Comment Responses

I’ve been away (busy) for a bit and haven’t posted in a while.  So I’ll respond to a few comments that I got since I’ve been away.

(In other news I hope to be re-sorted with my book and hope to have it out in two or three weeks, like I’ve been saying for months.  Curse technology!)

Neu Hombre:

Considering picking up a bow this year, so this was a great read for me.

Request a post on cable guards – roller type vs slide? Not sure what the pros/cons are between the two, and would like to understand that as I look at different bows.

Best new bows I shot in 2013:

  1. Bear Motive 6 – $900
  2. PSE Brute X – $450
  3. Cabela’s (Bowtech) Regulator – $550

So far on the new 2014 bows I’ve learned that I don’t like the 2014 Bear Agenda 6 ($900) draw cycle and PSE forgot that they were supposed to be making parallel limb bows.

2014 PSE seems to prefer inferior pre-2000 vertical limb technology.  Notice these two new $900 bows.  Look at how the Bear bow has limbs attached to the riser at the top and bottom, and how the PSE has its limbs attached at the front.

Bear Agenda 6 (picture and review here)

agenda 6

PSE X-Force DNA (picture and review here)

pse dream season

That’s pre ’00s technology.  And I didn’t know what hand shock was until I shot a 2014 PSE Surge.  (Dear PSE, the Brute X was great, too heavy, but great; make that instead.)

Read Hunter’s Friend’s Compound Bow Selection Guide for a good understanding of what too look for in a bow.

My dad is also looking at getting a new bow this year.  I’ve convinced him to wait until a few more 2014 models come out, but unless one is better he’ll likely get a Cabela’s (Bowtech) Regulator.  (And I’ll junk all of the accessories that come with it.)

I’m not exactly a technical marvel, nor hugely interested in how bows work, but there are some things I know.

The cable slide, or cable rollers, keep the cables (the non-string “strings” away from where the arrow will be.

Cable slide example (picture from here):

cable slide

Cable roller example (picture from here):

cable roller

The first thing that comes to my mind is that my 2007 Diamond Black Ice is great, except that the cable slide that came with mine busted after not too many shots.  Just like everyone else’s Black Ice slide.  And I went to the archery store, spent a buck or three and was all set, and have been ever since.  If you break a cable roller it may mean a whole lot more parts to replace and at greater cost.

Another thought is that some cable slides like those that come with PSEs and the Diamond Infinite Edge allow you to push a cable right out of the slide.  That’s not good when you are shooting.  But it is easy enough to replace with a slide that has the cables fully encased.

I am about to replace my bow string quite soon.  The reasons for this are: better before I need to rather than too late, and becasue my slide is just barely starting to wear on the cables.  (My 5 year old string still looks better than nearly all non-new strings I’ve seen on customer’s bows.)

My opinion on slides vs. rollers is that slides are simpler and simpler to replace, but roller make more [string wear] sense.  But any preference that I have for one or the other is not much relevant becasue I’d take a bow I prefer otherwise with the cable guide I don’t prefer over a bow I don’t like that has the cable guide I prefer.

Lance Burkhardt:

I disagree on the Muzzys. I bought a set that were out-of-spec and the trocar went down over the blades only with great force. Muzzy sent me a new set that I haven’t tried. Since then, I bought some Ramcat 125 gr broadheads and they seem fine at a fair price.

There are things to know about Muzzy fixed blade braodheads.  Muzzy compound bow broadheads need to be assembled.  The better they are assembled the better they fly.  (By “trocar” he means the tip that goes at the front of the broadhead.  The black tip.)  It is very easy to assemble a Muzzy broadhead badly, and it does take a lot of effort to get the tip down that last millimeter.  I assemble mine with as much precision as I can manage.  Nearly all other broadheads do not need to be assembled, and if you do not want to assemble the broadheads yourself, then you should get something else.

As for a “fair price”, nearly all broadheads are 3 for $40 except some Muzzys which are 6 for $40.


