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Time to Prepare for Hunting Season - Article No 1

As I sit at the computer, the calendar reminds 
me that it is eight weeks until the opening of bear and vertical bow hunting seasons. Wow, where does the time go? It may seem early but now is the time to prepare for the exciting time ahead
  As hunters it is our responsibility to make sure we are as prepared as we can be to harvest whatever game we hunt. Hunters should examine their gear, making sure it is in top condition so as not to fail at a critical moment. Rifles should be cleaned and test fired at the range. This will determine whether any gun-smithing is required and that whatever sight system you use is still zeroed in.
 Bow hunters must pay particular attention to strings and cables. Any signs of fraying should be carefully looked at. If a strand is broken, the string or cable must be replaced. Arrows also need close inspection. Look for nicks on carbon shafts, dents on aluminum, if any are found those arrows need to be discarded. Never shoot a damaged arrow. Pay extra attention to nocks as they are often the weakest component of the arrow.

Once your gear has passed inspection it's time to practice. Gun hunters should expend a few rounds at the range just to make sure the eyes are as good as they ever were. If the open sights are blurry, time to move to a telescopic sight. Bow hunters need to make sure they are capable of easily drawing their bows at whatever draw weight they are pulling. It usually takes a practice session or two for archers to get redialed in on anchor points, proper grip, and so on. Whenever possible, practice in the clothing you will hunt in. Heavier clothing can make difference in how a rifle handles or whether it interferes with operating a bow  
 Finally it's time to get out in the field and scout hunting locations. Best advice I ever heard was, "hunt where the game is". No sense wasting time in an area where there are no bear or deer. Move on. When you decide on a location, set up your blind or stand as soon as possible. Setting up early lets the area calm down after you've disturbed it. You should also make sure you will be able to shoot from where you have chosen to go on stand. Any bushes that could deflect an arrow or bullet need to go. Check for blind spots in ground blinds and orient it to your best advantage.

It may be a little early for deer hunters to begin laying apples or carrots, not so for bear hunters. These days scouting cameras can take the guessing out of what is visiting your set up.

So while it would seem a bit early to think about hunting, better to be ready a head of time than scrambling to get caught up later.  
Why Bowhunt - Article No 2

As a bowhunting instructor and an archery retailer I get the opportunity to talk to many first time bowhunters. When asked why they decided to become bowhunters the over whelming majority answer the same, "for the challenge". Many of these new bowhunters started as firearm hunters, as I did, and the thrill of taking game, especially deer, with firearms was just too easy. We want that adrenalin rush we experienced as young rifle hunters.
Bowhunting is a game of details, overlook one small detail and it could cost you a chance at a nice deer. Hunting with the bow severely limits how far you can effectively and humanely put down an animal. In Nova Scotia the average distance at which deer are killed with bow and arrow is seventeen yards. At that distance there is no room for any mistakes. One small creek from your bow or the rustle of clothing that is not quiet enough and the keen senses of a deer will alert them to your presence. I've shot quite a few deer over the years and I don't think more than two were beyond twenty yards.
Although I rarely bait deer, it is an effective way to get them with-in bow range. I can hear some of you reading this now. That's not fair, or sporting, or whatever. Baiting is certainly no guarantee that you will get a shot at a deer. Even if you do get deer or bear coming to your sight, those details I mentioned earlier,( and a whole bunch more), have a way of getting in the way of success. Besides I'd rather a hunter get a chance to make a good clean killing shot at an animal stopping to check out food, than taking a riskier shot on an animal just walking by, perhaps not offering a great shooting opportunity.
As a bowhunter I believe you become a better hunter no matter what type of tool you use to hunt with. There are so many obstacles that you must overcome to set yourself up for that one shot you are likely to get in an entire season. I remember my first two seasons of still-hunting with a bow. I think the closest I got to a deer was at about sixty yards, far too far for archery gear. That's when I started to really become a student of hunting with the bow.
The ground is not the best place for the successful bowhunter. Treestands are about the most effective platforms to use for bowhunting. Treestands get you up out of a deers line of sight, so you have a chance to draw unobserved. They get your scent off the ground, one whiff of you at that range and they are gone with a series of snorts that deer in the next county will hear. The elevation allows you to see the game coming. Again it is all in the details and you must learn effective stand placement. The new ground blinds are improving all the time and they too are allowing better success for the earth-bound archer.
Several paragraphs are nowhere near enough space to begin to cover bowhunting and why it is so challenging and fulfilling. Until you've had an eight or ten point buck walk to with-in fifteen yards of your carefully selected stand, drawn your bow waiting for the perfect shot, while your heart is pounding loud enough for the deer to hear, you'll have to take my word for it, that it is in deed a challenge and a thrill.

