Author Archives: commongroundbowhunter

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Quit Caffeine and Thank Me Later

Category : Miscellaneous

I certainly hope this is the least technical and most hypocritical article I will ever “have” to write.  I say least technical because it can be simply summed up with “quit caffeine”; I say most hypocritical because I am addicted to caffeine and I’m about to tell you to quit caffeine.  Now that we have that out of the way, seriously, quit caffeine for hunting season.  Whether its a daily cup of light roast, or its a big gulp energy drink, you’ll do yourself a favor by cutting it out before hunting season and here is why:

1. You’re going to have withdraws: Caffeine is the most widely consumed psychoactive drug, and it is addictive.  If you can’t get your daily dose before you head to your treestand in November, you very well may end up sitting there trying to figure out if your nagging headache is due to lack of sleep, dehydration, caffeine withdraw or all of the above.  You’re probably hunting to get away from life’s headaches, so its a good idea to quit caffeine well before season starts.

2. Caffeine makes you go:  Along with being a stimulant and increasing heart rate, caffeine increases other bodily functions as well.  Caffeine has some diuretic effects and although I’m not really concerned with the scent left behind after taking a leak in the woods, having to go No. 1 numerous times within the first couple hours of daylight gets pretty annoying.  Even worse, depending how that large cup of coffee hits you, it might send you down the tree to take care of other business.  Who wants to be caught, quite literally, with their pants down when a big buck comes strolling in? So, it’s a good idea to quit caffeine before hunting season starts.

3. Caffeine pumps you up: Caffeine might provide a great boost of energy to help you function early on Monday morning at your monotonous job, but if you need caffeine to get yourself going before a hunt, your doing something wrong.  The days which I get up early to hunt are literally the only times during the whole year that I can function as a ‘morning person’.  Now, I’ll also admit that I don’t love walking into the timber in the pitch dark during a new-moon phase and my heart rate is usually a little heightened to begin with.  Who of us hasn’t about jumped out of our skin when a varmit makes a racket in the leaves just ahead of us in the dark?  Side effects of caffeine include a raised heart rate and jitters; afterall, it is a stimulant.  Getting yourself buzzed up on caffeine makes those morning walks to the treestand worse. Do yourself a favor, quit caffeine before hunting season starts.

4. Caffeine makes you sweat: First comes that quickened heart rate and soon after comes the sweats.  For some reason I always seem to sweat more in the morning heading to my stand than in the evening heading out of my stand.  That natural adrenaline rush is enhanced by the caffeine and the sweats start quicker.  As mentioned, caffeine is a drug that stimulates your central nervous system; it raises your heart rate, your blood pressure and activates your sweat glands.  Add in the temperature boost you experience from ingesting caffeine and you can all but count on sweating on the way to your stand. Sweat stinks, sweat makes you cold after you stop moving.  Sweat is bad for deer hunting…

So, like I was saying, quit caffeine before hunting season. You can thank me later.

-Reuben Dourte


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Testing Garment Noise of Technical Hunting Aparrel

I conducted a casual testing of several pieces of techincal layering apparell from a few different manufacturers to determine if significant differences were noticeable in terms of face fabric noise.  Below is a video showing the test and the results.

 


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A Game Changing Quiver

Category : Bowhunting , Gear

Reviewing the Apex Gear Game Changer Quiver

Enter any online archery forum and you well might find yourself caught in the crossfire of heated gear debates about brands of bows, types of rests, arrows, shooting techniques, etc.  One piece of gear that seems to come to the forefront of conversation far less frequently is the bow quiver. Generally, bowhunters seem to be less particular about the quiver they put on their bow.  Most of the time, it seems like quivers are marketed in much the same way as many stabilizers, i.e. based on their fashionable appearance rather than any superior performance offering. So, you can hardly blame a bowhunter who might place high value on the aesthetics of their bow quiver and fail to consider much else in their selection process.  

For a long time, the quivers I used were selected either because of their price point, or because their camo pattern matched that of my bow.  I’ve used quivers of varying degrees of quality, and always have felt that each one had its own attributes as well as shortcomings. While the quivers I used were adequate for my hunting application, each came with some level of inconvenience and were often found to be lacking performance in certain critical areas.  When I ordered a new 2018 Quest Thrive bow, I knew I needed to find a quiver that would add to the performance of the bow and not reduce it. Finding a quiver that was rigid, and manufactured with quality components, was very important to me. The Thrive bow is very dead in the hand after the shot, and it was imperative that the accessories I would put on the bow would not cause any reduction in that performance.

After scouring as many manufacturer websites as I could find, and browsing the shelves of the local pro-shop, there was one quiver I kept coming back to.  I was previously unfamiliar with the brand and so I decided I needed to take a closer look and dissect the product, its construction and its specs. The Apex Gear Game Changer had all the features I was looking for, (and some others that weren’t even on my radar), all packaged into the product with precision and flawless quality.  I decided I would need to break down my evaluation into four categories that represented the most important things I expected out of the quiver that would find its place on my new bow. After usig the Game Changer quiver for several months, I came to the following conclusions:

