Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Becoming a Well Rounded Angler

I’m going to miss catching these guys before work. Soon I’ll have to get 3 kids ready for school every day. Archery season is fast approaching, football practices with my son, and the list is growing of things that will limit my fishing time.

This year has been a great one for me. Learning to fish spinners has been exciting and rewarding. Learning to make them was also a blast. I’ll still always love fly fishing the most, but think it’s a good thing to be skilled at all kinds of angling.  Lifting the restrictions of “fly fishing only” really helped me enjoy the aspects of trout fishing. 

Each style of trout fishing has it own enjoyments for me. I love tying flies and coming up with new patterns to test. Fooling a trout on something you’ve created is awesome. This feeling will never get old to me, especially when the fly is tied from fur and feathers I’ve tied myself. I don’t really streamer fish or dry fly fish, so now that I’ve got a decent handle on fishing with spinners I think I may work on my streamer game this year. I imagine the strikes on streamers may be just as intense as spinners but haven’t fished them enough to know.

Spinner fishing is pretty action packed and you are constantly doing something. No dead drifting and to me it’s a bit more intense. The strikes I’ve felt this year on spinners have been awesome. They really wack a spinner. I’ve quickly learned though that the trout get wise to spinners pretty quick though. I don’t fish the same stretch of streams very often but when I did this summer I found the second trip was a lot less productive than the first. It was fun to step outside my comfort zone and learn a new skill. It was nothing short of embarrassing the first month or two that I started. My line would get hung up on the reel handle, line twist was killing me, you name it. Now that I’ve adjusted my spinners and my rod and reel things go very smooth. Just learning the correct way to install line on a spinning rod eliminated my line twist issues.

I was brought up bait fishing and was taught how to string minnows when I was 7 years old. My uncles got me set up with an automatic fly reel and an 8’ fly rod it so. I learned to read water from them and it was very enjoyable to get back to my roots of bait fishing on a fishing trip with my uncle this summer. It was neat to roll back to the 90s with my Uncle Pat coaching me while I was drifting my minnow. “Make sure you get in front of that stick”...”You gotta make that minnow dance a little”. Learning how to bait fish from my uncles and Dad was about the best thing for me. My uncles are on a different level of bait fishing in my opinion. The bait fishing I was brought up doing was much like how I euro nymph. They use a longer rod and keep constant contact with their bait. I can count on one hand the number of trout that swallowed the hook while I was fishing with them.

2019 has been an amazing year for me. I’ve caught a ton of fish using many different styles and grew as an angler. I’ve learned that the wild brown trout is filling a void left behind from the Native Brook Trout due to deforestation and farming in the lowlands. I’ve learned they are quite a valuable resource and offer some very awesome angling opportunities.

 I can say without a doubt this year has changed me as a trout fisherman for the better. I’m excited to see what else is in store for me in the future. I broke two personal bests this year with a tank golden rainbow around 24-26” or so and an amazing wild brown around 22”. Dropping restrictions on your fishing style can really help you grow as an angler. I’d like to challenge you to give a few different styles of fishing a try in 2020. You may just be surprised at how challenging yourself with a new fishing style, may just improve your current angling choice.

I’ve attached a little video I put together on my phone of one of my spinner fishing trips. Best of luck with your ventures I growing as an angler. It has been one of the best years of trout fishing for me and I hope this article can aide in your decision to step outside of your comfort zone and learn some new skills as well.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Will You Take the Leap into Traditional Archery This Year?

Will 2019 be the year you finally pick up the old stick and string? Have you been kicking the idea around for the past few years but haven’t given given traditional archery a shot? Are you lurking on traditional archery forums and groups on social media and feeling like you are on the outside looking in?  Do you find yourself watching hours of traditional archery hunts on YouTube, and want to give it a try?  If you can relate to the questions above , I was in your shoes prior to the 2018 hunting season. I had contemplated hunting with traditional archery equipment for years and finally decided that 2018 was the year I’d finally take the leap and dedicate my season solely to tradition archery equipment. I bought a Samick Sage in 2017 but was too afraid of only being able to shoot 10 yards in a hunting situation. I only took my Sage out a few times in 2017 and went back to my compound once the calendar read October 25th. In this article I am going to break into how I made the transition from a compound archer into a traditional archer. I will offer some ground level suggestions and advice of things that I did in my “Leap Year.” I won’t get into a lot of the nuts and bolts of tuning, arrow selection, and aiming methods, as there are many sources online for that information. I will reference some of the sources that I used to get some help with questions, and learning curves I ran into along my journey.  I mainly wanted to offer some insight from someone who recently came from a compound bow and hope to help get you started with taking the leap.  I am not a professional traditional archer by any means and am still green into much of the world of traditional archery, but thought that many of you reading this will relate to this article.