Ramcats do have two good arguments over Muzzy 3-blades: 1) a Ramcat is more aerodynamic, which should mean more accuracy and 2) The Muzzy 3 blade with a cutting diameter of 1 3/16″ has the second largest cutting diameter of any fixed broadhead (as far as I know) and the bigger the cutting diameter the more damage done to the deer.  Guess which fixed blade broadhead has the largest cutting diameter?

Ramcat Broadheads


If I were going to switch from my Muzzy 100gr 3 blades the contenders for consideration would be the Ramcat, and Shuttle T-Lock.  I’m sure that there are other good fixed blade broadheads, but those three lead my consideration.

Let me know Lance, how they work on deer.  I’m willing to change any part of my equipment if it will give me an upgrade.  But my Muzzy, with a perfect hit, gave me a foot wide solid blood trail for 20 yards before finding this guy in 2012, and six to eight other bucks have gone down to them:



I bought a Plano Bowguard case and it takes up a ton of room and doesn’t fit the bow with the quiver attached. It’s probably pointless buying a case that doesn’t really protect your bow though.

What’s the $200 sight you like? Spending less on a sight just means more agony sighting it in. I wish I hadn’t skimped on mine.

I have a 2012 PSE Brute X and it seems fine.

The 2013 Brute X was my second or third favorite new bow shot last year, I’d imagine the 2012 one is very similar.

As it turns out, you need a bow case and an arrow case, becasue the two don’t really mix well.  And it depends on what you’re protecting it from.

You reminded me in an earlier comment of the Montana Blackgold bow sights and I’m thinking of getting a custom sight form them.  .029″ green top pin followed by .019″ green, .019″ yellow, .010″ green, .010″ yellow.  But I’ll wait to make up my mind until after I get my string replaced.

I’m looking to gather all of the pictures of all of my bucks for one post, but I don’t have digital versions for each of them yet.

New pictures I have:

  1. Me, gun ’09
  2. cousin, bow, ’11

Deer Tim Gun 2009b

Deer Emily 2011 Bow 1


Outfitting a Hunter: Bow

In my continuing to list specific products to fill your minimum amount of hunting items, this post is about specific recommendations of the cheapest acceptable options.

The full list

I’m not going to bother with traditional bows becasue this is meant to help new hunters become successful hunting deer.  If you plan on using a traditional bow and expect to shoot a deer this year with it, then you are either delusional or you have no need for me to tell you what to get (a custom made for you recurve with a lower draw weight than you were planning).

Bear Grizzly Recurve – $339.99 – if you are too cheap to get a custom recurve, and if you go cheap with your weapon, then don’t expect success.

I’m not going to look at crossbows either.  I don’t like them.  I expect that many of you will hunt with them this year, but they are dangerous and a bit scary.  And they’re to heavy, and too loud, and so on.

Wicked Ridge Warrior HL – $449.99 – for the cheapest acceptable option.  I’m happy to answer questions that you may have, but if you spend less than $500 on a crossbow and get anything else, then don’t bother asking.

Cheapest, acceptable options for:

Compound Bow

Were this 6 months ago I would say: forget minimum price you need to get a PSE Brute X if you are not a woman or 12, and are not going to spend more than $400 for just the bow.  But that was last year’s model.  I’ve shot several of the 2014 PSE’s and…let’s look at some of the other brands.

2014 bows are still being introduced now (mid-February) and will continue to be released in the next few months so my specific bow recommendation will likely change in the coming months.

As far as I can tell the 2013 Bear Encounter ($300), which was the cheapest acceptable option last year is no longer available.

All this leaves us with the 2013 Diamond Infinite Edge as the only acceptable cheap bow you can get today (mid-February 2014).


The good news is that if you are a woman or a boy then this is undoubtedly the bow for you.  The bad news is, if you are a man, that this is a “youth bow”, although it will fit you.  The more important bad news is that this comes as a package, not just bow only.

A bow package is…mediocre…if you don’t know what accessories to add, but since you do know what accessories to add (I’m about to tell you) then the package includes things that you need to throw away.