- Alex Finigan (Woods Wise Outfitters)  
The Modern Crossbow Article # 3
By Alex Finigan

What was once considered a fringe weapon in Nova Scotia,and not legal for hunting, now enjoys one of the longest deer hunting seasons in North America. You can begin hunting on September 24 and continue to hunt deer with it until December 8, 2018. You may also hunt bear and rabbits with a crossbow. In Nova Scotia you complete a provincially sanctioned on-line crossbow course and be qualified to hunt with firearms and/or have taken the bowhunter course in order to be able to legally carry a crossbow in game habitat.
There continues to be a debate among bowhunters, rifle hunters, and crossbow users as to what category a crossbow falls under. In my opinion it is a hybrid of archery and firearms. It does not meet the criteria to be considered either one but uses attributes of both. It has the limbs, with or without cams, and string of a bow, but is not hand drawn and fired by hand. It has the stock and optics of a firearm, but not the velocity or range of a rifle. Therefore a crossbow is neither a bow or firearm but a crossbow.
The crossbow has become popular with hunters since the first legal season five years ago. For several reasons it has replaced vertical bows as the first choice of weapon in early season hunting. Telescopic sights are easily mounted to crossbows allowing consistent pin point accuracy out to 50 yards, though hunting range should be limited to thirty yards. The use of cocking aids, pulley ropes and cranks, allow almost anyone to arm the device. This allows older and slighter built hunters to cock a crossbow. Once cocked, it remains armed until ready to fire at the target. Most are equipped with a saftey to prevent accidental firing
There are basically two types of crossbow. The recurve and the compound. Recurve crossbows have limbs curving away from the shooter. As the string is drawn towards the housing that captures and holds the string, the reflexing of the limbs creates a tremendous amount of force. Pulling a trigger releases the string which launches the bolt. The compound crossbow usually has straight or slightly curved limbs with pulley's attached at the end of each limb. The cocking action is the same as the recurve but as the string is drawn the mechanics of the cams cut in and force needed to draw the compound is reduced by at least fifty percent. FYI, recurve crossbows usually don't have as many mechanical issues as the compound variety.  
Although very accurate, crossbows are limited in range. Therefore the hunter must employ a certain amount of stealth to get within effective hunting range of game. The majority of crossbow hunters seem to prefer the ground blind over the treestand. I believe this is because the average age of crossbow hunters seems to be in the 35 and up age range. A good crossbow will cost as much as a good rifle. 
In N.S. a crossbow must have draw weight of at least 150 lbs in order to hunt big game. The laws regarding discharge distances apply equally to the crossbow, shotgun using shot, and vertical bows, 200 yards from a dwelling. You must be 804 meters from a school to discharge any weapon. With the generous seasons, a wide variety of models to choose from, and simplicity of use, perhaps this is the year to try something new.


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The Modern Muzzleloader by Alex Finigan Article # 4

Compared to the old style muzzleloader, some appraoching six feet in length, todays in-lines closely mimic break barrel single shot shotguns. They even break open like a break barrel shotgun. A real convenience when cleaning out the receiver and barrel. By removing the breech plug, a hunter is able to remove his charge and projectile if the rifle hasn't been fired. If the rifle wasn't fired it doesn't have to be cleaned. This is where they get the name "in-line", the bullet, powder, and ignition sourse are all in a straight line. The old style had an external hammer attached at the breech which rested on a nipple angled toward the powder charge inside. A percussion cap fitted over the nipple provided the fire when struck by the offcreated a spark when the hammer struck the frizzen and ignited loose powder in a pan next to the flash-hole.
Todays muzzleloader loads much quicker and easier than the earlier version. Most hunters use pre-formed, pre-measured blackpowder substitute. These charges literally drop down the barrel. Then a bullet of the proper calibre is seated at the muzzel. A short starter is used to force the bullet a few inches into pipe. The bullet is then slid home against the powder charge by using the ram rod that is afixed under the barrel. This rod is also used for cleaning and pushing out any charges that are hot fired off. Lastly a shotgun shell primer is fitted into a recess at the end of the breech. The in-line is now ready to shoot. Many hunters will carry a speed loader or two with them while afield. This consists of the powder charge, bullet, and primer in a handy tube for quick access if a follow up shot is required.
The accurracy of in-line black powder rifles is beginning to rival the tack driving capabilities of center fire rifles. The consistency of the charges, rifled barrels, and telescopic sights allows these guns to shoot 3" groups at 100 yards for the average shooter. Tighter groups can be obtained by experimenting with different powder charges and trying a variety of projectiles. To illustrate how well these guns are made, most manufacturers offer lifetime warranties against defects and workmanship.
So if you are looking to get out deer hunting before the crowds of November, take a look at the modern in-line muzzleloader. The season begins on Sept. 24. .
Deer Calls - Never Leave Home Without Them! By Alex Finigan Article # 5

