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.

Field & Stream’s Archery Myths

Somebody on archerytalk scanned and posted an article Field & Stream had last July on odd archery theories.  It is one of the most interesting things I’ve read, in a magazine, in a while.

(You’d think a company like F&S would want to make their stuff, like, available, but apparently they want you to buy the old stuff instead.  No doubt they’ve tried a paywall for their website.  Pro-tip: rather than putting up a paywall, why not just delete your website?  You save hosting, etc costs and the same number of people will have looked at it.)

(And if F&S wants to complain about me “stealing” their “intellectual property” to post here, I’ll say: 1. if you hadn’t discovered this you wouldn’t know that anything was missing 2. I am bringing attention to an excellent article that your magazine published. The following is free advertising for F&S.)



For some reason page 3 cannot be copied here. Summary: Whisker Biscuits are slightly slower than drop-away rests, but similarly accurate. Stabilizers may or may not improve accuracy, depending on you and your bow.





This is one of the most interesting things I’ve read in a magazine. And surprisingly, very surprisingly, I agree with nearly all of their conclusions.

As ever, the moral of the story is that you are unique and different (just like everyone else) and so you should try different things to see what works best for you.

Bow Sight Brightness

Many times you will need to be able to see in very low light in order to make a successful shot at a deer.  In these cases every extra minute of time that you get at dawn and dusk is worth some money.  The differences in the quality of optics (binoculars, riflescopes, etc) isn’t always obvious during the day, but better optics give you more minutes of shooting light.

With optics going up in quality (and therefore brightness) is almost as easy as going up in price.

Bow sights aren’t that easy to judge for quality (and brightness).  Almost every new bow sight today is of sufficient quality to do things like target shoot and hunt throughout the light hours of the day.  And if deer always came out during the day, then any ol’ sight would be fine.  But since we know that dawn and dusk are a deer’s most active times of the day, then every extra minute of light that you get is invaluable.   Otherwise you’ll be missing out on deer that you could’ve gotten.

There are two ways to get more brightness in modern bow sights: more fiber optics or artificial light.

The artificial light comes from a small battery and a small light illuminating the sight pins.  The cheaper options are just a small light stuck on the side of the sight.  (Twist to turn on/off.)  These light up the whole inside of the sight ring and are therefore less than ideal.


The cleverer lighted sights place the light so that they only illuminate the ends of the fiber optic pins.  You can get these for as little as $50.  (The light is behind the bottom lump on the sight pictured below.)

outlaw sight

Those lighted sights are much better than the slightly cheaper versions, but lighted sights still have problems keeping them less than ideal.

The first problem is that you need to turn them on.  As in, “wait a minute deer.  Give me a second to turn my sight on.  Okay, time in.”  This can be somewhat avoided by turning your sight on whenever you become aware of any deer and turn it off when you know you don’t want to shoot it.  (Or just leave it on and burn through batteries.)

The more important problem with illuminated sights is that they can be too bright and cover everything past them.  The haze around too bright of a glow can mean that you cannot see past the sight.

Better than having an artificial light is having lots of fiberoptic cable all over the sight.  Sights that merely have an inch or three of fiber optics will not gather as much light as a sight that has its fiber optics wrapped around it somewhere.

The sight I use is from Toxonics, which may or may not still be in business.  (Their website still works though.)


My sight is in black; only idiots pay more to get things in camo when it is not necessary.  Or maybe turkey hunters need all the camo they can get?

I can tell that there are a few places where my sight’s fiber optics are broken, with age.  Where they are broken means I’m not losing much brightness, but I am losing everything past the breaks.

So more fiber optics is best and you may need to replace them in a few years as it ages.

One thing to look out for in sights is to avoid the sights that have lots of fiber optics but for some unfathomable reason encase them in clear tubes.  Those tubes reduce the amount of light that gets to the sight and leaves it dimmer than it would be without the tubes.

spot hogg

So I’m now researching mainly Trophy Ridge bow sights.  I may go with a 5 pin version this time, for maybe 70 yard shooting, but only if the top pin is as bright as possible.  I may also consider the Trophy Ridge Alpha 1 with 14 inches of fiber optics.  Because my number one pin needs to be as bright as possible.

Sight/ Nock Colors

Modern bow sights are brighter than they used to be becasue they all now use fiber optics.  Sights are brighter with longer lengths of the fibers leading to the sights or with the addition of artificial light sources.  And there is a third way to affect the brightness of these sights: color.


If you look at most bow sights you will see that the different pins are of different colors.  As you can, maybe, see from the pictured sight there are three pins with three different colors.  There are two things to note with this.