2013 Diamond Infinite Edge Package – $349

List of new bows: Hunter’s Friend

Bow Sight

Loose the junk sight that comes with the Infinite Edge and buy a Trophy Ridge Fire Wire V3, $59.99.  (A V5 is pictured, but the three pin V3 will be better for having less clutter for a hunter.)


I’m likely to spend something like $200 for a new bow sight this year but this sight is not bad for $60.  Its much better than any bowsight I’ve seen sold on any bow package.

Trophy Ridge Fire Wire V3 – $59.99

Peep Sight

If we’re target shooting then you want the smallest peep to be as accurate as possible.  Since we’re hunting we want the largest peep to let as much light in as possible, which will allow us to shoot in low light conditions.

A 1/4″ peep hole, or bigger, will be best for hunting.

R.A.D Trio Peep Sight – $7.99



Whatever is on your bow package is fine, not great but fine. $0

Trophy Ridge 6-Shooter $34,99.


Whisker Biscuit Arrow Rest

Drop away rests are [maybe] more accurate, but for hunting, you want your arrow always ready and you do not want do deal with moving parts which may not move.  Even if this rest were $200 it would still be here becasue it is the only rest to have for deer hunting.

Whisker Biscuit – $39.99


Carbon Arrows

Carbon arrows should stay in the past.  Wood arrows look cool…or did you want straight arrows?

Cabela’s Stalker Extreme arrows are fine for you cheap beginners.  I get my Easton Axis special ordered with two pink and a white feather at about double the cost of these.  The Cabela’s Hunter arrows are a bit cheaper, $15, but the Stalker Extremes have half the straightness tolerance and should be quite a bit better for hardly any more money.

A half dozen is not enough, you’ll need at least 5 or six to use when the season begins and you’ll lose and break a few while practicing.

These arrows can be 55/70 or 65/80 If your draw weight is 55-70 pounds, then get the 55/70, and so on.

Get them measured and cut by someone who knows what he is doing.

Cabela’s Stalker Extreme – $84.99


Field Points

Assuming you got the Stalker Extreme (or Cabela’s Hunter arrows *eyeroll*) you’ll want field tips in 20/64″.  If you get some other arrows, you’ll want to make sure you get the right diameter field points.

Options for hunting deer are 100 grains or 125 grains.  Grains being a unit of measurement.  I don’t feel like looking it up, but one grain is something like 1/464 of an ounce.

125gr is heavier and makes more sense for shooting up to 30 yards and 100gr makes more sense past that.  Pick one and stick with it.

The filed point must match your broadhead.

Since I’m telling you what to do, let’s go with 125gr, not that it matters a whole lot.  Heavier will hit harder, which is better, and I’m assuming that most of you will not shoot past 30 yards for several years after taking up bowhunting.

Cabela’s 3-D Filed Points 20/64″ 125gr – $7.99


Fixed Blade Broadheads

Mechanical broadheads work some number less than 100% so screw ’em.

There are many you can try, but why mess with decades of success?  And something like the last seven bucks I’ve shot with a bow.

All broadhead packages cost about $40, but for a bonus, you’re getting six, not three, Muzzys in a package.

Muzzy 3-Blade Broadheads 125 gr – $38.99


Allen Wrench

Assuming you get your bow set up by a professional, the only thing you’ll need to deal with is the front sight.  As you shoot you will need to adjust it.  For that You need an Allen wrench, assuming you don’t have one already.

Easton Pro Allen Wrench – $13


Mechanical Release

You’ll shoot a lot better with a release.

You need a good one.

Tru-Fire Hurricane Extreme Buckle Release – $44.99


Bow Target

You need something to shoot at for practice, and cheap too.

Make sure you don’t get a youth target, because you’ll wear one out in a summer.

Morrell Target Yellow Jacket Field Point Target – $34.99


Bow Case

One may be legally required is some places.

Hard cases offer more protection, but cost more and take up a lot of space.

Timber Ridge 42: Soft Bow Case – $39.99



There are all sorts of other things that you can add, but you don’t need them.  You can also double the price of any of these items and get something better, but this is a list of the bow hunting items you need to have and at the cheapest acceptable price.