  1.  Vibration and Noise- 4.7 out of 5- Quivers have the potential to add noise to your bow after the shot.  Depending on the materials used, they can also be a liability in the tree stand if a hard plastic hood accidentally bumps against a metal stand or bow hook.  Likewise, certain arrow clip designs can make silent arrow removal anywhere from difficult to near impossible. The Apex GameChanger excels in the areas of vibration dampening and noise reduction.  The hood of the quiver sports a rubber Tru-Touch coating that has a great feel to it and offers some vibration dampening qualities. The rail is made from high quality machined aluminum and its rigidity further reduces the possibility of after-shot vibrations.  Lastly, the rubber used for the dual arrow clips is supple enough to allow for silent arrow removal.
  2.  Attachment System- 5 out of 5- Manufacturers are constantly innovating new and different methods for quiver attachment.  Some are better than others, but the system that is employed with the Apex Game Changer is hands down the best in the industry.  The attachment system uses a precision machined aluminum post and channel system that allows the quiver to slide on and off the bow silently.  This also provides the additional benefit of some forward and backward adjustability which helps with bow balance. The quiver is secured into place using a threaded cam lever clamp that can also be operated silently.  With the Game Changer quiver, the days of snapping a quiver into a bracket, sliding it into a loose fitting clip or securing it with a cheap plastic clamp and bracket are over! This feature alone is of significant enough benefit to earn this quiver a spot at the top of the marketplace.
  3.  Arrow and Broadhead Security- 4.5 out of 5- Since I began shooting small diameter arrow shafts, I’ve encountered problems with my arrows maintaining a secure fit in the quivers I used.  With a loose fit, arrow shafts are left to vibrate and create additional noise in the quiver. It was a necessity for me to find a quiver that provided a tight fit for the Gold Tip Kinetic Kaos arrows I was shooting, while still allowing for easy and silent arrow removal.  The arrow clips on the Game Changer quiver are design to accommodate a variety of arrow diameters, all the way down to micro-diameter shafts. The shape of the arrow clip and the soft rubber material provide a solid connection while maintaining ease of operation. Dual clips keep arrows more secure, and even after target shooting for several rounds, the arrows did not migrate out of the hood insert.  The rubber hood insert provides a secure fit with any broadhead design, both fixed and mechanical.
  4.  Construction-  5 out of 5- As previously mentioned, the Game Changer quiver is constructed of high quality, CNC machined aluminum.  The quiver is rugged and tough and maintains its aesthetics via a skeletonized off-set rail. The machined mounting bracket allows for mounting adjustability both forward and backward and can also be attached with a bit of tilt to aid in bow balance.  The bracket even features additional adjustability, allowing the quiver to be moved in closer to the bow’s riser in order to reduce both torque and the need for as much counter balancing with stabilizer bars. The Tru-Touch rubber coating is a nice feature and adds to the quality feel of this bow accessory while the coated, machined aluminum loop allows for the quiver to be silently placed on a tree hook when it is detached from the bow.  

Total: 4.8 out of 5

The combination of ingenuity, careful design considerations and high quality materials results in a rigid, rugged, bow-mounted quiver that has the look, feel and performance that one should expect when buying a high quality archery accessory.  When durability and functionality are high priority, it is hard to look past the Apex Gear Game Changer.


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Is Hunter Density as Bad as We Think?

     When discussing hunter density, it’s important to note that statistics don’t tell the whole story.  For example, hunter numbers could be in decline at the same time that private land access is dwindling.  This could disproportionately push more hunters to public lands while overall numbers continue to experience attrition.  Likewise, the diversity of the data collection methodology employed by different state agencies can make comparisons difficult at best.  Sometimes one state agency is collecting and reporting different or more granular data than another, and thus some generalizations or assumptions need to be made in order to convert the data so that it can be compared.  I will do my best to describe my methods and logic and I will provide the links to the data I used for this article.

The QDMA Numbers

     The QDMA has released hunter density numbers by state in the past.  For the sake of a clear and concise article, they utilize the total area of a state divided by license holders within that state.  The QDMA’s numbers do not take into account individual state’s licensing procedures, nor do they factor actual participation rates.  If 1 out of 10 license holders doesn’t enter the woods in the fall, they haven’t technically contributed to any pressure or “felt” hunter density.  Additionally, some states may sell general hunting licenses which come with deer hunting privileges.  They also come with small game hunting privileges, and so small game hunters may end up being counted as participating deer hunters, even if they don’t pick up a rifle or a bow to pursue whitetails.

     The QDMA’s numbers are a simple, high level overview of hunter density numbers across the country.  But they really only tell part of the story.  A well known hunter has gone on record, (on numerous occasion), disputing those density numbers, particularly for the state of Michigan.  Much of the state is underwater, and one argument is that water area should be excluded.  I agree, although marshlands and swamps can still hold deer.  The claim was made that Michigan is the most heavily bow hunted state in the Union, and I decided to try to find out.

Michigan by the Numbers

     The following is very important, so read carefully.  Michigan sold 634,021 deer licenses in 2016, however, based on surveys of licensed hunters, the DNR found that the actual hunter participation number was only 554,143.  In other words, about 80,000 licensed hunters stayed home, or 12.6%.  Michigan sells a “deer license” which can be used with any weapon, the exception to this being early and late anterless season tags.  They do not have a specific archery privilege tag.  Based on the Michigan DNR’s survey, they found that 322,353 license holders bowhunted in 2016.  Michigan’s total land mass is 56,614 square miles.  On average, the deer hunter density, based on participating hunters, is 9.79 hunters per square mile.  322,353 archers in the state put the bowhunter density at 5.69 hunters per square mile.  The state has 4.5 million acres of public lands with a deer population of 1.75 million.  Average deer density in the state comes out to 30.12 deer per square mile.  Obviously there is some variation to these numbers depending on the area, but we will get to some of that in a bit.

Here are the quick stats on Michigan:

Deer License Holders: 634,021

Participating Deer Hunters: 554,143

Participating Archers: 322,353

Land Mass: 56,614 square miles (Lower Peninsula=40,162 square miles, Upper Peninsula=16,452 square miles)

Hunters per square mile: 9.79

Bowhunters Per Square Mile: 5.69

Public: 4.5 million acres

Deer Herd: 1.75 million

Deer Density Average: 30.91

Pennsylvania by the Numbers

     Data for Pennsylvania’s actual hunter participation rates was not readily available, so to control for a potential over calculation of participating hunters, I’ve applied a 12.6% correction (same as Michigan) to the total license holder number to get an estimated participant figure.  So, of Pennsylvania’s 914,244 general license holders, we will estimate that 12.6% elected to not participate in deer season.  This brings the number to of active deer hunters in PA to 799,049.  Archery license sales totaled 341,637 in 2016, so corrected for non-participation, the active bowhunters would be 298,590.  Pennsylvania has 44,817 square miles of land mass.  799,049 deer hunters spread over this area gives you a hunter density of 17.83 deer hunters per square mile!  However, it is important to note that small game hunters in Pennsylvania purchase the same general hunting license as deer hunters, even if they don’t deer hunt.  It is hard to know what proportion of license holders “plan” to deer hunt, but since we don’t have that data, we can instead use the Pennsylvania Game Commisions estimated number of deer hunters that participated in the opening day of firearm season.  That number is 550,000.  550,000 hunters across 44,817 square miles still equates to a density of 12.27 hunters per square mile!  It’s worth noting that a certain portion of the 59,550 bowhunters who harvested a buck during archery season would not be participating in opening day.  Other archers may take still take to the field in order to fill an antlerless permit, depending on their Wildlife Manage Unit. Speaking of bowhunters, an even distribution of participating archers gives you an average of 6.66 bowhunters per square mile in the Keystone State.  Pennsyvlania hunters can take advantage of approximately 4 million acres of public land and the state supports a deer herd of around 1.3-1.5 million, resulting in an average deer density of approximately 31.24 deer per square mile.

