After you have selected your equipment make sure that you practice, practice, practice. I like to practice for every possible situation that I may be faced with in the field. Practice shots from your tree stand. Shoot with your pack on. Shoot from your blind. The more familiar that you get with your equipment the more adept you will become. Make sure to practice with your broadheads as they can fly drastically different than field points.
Most bows will need minor tuning adjustments to shoot broadheads, especially fixed blade broad heads. If you are having trouble getting your blades to fly, one trick is to shoot one broad head on several different arrows. Donít ask me why it works but it does. Expandable broad heads seem to tune more easily than fixed blade broadheads and can be a good alternative. Make sure to check your local laws for regulations concerning acceptable gear.
Lesson Number Two: Preseason Scouting
Luckily for archery hunters in most areas, they are the first ones in the woods. This is excellent for preseason scouting. There are many methods used to find big bucks and bulls. It has been my experience that a combination of several methods has yielded the best results. Here are some of the techniques that I have used.
Topographical maps are a great place to start, especially if you are hunting an area that you have not been in much before. I still use topographical maps for areas that I have hunted a lot. National Geographic TOPO is a program that I use. They make programs for each state and are the same maps that one would receive from USGS. The benefit of owning the program is that you can print unlimited maps.
Trail cameras are an effective way to catch animals accessing a water hole, salt lick or trailing from feeding areas to bedding areas. They offer data that is invaluable to an archery hunter. Knowing when and where game is moving and where they are going is CRITICAL! A trail camera allows you to observe things when you canít be there personally. Itís like being in the woods 24/7. Plus itís like Christmas every time you view your memory card. There is nothing like finding that trophy on your trail camera.
Mineral licks are one way that you can bring deer to you. If you will be hunting from a tree stand, salt licks can help you to position deer moving through your area for a shot. I like to use Apple Buck Jam or Deer Co-Cain. Both are very effective if used as directed.
Glassing helps you to get up close and personal from long distances. Out here in the west there are many open areas that are vast in size. Being able to cover lots of ground from one position saves on both fuel and energy, but allows you to observe an area without disturbing it. Big mule deer are familiar with every inch of their habitat. Any changes are noted and can affect their day to day routine. Patterning them from a distance and then only entering their area to stalk them before the kill is very effective.
What you are looking for when scouting is two things. Firstly, you are looking for an animal worthy of your efforts. Secondly, you are patterning their behavior to find mistakes in their routines. This allows you to know what he is going to do before he does it.