There are two more things that are useful.  A wrist sling (recommended) and a stabilizer (meh, but it’ll hold the wrist sling on).

Easton Wrist Sling – $10

Sims Stabilizer – $20

Keep in mind that if you are not a boy or a woman, I’ll likely recommend a new 2014 bow once a good one becomes available.  Not that the Infinite Edge is bad, but we can do a bit better.


Outfitting a Hunter (on the cheap):

Bow, sight, peep, quiver, Whisker Biscuit, arrows, field points, broadheads, wrench, release, target, case: $770 plus tax

That’s quite a bit, if the equivalent 2014 Bear Encounter package includes a good replacement for the 2013 Encounter, then we’re looking at $400 for the package plus arrows, field points, broadheads, wrench, release, target, case for a total of: $565 plus tax

Can you buy a used bow? And do well?     No.

Can you save around $20 off this list?     Sure?

Can you save $100 off of this list?     Only if you want junk.

How often does any of this need to be replaced?     A new bow every, say, seven years, a dozen more arrows every two or three years, and the rest will last until you break them, at least 5+ years.

Outfitting a Hunter: Accessories

I recently posted a list of all the things that you need to hunt whitetail deer.  Despite my fear that this off season is too equipment heavy for this blog, I plan on going through the list with specific recommendations.

For the purpose of this post, and the following ones, I shall assume that those of you interested have no equipment already and are looking for the least expensive option.  This shall not be a list of the cheapest possible options, but instead a list of the cheapest of the acceptable options.

The cheapest acceptable options to fulfill your minimum list of deer hunting needs.

Yes it is necessary.  No you cannot hunt from the ground and expect any sort of success.

Since we’re going for cheap we’ll need to make do with one stand only.  We’ll still want to hunt several spots so it needs to be a climbing treestand.

As far as I know, there are exactly two acceptable climbing treestands on the market today.  They are not cheap, but we only need one.  Bigger is better (so long as not too much weight is added) so the Lone Wolf Hand Climber Combo II is the selection.  (Is only $10 more than the Lone Wolf Assault Climber.)

Lone Wolf Hand Climber II – $379.99


Hunting Knife

I don’t think that I need to say why.

Fixed blades are stronger.  And a spare will often be valuable, because you do not want to cut meat that you are going to eat with a knife that you just used to remove the brain from the skull or the anus from the deer.

Rough Rider Heavy Hunter – $20



You’ll need to haul your weapon up the tree after you once you’ve climbed.  And there are always other uses.

I’m just going to throw an overestimated price at you because you can, no doubt, go to Wal-Mart and get any ol’ rope.  Get a 3/8″ rope at least 20 feet long, longer if you plan on climbing 20 feet up trees.  This thicker rope will tangle less than thinner ones.  It should be cloth, quiet, and who cares about the color.

Rope – $5

Gutting Gloves

Gutting goes much nicer with the gloves on.

The long orange gloves keep you clean-ish, and the white latex ones keep the orange gloves tight to your hands so you can hold your knife.

Hunter’s Specialties Filed Dressing Gloves – $2.99



Blood trailing a hit deer goes a lot easier with an even white light, so get a LED flashlight.  I’m not including batteries in my price.

Brighter lights would be better, but we’re going for cheap.  Who cares about the color?  It’ll be in your pocket most of the time and when its not you’ll want it easy to find when you drop it.

LED flashlight – $10


Go to Wal-Mart and buy a ball of twine for tying your carcass tag to your deer.

Twine – $3

Gun Safe or Gun Rack

You can lean one gun against the corner of your bedroom, but once you get your rifle and a muzzleloader, and another rifle, and another, and so on you’ll need to store them somewhere.

This is the first thing that came up on Amazon, and It will be fine for your first four guns.  But better would be better.

Evans Sports 4 Gun Wooden Rack – Unassembled – $35


My Book

Once you have all your stuff you’ll need to know what to do with it.  My book will be re-released shortly (hopefully with pictures) stay tuned.

