Q: I've been bowhunting for only 3 years and each year it's been with a different bow. I'm not thrilled with my current compound and am saving my pennies and plan on buying a Reflex Caribou this spring.
I shoot with my fingers and prefer to keep it that way. I basically taught myself how to shoot, but I know it would be beneficial to study archery.
Can you recommend a credible instructional book or video?
- Paul Abrun/Long Pond, PA
A: First, you need to peruse the company Web site of the bow you plan to purchase as well as the Web sites of other high-quality bow companies. Many manufacturers provide DVDs on proper shooting instruction. Mathews offers a CD-Rom titled, "Making the Shot," which includes coaching and illustrations on making you the best archer possible.
Cabela's has a section in its bowhunting catalog with videos, DVDs and books that focus on shooting basics and beyond. I also suggest getting hands-on instruction from an archery mentor or shooting coach. If you don't have a mentor, visit a reputable pro shop and ask them about coaching instruction or even join a shooting league. -Mark Kayser
TURKEY BOWHUNTING BASICS
Q:This spring I plan on bowhunting turkeys for the first time. Although I've shot several with my shotgun, I'm green when it comes to the right archery equipment, bow weight, broadheads and shot placement for a successful turkey bowhunt.
I'm shooting a Mathews Switchback set at 65 pounds, matched with Beman HIT Max-4 shafts. One of my co-workers has bowhunted turkeys in the past with mixed results, including the loss of a wounded bird. I want to be as prepared as possible, so any advice you could provide would be appreciated.
-Cedric Bower/ Eugene, OR
A: Any topnotch bow-and-arrow setup like yours will prove to be deadly on longbeards. The trick to consistent success is getting close to the wary birds, remaining undetected, waiting for the right moment and then making a well-placed shot. I've had excellent success using portable ground blinds and decoys.
Typically, I'll place a jake decoy about 15 yards directly in front of my shooting window facing the blind, and then add one or two feeding hen decoys to complete the lifelike spread. Any approaching toms responding to my calls will generally move in and confront the "fake jake," strutting to intimidate their perceived rival. This can give a patient bowhunter a close-range shot at a broadside gobbler's wing butt or the center of his fanned tail as he faces the decoy.
Where blinds and decoys aren't legal, wear head-to-toe camo and set up in natural ambush sites. Call sparingly to attract the birds' attention. Remember, the kill area of a turkey is quite small- about the size of a softball- and it's well hidden amidst the fluffed up feathers. Shoot for the "middle of the middle" and your broadhead should penetrate the bird's heart/lungs.
Some veteran archers I know hold for the bird's head or neck and take point-blank shots that'll drop any tom in its tracks or result in a clean miss. I've done it myself and know just how deadly a head or neck shot can be.
Finally, be sure to check out the specially designed turkey broadheads such as the Gobbler Guillotine from Arrowdynamic Solutions or AfterShock Archery's Gobbler hunting point. Caution: If you plan to shoot through the camo netting covering your blind's windows, test shoot several arrows to make sure the blades of any expandable broadhead remain closed until impacting the target.-M. R. James
RESOURCES FOR BOW RESTORATION?
Q: I have a Bear Alaskan compound bow that I bought more than 20 years ago. It has wooden limbs and the pull weight is adjusted by way of ratchet spools at each end of the riser. Plastic covered cables extend from the ratchets to pulleys at mid-limb and finally to the wheels at each end of the limbs.
While it's not currently in shootable condition, this bow helped introduce me to bowhunting and I'd like to have it restored. I've tried to contact the manufacturer, but because the company has been sold several times, no one can tell me much about the bow's specifications or where to turn for restoration help. Can you point me in the right direction? - Brian Hulett/Hannibal, MO
A: The Alaskan was Bear Archery's first major step-up in compound bows after its popular Whitetail model. I assume you want it re-cabled and put back in shooting order, which can be done by a knowledgeable pro shop. If the bow requires refinishing it might become a more difficult project.
After researching pro shops I located a source close to your home in Hannibal. I recommend you contact Butch's Sports in Palmyra, Illinois ((573) 769-3536). Ask for either Butch or his son Gerald. They're very knowledgeable, and I'm sure they can help you out. I hope this information helps you get your bow all spruced up.