Opening Morning Feels

Bethany HuntingAs I prep and prepare for another opening morning. I can’t help but reflect and feel what hunting means to me.

From a young age, I remember my brother and dad hunting.

When it came to my turn for my dad to ask me if it was something I wanted to do, I remember it so vividly.

I had taken my hunter safety course the spring before in second grade. I remember my dad asking me and then going to school the following weeks reflecting on if I wanted to do it or not. I talked to my teachers about it and told them I had a conscience. Where I came up with the whole idea of a conscience I haven’t a clue.

The morning of youth season and my dad called for my brother to wake up to head to the hunting lease. My dad then called my name, and I was already laying awake in anticipation of what I should do next. None of my friends had hunted or even talked about it or went.

I went down in my brother’s hand-me-down camo where my mom was so sweet enough to have a special thermos full of hot chocolate for me ready to go. I still remember those feelings as core memories for life.

I killed my first deer with a slug in my single action 20-gauge break action. The feeling of walking up on that animal for the first time was a rush of emotions I felt. I will never forget eating the jerky of my first deer kill the way it made me feel seeing everything come full circle. From then on, I was hooked. Now, nearing my thirties I can’t help but shed some happy emotional tears as I gear up for this year’s season. My dad is getting older and helps me manage and get my stands hung the best he can.

At this point in life, I have hunted for so long I would consider myself a seasoned deer hunter. And it all stems from that little girl that was lucky enough for a door of opportunity. I had no idea what this life had in store for me. Things have changed and it’s bittersweet. My dad doesn’t go on my hunts, he’s not there to see every kill. He’s not at the bottom of the stairs waking me up before the morning’s hunt. Time changes everything but makes you reflect on where you came from.

I now eagerly take off work for this time of year. It’s amazing the memories hunting can provide.

Hunting has brought me so many connections and opportunities that I couldn’t imagine my life without it. It’s crazy what one decision in the second grade has given me. I have so many friends made from our love of hunting and our get-togethers involve going on hunting and fishing trips. It is so much more than killing something.

I am looking forward to the day when I wake my son up before daylight and have his thermos full of hot chocolate ready for his first hunt. I can’t wait to carry on traditions to my son through the gift of the outdoors and the open morning feels.


Bowhunting: 8 Tips for Success

Bowhunting is one on the most rewarding methods of hunting. It’s personal and connected to nature to get your food. What is more satisfying than the experience of the personal perseverance and patients that comes with a kill via bow?

I started my archery career early in life and then on to bowhunting as a teen. Now it’s something I will stick with until my body physically can’t anymore. It’s something I take very seriously and love sharing my knowledge to the people in the outdoor world. Here is a list tips that have helped me along in my 20 years of archery. Just tips from another person might influence or help you see archery from another point of view.

1. Be Kind to Yourself

First and foremost, it takes time to learn something new or to build up skills of archery. It is nearly ALL MENTAL. Be supportive of yourself even in bad shots. My dad would always say, “One arrow at a time, sis.” That is a phrase that has stuck with me my whole life, so much so that I have it tattooed on my body. If the first arrow was bad, be kind and make the second count. While in bowhunting that isn’t always the solution but be kind to yourself while practicing so you can gain the confidence bowhunting and drawing back on an animal.

2. You Can’t Purchase Precision

Like a firearm you can mostly upgrade and buy some accuracy. When it comes to bowhunting, someone with a $500 set up can contend or be better than someone with a set up that was thousands of dollars. It’s more about skill set and practicing than it is your equipment.

3. Fit Your Equipment

Make sure you are fitting your bow. I know it is easy to get a bow hand me down, but fitting your equipment is key. Especially your release, a shorter release helps with trigger punching. A wrist release should be a snug length and no extra length to slap the trigger. It should be a smooth steady machine by the time of being a seasoned bow hunter. Having a trusted pro shop help you fit all your equipment is worth the time.

4. Consistency

Making sure your shots are all even, and by that, I mean insuring you are a well-oiled machine every shot. Push, pull and anchor. That is something I think before every shot I put through my bow. Having the same anchor point each shot is something I cannot stress enough. Anchoring and remembering the contact points to make sure you consistently find the same anchor point.

5. Grip

The placement of your hand is key in consistent shots. It should be a relaxed, floating grip. Gripping the bow too tight allows for too much control. Even the slightest grip being off can allow for error in shots. If you think about it the only direct contact with your bow is your grip. Your bow will not go anywhere there is no sense in having a death drip on the bow. It should be effortless and almost float in your hand.

6. Follow Through

Following through after each arrow is a main component. DO NOT DROP YOUR ARM. After each shot, I stand tall and keep everything in place after knowing the arrow has made connection with the target or animal that it was intended for.

7. Speed

Something I have noticed that has changed my bowhunting game has been the speed of my bow. Growing older and lifting in the gym and gaining muscle I have been fortunate enough to have my bow cranked for the highest poundage it can go. This has made me shoot flatter and more accurate. Hitting the gym or doing exercises that build back muscles can help your bowhunting experience. I have shot for many years and it has helped my confidence in my archery game. But just know you don’t have to do all that to bow hunt. The legal draw weight is perfectly acceptable.

8. Go Long & Dark

One of the best things I have found that have helped me whether the archery range or tree stand would be practicing at a further distance. I shoot 50 and 40 yards constantly. This makes the 20- and 30-yard shots seem like cake. Again, it’s all about where you are in your bowhunting journey but pushing yourself with these tips can be beneficial to your overall experience. Also, when prepping for hunting season sometimes it is beneficial to be outside practicing at legal shoot light, it isn’t always perfectly bright out when that monster buck steps out in front of you. Prepping for all aspects of the hunt and visualizing all scenarios will help you mentally.

Archery is something that has always been near and dear to my heart. I could go on forever in talking about archery and bowhunting. But something to remember is that it is a mental game and you are the one using that weapon method, it’s relying on your body and brain to do all the movements to secure that animal you are after. Whether you are at an archery tournament or in a tree stand with your bow, treat it with the same mentality of being that well-oiled machine. Your brain is what powers the bow essentially and if you have spent so much time and money prepping your bowhunting journey, do not forget to make sure you are tuned in mentally for each shot. Practicing year round and not just two weeks before season will totally change your confidence in bowhunting.

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