Thursday, August 21, 2014

Jay Scott Outdoors: Elk Hunting-How to Cape a Bull Elk Video

Friend Jay Scott posted one of the best two-part videos on caping a bull elk that you can find on YouTube.  If you follow what we talk about and teach in the Elk Module, hopefully you'll need THESE videos as well!  Good Luck this season!!!

Jay Scott Outdoors: Elk Hunting-How to Cape a Bull Elk Video

Friday, February 1, 2013

How to buy your first bow

Working at a Pro Shop, I'm able to introduce many new archers to our sport. They come from all walks of life and backgrounds. From guys and gals who are looking to join family or friends on their next hunt, or that developed an interest from watching the outdoor channels, to the parents who have daughters dragging them to "The Hunger Games" or "Brave," archery is growing at a remarkable rate. But where should someone start when looking for a bow? The questions that probably come to mind are:
  • Should I shoot "traditional" or compound? 
  • Do I want to hunt or target shoot and if so, what kind of game or targets do I want to shoot at?
  • Should I buy new or used? 
  • Finally, what's this little venture going to cost me?

One of the first decisions to make, is whether to shoot a "traditional" bow, or a compound.  A "traditional" bow typically refers to a longbow or a recurve: bows that have no wheels or "pulleys" and that are truly the definition of "stick and string" (...the type of bow used in the movie "The Hunger Games"). If simplicity and tradition is what you crave, then a longbow or recurve is what you want.  If, however, you're interested in speed and increased accuracy and range, then a compound bow (...those bows that DO have wheels and "pulleys" on them) might be a better fit for you.

With a longbow or recurve, you will only need a glove, arm guard, and some arrows. One of the benefits of choosing to shoot a traditional bow is that the initial financial investment (heck, even long-term overall investment...) can be significantly less than with compound bows.  However, shooting a traditional bow – for most people, and without a SIGNIFICANT investment in time spent practicing – typically means less overall accuracy and distance.

Length and poundage marked on the limb.
When looking for a traditional-style bow, look somewhere on either the bottom limb, or on the handle/riser, for the tip-to-tip length and draw weight. Unless you are very tall, a tip-to-tip length of 62-66" is a good place to start for most people. The draw weight of the bow is the weight measured at 28" of draw. Simply put, if your draw length is less than 28", it will be less draw weight; if greater than 28",  the draw weight will be more than is stated on the bow. You can go into your local archery shop where they can use a "draw check" arrow and bow scale to help you determine what your traditional bow is drawing at your specific draw length.

Use a draw check arrow to determine your proper draw length.

Once you've established your draw length, you then just need to hold, draw, and shoot several different types of traditional-style bows – at different draw weights – to see which one feels the best and allows you to shoot comfortably and accurately.  Everyone is different, as are different bows, so the trick is finding the bow that fits you, your shooting style, and what you want to do with it.  Those that want to shoot a traditional-style bow for target archery (like the Olympic archers) might need a different bow than someone who wants to hunt with it.

While a compound bow will ultimately require a few more accessories, you first need to determine draw length and draw weight. These differ, however, with a compound bow as opposed to traditional bows.

When determining your draw length, you first need to decide how you want to draw the bow back. For traditional archery, drawing the bow back using your fingers is the norm. With compound bows these days, however, most people use some sort of mechanical release aid. Now, while using a release aid has become the standard for a variety of reasons, you can still use fingers if you want, but you'll need to look specifically for a longer axle-to-axle bow, which can be tough these days. Axle-to-axle length is measured as the distance between the axle of the top wheel or cam to the axle of the bottom cam. For finger shooters that usually needs to be 40 inches or more. With so many compound bows becoming more compact and having shorter axle-to-axle lengths, the angle of the string as you pull back becomes so sharp, that holding and shooting accurately with fingers becomes almost impossible. A release aid not only helps most folks have a more consistent and "clean" release of the string (which helps accuracy), but it allows folks to shoot highly compact bows as well.