I live a busy life with 3 young children, a full time job, and a fly tying business so much of my practice is done at night or whenever I can manage a few free minutes.
The first question that I want you to ask yourself when contemplating traditional archery is:

Do you have enough time to put in at the range to become proficient with your traditional bow?

If the answer is NO: Can you find ways to make time to practice?

It takes a lot more practice with a traditional bow than a compound to become proficient at accurately placing arrows into a target. Form is everything and there is quite a learning curve when becoming accurate with a traditional bow compared to a compound. If you don’t have a lot of free time to dedicate to your practicing, you may want to second guess your decision.  Repetition is key, and developing good form is your starting point. Developing bad habits can be disastrous when taking the leap into traditional archery, and is part of why my effective range in 2017 was only 10 yards. When you first start, I would recommend dedicating at least 30 minutes a day or 30 minutes every other day to shoot your bow. Only after you develop your form, can you dig deeper into tuning, aiming methods, etc. I would suggest only shooting five or six yards to get a feel for your release, and anchor. I don't have any pro shops that are well versed in traditional archery so I was relying on YouTube and other social media platforms to learn about form.  If you have any shops or traditional archery clubs in your area I highly recommend joining. In my opinion you can’t shoot once a week and become proficient in developing a good shot sequence. You can have fun and can and hit your target some of the time, but you may become frustrated that you can’t group well or hit as accurately as you can with your compound bow.  The biggest thing that I found out in 2017 is that you don't want to put pressure on yourself. If you don't get to hunt that first year then so be it. If you can only manage decent groups at 10 yards or so, stick to that range, and accept the fact that you must set up to put yourself in that range. There is nothing wrong with skipping a year if you are not fully confident in your abilities, and putting pressure on yourself to be able to hunt the same year you start shooting traditionally will only hurt you in the long run. I wanted to publish this article this time of year as it is the perfect time to pick up a traditional bow and start practicing. You just got your tax return and the weather is getting nicer. What better way to cure cabin fever than picking up a traditional bow? You won't feel as much pressure to become proficient as the season is still months away.

A clear cut I hunted this fall. It was tough seeing deer cross logging roads just out of range of my recurve that I know would have been in range of a compound.
The next thing to consider is: Are you OK with letting a deer pass at 25 yards or farther?
This was another concern of mine. In 2017 I only took my recurve out a few times in the early season on quick evening hunts because the thought of passing on a deer that would be a slam dunk shot with my compound bow was too much to handle at the time. I was worried about having a nice buck chasing a doe just out of my range and having to pass on the shot. The thing you need to realize is that this will happen, and you need to be willing to look at it as: “I just didn’t put myself close enough to be part of the game” and not “If only I had my compound…”  You need to understand that the challenge of getting close and putting yourself close enough to be part of the game is the biggest part of traditional archery. It is the most appealing aspect of traditional archery to me, and that challenge is what set me over the edge and leap. When I used my compound I could set up within 40 yards of any side of a funnel or travel corridor and feel comfortable killing a deer at that range. The point I am trying to make is that you don’t have as much room to work with traditional archery equipment, and you must be willing to let that deer walk if they are out of range. You also must understand that misses do happen that may be top pin compound range. You must be content with the fact that you must not take these events negatively towards your choice to take the leap into traditional archery.

Hunting with a traditional bow is a different feeling that really brings you closer to nature in my opinion. You are forced to watch the animals for a lot more time before you can shoot them. Fred Bear has been quoted as saying : "You can learn more about deer hunting with a bow and arrow in a week than a gun hunter will learn in his entire life." I am not sure when Fred said that but the same can be said about modern compound archery equipment. With traditional equipment you need to get the animal close and it gives you time to really watch the animals you are chasing. When I hunted with a compound once they hit that 40 yard mark I was more worried about finding a window to put an arrow through, more so than just watching the animal as it comes in. I found with a recurve you become more focused on just watching the animal than looking for that shot. It is an awesome part of traditional archery that really set the hook for me. You need to completly focus on the animal and burn a hole through a spot on their vitals vitals just before the shot. I learned that the hard way on two pretty nice bucks this year. Missing these bucks stung a little but did not make me want to put away the trad bow and pick up my compound.  These misses only fueled my fire and pushed me to want to use traditional archery equipment even more.

