It was the first week of October last season. I had been scouting and found some fresh scrapes between a thick branch and 10-foot volunteer pines with lots of broom straw. The pines and broom straw looked like a great place for deer to bed.
There was one problem. There was only one tree that I could climb, and it was a small persimmon. I returned to that spot on Oct. 10 with my Lone Wolf climber and slipped up that persimmon tree. The tree was so small that when I reached the height I needed to be, the tree was a little shaky, actually a lot shaky. I pulled up my bow and rattling antlers, unhooked my bow and let my antlers back down to the base of the tree. I rattle from ground level while hunting from a stand. I took out a bottle of Bowhunters Fatal Obsession and broadcast some out in front of my tree on the edge of the branch.
The edge of the branch I was sitting on was choked full of American beautyberry and privet bushes. In fact, it was so thick I said to myself, “If anything comes from behind me, it will sound like a herd of elephants.” I was fully expecting any deer to come out of the pines.
Just as the sun settled on the horizon and everything was shaded over, I grabbed the cord that was attached to my antlers and did a short rattling sequence and a few light grunts. It was only a short time when I saw legs coming through the pines. It was a small buck, and he walked up to one of the scrapes and started to work the licking branch over the scrape. There was no way he could see me, so I decided to mess with him and see how he reacted. I grunted a little louder at him and rattled my antlers on the ground a little harder. He quickly turned and faced my direction, so I decided to snort-wheeze at him with my voice.
It was less than a minute when I heard something coming from behind me through the thick branch. I could see it parting the American beautyberry bushes as it approached, and then it stopped. It was less than 30 yards from me, but the bushes were so tall I couldn’t see what it is. There are lots of hogs on this property, so I was thinking, “If that’s a deer, I should be able to see it.”
I remember looking back over my shoulder for the small buck, and he was nowhere to be found. It was about this time a loud snort-wheeze followed by a grunt almost made me jump out of my skin. Apparently another buck heard all the calling and was coming to investigate. The bushes in that branch were so tall I could only see movement as the other deer approached in that stiff-legged gait that bucks are known for. I glanced ahead to see if there was an opening in that thicket. I had a small area that was right at the edge of the branch. I was going to have a 5-yard window to see, judge and decide if this buck was a shooter.
As he approached that opening, I drew my bow and held on that spot. He had his head down as he approached, so the first thing I saw was his rack, and I immediately thought shooter! As his vital area came into the hole, he stopped and raised his head to do a lip curl over the scent I had broadcast. I just dropped the pin on his shoulder and let the Bi-polar broadhead fly.
• • •
I think we as bowhunters when talking about broadheads have all heard the question, “Does it fly like a field point?”
If you think about it, there are only two reasons to shoot field points out of your bow. The first is when they are required at archery tournaments. The second reason is they do less damage to targets.
I love archery shoots. I love the fellowship, and I have participated in quite a few back in the day. But let’s face it, archery shoots are good for judging yardage of a still animal from the ground, and they keep your shooting muscles in shape. But targets don’t move, see or smell, and 99 percent of us bowhunt from an elevated position or stand. Not to mention turkey hunters that sit on a stool in a blind or sit flat on the ground in a vest. Any of these positions can and will change your point of impact when shooting a bow.
To be the best shot as a hunter, you need to practice with exactly what you hunt with. And you should practice from every possible position you might encounter during that hunt. The most frustrating thing for the average archer is when he shoots his field points and then shoots his broadheads, and they don’t have the same point of impact.
The first thing to address is make sure your bow is tuned. Have a bow tech tune your equipment, and then make sure you shoot your bow in the presence of your bow tech before you take it home. The reason for this is that the chances of your tech having the exact same draw length, anchor point and most importantly the same grip as you is not likely. Especially if you’re left handed and your tech is right handed and vice-versa.
Once your bow is tuned and you get it home and start to practice, you may notice that your field points group well. Your broadheads will also group well, but they don’t have the same point of impact at the target. This is a simple fix—just move and mark your sight with tape or a marker like a sharpie for the different heads. A few archers like to move their arrow rest to give field points and broadheads the same point of impact downrange. I am not a big fan of this procedure for the average archer. Moving the rest can and will affect the very bow tune you worked to achieve. The reason field-point arrows and broadhead arrows fly to different points of impact is the arrow tipped with a field point is much shorter than the broadhead-tipped arrow when measured nock to tip. This difference in length changes balance point, front of center and the way the arrow flexes and recovers as it leaves the bow, which can and will change the point of impact downrange. To come as close to achieving the same flight and point of impact, you need to cut your field point arrows longer, so they are the exact same length nock to tip as your broadhead-tipped arrows. You will also need to re-cut your field-point arrow shafts if you are going to use the broadheads on them. Of course, make sure the field points and broadheads weigh the same.
Now, like I suggested earlier, if your field points are flying great and grouping well to one spot on your target, and your broadheads are flying great and grouping well to another spot on your target, the easiest fix is to mark and move your sights to the point of impact at your target. I personally like to put multiple spots or dots on my target because I don’t like to tear up my arrows by bunching them. Shoot each arrow at a different dot or spot.
The next step is to shoot each one of your broadhead-tipped hunting arrows one at a time with a practice broadhead exactly like the one you hunt with. Make sure the head spins straight on each arrow before you shoot it. Once you are satisfied with the first broadhead-tipped arrow, simply mark it No. 1, and replace the practice head with a sharp head, test spin it, and place it in your quiver. Repeat this until your quiver is full. Never assume a new arrow will fly good—always shoot it.
If you don’t shoot archery tournaments, there is really no reason to shoot a field point out of your hunting bow. It makes about as much sense to me as shooting and practicing with one type of bullet in your gun, and then a week before the season comes in putting in a different bullet that weighs the same from a different company and expecting the same point of impact at the target.
I can’t stress this enough—practice with exactly what you hunt with, and then there should be no surprises at the moment of truth.
Let’s face it, with the exception of a few that chase small game, we don’t hunt with field points. All the target shooting in the world can’t recreate the pure adrenaline rush of the fair chase of a wild animal. I have known archers that can shoot dots all day and take your money, but put something alive with hair or feathers in front of them, and it’s a whole different ballgame. There is an old saying, “It’s not the bow, it’s the Indian.”
• • •
In an instant the Bi-polar tipped arrow zipped through the buck with the Nockturnal lighted nock in tow. The buck bolted and was into the pines and broom straw in a flash. I was trying to listen for any sound but was unable to as a big chalk-mine truck came roaring by on the highway. I could not see my arrow either. Where was my arrow? I slipped down just to see if my arrow was there, after all it was less than a 15-yard shot.
I eased over to the edge of the branch, and there was my arrow so coated in blood matter that it blocked out the light on the nock. As I wiped off the nock, it shined bright as new, and I thought to myself, “I don’t know how far he went, but he is dead!”
It was about that time I heard the sound every bowhunter loves to hear, the buck thrashing and heaving for air. I eased toward the source of the sound and found the buck. He had gone less than 30 yards. I walked up to the buck and was amazed how big his neck and body was, and he had a beautiful chocolate 8-point rack. The broadhead had center punched his shoulder and exited behind the opposite shoulder. The buck gross scored around 120 and weighed 220 pounds on the hoof, which is very heavy for the area he was taken in.
The definition of luck has often been defined as when opportunity meets ability. You make your own luck by being prepared for the opportunity when it presents itself.
So the next time someone asks you, “Does your broadhead fly like a field point?”
You can say, “No, it flies like a broadhead.”