Proper draw length with a hand-held release
Regardless of how you wish to shoot (fingers or release), determining the correct draw length is much more important with a compound bow than a traditional bow due to the way a compound bow works. Unlike a traditional bow that simply flexes the limbs directly as you pull on one string, a compound bow uses Cams (pulleys) and/or wheels that "compound" the amount of flex the limbs receive as you pull the string back. Different Cams and wheels will "compound" the flex of the limbs differently, but all need to be set-up to your specific draw length.

As you pull back, the Cam(s) will start to roll over and compress the limbs (the difficult portion of the "draw cycle") and then "fall" into what folks call a "valley" whereby the Cams hold the majority of the weight of the compressed limbs rather than your arms. This is the "let-off" you hear people talk about when people talk about compound bows. Different Cams have different amounts or "percentages" of let-off (which is something to consider when purchasing your bow), but all Cams need to be matched to your specific draw length so that the draw cycle and "valley" are properly set to maximize speed and efficiency.  While this might seem pretty complicated at first, all you really need to do is figure out what your proper draw length is, and the archery shop employees and bow manufacturers will do the rest; it really is pretty simple.

Like with a traditional bow, the best way to determine your draw length is by using a "draw-check" arrow.  However, if you don't have a "draw-check" arrow to start with, one way to determine your draw length is to measure your wing span, finger tip-to-finger tip, then divide the measurement by 2.5. While this is only a starting point (as some bow manufacturers measure their draw length differently), it should at least get you close so you can either narrow down your initial purchase, or help archery shop employees figure out where to start.

Draw weight is the next thing to consider. The average hunting weight for most men is 63 to 65 pounds of draw weight (with a range of between 55 and 70 pounds), and 40 to 45 pounds for most women. For target archery, most choose draw weights that are much less than that. In either case, the key to finding your appropriate draw weight (especially when starting out) is being able to smoothly draw the bow all the way back without having to do much (if any) large arm movements and "gyrations" to get it back; you'll see some people struggling to get their bow back each time they draw their bow. You do NOT want to do that!

Now, don't get suckered into thinking you have to pull heavy weight to hunt.  If you can't draw the bow with ease, the animal will most likely see you draw, and spook anyway. I tell people that if after a practice session of at least 30 arrows, you can't sit flat on your butt, with your legs straight out in front of you, and draw your bow easily, you're shooting too much weight. Keep in mind that most compound bows will have a 10 pound weight adjustment, so choose a bow that will allow you to shoot lighter weight to start, and then gradually increase the weight as you get stronger.

On this Hoyt bow, you can see WT (draw weight) ranges between 60 and 70 pounds.

For instance, many bows these days come with 70 pound limbs, which means when at maximum poundage, you'll be pulling 70 pounds of weight to get the string back. Those same bows, however, usually can be turned down to about 60 pounds with a simple adjustment. If you can easily pull back 60 pounds to start, go with a 60 to 70 pound draw weight bow, and start at 60 and slowly work your way up to 70. If 60 is too heavy to start, then choose a 60 pound draw weight bow, and have the limbs "turned down" to about 50 pounds to start. With modern Cam designs and limb composites these days, even "lower poundage" bows still produce incredible speed and kinetic energy.

Another thing to consider when purchasing a compound bow is, what do you want to do with it? Do you want to hunt with it, shoot targets, or both?

Generally speaking, if you want to primarily shoot at targets (paper or 3D targets) for competitions, a "Target Bow" is usually a longer axle-to-axle bow. Maybe not 40+ inches axle-to-axle like for finger shooters, but typically somewhere in the 34 to 36 inch range. The reason for this is something I like to call "Archery Geometry." With a longer axle-to-axle bow – for most shooters – the bow will "hold" and aim better than a shorter axle-to-axle bow. By the same token, many longer axle-to-axle "target" bows have a longer brace height (i.e., the distance from the inside of the grip to the string of the un-drawn bow). While a longer brace height (around 7+ inches) generally means slightly slower arrow speeds, longer brace heights make a bow a little more forgiving during the shot, and help the shooter be more accurate.

The author with his target bow that has a longer axle-to-axle length and brace height for maximized accuracy.