You wouldn't go to your construction job without your tools, nor should you ever be caught deer hunting without at least one or more deer 
calls. I wouldn't have taken half the whitetail bucks I've collected since I've been bow hunting without the aid of my trusty grunt calls. In fact I'm such a believer in their effectiveness that I've gone back to camp, a half hour trip, upon discovering that I had left them behind.
Grunt tubes, can calls, doe and fawn bleats, snort/wheeze, rattle bags, and actual deer antlers, plus electronic devices that create all the afore mentioned sounds are available. Any kind of vocalization a deer hunter might have heard a buck make is available in a call of some kind. Got to admit I've tried everything but the electronic type. My favorite and my best producer has been the True Talker tube call from Hunters Specialties.
Can calls usually mimic a fawn in distress or doe in heat. The fawn bawl is most likely to speak to a does maternal instincts. The doe pleat is meant to attract male suitors. Like the name, can calls are just that, cans. The hunter simply turns the can upside down and a bellows inside falls down pushing air through the reed producing which ever sound the call is supposed to make. Though I've never had a response using one I know hunters that swear they are effective.
The snort - wheeze calls are relatively new to the market place. These calls are meant to imitate the aggressive and loud response a dominant buck will make to a challenger encountered in his territory once the mating season has begun. I've had the good fortune to actually hear a couple of buck fights. Though I didn't see the fight, it was over in seconds, a huge bodied buck took on what I surmise was a much smaller fella. After a single crash of antlers the big guy let out a loud snort followed by a seconds long hiss. Though using this call might intimidate lesser bucks, the loud nature of the call might be good for long range calling in of mature bucks in the area.
Antlers, real and synthetic, are another type of call that many hunters swear by. There is historical proof that aboriginal hunters have employed rattling antlers to entice deer into close quarters for millennia. A dominant buck won't tolerate other bucks in his area during the rut. The sound of other bucks sparring in his domain will stand the hair of his mane straight up. He will come in looking to kick some butt. Rattling should commence as mere tickling of the antlers as many smaller bucks will spar as a test to establish pecking order. I see this on game cameras, often at night. Loud antler bashing, after establishing that there are no bucks close by, is capable of sending out a message several hundred yards.
I've tried rattling on several occasions. Most of the time I use rattling when nothing else seems to be working. My best result occurred when I was waiting for some buddies to meet at the canoe after a morning hunt. I thought what the heck. I had a small set of shed antlers with me and began to tickle the tines together. I just started a second round when a nice eight pointer stuck his head through some pine scrubs, gave me a good snorting and was gone. To say I was surprised is an understatement.
My favorite call and by far my most successful has been the grunt call. I always carry two. My True Talker and another grunt tube that has a slightly louder guttural sound. The reason I like the T.T. is the realistic feel of the tube, its flexible rubber like a bucks larynx, and makes a realistic sound. There are also pressure points on the call that when activated by finger pressure will make young buck, doe and fawn calls.
My routine for grunting is pretty simple. As soon as I get into my stand and I'm ready to shoot, I let out one short grunt , wait a second or two then grunt again. I do this about every fifteen minutes. I use the same routine when I'm still-hunting. It has been my experience that bucks will react in three different ways. They will ignore it and keep on doing what ever it was they were doing, grunt back at you and keep on keeping on, or they come on in looking for the buck that grunted at them. Grunting works whether you are on stand or still hunting. Hear a branch snap off in the distance, blow a short grunt and get ready.
Last Oct. 31 I was in my usual perch for the morning hunt. At twenty to eleven I did my usual two short grunts. At quarter to eleven I heard a grunt about fifty yards behind my tree stand. I got my bow in hand and blew one short grunt. In walked a real nice ten pointer to with-in fifteen yards of my stand. He gave me a great quartering away shot. His antlers are now on my camp wall.
So if you aren't already carrying a variety of calls why not try a couple out. It will greatly improve your odds of getting close to deer you may not even know are there.