-By Randy Cooper
Everything a dedicated deer hunter does throughout the year has only one purpose and that is to prepare for the opening of deer season. I want to share with you a few of the things that I have done and am still doing to TRY and get ready. It seems like every year something will jump in my path that makes getting ready a major chore, making me wish I had at least another couple of weeks left. Our season here in Georgia opens on September 8 and runs through January 31st.
I'm strictly a bowhunter and by nature a perfectionist and a tuning freak. I've spent the spring and summer tuning my bow, going through my arrows to see which ones group well with the others while practicing and testing which release, arrow rest, vanes and sights work the best with my set up. Now, this is just getting the bow right. For me, I'm so particular that it takes a lot for me to be satisfied. Everything must fit just right from my anchor point to the pull poundage and the way it feels. Only bowhunters can understand what I'm about to say, but I've lost plenty of sleep when I run into a tuning problem that I couldn't fix right away or the bow was doing something funky and I just couldn't tune it out.
My best advice is when it gets to that point, just put the thing down, go watch a good movie and get it all off your mind for a while. Take a day or two. Believe me, when you least expect it you'll think of something that was staring you in the face the whole time that you didn't do or adjust and you'll have your answer. You go back and make the adjustment and five minutes later you're shooting a perfect bullet hole through the paper tuner and you're sighting the bow in. You're a lot more confident than before too.
I'm kind of hardheaded sometimes and can remember trying to tune out a problem and shooting so much that I was sore for three days. That wasn't too smart. When you do something foolish, like shoot about 200 times in one session, your form starts to fall apart because of muscle fatigue and you only compound the problem instead of fixing it.
Archery and bowhunting are supposed to be FUN. I absolutely love it and take it more seriously than most. My wife will tell you that for me it's an obsession. I guess I could have worse obsessions. I've always felt that if you are going to be really good at anything, you have to do it seriously all the time and be dedicated. I'll shoot every evening for about an hour. I shoot every shot with a mental picture of the non-typical of my dreams in front of me. I tell myself that I only have one shot and if I don't make it, he'll wind up in front of someone else that will. I have one chance and so I put that much pressure and seriousness into every shot. The name of this game is consistency. For me, that means that I have to do exactly the same thing shot after shot after shot. The same speed pull to my anchor point. The same picture when I look through my peep sight. The same feel of my release hand against my face and my hand on the grip. After a few thousand shots it becomes an unconscious habit like pointing your finger. NO, NO, the index finger not the middle one!
Getting the bow tuned and sighted-in for me is a huge confidence builder. Don't stop practicing when the season starts. You'll lose your edge. I know, I've done it. This is only one part of the puzzle however. Next time I'll tell you about some of the other pieces I put together to make it happen on opening day.