Shoot Deer: A beginner’s guide to hunting whitetails by Tim McMahon – $10


Total cost of Outfitting a Hunter: Accessories (plus tax): $456

The List of Essential Deer Hunting Equipment

The only things that are really “essential” to deer hunting are: a weapon, ammunition for it, and the necessary licenses and /or permits.  But I thought that it would be useful to have a list of the minimum items that will leave you reasonably well prepared.

Thoughts on the list:

This is just a list.  Most items should have an obvious purpose, and I’ll not be pointing out why you should have them here.

Let me know in the comments if you would like specific advice on any particular item, otherwise I’ll detail the particulars in other posts.

This list was written with my Wisconsin weather and seasons (bow, muzzleloader, gun) in mind, if you live somewhere warmer, then you’ll obviously not need heavy boots or coats.  And so on for colder climates.  And so on for those of you who don’t plan on hunting with a muzzleloader.

And don’t forget whatever permits or whatever is required.


  1. Camouflage hat
  2. Camouflage facemask or face-paint
  3. Camouflage coat
  4. Camouflage pants
  5. Brown or camo light boots
  6. Brown or camo heavy boots
  7. Brown or camo light gloves (which will ideally fit inside the heavy gloves)
  8. Brown or camo heavy gloves
  9. Heavy Windshear sweater
  10. Wool socks
  11. Base layer (long underwear)
  12. Heavy hooded sweatshirt
  13. Back tag holder (depending on your license display laws)


  1. Rifle
  2. Bullets of the corresponding cartridge
  3. Riflescope
  4. Sling
  5. Cleaning rod
  6. Cleaning patches
  7. Oil for cleaning
  8. Gun case


  1. Slug gun (a standard shotgun without the interesting chokes can be okay but not as good)
  2. Appropriate slugs
  3. Riflescope (perhaps with a shotgun ballistics reticle)
  4. Sling
  5. Cleaning rod
  6. Cleaning patches
  7. Oil for cleaning
  8. Gun case


  1. Muzzlelader
  2. Appropriate bullets or saboted bullets
  3. Blackpowder or similar
  4. Shotshell primers
  5. Riflescope (perhaps with a shotgun ballistics reticle)
  6. Sling
  7. Cleaning rod
  8. Cleaning patches
  9. Oil for cleaning
  10. Even more cleaning patches
  11. Gun case

Compound bow:

  1. Compound bow
  2. Bow sight
  3. Peep sight
  4. Quiver
  5. Whisker Biscuit arrow rest
  6. Carbon arrows
  7. Field points
  8. Fixed blade broadheads
  9. Allen wrench (for adjusting the sight)
  10. Mechanical release
  11. Bow target
  12. Bow case


  1. Crossbow (most come with a ‘scope)
  2. Cocking rope (depending on the bow)
  3. Bolts
  4. Field tips
  5. Fixed blade broadheads
  6. Crossbow specific target
  7. Arrow puller
  8. Case

Traditional bow:

  1. Recurve or long bow
  2. Bow string
  3. Arrows
  4. Field points
  5. Bear Razorhead style broadheads
  6. Glove or tab
  7. Bow target
  8. Case

Hunting accessories:

  1. Treestand, at least one (it better be a climber if it is only going to be one)
  2. Hunting knife
  3. Rope for pulling weapon up to stand
  4. Gutting gloves
  5. Flashlight (LED preferred)
  6. String, to tie the license to the deer (depending on your laws)
  7. Gun safe or rack to store guns
  8. My forthcoming book

There are lots of other things that you could get, but the above are the things I say are essential.  Get good versions of all of these things before you start buying things like rangefinders.


4 Essential Pieces of Hunting Equipment

First I’ll point out that the title of this post is a cynical ploy to generate page views.

Next, for hunting deer, the only things that you “need” are: a weapon and bullets or arrows, or whatever, everything else is optional.  (Don’t forget licenses and permits and …)  If you want to do anything with a deer after you’ve shot it then you’ll need a knife too, but that really is it.

And there are, of course, infinite other things that can help you with deer, or make the event more enjoyable, but they are not absolutely necessary.