For hunting, folks use all sorts of axle-to-axle length and brace height bows, but even still, before settling on a bow, think about what – and where – you'll be hunting. Are you hunting from a treestand or groundblind for whitetails, hunting open country mule deer and pronghorn, up in the mountains in the timber, or all of the above? Where, and what, you'll be hunting may influence the type of bow you choose.

When hunting out of a treestand or ground blind, sometimes having a very short, compact bow can be handy, and often your shots are 40 yards and under. In these instances, a shorter axle-to-axle bow (30 to 32 inches) may be just what you want. And for whitetails, having a fast bow can definitely have its advantages, so a bow with a shorter brace height (around 6 inches) might be what you want.  However, with any "advantage" you choose, there are "disadvantages" you need to account for.

In the case of short axle-to-axle bows with short brace heights, for many people, these bows don't "hold" as steady as a longer axle-to-axle bow, and can be a bit more "finicky" and require the shooter to have very consistent and good form – and a very clean release – on every shot in order to be accurate at longer distances.  For many whitetail hunters, these "trade-offs" are within acceptable limits given that most shots are within 20 to 30 yards so "pin-point" accuracy isn't quite as important as maximizing speed to reduce the likelihood of the deer ducking the arrow when they "jump the string."

If you're hunting out west in open terrain where longer shots – possibly in the wind – are the norm, having a bow that holds steady and that's fast can be important.  In this case, a longer axle-to-axle bow that holds a little more steady for most people (like a 34 to 36 inch bow) that also has a shorter brace height may be just what you want.  If you're just starting out, and aren't sure of your form and consistency yet, a longer axle-to-axle bow that also has a longer brace height might be just the ticket to give you confidence in holding steady, and give you a little forgiveness should you be a little unsteady or slightly off in your form.

...not that a big buck or bull would make you a little shaky!  :-)


Whether you're looking for a new bow or used, there are a number of places to find a bow.

If you're looking for used bows to start (which are cheaper), consider checking with your local archery shops first to see what they have in stock. If a bow is sold at an archery shop, many times the shop owners/employees will have given the bow at least a safety check to make sure there aren't any issues with it (like the previous owner having dry-fired the bow).  If you find a bow in the newspaper, on Craigslist, Ebay, or other on-line avenue, consider having the person either get the bow checked out and provide you documentation (that you can verify) that it's in good working order, or meet the person at your local archery shop to have it checked out. While there are some good deals to be had out there with used bows, just make sure you aren't buying something that has been previously damaged and possibly unsafe.

When buying used, it helps to already know your draw length and the limits of what you can safely – and easily – draw back (poundage) so you can be sure to buy a bow that will work for you.  To that end, if your budget allows, try to find a bow that is only a few years old; that cheap bow you found at a garage sale that might be 15 years old might be a good deal, but you may not be able to get it adjusted to your needs, or find any parts for it to get it back into good shooting condition!  Typically, bows that are 5 years old or less can still be adjusted to fit you, and you can still find parts.

A great way to get into a good used bow, is to find a buddy that "just has to have" the latest and greatest. This transaction works nicely, because you can usually meet him down at the range and test drive the bow before purchase!

For folks looking for a highly trusted on-line avenue in which to find and purchase a new bow, I send them the website ArcheryTalk. This is a whole site of Archery Freaks! There's a classified section complete with a "Target Bow" page, "Hunting Bow" page, "Women and Youth Bows" page, and "Everything Left-Handed" page. There are bows to fit everyone on this site. Ebay is another great place to look, but when buying used, as always, Buyer Beware!  Do your homework on the seller feedback before making a purchase. Both of these sites have a feedback section to help with this.

The next thing to know is how change the fit of the bow you're considering. Some bows have draw length modules, some have string posts, some have to change cams. Sellers may advertise that a bow is adjustable from 25-31" of draw, but this may require different modules, cams, or even strings to make the draw length change. This could be as cheap as $20 for a module, or as expensive as $250 for new cams and strings. That "deal" you found might not be as much of a "deal" if – after you purchase it – you have to fork over hundreds of dollars just to be able to shoot it!!!  Remember what I said about knowing your draw length a little earlier??? This can go a long way in helping avoid any "issues" after the sale!

