By: Bears Butt

As in all sports, archery has its rules and names, just like baseball has bases, innings, outs etc., in archery, when you shoot an arrow at a target it is called an “end”, and ends can be one arrow or a thousand or more. There is no limit to the total number of arrows you shoot before you go down range and collect them, but there is a minimum….one.

A one arrow end is not a bad way to practice shooting. Some say it’s the only way to practice to become proficient, because you must concentrate on that ONE arrow to make it hit where you wish it to hit. After the shot, you have to walk down range to retrieve your arrow, which give you time to think about the shot you just made and how to adjust to improve it, or to congratulate yourself on how well you shot.

Well, Weasel and I shoot 6 arrow ends in our practice sessions and we practice nearly every day, shooting anywhere from 10 to 20 ends. The arrows we shoot are heavy in today’s standards, his are upwards of 700 grains, while mine are nearly 600 grains. Both of us have most of the weight in the front of the arrow, which is coined “Front of Center”, or FOC for short. Both of our arrow setups are over 30% FOC. The reasoning is that the heavy weight up front pulls the arrow through the air as is flys toward the target, it also helps in penetration once it hits the target, an added benefit is it makes the bow quieter when it is shot.

Weasel shoots a long bow he made, I shoot a recurve bow. Neither of our bows have sights in which to aim the arrow, but we both have developed our way of getting the arrow to the desired target without much problem. We just have to be fairly close to the target to get it done. We practice at 20 yards. Do we always hit the target or where we desire to hit? Hardly. But we keep trying and that is what is most important.

The goal here is to be able to put the arrow where we want when we are hunting big game. A properly placed arrow will humanely kill a big game animal in less than 30 seconds. To some this doesn’t seem like a humane thing at all, but trust me, the animal does not know it’s dying until it’s dead.

Practice, practice and more practice, leads the shooter’s muscles to consistently follow a given pattern in the process of drawing, aiming (if you will), releasing and follow through. The more consistent the shooter is in this process, the more the arrows go where they are intended. Sometimes, a follow up arrow will hit exactly where the preceding arrow hit and will bury itself inside the preceding arrow, when this happens it’s called a “Robin Hood”. We both have a few of those behind us over the years. To avoid this from happening, I have converted to what is called “Pin nocks”, which tend to deflect the second arrow from punching into the preceding one.

Thousands of arrows have been shot by the two of us over the course of several years, maybe even approaching a million. An onlooker, would most likely expect us to hit what we intended every time, but they would be sadly mistaken. We do take our sport seriously, but we keep it fun at the same time, often betting beers on a shot’s outcome. Archery IS fun, unless you are a pro trying to eak out a living, then it’s a job.

When we are after a big game animal, like we are at this time of the year, we practice about an hour just before we head to our blinds on the Wasatch Extended Archery season boundary. The practice gives our muscles a bit of a warm up workout and tells our brains, “You’ve got this”. Last night was no different and we ended our last end with all 12 arrows in the “kill zone”.

Sitting in the blind just before dark, the sun just having gone out of sight behind the Promontory mountain to the West, I caught motion to my far left side. An antler tip! I raised slightly to verify what I saw and sure enough a two point buck was standing on the edge of the field. It stood there long enough for me to text Weasel, “deer”….My heart began to pound harder and harder in my chest as the buck began to walk in my direction. I had some decisions to make. I was sitting and would have to stand in order to shoot. My timing had to be perfect or the deer would see me and bolt. As the buck came on the other side of a cottonwood tree, I stood and turned slightly to give me a ninety degree shot toward the deer when the time came. My bow was raised slightly, but not in shooting position, that move would have to be one at the same time as I drew back the string.

Movement and smell will give a hunter away quicker than anything and this buck was on high alert as it walked slowly in my direction. The light breeze that was blowing was more from him toward me which gave me a lot of confidence, as long as I didn’t move he should continue his course and offer me a good broadside shot. My standing silhouette was up and down like the tree trunks that surrounded me and my leafy suit camouflage would keep me from being detected. The sun had gone down and I was not concerned with any glare that might otherwise occur off the limbs of my bow or the sharpened broadhead at the tip of the arrow. The stage was set perfectly for liver and onions at supper tomorrow night.

The buck continued to close the distance toward me and was nearly perfectly broadside at 10 yards when it turned it head and focus away from me and out into the field to its left. In one movement, I lifted the bow and drew the string back to “full draw”, the arrow tip settled on the shoulder of the buck and the string left the tab of my drawing fingers like always at practice.

Anytime I have shot an animal, target or whatever, when shooting a bow or a rifle, I always remember my sight picture. With a rifle or pistol, it’s rear sight, front sight, placement on the target, squeeze, boom, dead! With the bow, it’s full draw, draw hand against my lower jaw, string against the end of my nose, arrow tip placement, smooth release, boom, dead.

Last night, as the arrow left the bow, the nock was lighted a pretty green as it hurled its way toward the buck, and landed underneath its belly safely in the grass of the field. My mind raced as I watched the buck turn and run off away through the field and then stopped and started to come back toward the glowing green of the arrow nock laying there. It had a curious sense about it and for a moment I thought I might get a second chance at this buck. I pulled another arrow from my quiver and readied myself to round two. That didn’t happen however and the buck ran off never to be seen again.

Back to what I remembered of my shot, Yes I drew the string back, but I did not anchor with my drawing hand under my jaw, I did not bring the string to the tip of my nose. I accomplished what is commonly called, “a short draw”. And as the sunset was at its peak of beauty, I had tears in my eyes as I sat back down on my seat and recounted the beautiful buck and what had just transpired. The buck is the 4th I have seen since hunting this years extended archery season, he is a unique two point with a club like antler protruding from the base of his right side antler. Maybe I’ll get to show you a picture of him later in the season with me and my bow holding him up.

Until then, more practice is needed, including some mental practice. Trust me when I say, “The rush is real, and in the moment of truth, the shooter must have all his faculties together”.

October 15, 2020

Bears Butt

EDIT: Weasel has a trail camera set up right where the action took place the night of this event: He reviewed the video of the event and this is how things played out: Background: His video recorder takes a recording at 30 frames per second. In the video you see the buck come into view and look away from me. At that moment is when I drew my bow back, then the buck looks at me again, by this moment I have released the string. The lighted nock comes into the view heading for the buck. The buck drops nearly to the ground and spins to his left and runs off, my lighted nock is laying on the ground as it bounds away.

Now, slowing the video down and playing it one frame at a time. From the moment the buck turns to look back at me, he is on high alert. He begins to drop down, from frame one to frame 13 the buck turns 90 degrees and is about to take its first bound away. You see the lighted nock and arrow as it bounces off the right side shoulder of the buck and falls to the ground.

13 / 30’s of one second for the buck to turn 90 degrees to get out of Dodge! That’s less than 1/2 second. Amazing animals, but you see, my confidence level is much greater knowing that I did all I could do to tag him and because of his lightning fast reaction, he saved his own skin!

Bears Butt

Written on October 15th, 2020 , Uncategorized

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Just some of my old stories, new stories, and in general what is going on in my life.