Here are PA’s quick stats:

 License Holders: 914,244

*Participating Deer Hunters (adjusted by 12.6% factor): 799,049

Opening Day of Firearm Participation: 550,000 (PGC Stats)

Participating Archers (adjusted by 12.6% factor): 298,590

Land Mass: 44,817 square miles

Participating hunters per square mile: 17.83

Opening Day Firearm Hunters per square mile:12.27

Bowhunters Per Square Mile: 6.662

Public: 4.0 million acres

Deer Herd: 1.3-1.5 million

Deer Density Average: 31.23

New York by the Numbers

     We’ll apply the same logic for hunter participation rates to New York as we did PA.  Using the Michigan participation ratio, we find that of New York’s 569,247 license holders, we can expect 497,522 to participate in deer season.  Out of 175,461 archers in the Empire State, adjusted for non-participation, 153,352 will actually spend time pursuing whitetail deer.  New York has a land mass of 47,126 square miles.  The average density, (adjusted for participation), of deer hunters across the state is 10.56 per square mile.  153,352 archers distributed evenly equates to a density of 3.25 bowhunters per square mile.  New York has a population of approximately 1 million whitetail deer, giving it an average deer density of 21.22 deer per square mile.  Interestingly, the New York DEC also notes that of the state’s half million deer hunters, 90% will hunt on private lands.  Private lands make up 85% of the state.  This means that ten percent of hunters in the state chase deer on the near 4.5 million acres of public lands available.  It also means that the average hunter density on New York public land is lower than the overall average hunter density across the state.  Before you get too exercised, it’s important to note that New York public land is widely diverse and receives unequal amounts of pressure.  The remote portions of the Adirondacks have significantly lower deer and hunter densities, much like the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  Counties within the southwestern portion of the state readily lead in deer harvest numbers, yearling buck exploitation and hunter density.  All this tells us that both public and private pressure is not evenly distributed across the state, and it is important to acknowledge that fact.

Here are New York’s quick stats:

 Deer License Holders: 569,247

Participating Deer Hunters: 497,522

Participating Archers: 153,352

Land Mass: 47,126 square miles

*Participating Hunters per square mile (adjusted by 12.6% factor): 10.56

Participating Archers Per Square Mile (adjusted by 12.6% factor): 3.25

Public: 4.5 million acres

Deer Herd: 1.0 million

Deer Density Average: 21.22

The Breakdown

     So, is the hunter density as bad as we think it is in this infamous three state “pressure trifecta”?  That is for you to decide.  Which one of these states is the “toughest” to hunt?  That question can’t be answered with statistics, either.  Topographical features and habitat play a roll in the hunting opportunities an area can provide.  Which of these three states is the most heavily bowhunted?  Well, unfortunately that depends on how you slice it as well.  You see, on average, Pennsylvania ranks the highest of the three with 6.662 bowhunters per square mile, besting Michigan’s 5.67.  However, the Michigan DNR has gone out of their way to provide us with more detailed statistics as to how many bowhunters spend time hunting in the Lower Peninsula.  The total they came up with is 315,105.  The lower peninsula of Michigan is 40,162 square miles, which means that the bowhunter density in the LP can be calculated as 315,105 hunters/40,162 square miles=7.85 bowhunters per square mile!  This certainly makes a strong case that Michigan deserves a spot near the top of the high pressure list.  But then, how would Pennsylvania’s or New York’s regional stats change is you started to break out lower hunter density areas?

     The truth is, you can slice up statistics to show you what you want to see.  Parts of every state have a certain amount of high pressure.  Without defining the parameters of your argument, and the methods of your calculations, it becomes really easy to claim one state is more highly pressured than another.  Hunting deer in Michigan is tough, I’ve done it before.  How about hunting in PA or New York?  Yea, I’ve been there too, it’s not easy.  In any of these states you are going to have to put in your time, scout hard, go where others won’t, find overlooked spots and just keep-on-keeping-on.  On any given day any of these states could be the king of high pressure hunting; and if you are putting down deer in any one of them, walk tall, because you’ve undoubtedly earned it.

Data Compilations:

-By Reuben Dourte

Resources:

https://www.michigan.gov/documents/dnr/2016_deer_harvest_survey_report_575841_7.pdf

http://www.pgc.pa.gov/HuntTrap/LicensesandPermits/Pages/HuntingLicenseSalesReport.aspx

http://www.mlive.com/news/index.ssf/2017/11/michigan_deer_hunting_season_2.html

http://www.dec.ny.gov/permits/26368.html

https://www.qdma.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/WR-2017.pdf

https://www.realtree.com/deer-hunting/antler-nation

 

*This article originally written for and appeared on HuntingtheEmpire.com

Feature Image Credit: Tim Bunao


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Product Review: Tru Glo HyperStrike

Category : Miscellaneous

TruGlo HyperStrike Review

Spending some time with the TruGlo Hyperstrike bow sight has given me appreciation for the finish, design and functionality of this economical bowsight.  Aside from the great price point, this feature-rich sight offers plenty of other aspects to appreciate such as 2nd and 3rd axis leveling, multiple site radius mounting positions, micro adjust and a three stage sight light. Let’s break it down:

Construction:

The site is constructed from a lightweight carbon-aluminum composite, making it both light weight and durable.  This site is rugged enough to take a beating while light enough so as to not affect the balance of your bow as much as some other sights in its class.  A bowhunter who prefers accessories that don’t add significant amounts of mass weight will appreciate the design and construction of this sight. The sight bracket is coated, so it creates less noise if it comes into contact with other metal accessories.

Features:

DDP-

One of the best features on this site is the decreasing diameter pins.  The last 2 pins are .010 diameter fiber optic. This is especially helpful for those long distance shots when larger diameter pins can block too much of the target to allow for pin-point accuracy.  

3 Stage Sight Light-

The 3 stage sight light is a nice added feature.  Often sight lights make pins too bright and create a halo effect around the fiber optic.  This adjustable sight light avoids these problems and provides the shooter with more options to match the shooting conditions he or she is in.  The sight is marked for all three stages, it is easy to use and conveniently located. Of course the negative of a sight light is that in some states it may need to be removed and hunters should be aware of the regulations for the area in which they are hunting.

Micro Adjust Windage and Elevation-

Micro adjustability is one of the most important features on a bow sight.  Fine tuning is made so much easier when a sight has this feature and the Hyperstrike has wingnut style knobs to allow for quick adjustments at the range without the use of an allen wrench.  These can be tightened down with a wrench after sighting in to make the sight rock-solid. The micro adjust dials have a great, quality feel and the hashmarks on the windage dovetail bracket make precision simple.  These same marks would be helpful on the elevation adjustment, which is not marked, but the pin channels are marked in this way to aid in minute adjustments.

