Bowhunting: How to Navigate the Frost Lines

bowhunter

Photo by John Hafner

It takes the right combination of commitment and endurance to remain in a deer stand as the temperature drops and the snow flies. It takes more of both to do it during a late bow season.

The reward is great hunting. Harsh winter weather challenges deer, too, forcing them to forage extensively for scarce food, offering an unparalleled harvest opportunity for those willing to shake off the chill and confront the problems of cold-weather hunting.

Winter Considerations
Temperature extremes negatively affect bowhunting gear. Bows perform optimally during the summer months, when archers are pounding bags for the season opener. However, shooting a compound in summer's swelter is not the same as shooting in temps more conducive to icefishing.

Mechanics
Moisture is a compound's worst enemy in cold weather. If it migrates into the wrong areas, it can degrade your bow's performance. Compounds stored in a heated space attract condensation when they're carried outside. Axles can freeze, slowing normally brisk cam rotation. Prevent condensation by stowing your bow outdoors whenever possible.

Draw Weight
Inactive, cold muscles struggle to pull early-season draw weights. Take a turn or two off your limb bolts to reduce draw resistance. Keep in mind, though, that as you reduce the draw weight, you must reset your sight.

Rests
Drop-away rests can be problematic in chilly weather. Articulating mechanisms and their lubricants can become lethargic when temperatures drop. Consider switching to a simple bristle-style containment rest. The nylon strands behave the same no matter the ambient temperature.

Sights
Swap your summer peep sight for one with a larger aperture. This keeps the sight window clear of any snow or sleet, and lets in more light on dark, dreary days. Also, fiber-optic sight pins become brittle in cold weather and can break easily. Slip a cover over your sight to protect pins from breakage.

Releases
Mechanical releases can turn persnickety, too. If possible, keep your bow hand and release inside a hand muff warmed with chemical heat packs. If you like wearing gloves, increase the release's trigger tension. This counteracts the loss of feeling from the glove, a problem that can lead to punching light triggers.