A 1970's Black Hawk Archery Scout I Acquired this year. This bow is 45# @ 28".
If you made it this far into my article you must really want to take the leap. I don't want to come off as making traditional archery sound like something that is obtainable, as that is just not true, so please don't be discouraged from the first few paragraphs. I just wanted to hit on the key differences between starting out into traditional archery and starting out with a compound so you do not get discouraged and give up on it.  I wanted to give you an idea of what you are up against if you choose to dive into traditional archery. Now, let’s get into the meat and potatoes of this article.

The first thing you need to understand about traditional bows is there is no let off. There are no cams to reduce the holding weight of the bow for you. If you are currently a compound shooter and shooting 60-70 pounds, you don’t want to overbow yourself. For reference I shot a 64 pound compound bow prior to buying a recurve.  I would recommend staying within the 35-45 pound or less range when you start. I am a bigger guy at 6’1” and have a 29.5” draw length. Most traditional bows are rated for a 28” draw length. A standard "ball park" in the industry  is to add 3 pounds per inch of draw over 28”. Depending on the type of bow, woods/glass the bow is made from this difference could be as much as 6 pounds per inch. For example, if I were to purchase a 45 pound bow at 28” I would need to add 4.5 pounds to that bow. My 45 pound bow quickly jumped up to 49.5 pounds at my draw length.  I personally like a bow rated at 45 pounds. I can shoot that weight very comfortably in any condition, and my form does not suffer because of the weight. You want to focus on form and fundamentals and this is just not possible if you are “over bowed.”

My Samick Sage Recurve sitting next to a nice early November Buck Rub.
Now that you understand the weights and draws of a traditional bow, I want to offer my suggestions for a “starter” bow. For my starter bow I chose the Samick Sage. You can still find these bows on Amazon and Ebay and will cost you around $100-$130. There are plenty of other lower dollar bows out there to look at. If you go with the Samick, I highly recommend getting a fast flight string. This really made a difference for me in my shooting over the stock string that comes with the Sage.  I noticed faster arrow speed, tighter groups, and quieter shots with this upgrade. That $24.00 upgrade made the Samick shoot like an entirely different bow for me.

I recommend this bow, and similar take down models because you can purchase heavier limbs if you desire.  It is easy to get caught up in your excitement to get started and want the best of the best. Heck you may even get so excited that you may plan on selling your compound.  I don't recommend selling your compound bow just yet or purchasing a really high end bow for your first traditional bow. You may find that traditional archery just isn't for you, or you may find out that you need a lower weight bow than you thought you would. These take down style bows are perfect as you don't have to put a lot up front for them, and you can purchase other limbs in heavier weights once your form and shooting muscles improve. Not to mention they are really great shooting bows. Extra limbs for the Samick Sage are a little harder to find now but they will be in the $65-$75-dollar range. You could purchase the bow at 35-45 pounds to develop your form and shooting style and move up to 50-55 pounds if you desire.  You can get these limbs for a lot less money than buying a completely different bow. This is a great advantage for someone who is just starting out.

My 1958 Bear Grizzly taking a rest from a lunch break shooting session.
If you don’t like the idea of a take down style bow my next suggestion is to investigate a vintage Bear Archery recurve or long bow.  There are many styles and models out there. Typical vintage Bear recurves are in the $125-$200.00 price range. I would suggest finding a bow in the 55-62” length range. The longer bows are more forgiving and have less issues with the string pinching your fingers because of a severe angle of the string that is found on shorter bows like the 48" long Bear Super Magnum. These bows are nice and compact but can be a little less forgiving than longer bows. Again, I can’t stress enough the importance of staying in the lighter ranges of weight when first starting.

I would recommend checking out the Bear Grizzly. This bow is kind of a working mans recurve. I was fortunate enough to obtain one through a trade for some of my custom flies. The bow is a 1958 model, but in my opinion was far ahead of its time. My Grizzly is a bit much for me at 55#, and my form suffers after a few rounds of arrows, but I am still developing my muscles and form. I've seen grizzlies pop up for sale in the $150-250.00 range.