Maxamount Bracket-

The three position Maxamount bracket allows for three sight diameter options.  The sight housing is generous at 1.9” and is highlighted by a glow in the dark 

shooters ring for consistency in low light situations.  Matching the sight housing with a large aperture peep sight is no problem and is another reason why this site is a great option for the bowhunter.  The site level is positioned inside of the housing, allowing for easier peripheral monitoring. The Hyperstrike comes with the Sight Line option, which helps archers to see any small imperfections in form that is leading to torquing their bow.

Price:

The 5 Pin Hyperstrike in black comes with a suggested retail price of $121.00.  The Hyperstrike with sight line option retails at $148.00. Considering the amount of features packed into this sight, the price is certainly fair.  

Conclusion

The TruGlo Hyperstrike is a great sight that outperformed both my expectations and its price tag.  It offers many features which more expensive sights fail to include. It is designed with bowhunters in mind and leaves little on the table in terms of performance.  It proves to be a great choice for beginning and experienced hunters, alike, and should be on the short-list of any archer looking for a quality, durable, lightweight, multi-pin bowsight.  


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3 Minute DIY (Public Land Legal) Bow Hanger

I had trouble finding public land legal bow hanger options that were compact and quiet to carry.  I also wanted something that would allow for the incorporation of the 1″ webbing strap I was already using to lash my back pack to my stand platform so as to cut down on the amount of gear I would need to carry into the woods.  After trying many different things, I stumbled upon a composite rafter square I no longer was using and it ended up being exactly what I was looking for.  I drilled holes to make a slot for the webbing strap to thread through and finished this off with a carpenters knife.  A simple band saw did the trick for the rest of the cutting and the hanger is wide enough to accomodate split limb bows and sturdy enough to support even the heaviest models.

Here is a time lapse of the 3 minute project:

 


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Is the Quest Thrive the Best Bow of 2018?

Category : Bowhunting , Gear

How the Thrive stacks up against the top bows of 2018.

At the beginning of the 2018 calendar year I began searching for a new hunting bow.  I decided to approach the process with as little bias or brand loyalty as possible.  I wanted to end up with a bow that fit me well, was forgiving, and comfortable to draw and shoot.  I shot a good many bows from a variety of manufacturers, there are still some that I haven’t shot and frankly, it would be almost impossible to shoot every flagship bow from every manufacturer.  I’ll do my best to outline some of the specs of each bow I’ve included in this review and detail what general things I was looking for, but be aware that this isn’t going to be a tech filled article.  I’m a bowhunter, not a target archer, and as such, my opinions are, in many ways, that of a layman.  There are so many bows made today, all of which can kill most animals in North America with the right arrow combination, so the search for the right bow comes down to a lot of personal preference.  The recent uptick in traditional bowhunting has done a great job in showing both traditional and compound archers that high speeds do not have to be achieved for maximum penetration and so (full disclosure) I don’t give it much weight when making a decision on a bow to buy.

At a high level, the main criteria I consider in a bow are: draw cycle/valley/let-off, back wall, brace height, mass weight, balance, hand shock and price.  Detailed below is what I am looking for in each of those categories.  Your needs may be different than mine, so it becomes important to outline the preferences that affect my determinations on the shoot-ability, performance and comfort of each bow.

  • Draw cycle/Valley/Let-off- I prefer a smooth draw cycle that doesn’t stack up before let off. Some people might refer to this as a “hump and dump”.  I also prefer a fairly wide valley as I find that this makes the bow a little more forgiving to shoot.  Along those same lines, I like the additional let off that can be achieved with a deeper set valley and a bit more cam rotation, and I am more than happy to sacrifice some bow efficiency to achieve these comfort gains.
  • Back Wall- I like a very solid back wall, and for this reason I really prefer a bow that can utilize limb stops vs. cable stops. I prefer a bow that likes to stay on the wall and this is another reason I prefer a deeper valley and also why I steer away from a bow with a ‘jumpy’ cam system.
  • Brace height- Because I am big on hunting with a forgiving bow, I prefer a longer brace height. I’ve shot bows in the past with brace heights of over 8”, and I really prefer no less than 7”.  Since I’m not too concerned with maximizing arrow speed, I don’t feel it’s necessary to move to a 5” or 6” brace height for the purpose of a few feet per second.
  • Mass weight- Some archers prefer a heavier bow. Heavier bows can typically absorb more vibration and they tend to offer more stability.  While I don’t like an extremely light bow, I don’t want a heavy, clunky bow that leads to more fatigue when I am target shooting in pre-season.  I prefer a bow with an out-of-the-box weight in the high 3 to low 4 lb range.
  • Balance- A bow that is balanced will sit in your hand with minimal need for counter weights. This keeps mass weight to a manageable level for a hunting set up and can aid in improving your form, consistency and follow through and, as such, your accuracy.
  • Hand Shock- Over the past decade, bow manufacturers have achieved huge strides in vibration reduction. Regardless of the model you choose, in comparison to the older bows you may be used to, you are going to be amazed at the improvement in vibration dampening technology on a new bow.  Still, there are some models that are leading the way in this area and its worth noting!
  • Price- Unless you are independently wealthy, price should, responsibly speaking, play a role in a purchasing decision. It certainly does for me.

The Bows

        Of the 10+ bow models I’ve shot this winter, I’ve chosen 5 to compare and will give a short description of my opinion of each followed by a 1-10 score for each of the categories listed above.

