Outside the Walls: Bow season safety tips.

September 22, 2014

Vanderhaag Horiz JPGOutside the Walls, A blog written by Nick VanderWall, is sponsored by VanderHaag Car Sales, 1680 W. U.S. 10-31, Scottville; 231-757-2727; www.vanderhaagcarsales.com, Mason County’s premier car rental outlet. 

Today, we introduce to you Nick VanderWall and his blog, Outside the Walls. Nick will be writing about hunting and fishing. Nick is 24 and grew up in Pere Marquette Township. 

When Nick was 12-years-old he was blinded in a hunting accident. Blindness hasn’t stopped him from pursuing his love for the outdoors nor has it kept him from pursuing his education.

He is a graduate of Mason County Central High School and West Shore Community College. He has a journalism degree in journalism from Michigan State University and is currently attending WSCC again where he is majoring in business. 

“I love to hunt, fish and do just about anything in the outdoors except winter activities,” Nick says. “I believe that God saved my life because of all the prayers.  I truly should have died that day, so I am very thankful that I am alive and able to still enjoy the outdoors.”

Practice Makes Perfect

By Nick VanderWall

As the nights are growing colder and the days are getting shorter some people are getting excited, including myself, for the opening of bow season on Oct. 1.

Before that wonderful day comes there are some things that we as hunters need to do and need to remember, like maintenance and basic bow safety.

As last season ended most of us took down our tree stands and put away our bows.  This is a smart thing, but we don’t always make the wisest choices when bringing the gear back out for another year. When you’re putting your stands out in the woods here are some helpful tips to remember.

The first one is always remember to bring someone with you to help put the tree stands back out.  This is always safer to do with at least one extra person there to help because it can be dangerous when you’re alone.

If the stand is a ladder stand  make sure you strap the bottom support to the tree before you climb up to do the other straps. I personally would have the other person hold that stand while you do this because accidents can always happen.

If the hunter is using screw in steps make sure they are not spaced too far apart because you don’t want to have to struggle when you’re getting in your tree stand. I would place the screw in steps  anywhere from 12 to 18 inches apart. Remember some mornings are cold, so you’re going to wear layers, so you want to make it easy to climb up even with layers on.

When you’re trimming lanes you don’t want to trim too much, but at the same time you don’t want to trim too little either.  When a wall hanger is 15 yards away, but there is a branch in the way of shooting, you will be cursing yourself.

I would have someone sit in the stand, preferably the hunter, and have that person directing someone on the ground. This is so the hunter can make sure that it is alright from the stand instead of just on the ground.

After your stand is up you want to have a string that is tied to your stand, so you can haul your bow up after you’re sitting.

The last thing I would do to improve your stand is to put a hook to hang your bow or backpack.  I would place this in easy reach of your hands.  The last thing you would want is a deer to come in as you’re struggling to get to your bow.

You always want to keep pulling your bow back even throughout the winter, so you’re able to pull it back when the buck is standing in front of you.  You at least want to bring the bow out by August to see if you can pull it. If you can’t pull it as easy then lower the pounds by a little bit.  Then you might be able to increase by the time Oct. 1 gets here.

When you’re going to start shooting you want to remember that you can hit your arm and it does hurt.  A way to prevent this is don’t hold your arm perfectly straight.  Also don’t release your bow string without an arrow.  This is called dry firing and it could cause some damage to your bow.

I always like to practice shooting before I go out hunting, so I can make sure the arrow is hitting the target where I aim  it.  I would shoot as many arrows until you feel comfortable pulling it back and releasing, hitting what you aim at.

Now hunters in Michigan are able to hunt with a crossbow at any age.  You still want to bring the crossbow out in August to practice with it.  Luckily there is a crank in most of them to help you pull it back. If there isn’t a crank you can buy a pulley, so you can pull it back easier as well.

Another thing I would remember if you’re using an older crossbow is don’t have your thumb to high because there is no thumb guard.  The newer crossbows have thumb guards to prevent a loss of appendages.

After you feel comfortable shooting you may want to try it with thicker clothes on. Remember it will be a little chillier in October, so you will want to make sure you can pull the bow back and then to hit what your aiming at.

The last bit of advice is wearing a safety harness when you’re sitting in a tree.  Most stands are 10 to 20 ft. up in a tree.  When you lean too far or slip I don’t want to be having to report on a hunter that died by falling out of his tree stand.  I would also put a tether up.  This is for climbing up in your stand.  You can hook the safety harness up and go up the tree without fear of falling.

Those are some tips to help keep you safe in the woods and hopefully shooting a trophy. I hope everyone will stay safe and shoot straight this bow season.


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