The Kodiak is also a great bow to look at. This bow will cost you a little a bit more money, however. The Kodiak is a higher end model recurve. There are a ton of choices out there. If you don't have a shop near you or are not able to physically shoot the bow it can be a tough decision on what one to pick.  There are stock piles of these vintage bows out there.  You need to really look at photos and descriptions. Ebay can be tough to feel confident enough in seeing a few pictures and reading a brief description of a used traditional bow to spend a lot of money on it.  I recommend looking on forums and social media groups instead. In my opionion, you really need to talk to the seller in one way or another. I don't want you to end up with a bow that has issues that you can not see, or buy a bow from a seller who really has no clue what to look for. You want to look for pressure cracks, limb twist, and other red flag issues.

My 1958 Bear Grizzly with some Goldtip Traditional arrows topped with vintage Bear Razorheads.
I am going to skip over picking arrows, tuning, aiming methods etc. for this article as there are many resources out there that you can reference that will be able to give you much better insight than what I can offer at this time.

I want to just touch the surface of broad head selection. I want to hit on this because traditional archery is vastly different than modern archery when it comes to broadhead selection. You want to stay away from new age mechanical broadheads with your traditional bow. These heads are just super light, and require a lot of momentum and kinetic energy to perform at their optimum potential. You just won't have the momentum needed to open these heads when shooting traditional archery equipment. You want to focus on a heavy arrow and razor sharp cut on contact style broad head. You need to remember that in traditional archery you are focusing on getting close, and relying on a heavy arrow to provide the momentum needed to get penetration at lower draw weights and speeds.  I decided that a two blade cut on contact was going to work best for me. I originally chose the Magnus Stinger in 150 grain for my broad head.  They shot very well from my bow and had great arrow flight. I finally settled on Bear Razorheads for my hunting head. I also decided on cedar arrows.

My suggestion to someone just starting out would be to look at carbon arrows like Goldtip Tradional arrows and the Magnus Stinger broadhead. These are a very good and high quality combo. Broadheads are pretty subjective honestly and there are a lot of cut on contact style heads out there. I would suggest keeping your minimum broadhead weight to 125 grains. I would stay away from anything less than that, and if possible look at going over 125 grains. Once you get into tuning and things of that nature you may find your perfect weight, and experiment with broadhead selection from there. I just wanted to skim the surface, and discuss what I used, and offer a few suggestions. I hate to not dig in on this topic, but it really is a whole other blog post all together.

My Samick Sage in front of my Summit Cobra X4 open front climber.
So now we know the dedication needed to practice, we know the range limits, and have an idea on what bow to look into: What is next? Other items that you may need to look into are a tab or shooting glove. Personally I have issues when I tried both of these items, and ended up just going with a light weight hunting glove. I have to feel the string in my fingers for some reason, and having one less thing to forget before I go out hunting is also a plus. The main reasons for a tab or glove is to protect your fingers, and have a smooth release. This is something I want to put effort into this year. I feel that a smooth release will aid in tightening my groups. I don't feel I have any major issues with using a hunting glove, but feel that there is a real benefit with having a smooth release.

Depending on your shooting style an arm guard of some kind may also be worth its weight in gold for you. It will protect your arm, and can aide in keeping your cold weather clothing away from your string. Quivers are also an item that is needed to hold your arrows while hunting. Some standard styles would be a bow mounted quiver, slip on quiver, quick detach, or back quiver. 

If you are a treestand hunter you may want to check out an open front climber, or hang on stand. If you currently use a climber with bar in front of the seat section you may have issues when shooting a traditional bow. The issue comes with the increase in overall bow length you will see with a traditional bow. My bottom limb would make contact with the bar on the treestand I used to use. I opted to purchase a used Summit Cobra X4. This tree stand has a removable front bar. I honestly fell in love with this climber, and it only cost me $150.00. I did have a near death tree stand accident so hang ons are a bit spooky to me. A hang on stand is really a beneficial tool because you don't have to have an extremely straight and uniform tree to be able to climb. Another option is a tree saddle, but that option is way out of the question for me at this time. The last two options can aid in getting to the exact spot you need to be. Remember getting close is vitally important and every yard you can get closer will increase your chance for success. I am very comfortable with my climber and the open front option is awesome. I do recommend buying the best climber, hang on, or saddle that you can. I would try to look at Summit or Lone Wolf for climbers. After having a near death accident with a cheaper climbing stand, I try to not skimp out on that purchase. Even if you have to buy a used Summit, you are far better off than buying a new "cheap" climber. No deer is worth not coming home to your family.

