: my 3 year old son, Cody. Whether it's been going out for an evening drive to try to spot some antelope or sitting on a hill glassing them, he's shown an excitement and an interest in it. With a stop at Sonic on the way out of town to get his favorite slushy and a treat, he's more than happy to accompany me.
Although, I'm still not sure he knows exactly what we're looking for, despite my best efforts to explain it to him, because he told his mother he is excited for "cantaloupe seasoning." Even after showing him pictures of antelope and pointing them out to him when we've seen them, I believe he still thinks we are out to bag one of those elusive melons.
But I digress, I have been pumped for the season to open and this past week I've found myself talking about it nonstop. As I gathered all my gear together, I noticed two little eyes watching my every move. Soon enough he quietly asked me, "Daddy can I go with you?" All the sudden my entire mindset changed. Maybe this hunt wouldn't be as productive as I had imagined, but it would be a far greater memory to have him along with me, and what will hopefully be the first of hundreds of hunts and outings. I told him he could come with me and he beamed a smile from ear to ear.
Soon enough we had his snacks, juice, and candy packed along with his toilet paper roll binoculars hanging around his neck. It was the cantaloupe seasoning opener and, in the words of Ted Nugent, we were locked, cocked and ready to rock doc!
I've decided to break the events of our hunt down into a timeline.
It was an evening set, since I didn't figure a 3 year old would do to well on a full day antelope set, starting at 4:00pm
4:00 - We are packed and on the road
5:00 - We are set up in the blind
5:01 - Dug into our candy
5:05 - Drank our first cup of juice
5:10 - We want the Sandwiches mom packed us
5:11 - We've had enough sandwiches, we want our candy again
5:30 - Gotta pee.
5:45 - We want our candy again.
6:00 - It seems the tables have turned...every time I try to talk to him I get told to be quiet...
6:05 - Gotta pee.
6:15 - I learn that Cody does not appreciate taking his tic tacs out of their noisy container and dumping them in a ziplock bag. I know this because he is crying hysterically and asking why I did that.
6:17 - I'm now putting tic tacs back into the noisy container because crying is much louder than the tic tacs!
6:30 - We are both covered in half eaten candy, dry dusty dirt, and Cow hair. The blind smells like a sugar factory so I'm hoping the antelope all have a cold and their noses are stuffy.
6:45 - Gotta pee.
7:15 - Drank the rest of the water we had.
7:30 - Gotta pee.
7:45 - Heading back to the vehicle, holds out his hand "Here daddy you can have the antelope I shot."
7:50 - We hear coyotes howling off in the distance so we stop and listen.
"How many half miles away you think they are daddy?"
8:00 - We are packed out, in the car seat, and struggling to stay awake.
It has only been a few days since our outing and already I look back on it and smile. Even though we did not see an antelope, it was a successful hunt. To see the excitement in my sons eyes just to be out there in the blind and to come home from work now and see him set up in his "hunting blind" trying to shoot an antelope (he finally realized we're not hunting melons) brings a big smile to my face and makes me one proud daddy. I know my wife and I will do everything we can to instill this bowhunting tradition into both of our sons...that is what it's all about.
The Lighter Side of the Arrow