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How To/Pro-Tips

Be Safe

The first step toward treestand safety is good tree selection. A safe tree is healthy and fully alive. Dead or partially dead trees are dangerous. Straight trees are safest. A bend in the trunk can throw the load bearing geometry of a treestand dangerously out of kilter. Completely understand your stand. Know how it should be assembled, attached to the tree and how it should work. Read the instructions carefully.

Keep your hands free and pay attention only to climbing. Wear a climbing belt and tie off immediately when you get to the stand. Haul your hunting equipment up on a pull rope. Wear the safety belt at all times. Climb only as high as you need to go and no higher. There are few hunting situations that require the hunter to be more than 25 feet off the ground. Remember, tree trunks taper. Do not climb past the point where the trunk diameter is too small for completely secure stand attachment.

Quiet Please

In the clothing business, fabric softness is described by words like "drape" and "hand." In the bowhunting business, soft-fabric outerwear should be described as "essential." At close range, hard, stiff clothing that scrapes noisily on brush will alert your quarry, either spooking it away completely or making it wary, making for a more difficult shot. Soft brushed cotton and soft wool knits are traditional favorites for quiet outdoor wear. Today, a number of new synthetic materials provide warmth, protection from the elements and quietness in the woods for bowhunters. Synthetic fleece garments, often available with wind or waterproof liners, are top choices for archers. These are very warm and quiet in the woods. Two new synthetic fabrics, Saddle Cloth and Shikari Cloth, combine weatherproofing and abrasion protection for the wearer with a soft, low-noise, napped finish. Besides being quiet, their unique finish won't pick up burrs and debris. Your hat and gloves should also feature a soft external finish to avoid game-spooking brush noise.

Scout For Success

To take a good buck, either with a bow or with a gun, you have to know that buck. Good scouting is the way you get acquainted. First, look for the food. Deer have to eat. Archers often take nice bucks by staking out food sources. During the gun season, food attracts does and does attract bucks. Learn the main deer trail system, including the creek and fence crossings. Then learn the secondary buck trail system. Pay particular attention to where the buck trails intersect or closely parallel main trains. Bucks like to shadow the main trails waiting for a hot doe. Identify bedding areas. For bucks, that means finding his core or sanctuary area. It will be a tough spot because big bucks don't like to bed down where they are easily approached. When hunting pressure hits, bucks become more nocturnal in feeding patterns and except during the rut, when he's out chasing does, he'll spend much time in his sanctuary.

Additional Hunting Gear

Besides your bow or gun, your stand, and your hunting clothes and boots, there are a few additional items that make for better hunting. A pair of pruning snips and a folding saw are big helps to stand sitters and particularly to bowhunters who need more space to get into shooting position than riflemen. These day pack-sized tools aren't intended to clear a shooting lane or other major brush removal. You need heavier equipment for that. Instead, these small tools are valuable to get that one twig out of your line of sight or to remove that one limb that keeps you from getting your stand just where it needs to go. Keep the pruning snips handy. When scouting or stalking through the woods, you can often get into some pretty tough tangles and tight spots. With the snips, you can quickly and quietly cut yourself free. The options of either crashing on through or backtracking out of the thicket are noisier and may spook game.

Hunting Optics

Binoculars are great hunting tools. Basic binocular savvy means knowing what the numbers mean in terms of hunting performance. With binocular designations such as 7x35, 8x24, 10x42, etc., the first number is magnification power. A 7x glass magnifies a distant object seven times; a 10x, 10 times and so on. The second number is the diameter of the objective lens in millimeters. Together with power, the objective diameter determines how the binoculars perform in low light. Dividing magnification power into the objective size gives the exit pupil diameter. This determines how much light gets to the eye, which has a maximum pupil diameter of 6mm. A 7x35 has an exit pupil of 5. An 8x24 has an exit pupil of 3. An 8x42 has an exit pupil of 6. High-power 10x binoculars give large images at some cost of low-light performance. Medium power ranges (7x35 or 8x42) provide the most light-transmitting efficiency. Compact binoculars, such as 8x24, offer easy carrying convenience but transmit less light.

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