Just remember you do not want to climb as high as you would with a compound bow when using a traditional bow. I would say my max climbing height this year was fifteen.  I shot my doe from a height around twelve feet as seen in the picture above. You really need to focus on the animal and pick a spot when shooting traditionally. Every inch you distance yourself from the animal decreases your chance of success in my opinion. I shoot instinctively so it is very important for me to be as close as I can to the animal.

A thing that really helped me during my 2018 season was having a mentor to help me along with my journey. I met a fellow named Claude from Georgia who took me under his wing so to speak. One of the things that I hear seasoned traditional archers out there say is "Man there is just so much out there today that I wish was available when I started." I am guilty of this same statement with fly fishing. I consider myself a pretty seasoned veteran in that sport and am a self taught fly fisherman and fly tyer.

Seeing all the info out there on fly fishing made me think that these new guys have it so easy. The issue with that kind of statement is that there literally is TOO much out there. Someone much like myself and any beginning archer can get overwhelmed on what aiming methods to try, what information is accurate, and what person to listen to on social media. You really don’t know what to do. I was just totally overwhelmed when I first got serious about taking the leap into traditional archery. I would post a question about arrow spine, or broadheads, and have 150 replies and 90 different suggestions. Then, within those replies I would have four guys arguing over who was right.

I reached out to Claude as I saw he hunted turkey with his long bow, and we became pretty good friends. He really simplified things for me, and helped me so much throughout my journey. I have no way to tell you who to reach out too, and I am leaving Claudes last name out of this so he doesn't get slammed.  I feel a good mentor who can help you get started out and weed through some of the garbage information that is put out there today is worth its weight in gold.

I used one of Claude's cedar arrows and a bear razorhead he had given me to harvest my first traditional deer. After I found that doe I had a pretty lengthy phone call with him on my walk back to my jeep. I think he was very happy to be part of my first traditional archery harvest. I consider myself lucky to have had a mentor to help me so much. We live about a thousand miles from each other, but I feel he lived right down the road from me. I hooked Claude up with a nice assortment of my custom flies for all of the help and can't wait to see how he does with them. 

Many traditional archers will be willing to help you, but don't be discouraged if a few guys may shrug you off. I do feel it is important to embrace the struggle of traditional archery. Your first few months and even years are your most exciting days of the sport. You are excited and have a fresh slate to build on.  Do not expect to jump in and start posting hero shots of animals killed, or perfect shots on your social media pages. I think that is a real issue with beginning outdoorsman today. They feel that the have to post all of these big deer, and amazing photos to be accepted as an outdoorsman. You really need to focus on you and the only person you have to prove anything to is yourself. If you keep this in mind, you will be far better off in my opinion.

My typical attire for the 2018 bow season. a cheap natural colored flannel and Dickies work pants.

One of the things you may also want to consider is going back to the roots of traditional archery when you take the leap. It is a cool experience to put yourself in the shoes of our ancestors who fought to allow bow seasons in the first place. For me personally, my entire reason for getting into traditional archery was to prove to myself that my hunting skills outweighed my equipment in the reasons for my success. I wanted to ditch pretty much all modern advances when I took on this challenge. I did use my Scoutlook App for the wind, and my topo map app to help me decide on my spots, but I ditched many other advances in technology.

I chose wooden arrows over carbon, and used broadheads from the 60's and 70's that I sharpened myself. I did not put out any trail cameras for the 2018 season. It is too easy for archers of today to fall into the trap that technology offers.  Technology can cause us to become complacent because we have a big buck on camera at a given spot. You may miss the element of surprise when a big buck comes out, or you may miss hot sign and walk right by because your camera is showing a deer at another spot.

I decided that I would only wear flannel and natural colored work pants in 2018. I did have a few instances where I had to wear camo because the only rain gear I have is camouflage, but other than that I was hunting much like my ancestors. I am no elitist/traditionalist or anything like that, but honestly I don't think I will be purchasing new camo anytime soon. I don't really use any scent control sprays or anything like that and hunt entirely by using the wind.  I feel that camouflage and scent control give hunters a false sense of security. These items make the hunter feel like they can get away with things like movement, and setting up when the wind isn't right.

These choices were all a my own personal choice, but I wanted to prove my woodsmanship skills and was willing to accept the challenges I put on myself if I was not successful.  Placing these challenges on myself, only enhanced my woodsmanship skills. I was forced to really concentrate on my movement when animals were in range.