  1. Mathews Triax– The Triax is Mathews new short axel-to-axel design that is proving to be making some noise in the hunting industry.  I loved the Triax when I shot it and most of my concerns about the axel-to-axel length were eliminated after I tested it out.  To me, it felt just as stable as a longer bow and the most noticeably impressive thing about it is how dead in the hand it is.  The bow felt plenty fast and was plenty quiet.  I felt that the draw cycle was surprisingly hard given the rounded, oversized cams, but the valley was excellent and the back wall was good for a bow with cable stops.  The bow stayed on the back wall well and the let-off was adequate.  The bow has a lot of weight at the top and when holding it, it has a tendency to want to tip forward.  However, when its shot, the top of the bow still wants to kick back and it will probably require more weight out front to compensate than you might expect.  The bow’s 6” brace height is shorter than I prefer in most circumstances, but the feel of this bow was more like a bow with a 7” brace.  For such a short bow, the Triax is fairly heavy at 4.4 lbs.  Some of this is likely due to the rather robust riser and limb pockets on the bow.  The suggested retail price on the Triax is $1099 but I have found many bow shops to have it listed at $999.
  • Draw Cycle/Valley/Let-off: 8/10
  • Back Wall: 8/10
  • Brace Height: 7/10
  • Mass Weight: 7/10
  • Balance: 6/10
  • Hand Shock: 10/10
  • Price: 8/10
    • Score: 54 –  Average: 7.71
  1. Bear Kuma– Bear came out with their newest flagship bow, the Kuma, and offered it in both a regular and long draw option. I shot the standard Kuma.  This bow has slightly smaller and slightly less rounded cams than some of its predecessors from Bear.  The 33” axel-to-axel bow is well balanced and feels very fast.  However, I found the draw cycle to be very uncomfortable and harsher than I would ideally prefer.  I would also like a deeper valley, but to be fair, some improvement in that area could be achieved by adjusting the limb stop.  The cams felt a bit more jumpy than I would like and the bow doesn’t like to stay on the wall.  The Kuma has a 75% let-off at full draw.  The bow I shot came out of the box with cable stops, and the back wall was fairly spongey.  Some of this could be mitigated with higher quality strings and cables, as well as the installation of a limb stop.  The bare bow comes in at 4.3 lbs and the brace height in 6”.  It draws, shoots and feels like a 6” brace height bow.  Most noticeable when shooting the Kuma right after the Mathews Triax was the increase in hand shock and torque.  I also shot the Bear Moment, a carry-over from 2017, and have to say that I personally prefer this bow to the Kuma.  The Moment has a better draw cycle, a better valley, a better back wall, a slightly more compact 31” axel-to-axel, 80% let off and significantly less vibration.  Both the Kuma and the Moment retail a few hundred dollars less than other manufacturers’ bows, coming in at $899 MSRP.   I have even seen the Kuma around $800 at some shops, a great price point for a flagship bow!
  • Draw Cycle/Valley/Let-off: 5/10
  • Back Wall: 5/10
  • Brace Height: 6/10
  • Mass Weight: 8/10
  • Balance: 8/10
  • Hand Shock: 6/10
  • Price: 9/10
    • Score: 47 – Avg: 6.71
  1. Bowtech Realm– Bowtech followed up its successful Reign series with the Realm in 2018.  Don’t get them confused, in my opinion they aren’t comparable.  I shot a Reign 7 before I shot the Realm.  The Reign draws and shoots like a speed bow while the Realm feels like the very smooth, very forgiving, very comfortable Bowtech hunting bows I have owned in the past.  The Realm uses Bowtech’s Smart Bow technology to offer two draw cycles to the archer, a speed setting and a comfort setting.  I prefer to shoot on the comfort setting and will sacrifice some speed for increased shoot-ability.  The silky smooth draw of the Realm gives way without dumping into the valley.  The draw cycle is superior to the Triax, but once at full draw the bows feel about the same.  The back wall is similar and both bows stay on it well.  While plenty fast to be extremely lethal, and rated at the same 340 fps as the Reign 7, I would be surprised to find that the Realm was as fast as the Reign.  However, I didn’t shoot either through a chronograph because speed is of little concern to me.  The Realm rivals the Triax in terms of hand shock elimination.  It is extremely dead in the hand.  The Realm has a 7 1/8 brace height and a 30 ¾ axel-to-axel length.  It has a fairly blocky riser, with beefy limb pockets and very short, wide limbs.  The bow is listed at 4.3 lbs mass weight, but actually looks like it should be heavier than that.  Although rated the same as the Kuma, it felt more comparable to the Triax in weight.  The let off of on the Realm I shot felt somewhere in the 75-80% range.  The bow retails for $1099 MSRP but you may find it on the rack at many shops for $999.
  • Draw Cycle/Valley/Letoff: 9/10
  • Back Wall: 8/10
  • Brace Height: 8/10
  • Mass Weight: 7/10
  • Balance: 8/10
  • Hand Shock: 9/10
  • Price: 8/10
    • Score: 57 – Avg: 8.14
  1. Elite Ritual- Elite certainly improved its offering in 2018 with the Ritual. In comparison to some of Elite’s prior flagship models, the Ritual blows them away. This is a sweet shooting machine that offers about everything you could want in a hunting bow.  The precise weight distribution on the bow is immediately noticeable.  It offers a draw cycle that very much resembles the Bowtech Realm.  I felt that the Ritual had a valley that was a bit more to my liking than that of the Triax or the Realm.  The back wall was very similar to the Realm and the bow is incredibly dead in the hand.  Like the Realm, it does not cede much ground to the Triax in that area.  The axel to axel is comparable to the Bear Kuma at 33 ¼”.  The brace height on the Ritual is 6 ¾” and the mass weight is rated at 4.3 lbs.  Of the bows I shot, this bow felt the lightest, which I attributed to the excellent balance and weight distribution.  The Ritual retails for $999 and I’ve seen it advertised at local shops for $949.
  • Draw Cycle/Valley/Let-off: 9/10
  • Back Wall: 8/10
  • Brace Height: 7/10
  • Mass Weight: 8/10
  • Balance: 10/10
  • Hand Shock: 8/10
  • Price: 8/10
    • Score: 58 – Avg: 8.29
  1. Quest Thrive– Quest brought the Thrive to market in 2018 and it wasn’t even on my radar as a bow to test.  I was getting one of my old bows restrung at a local shop and the owner encouraged me to try one.  I was both surprised and impressed enough to shoot a couple follow up shots just to make sure I felt what I thought I felt!  Keep in mind that Quest is to Prime what Diamond is to Bowtech, Mission to Mathews or, back in the day, Reflex was to Hoyt.  These brands manufacture quality bows that can be offered to the consumer at a more affordable price point.  To meet those price points, sometimes the manufacturers forego the use of some of the more expensive technology and components.  In this case, G5 does not incorporate the parallel cam technology of the Prime bows into the Quest line.  Still, they are good looking and great performing bows.  G5’s advanced riser technology allows them to boast some of the most rigid aluminum risers in the industry.  If you are at all familiar with G5, you could easily mistake the Quest Thrive for a Prime Rize.  Aside from the Rize’s parallel cam, the two bows spec out extremely similar.  The Thrive has a 33.75” axel-to-axel length, making it one of the longest axel-to-axel bows I tested.  The listed mass weight of 4.3 lbs felt heavier than the Kuma or the Ritual and more in line with the weight of the Realm and the Triax.  The draw cycle stacked up a bit but did not dump into the valley.  The valley on the Quest was adequate, but I would adjust the draw stops a bit to make it wider than it comes out of the box.  Even so, the bow stayed on the back wall and the limb stops are rock solid.  This had the absolute best back wall of any bow I shot.  The weight distribution on the bow, while not quite as impressive as the Elite Ritual, was close to it, and the bow is incredibly balanced and maintains it through the shot.  Quest is even shipping these bows with all the modules to adjust from 26-31” draw lengths!  One of the biggest “wow” factors for me with this bow was how dead in the hand it is.  We’re talking Triax dead, here.  This bow sacrifices nothing in vibration dampening to any flagship bow in the industry right now.  The second “wow” factor was the price.  At a MSRP of $679 and most shops carrying them at $650, this bow and its price point are hard to beat.  Imagine a bow that can compete with any flagship model, for box store pricing.  It’s almost too good to be true!
  • Draw Cycle/Valley/Let-off: 7/10
  • Back Wall: 10/10
  • Brace Height: 7/10
  • Mass Weight: 7/10
  • Balance: 9/10
  • Hand Shock:10/10
  • Price: 10/10
    • Score: 60 – Avg: 8.57

