New Year resolutions. Goals and objectives. Call them what you want, but any time you can focus your energies toward a specific mission (while giving yourself plenty of lead time), well, your odds of success skyrocket. That said, now is a great time to plan, dream, and scheme for the year of bowhunting that lies ahead. Here are a few of my top New Year Bowhunting Resolutions for 2016.
Arrow A Wisconsin Northwoods Gobbler. Ever since I began running into these majestic birds in my favorite northwoods public-land deer haunts many years ago, I’ve dreamed of arrowing a Badger State longbeard in this pristine big woods setting in springtime. Sound intriguing? Plan your adventure well and this can be a great, multi-faceted hunt that can be combined with some serious shed hunting and even some trout fishing, two more favorite pastimes. And even more special, this year I’ll have a pair of 11-year-olds who have been looking forward to tagging along on this adventure, which of course brings a whole new perspective to the hunt and to the planning, so I can’t drop the ball on this one. Wisconsin continues to tweak its spring turkey hunt and I’m waiting patiently to see if I’ll draw a coveted tag; for those who missed the Dec. 10 application deadline, some overflow licenses might be available later this spring. Stay tuned.
Get In Elk Shape Early And Stay There. I’ve been a dedicated gym rat virtually my entire life but there are days (big surprise) when it’s tough to stay motivated. I did a fair amount of biking this past spring and summer, ate fairly healthy beginning in early spring, and even dropped a few pounds. But this year I’m making the commitment to step up my cardio routine, and, come September, hit the elk mountains in the best shape of my life. I’m lucky enough to live within a few minutes of a full-featured hardcore gym that’s open 24 hours, but I’ve found the easiest way to ensure that I actually use my membership is to build it into my daily routine; for me the easiest and most productive times are early mornings, before I start my workday. Also helpful are energy-enhancing supplements from the likes of Wilderness Athlete and MTN OPS. These two companies have focused their product development and marketing on active hunters looking to maximize their performance in the field, and my testing has proven—to me at least—that there’s much more to these products than hype. Over the past several years I’ve become a big fan of two WA products, especially: Energy and Focus and Hydrate and Recover. I can’t speak to the specific science behind these powdered, vitamin-infused drinks that you simply mix with water, but all is laid out pretty clearly on the WA website. There is a lot more going on here, but I will say that it doesn’t hurt that Energy and Focus includes some caffeine, and that Hydrate and Recover includes Glucosamine, a supplement proven to maintain joint health. I not only feel great using these products, but they also help get me to the gym three to four days a week—and this despite our current household roster that includes two 10-year-olds and an 8-month-old. So I’m not hurting for distractions. My experience has shown these products deliver much more than simple mental encouragement to work out, but if you’re looking for some inspirational help, these supplements might be a place to start.
Build Some Funky New Arrows. Mid-winter is a great time to devote to one of my favorite projects, when I like to squeeze it in between tying some flies and generally shoring up, tweaking, and repairing all my well-used bowhunting gear from the previous season. With the wide range of easy-to-apply, cool-looking vinyl adhesive wraps and vibrant fletching and vane colors currently available, there’s no reason you can’t make up some great-looking custom arrows that will be ready in time for spring turkey and bear seasons. Another bonus of building your own arrows is that the process will help you become a better student of the technical side of archery. Fletching your own opens up the door to a better understanding of things like helical versus straight fletching, Front of Center balance, and generally tweaking your arrows for better flight and penetration.
Interested but don’t know where to start? Begin by checking out the supplies offered at www.bohning.com, which will lead you to pretty much all you need to get started. You’ll also want to check out gatewayfeathers.com, as well as trueflightfeathers.com and duravanes.com.
Shoot More Traditional. I carried a favorite recurve bow on several hunts in 2015, and all were great fun. I really enjoy all the practice and preparation that is required to become a deadly accurate traditional bowhunter, and I’ll be doing more stick-and-string hunting in 2016.
Shoot More. In recent years I’ve really stepped up my shooting practice whether it’s with compounds or recurves, and I’ve seen the benefits. This past year, with help from a backyard range, I extended my effective compound range a good 10 yards. In 2015 I shot more confidently and more accurately than ever, and I want those results to continue in 2016. Regular shooting really does help, and if you make the commitment and begin that process within the next month, I guarantee you’ll be deadlier than ever come this fall.
What are some of your own New Year Bowhunting Resolutions? There’s nothing like jotting them down in black and white to keep you on track and motivated. So what are you waiting for? Make your list, then start preparing for your best bowhunting season ever.