 Playing the wind is vitally important in any type of hunting you choose but it is the most crucial element to traditional archery hunting. Entry and exit are huge. You really need to plan where you step because you have to have the animals so close. The margin for error is a lot smaller when using traditional equipment. I am not saying you have to wear plaid to be considered a traditional archer. Wear what you want, use whatever technological advances that you desire as long as they are legal. I just wanted to say that when I harvested my first traditional doe this year, while placing all of the handicaps on myself that I did, it really made the adrenaline go through the roof.  I can honestly say that doe was the best trophy so far of my hunting career. I wanted to include this portion of the article not to push some sort of plaid agenda, but to show you how much enjoyment I got out of going back to the true roots of traditional archery, and paying tribute to those that hunted before us. 

I plan on using my 1958 grizzly this year and try to hunt as time period correct as I can. I am going to invest in a vintage Bear "tape on quiver" to try and have all of my equipment be that of when the bow was made. None of the above is necessary to become a traditional archer, but is very rewarding to test your woodsmanship skills and have success. 

Here is a custom grey squirrel shelf rest I made for my 1958 Bear Grizzly while tying flies.
One of the coolest aspects of traditional archery is that there is so much that you can personally to your bow. You can make your own shelf rests, and install your own string silencers without a bow press. You can turn into your own bowsmith. 

I will be making my first set of cedar arrows soon. I also was gifted a string jig so I will eventually be making my own strings as well. The amount of things you can do by yourself with a traditional bow with very little tools is awesome. I really feel that this aspect only enhances my love for archery and builds a relationship with the bow I am working on. I eventually want to make my own bows, but that is later on down the road. The possibilities are endless and adding items you made yourself into your hunt makes the harvest that much more special. Here is an updated photo showing the cedar arrows i built in honor of my mother.

Another neat side of traditional archery is all of the personal relationships you can develop with others who make hand made items. There aren't a pile of main stream traditional archery items out there to purchase so you may find yourself contacting people who make these items by hand.  Many guys and girls out there make bows, strings, arrows, quivers, tabs, bow socks, and other items all by hand. Everyone that I have dealt with has been out of this world. Many of these small businesses pride themselves on giving you exactly what you want and go the extra mile to ensure that you receive just that.

I received my custom reflex/deflex longbow From Bob Smith with Big Stick Archery. The bow truly is amazing to shoot, and Bob makes a beautiful looking, accurate bow that hits right where you are looking.  I also recieved my custom quiver from Drew Kohlhofer at Selway archery. This build is going to be a tribute to my mother who passed away in October 2018. I will share a link at the bottom of the article if you want to read the story of my first traditional archery harvest. When you finish that article you will see why I am doing this bow build. I have had a few strings made by a gentleman named Steve Angell as well. His strings are great and I will reference a few of his YouTube videos on getting started into traditional archery later on in the article. 

You will find many people who make amazing items when you dig into tradition archery. You may even find yourself wanting to tackle some of the aspects of building your own items as well. 

Custom Selway Quiver I had made in honor of my mother.
It is also really neat to share your hunt with someone who has made something that was a part of your success. There is nothing wrong with buying products from larger corporations, but supporting others who care more about you than making a profit is really the way to go. There are tons of great craftsman out there to choose from, who all have a great passion for traditional archery.

A photo I took after an action packed early November archery hunt.
To close this article I thought I would share some of the things that stood out to me with my first year hunting traditionally. First and foremost, I felt so much more in tune with nature. To me when I picked up a bow made out of wood it instantly made me feel more connected with the earth. 

I also noticed that I felt much more relaxed while hunting last year. I almost felt a zen like state when I archery hunted in 2018. The overwhelming calm that consumed me is tough to put into words. I don't get to hunt for vast lengths of time so slowing my hunting style down actually made those short sits feel so much longer. I knew that I would need to have more time before the shot and my eyes were not focused solely on deer. I used to put so much pressure on myself to kill a deer when hunting with a compound that it made me miss so much of what nature had to offer.  With traditional archery it really forces you to slow your hunting style down and breath.

I also felt like the "chess match" was so much more detailed.  There is little room for error, so you must calculate every aspect of your hunt. You must ask yourself that if you set up in a spot will the deer be close enough to shoot. If you walk on this trail will the deer cross your ground scent before coming into your stand? Every move you make must be taken into consideration. You don't have the ability to risk an extra 10 or 20 yards for a margin of error. Even a difference of 2-3 yards may mean you don't get a shot.