The way I break it down, the Quest Thrive is on its way to becoming one of the very best bows in 2018.  I suspect Quest will move a lot of these bows in the coming months.  The level of competition in the archery industry is staunch and many manufacturers are producing a phenomenal product.  Each bow I tested seemed to excel in one field or another.  All of them are more than capable of taking any game animal on the continent with the right arrow combination.  The Quest Thrive, quite frankly, excelled in the most categories while remaining the most economical bow of the group.  When performance meets affordability, you get great value!


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Product Review: Braken Wear Roam Fleece Jacket

Category : Gear

If you follow this blog, or the Common Ground Bowhunter Instagram Account, you know that I am a pretty faithful subscriber to the Kuiu system.  I have no affiliation with Kuiu, I just like their stuff and I believe in it.  Aside from altering my post season scouting, my gear is probably the thing that is most responsible for changing how I hunt.  So, all that being said, it takes a lot for me to find something that actually causes me to spend my money elsewhere, at least when it comes to technical hunting apparel.  I will concede that there are a few brands in this market that rival Kuiu’s performance and specs, but the price tag is almost always significantly more than Kuiu and so I find myself going back to their direct-to-consumer model price savings.  Likewise, if I can find something cheaper or even equal in price, it almost always seems to come with a sacrifice in performance, weight, material technology or innovation.  Still, I am constantly looking to improve my layering system and so I try to keep an eye on what is out there.

That’s how I came across the company Braken Wear.  I believe I saw a post on social media and so, naturally, I looked into their gear offerings.  Although there wasn’t much I needed, I was, at the time, contemplating purchasing another Kuiu Peloton 240 Full Zip Hoodie so that my wife and I would both have this valuable layer in our systems.  I have told many people that the Peloton 240 Full Zip Hoodie might be the best piece in the whole Kuiu offering.  So, when I browsed Braken’s offerings on their website I looked into their Roam Insulated Fleece Jacket further because it appeared to have some of the features I was looking for, for a fraction of the cost of a Kuiu Peloton 240 Full Zip Hooded Sweatshirt. And, although it is labeled as a jacket, the Roam more resembles a thermal hoodie.  After purchasing the garment and using it all season to hunt Whitetails in the Northeast, here is what I found.

Braken Wear Roam Fleece Jacket

The Braken Wear Roam Fleece Jacket is a 3 pocket, full zip, highly breathable mid layer with a fitted, cordless hood.  The jacket is cut longer in the back to provide full coverage whether standing, sitting or on the move.

Weight-  (4.8 Stars)

Garment weight has become one of the most critical deciding factors for me when contemplating the purchase of hunting gear.  Even though I am not doing a lot of ‘active’ hunting, aside from occasional still hunts or deer drives, I still need to be able to pack all my gear into my stand location.  Sometimes this means hunting a pre-hung set and sometimes it means packing a portable stand, climbing sticks and all my outer layers in to hang the stand and hunt the same day.  Throw in the weight of a camera arm and other necessities and ounces begin to matter.  When I was looking to buy the Roam jacket, Braken did not list their  weights on their website, so I contacted them via messenger to request a garment weight.  The salesperson was responsive and helpful and gave me a weight for an XL jacket- 18 ounces.  At just over a pound, this was only 3 ounces heavier than a Peloton Hoodie from Kuiu, and truth be told, I am not sure what garment size Kuiu uses to calculate their weights.  Once I had determined the other specs were satisfactory, I ordered the jacket; 1 lb+ is within the range of what I am looking for in this type of layer.

Weather resistance/breathability- (4.5 Stars)

I knew going into the purchase that the Roam jacket did not have a durable water repellent (DWR) coating on the face fabric.  Since I was planning on using it as a mid layer I was not too concerned.  (I was more concerned with the wind resistance and breathability.)  Although the coat got a bit wet during a few light rains when I was walking to my stand without my soft shell layer on, the fabric is extremely fast-drying, and I found it to be mostly a non-issue; but a DWR coating would be nice.  The Roam jacket could be used for an outer layer during dry, mid-season conditions.  I would be comfortable wearing a 200g/m2 Merino wool base layer and the Roam jacket on evening sits where temperatures would be dropping into the 40’s.  The wind resistance of this garment is good, but I would not utilize it as my outer layer in frigid temperatures, but then again, it isn’t designed for that anyway.  The best part about this jacket is that is is so highly breathable.  It has the perfect combination of weight and breathability for walking to my stand in the morning in sub freezing temperatures.  Rarely was I hot or cold, and the thermal regulation of the garment amazed me.  It far outperformed my expectations in this area.  I quickly became more than willing to give up the DWR feature to have this kind of breathability in the jacket!

Comfort and Fit- (3.9 Stars)

Braken Wear Roam Fleece Jacket

The sleeves could be a bit longer, but their tailored fit and nicely finished cuff helps the garment to fit under outer layers more easily.