Instead of 4 essential pieces of hunting equipment, how about 4 pieces of equipment that you can easily do without, but are quite useful?

1. Hooeyman Tree Saw


I went years and years and years without a saw on a stick and did fine.  But my dad bought a Hooeyman last year and it seemed like I used it every time I went out in the woods.  Instead of needing to cut down whole branches or whole small trees to clear lanes to shoot from, with a tree saw you can selectively trim just the branches that you need to.

Don’t bother with the five foot model, the ten foot one will be way more useful.  The fact that it is collapsible is great and the removable saw part is even useful for cutting small nearby branches.

I went years without a tree saw, on a stick, but now that I’ve used one I doubt that I’ll ever not have one.

2. Heavy Hooded Sweatshirt


Before wearing a heavy hooded sweatshirt in the cold, I spent years in the woods trying to make my neck as short as possible.  It is extremely difficult for a hat and a normal coat collar to cover your neck.

A coat’s hood is almost always just in the way.  They add bulk, they collect rain and debris, if they dis attach they have potentially noisy metal zippers, they are also likely to be waaaay to thick to hear anything through.

A heavy hooded sweatshirt is great, though.  You get an added layer of clothing, a hood that is less bulky, protection for you when its windy and none when its unnecessary, you get a warm item to wear when you want to remove your camo to field dress deer.  And if your hoodie gets dirty, then you won’t be washing away the colors on your camo, and on, and on.

Buy the thickest one you can find.  Get one a size or two too big.  Don’t get one with zippers or buttons because those things can make noise or catch on things and get stuck.  Acceptable colors are: brown, black, dark grey, and dark green.  Shirts with logos are unnecessary, add unwanted color, and probably cost more.

3. Ramrod Extender

ramrodLoading a muzzle loader requires you to remove the ramrod from beneath the barrel, turn it around and push the bullet, or whatever, and power all the way down the barrel.  You can use the one that came with your gun just fine.  However, ramrods are generally a bit shorter than the barrel so that they do not stick out past the muzzle.  This means that once you’ve pushed the bullet and powder down the barrel the ramrod may end up flush with the muzzle.  And pushing on the ramrod can hurt you hand a bit too.

An added handle and longer ramrod can make loading your muzzle loader a fair bit easier.

4. LED Flashlight


A flashlight is about as essential as it gets for safety reasons.  Its also useful for finding your way way around in the dark on a regular basis.  (Although I try to avoid using one in order to be more stealthy.)

When you shoot a deer with a bow, and sometimes with a gun, you’ll need to follow the drops of blood it leaves as it runs away.  That blood is hard to see during the day, but once it starts getting dark out the artificial light you provide will make the wet blood shine against its dull natural surroundings.

Normal flashlights give off a yellow uneven light.  LED flashlights give off a very consistent white light that makes finding blood an awful lot easier.

Whitetail vs Mule Deer

Whitetail Deer:


Location of whitetail deer (source):


Where the biggest bucks have been shot (in the lower 48):


Mule Deer (source for this pic plus following maps):


Location of Mule Deer varieties:


Differences to note:

  • Central/ Eastern N. America for whitetails
  • Western N. America for mule deer
  • Mule deer are more grey
  • Whitetails are more brown
  • Mule deer have bigger ears
  • Mule deer have greyish/ black foreheads
  • Whitetails have brown foreheads
  • [Typical] whitetails have straight G-2s
  • Mule deer have bifurcated G-2s
  • Mule deer grow no or small brow tines (between the ears)
  • Whitetails grow long, or relatively long, browtines



Mule (Source):odochemi


A Book Review: Shoot Deer

My book was reviewed by Free Northerner on his blog.

I’d like to point out that I was unhappy with the editing of it and I’ve had it edited by someone other than me.  I am in the midst of making some changes, and adding pictures.  I am particularly reworking the chapters on public land, rifles, muzzleloaders, and how to shoot a bow.

I would recommend waiting to buy my book until I re-release it.

Let me know in the comments if you have any questions, or would like to have your pictures posted.