I also found that I shot my bow way more last year. All season long I was shooting my bow. With my compound I shot it an and would practice when I could, where as with my recurve I made sure I made a strong effort to find time to shoot.

Hunting the same way that the hunters of the early days of archery did was also awesome. The satisfaction of being successful without the use of modern technological advances is still with me as I write this. I think about that first harvest almost daily. 

The fact that I can do so much work on my bow also extends my archery season. The vast amount of things that you can tinker with and explore with traditional archery added more excitement to archery hunting and lit a fire that hasn't been seen since I was a 14 year old kid watching "So You Want to be a Bow Hunter" on VHS. There was so many new things to learn and explore. Every day I couldn’t wait to get home from work and shoot my bow.

I feel that by challenging yourself and testing your woodsmaship skills you can really see where you are compared to where you think you are as a hunter.  When it all came together and I shot my first deer using traditional archery equipment the feeling of euphoria I felt can not be translated by words. Not looking through a peep site and relying on a pin really was an amazing feeling. I almost had tunnel vision as I burned a hole through that does heart with my eyes. When I drew my bow and said my shot sequence in my head, time stood still and not a sound was heard. My ears were almost momentarily deaf. When I released my string and saw my arrow I was almost able to count the rotations of the arrow before it hit the deer. The whole experience was totally incredible. When you shoot your first traditional deer you too will see exactly what I am saying above. It is just such a difficult thing to put into words. To see all of the sacrifices I made and all the time and effort I put in for a few minutes of glory is indescribable.

The only way I was able to do any of this was to dedicate a whole season to hunting with traditional equipment and put my compound down for a season.  I haven't sold my compound yet but I doubt I will be hunting with it any time soon. Quit dwelling on the "What ifs" and take the leap into traditional archery this year. My only regret with traditional archer is not getting into it sooner.

The Push Archery

I cant say how important it is to watch this video before taking the leap. Everything you need to know about getting started in traditional archery is found in this video.

Traditional Outdoors

Steve does a great job in his series giving you an understanding of how to get started in traditional archery. He also makes a very nice string.


Stickbow Chronicles

This is a great podcast to listen to stories, and hunting tactics with traditional archery. Great group of guys to listen too and always a good listen.

The Push Archery Podcast

One of my favorite podcasts to listen to. The guys at the push cover everything from hunting stories, coaching sessions, interviews, bare bow target archery, you name it they discuss it. 


Leatherwood Outdoors

This video and seeing Shane’s reaction after the shot is what really got me considering shooting a traditional bow. Shane’s adrenaline rush after shooting this buck is inspiring. His quote " This is what bow hunting is all about, right here" stuck with me from the moment I watched this video.  Shane also helped me through my first year and gave me a lot of tips and encouragement. I feel he was really rooting for me, and was very happy when I was able to seal the deal. The Leatherwood Outdoors guys are a great group of PA hunters. If you are into historical hunting be sure to watch John Royers videos with his muzzleloader.

Big Stick Archery

I enjoy watching Bob's videos. I didn't realize that he made bows until I saw some of his bows pop up on my social media page. His videos also played a roll on my decision to give traditional archery a try. I enjoy how Bob keeps it real, and isn't afraid to make a joke at himself when something bad happens. Follow Big Stick Archery on Instagram to see some examples of this. This video is awesome as he is hunting with his dad and shoots a dandy buck. Bob makes some killer bows and I am adding one of his Assassins to my collection this year as well. 

Trad Geeks

I really enjoy watching the videos that the Trad Geek Guys put together. They also have a good podcast as well. This video is by far my favorite one they have made. It features great cinematography and also displays the struggles a traditional archery hunter will face throughout a hunting season. I can relate to their age and struggles that having young children plays on your hunting time.

Instinctive Adventures

This short film is just awesome. I love the cinematography and the message portrayed in this film. The Struggle is real in this video and it is very well put together.

Clay Hayes

Clay Hayes has a true passion for traditional archery and his channel offers a huge amount of information. His books are also great and I really enjoy reading his hunting stories and instructions on making your own bow. I feel that a beginning archer will really benefit from watching his channel.

My 2018 Traditional Doe Harvest

I wanted to put this video last as it was an emotional ride for me. I am not professional film maker and everything on this video was put together from my I phone. This doe was very special, and my best trophy to date . I don't think it will ever harvest a more special deer. Click the link below to read the story behind this harvest.