One of the best parts about this jacket is the length.  It falls well below the waist when standing and does not drift up your back when sitting in the stand.  It has an athletic fit like the apparel in many layering systems.  The hip pockets are spacious and the single chest pocket is large enough for a cell phone, license, and even a battery charging cell for your phone if you were so inclined.  One of two negatives I found was that the sleeves could be a little longer for my arms, but the cuffs are very comfortable and the taper helps keep the sleeve from riding up, although thumb holes would be an added bonus and make putting on an outer layer over the Roam jacket a bit easier. However, that is something that I’m willing to sacrifice to be able to enjoy a better price point.  The second negative I found was that the cut and size of the hood was slightly long and wide for my head.  If I put the hood up the whole way with no hat on, it would come down over my forehead further than I preferred.  This could affect some of your peripheral view since the cut of the fitted, cordless hood would be slightly off from its intended placement.  When wearing a hat or beanie, the hood size and cut is about perfect.  The weight of the hood is perfect when walking into your stand in the morning, adding enough warmth, while breathable enough that you don’t sweat.  The sizing on this piece seems to run a little small in comparison to typical US sizing.  This, coupled with the athletic fit, would cause me to advise to order a size up from what you typically wear.  I ordered an XL and it fits me comfortably enough, but there is no room to spare, and if ordering again I would probably purchase a XXL.

Braken Wear Roam Fleece Jacket

Small details go a long way to add comfort, such as the chin guard built around the zipper.

Warmth- (4.5 Stars)

This is one of the warmest ‘sweatshirts’ you will wear.  The inside has a thick fleece liner that is perfect to wear over your base layer, and provides most of the warmth in the garment.  The outer material is a fast drying synthetic with lots of stretch for added comfort.  The hood offers a little extra warmth and concealment and is basically an extension of the collar of the jacket.  The jacket zips past the chin, and chin guards on the zippers are a nice, added touch.  Braken has considered some body mapping in this garment to increase its warmth to weight efficiency and it is evident when wearing it.  It is warm in the places you need it and lightweight in the places you don’t.

Noise/Concealment- (5 stars)

This will be one of the quietest garments in your system.  The face fabric literally makes ZERO noise.  If wearing as an outer layer, you don’t need to worry about getting busted drawing a bow or raising a gun.  The zippers Braken uses are high quality YKK and can be operated silently with a minimal amount of care.  The proprietary camo pattern has a digital striped look to it with a brown background.  I don’t suspect any detection problems as it seems to blend nicely, but I so rarely wear this as my outer layer, the camo pattern in my situation was of little importance.  I would have bought this jacket if it was a solid color.

Braken Wear Roam Fleece Jacket

The stitching on the Roam jacket is precise but rugged and durable. The zippers are high quality and the fleece backer is extremely warm on chilly November mornings.

Durability-  (4.2 stars)

The quality and feel of the jacket is great.  The stitching also seems to be of high quality and the seams are all perfect.  After a season of use, aside from some blood, the jacket still looks brand new.  It laundered well, and seems to be holding up great.  I would not expect to go busting brush or walk through a brier thicket while wearing this jacket and not end up with a few snags.  Since its not designed as a primary outer layer, this application is unlikely anyway.

Price- (5 Stars)

The jacket is on the BrakenWear site for $107.24 (plus shipping).  However, I hit this when the timing was right and got something around 30% off.  The jacket, with shipping, cost me less than $90.  If you know anything about technical clothing, you know that is a steal.  Considering the Kuiu Peloton 240 Full Zip Hoodie is $149.99 (not on sale) and the (very comparable) Sitka Traverse Hoodie is $199, this is a phenomenal price.

Company and Customer Service- (4.8 Stars)

From what I have been able to find out about the company, they seem like genuinely good people who are passionate hunters.  The company is obviously small and still in a growth and developmental stage.  I imagine that breaking into the hunting apparel industry is about as hard as it gets.  That said, they were extremely responsive to my messages when I had questions about the product and, as I previously mentioned, they even weighed the jacket for me!  I received notice that the item was shipped within 12 hours of purchase and it arrived at my front door before the minimum shipping estimate given at purchase.  Very impressive, considering I have bought clothing from US based companies and it has arrived days (sometimes weeks) after the last day of their delivery estimate.  Braken deserves a lot of credit for this kind of customer service and speedy shipping from overseas.

One thing that I wish they would make more available is some additional details about their company, the sourcing of their materials, and the ingredients and technology in their garments.  I found it hard to determine what fabrics were used in the garment and as such it was more difficult than it needed to be to determine if this was indeed what I was looking for.  I essentially ended up taking a leap of faith because of the sale price, but if given more details on the website about the fabrics and the technology behind them, this decision process could be made easier.  Since I purchased the Roam Insulated Fleece Jacket, Braken has included weights for several of their items on their website.  This was a necessary addition and will help their customers to make better informed decisions.

Conclusion-

This is a great piece to add to your layering system, especially when considering the price point and customer service you will receive.  This jacket has now replaced my Kuiu Peloton 240 Full Zip Hoodie about 90% of the time as a mid layer piece during the second half of the season.  And that isn’t because it is cheaper, that’s because it performs that well for me.  The performance of this piece is on par with much more expensive technical garments and that makes it a phenomenal value.

Overall Rating- 4.6 (out of 5 stars)

 

 

 


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archery

Opening Day Prep

Opening day of archery is almost upon us.  For hunters in NY, MI, IA, PA (etc.), October 1st marks a special day on the calendar.  The air has begun to change, and the nostalgia cool air of Fall begins to settle around us.  As we anticipate the season, most of us having been shooting bow for (hopefully) several months now.  Broadheads get tuned and all our gear gets pulled out and arranged.  Here is a quick list of items I go through in the days leading up to season:

1. Check stands- By this time, I’ve gone over my tree stands.  I’ve replaced cables, and optimized anything on my portable sets that caused me problems last year.  If something was making noise, I am wrapping it in hockey tape.  If something was broken, I fix it.  Quiet treestands could be the difference between an empty or filled tag; safe treestands could mean the difference of life and death.

2. Tune Broadheads- I have good luck shooting Grim Reaper broadheads in that I don’t have to do much bow tuning for them.  I shoot field points all summer and only switch to broadheads to make sure no minor adjustments need to be made before heading into the woods.  At this same time, I also tune with Nockturnal lighted nocks on my arrows since they are heavier than a regular nock.  Making sure your hunting set up is accurate is the ethical thing to do.  Don’t just assume your broadheads will me in tune.  I’m not super techy when it comes to my bow, but now is also the time I do one last check of my bow’s cams, string sights, etc.

