Outdoors With Craig Robbins

Some folks would say that practicing with your archery equipment many times is more fun than actually hunting, but not in the Robbins’ household. I still like to stand over a critter that I shot. But practicing with your archery equipment is important to your fall success.

Knowing where your bow is shooting and making any adjustment to equipment is all part of being a responsible sportsmen. Practicing doesn’t guarantee success, but it’s imperative that all archery hunters understand the importance.

While I am not the best when it comes to fixing archery equipment, I do know what I can get away with and when it’s time to take my bow to a local archery pro shop. We are fortunate here in Chautauqua County to have several good ones, but the three I trust with my equipment are Spectacular Sports in Frewsburg, M&M Sports Den in Jamestown and just over the stateline, Tall Tails.

While you spend hours practicing, it’s just as important to scout new hunting ground. It’s vital for your success in the woods to understand your hunting area and with the new early season dates for this fall, it’s that much more important.

Knowing where they are and how they get to where they go will do more to make your hunting experience a success than anything.

As good hunting grounds are getting harder to come by, it’s important to start to get your permission early in the year. Just as important is gaining permission is staying in contact with your landowner and keeping a good relationship with him.

One of the newest pieces of equipment I started using a couple of years ago was digital trail cameras. While I am no expert in this field, I do know one thing – using trail cameras has increased my odds many times over. Knowing when critters are moving and where and what trails they are using has meant more to our success for the past couple of seasons then any single thing in the last 10 years.

Having a set of eyes in on your hunting ground 24/7 is priceless.

Just as much important to understanding wildlife movement is letting you know what quality of game is in a given area. Knowing that you have a big mature buck on your hunting ground will keep you in the woods longer and give you the confidence you need when the going gets tough.

Another good use of trail cameras is knowing who is in and out of your hunting land. Last season I heard from many sportsmen who didn’t know how many folks had been strolling through their posted land until they started using trail cameras.

So I guess food for thought is if you aren’t supposed to be on a given property, it may be a good thing to stay off it because one never knows if you may be caught on ”candid trail camera.”

Learning the lay of the ground and how wildlife is using it takes a lot of work, but is well worth the effort that first time a deer or turkey strolls by your setup.

To this day I still find the use of a topographical map my best tool for scouting. Years ago finding a good topo map of the area you are hunting has been a challenge, but today in the world of computer companies offer programs that we all can use to make our scouting trips more profitable. While I used a few different programs I prefer MapTech’s TopoScout. But with internet access available on cell phone. Google maps has become a must have app.

While it’s important to know where the deer are traveling, it’s just as important to understand that deer will change their travel patterns. Understanding first that deer will follow food sources will help in setting-up your stands.

During the first part of the archery season, using stands that are set up on the edges of fields is a good way to see where deer are traveling and what areas they are using at a particular time of the day. When hunting areas that you’re not used to or if you haven’t been able to scout much, hunting field edges during the first part of the archery season can teach hunters a lot about an area.

While deer will come to the fields at dusk, they often times use fields more for mid-day feeding and traveling. Depending on the type of field you’re hunting over and the time of day you’re hunting, deer can walk the edges or just stroll out into the middle.

If you’re looking to fill your freezer with venison, then hunting the edge of field can provide great sightings.

Once you found your new honey hole, it’s time to fine tune the location before you spend anytime in it. Archery hunters need shooting lanes to shoot through. Over the years I have seen shooting lanes cleared around tree stands that have looked like a lumber jack had cleared every sapling or bush within 30 yards of a stand. Not to mention that it’s disturbing an area like that would be counter productive, it also lets the deer know your there.

Of course landowners don’t like hunters acting like loggers either.