Learning the Ropes of Archery Hunting
Today is another first for me. Today is my first day archery hunting elk ever. I am in Eastern Montana in Hunting District (HD) 620. Hunting elk with a bow just didn’t happen overnight for me.
I passed the bow hunter education course offered and required by Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks five years ago. Every year I have had intentions to begin bow hunting but for one reason or the other it didn’t happen. I knew that when I did decide to start I would need at least a month to gather all the gear and start getting ready. Starting a whole new hunting sport at the age of 54 has been a bit challenging for me both physically and mentally, but I am enjoying the experience. Getting familiar with archery terms and definitions is still a work in progress. Terms like draw length, quiver, field points, nock on an arrow, release and peep site now have a meaning to me.
Why did I decide to get started this year? Back in April of this year Kelly Burke from Burke Ranch Outfitters asked if I would do my statewide Montana Outdoor Radio Show live from his elk hunting camp. The plan was to focus the show on archery elk hunting after we had a chance to spend a couple days in the field doing just that. Broadcasting from an archery hunting elk camp, with the help of my cell phone, would also be a first for the radio show. So I applied for the archery elk tag drawing in HD-620 and was successful. That was just the beginning
Now I had to get geared up. I began by seeking out advice on what kind of bow and archery equipment that I should use. In the process I discovered that bow hunters are very passionate about their sport and their equipment. I also discovered there are many different companies that produce bows, arrows, releases, and the many accessories that are needed to be well equipped. Once I decided on the archery equipment the practicing and training began. Three weeks ago I started to practice shooting my bow. I immediately found that shooting a compound bow with 70 pound draw weight utilized muscles in my arms and shoulders in a way that I haven’t used them very much or at all. I was so sore after the first day I had to take a couple of days off of shooting. Eventually after a few days my arms and shoulders began to get into archery shooting shape. The last 10 days have been sort of a dress rehearsal for me. Every day I put all my camouflaged clothing on including my camouflaged head and face gear. I then put on my backpack, bow sling, binoculars, and hunting boots and walk 2- 3 miles in the fields behind my house. Throughout these walks I periodically stop and try and guess the distance of trees and objects away from me. My range finder then tells me how accurate my guess was. A good archery shot will take place between 20-40 yards. So being able to gauge the distance an elk is away from me is important. It is my hope that all this preparation will pay off for me this fall. I am excited to find out.