3. Wash clothing- I wash my clothing in scent free detergent.  Don’t ask me if it works because I am torn on the subject.  What I do know is that I feel like it works and that gives me more confidence and a more positive outlook which keeps me in the stand longer.  What I do know is beneficial is air drying clothing after it is laundered.  I hang my clothes out on the line to dry instead of running them in a dryer and picking up the scent and smell of fabric softener, detergent as well as the human odor that is in the dryer.  This was one of the things I never could make sense of with carbon clothing.  Why was the carbon not “absorbing” all of the scent that was present in the dryer?  Wouldn’t the carbon layer be saturated when it came out of the dryer?  Reactivating of carbon is done at 800 degrees celsius, so I couldn’t help but wonder if I was just tumbling my clothing around in a smelly dryer for no reason.  Washing my clothes and hanging them to dry prior to season gives my clothes a bath of fresh air and gives me the opportunity to go over all of the items and organize them in my bins.  This way I know where everything is and can find it quickly before I head to the stand.

4. Fill your Pack- If you carry a back pack to the woods the week before season starts is a great time to fill your pack with the essentials you will need for the hunt.  My pack contents look a little different for all day rut hunts than during the early season when I am mostly hunting evenings.  However, I carry camera gear into the woods all season long and so I organize these items in my pack and make sure I have a consistent system where each item goes so I can pack or unpack in the dark.

5. Plan your hunt- About ten days out I begin to look at www.wunderground.com for weather data during the upcoming days.  I am not only interested in what opening day will be like, but also the days leading up to it.  If the opener happens to be another hot day on the back side of three other unseasonably warm days it is probably not going to get me too excited.  However, if a cold front is forecasted to hit after several warming days, it could be the perfect time to get into a higher percentage stand.  When I am looking at this weather, I am also eliminating stands in my mind based on wind direction.  There are certain stands that just can’t be hunted on specific prevailing wind directions.  This is why it is important to find stand locations for all wind directions.  Going into a stand on the wrong wind direction can be the best way to ruin your season before it can even begin.  To that point, it is important to monitor the wind direction once you get to your location as the prevailing wind is not necessarily indicative to how the local wind currents and thermal drafts are behaving around your stand.  Weather data gives you a starting point to fine tune your stand selection.  It also gives you an idea of what you need to pack- extra layers, rain gear, etc.  I continue to check the local weather each day before the opener because it can change that rapidly and I want to have time to readjust a plan if I need to.

6.  Call the processor- Make sure the processor is going to be around and can take your deer.  If you are lucky enough to get an early season deer, the meat can spoil quickly in 65-70 daytime temps.  You should be prepared to process the deer immediately or have a butcher lined up who you can take it to right after you harvest it.

Remember- luck is where preparation meets opportunity.

-Reuben Dourte

Email me at CommonGroundBowhunter@gmail.com


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hunting bike

Tour De Common Ground

Category : DIY , Gear , Hunting Hacks , Tactics

What does biking have to do with hunting?  You might be wondering this.  And, if you are, chances are at this point in time the answer for you is “Not much”.  Friends of mine have been using bicycles to their advantage for over a decade now.  Since I haven’t had the same need in years passed, (or at least perceived that I didn’t), I avoided this method of transportation.  The basic reason was that where I hunt, the access is such that there are no trails suitable for biking.  There are, however, county roads; but for every season leading up to this one, we simply walked or drove along the roadways.  This summer I dug out an old mountain bike from my shed and gave it a new coat of paint, checked the brakes, and got it ready to use for hunting season.  You may be wondering why I would need, or want, to use a bicycle for any kind of transportation, given how I just described the area we typically hunt.  As I see it, there are plenty of benefits to having this tool in your arsenal, so it is just one more trade secret I can apply as needed.  The weight of each benefit shifts and changes based on the terrain, area, and your style of hunting. But overall, most (if not all), serious hunters can reap the rewards of utilizing a bicycle for stand access.

  1. Save Time- Riding a bike saves valuable time when accessing stand locations.  You aren’t going to be riding you bike right to your stand tree, so you are still going to have some foot travel, but you can keep a good pace down a reclaimed railroad bed on a bike, often with less physical effort than walking.  A half hour or hour walk to get back into a remote piece of public can be shortened to ten or fifteen minutes by bike.  Those extra minutes during a morning hunt could mean the difference between beating a buck back to his bed, or not.  It also can mean a few extra minutes of shut-eye which can become valuable toward the end of a long season.
  2. Less Sweat- You might as well capitalize on mechanical advantage.  Riding a bike, if on relatively level ground, is less likely to cause you to sweat as much as walking the whole way to your stand at a brisk pace will.  Less sweat=less scent.  It also means you are less likely to have wet clothing that will make you cold as soon as your body cools.
  3. Remote access- If you are hunting large public parcels and you are walking back hiking trails or railroad beds for several miles to get away from other hunters, a bike can do wonders for you.  Not only does it save time, but it also makes these remote access areas even possible to hunt.  Most people aren’t willing to walk 2-3 miles in.  A bike makes these treks more feasible so you can avoid hunting pressure and hunt the deer that are doing the same.
  4. Deer Carrier- One of my good friends has rigged up his bike with a few extras, like a platform over the rear wheel and a handle bar rack.  When he shoots a deer in a remote area, he walks it out on his bike instead of dragging it for 2 miles, or having to quarter it in the timber.  I’d better mention that this technique is best coupled with some hunter orange to cover the deer for safety reasons.
  5. Less Pressure- In my opinion, the number one case for using a bike is that it allows you to put less pressure on the deer you are hunting.  In suburban areas, deer may be used to bikers riding on trails past their bedding areas.  You may need to push in past doe bedding to get to an area where you think a buck is bedded.  If riding a bike keeps you from being associated with danger, it can give you access to more remote pieces of a property without spooking non target deer.  Likewise, if you hunt primarily in hill country with a mixture of cover and open fields, you may be coming out of the timber and moving along roadways to get back to you vehicle.  The deer may not tolerate the sight of a human walking along the roadside, however, there is a good chance they are accustomed to dirt bikes, fourwheelers and even cyclists on country roads.  You can avoid having deer associate you with danger by turning your approach into just another common, non-threatening disturbance along the thoroughfare.  This is the primary reason I pulled my bike out of the shed this year.  I want to be able to move up and down the county road quickly, and without the deer associating me with hunter foot traffic.  I hope this will keep the deer in the destination ag fields less disturbed throughout the whole season and keep doe family groups patterns in tact all the way into the pre-rut timeframe.

Consider tweaking a mountain bike for hunting access in the future.  If it can save time, help you get into more remote areas, or lower the pressure on your local deer herd, how can it hurt your efforts?  Sometimes its the little things that make all the difference.

-Reuben Dourte

Email me at CommonGroundBowhunter@gmail.com