If a new bow is what you'd prefer, one place to go is to the "big box" stores like Cabelas, Gander Mountain, Bass Pro Shops, Sportsmans Warehouse, etc. You will notice that most of the bows will already have accessory packages on them. This makes for a quicker sale, but may not be exactly what you want on the bow. Archery is a very personal sport, and you may want to vary the accessories on your set-up so the bow works better for you. The "big box" store will usually have a couple of higher end bows, depending on what lines the stock, but they cannot carry the "Pro Shop" only lines.

Bows like Mathews, Hoyt, Bowtech, and PSE Pro Series can only be sold in Pro Shops. Now I realize that some Pro Shops have a reputation for being snobbish, arrogant, and expensive, but they will have the best bow technicians. Like with the rest of this purchase, research your local Pro Shop and give them the opportunity to earn your business. There may be a slightly higher price at a Pro Shop, but these guys eat, sleep, and breathe archery, and often can provide a higher level of technical experience and advice than some folks at a "big box" store. A good Pro Shop will carry all price ranges of bows and accessories.

So, what's all this going to cost me? A used recurve may be as little as $50. Something to really watch for with a used recurve though, are twisted limbs. I see a lot of twisted limbs when people come in for new strings. If a recurve that you're looking at seems a bit "spendy," do a little more research. It may be worth the money if it happens to be an old Fred Bear or Black Widow.

A used compound that's more than about 5 or 6 years old shouldn't run more than about $350 all set-up and ready to go. A bow that is less than 5 years old could still be worth $600-$700, if it's set-up with some top of the line accessories. When buying a used compound, assume that you'll need to replace the string and cables, and make a draw length adjustment. If, when your bow shows up, you don't need these items, then that just makes your deal that much better.

Prices on new bows will vary slightly, depending on the part of the country you live. An entry level recurve, armguard, shooting glove, 1/2 dozen carbon arrows, and field points will run about $250 in my area. Not all recurves are this cost effective. Some production recurve/longbows will go for $600-$800, and a good custom can easily cost $1,000 or more.

A new compound bow will run from $300-$1500 for just the bare bow, or $500-$2500 for a bow all set-up, ready to shoot. When I'm helping a customer with a new bow purchase, I put bows into 3 categories: 1) Entry Level bows: $300-$400, 2) Mid-Line bows: $400-$700, and 3) High-End bows: $700 and up. Pick one of these categories and try to stick with it. There is a significant difference in feel and performance by upgrading. Be careful if your budget doesn't allow for an upgrade.

Finally, be sure to actually shoot all the bows you can get your hands on in your price range, and let the bow choose you!  While some stores/shops may try to "push"you into one bow or another, remember it's going to be your bow that you will be shooting, not them. Just because one type of bow shoots well for them, or they get a better mark-up on a particular bow does not mean it's the right bow for you. Shoot different bows within your price range, and choose the bow that fits, feels, and shoots best for you! Keep an open mind and don't let hype drive your decision.

Good luck, and if you have ANY questions - don't hesitate to contact us!!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Looking for Big Bulls in Southern Colorado - 2012 Through the Seasons Episode

Roe Hunting Resources shares a few of the highlights from the first five days of the 2012 Colorado elk hunting season in southern Colorado.  Between the inconsistent wind, the large number of cows and calves, and the numerous "satellite" bulls that were encountered, the first five days of the 2012 season ended up foreshadowing how the rest of the season was going to be for the RHR crew!  In this episode, you'll see some elk that got a little "up-close-and-personal," hear some great calf vocalizations, and check out a few nice southern Colorado bulls.


We take you into the field as we put what we teach into action. Whether it's spring turkey, late-summer pronghorn, fall elk and deer, or winter waterfowl, this new series takes you - in an entertaining yet educational manner - along on our most memorable hunts... Through the Seasons!

Episodes are available either at or