Firstly different pins lead to ease of pin selection.  If you had three pins of all the same color you may well select the wrong pin when you go to shoot.  With different pins you can remember that the green pin is for 20 yard, the yellow for 30 yards, and the red pin for forty. for example.  Less confusion.

I have seen five pin sights with two green on top and two green on the bottom, with a red in the middle.  It may be worth avoiding those becasue you may well use the wrong pin when the pin selection is critical.

The second thing to take note of is that the different colors will be of varying brightness.  As the day gets brighter or darker at dawn and dusk different colors will appear differently.  Those of you who fish may well know things like dark red is basically the same as black when the water is very dark.

Imagine hunting in the evening.  Early in the hunt it is bright out and you can see for hundreds of yards.  as the night grows closer you can see fewer and fewer yards away, until it is too dark to see your hand in front of your face.  As this is occurring you can see all pin colors at the beginning of the hunt, and as it gets darker you will first lose the red pin to the night.  Theoretically this is the point when it is too dark to shoot safely out to forty yards, or wherever you have your bottom pin set to.

As it grows darker yet, the yellow pin will disappear.  And, theoretically, it is at this point when it is too dark to shoot safely out to thirty yards, or wherever you have you second sight set to.

And finally your green pin will stay visible longer into the night than the others, and when you can no longer see your pin it is too dark to shoot.

Two points of note:

  1. Your hunt may end earlier than your green pin disappears becasue your peep sight will only allow so much light through and it may well become black before your pins disappear
  2. Keep in mind your legal shooting hours

I have never seen a bow sight without a green pin on top, nor a single pin sight that was not green.  (Maybe I have seen a single red sight.)

This color difference may affect you particularly if you are left handed.  Many reversible bow sights just flip the sight over, this is fine except you do not want your top pin red and bottom pin green.  Otherwise you will end up with a situation where you cannot see your twenty yard pin, can see your forty yard pin, cannot see out forty yards, and can see out twenty yards.  If you are a lefty, you want a sight that has the green pin on top.

This color difference should also influence your illuminated nock choice.  You don’t have much choice with sights as nearly all are green, yellow, red when going top to bottom, but illuminated nocks come in multiple colors.

Nockturnal illuminated nocks are the way to go.  They come in four colors: red, pink, blue, and green.  Pink is only used by girls who want all pink, and while I don’t like girls who don’t like pink, you girl hunters should pick what is best not what is the “best” color.  And pink is not the brightest illuminated nock.

For some reason, they say its becasue they think they can see red better against foliage, red is far and away the best selling color.  However if you have ever looked at your bow sight as I have, and have described above, you’ll know that red is easily the dimmest in low light.

That leaves blue and green.  I may need to buy a pack of each to see which is better in low light, but until then green is the way to go.

I say green with my 20/20 eyes, and my dad says green with his less than 20/20 colorblind eyes.  Green is the way to go.

One final note:

It surprises me how few hunters notice things like their bow sights despite, supposedly, hunting a lot.  If you aren’t noticing things like this, then you are either missing things which can cost you deer, or you don’t hunt enough.

If you don’t have all the numbers and letters on your bow and gun memorized by the end of the season, then you haven’t hunted enough.

Arrow Selection

I’ve already pointed out that you want to buy a new bow, not a used one. To go with that bow you will need arrows.

Just before writing that post I discovered a website that has done a very good job of describing compound bows. That website also does a good job describing arrows and their differences.

Hunter’s Friend: Arrow Selection Guide

Rather than doing a worse job of it here, I suggest that you go read that.

For those of you who want the short version:

  • Have someone who knows what he is doing measure your arrows for you. Take your bow to a shop and have them measure you and your bow for a proper fit. At least the first time.
  • “Most carbon arrows are advertised to have a specific straightness tolerance between .001″ and .006″. The straighter the arrow, the more expensive they will typically be. Before we get too deep into this topic, it’s worth noting that there doesn’t seem to be an accepted universal method for HOW arrow straightness is measured.”
  • “For the purposes of big game hunting and general target use, standard-grade shafts are more than adequate.”
  • “While a carbon arrow’s advertised specs may be no straighter than a typical aluminum shaft, carbon arrows resist distorting and “bending out of shape” much better than aluminum arrows.”
  • “But the fact is, lighter arrows fly faster with less loss of trajectory. A faster arrow won’t necessarily penetrate better, but it will make it to the target more quickly.”
  • “Shooting an arrow that is too light can be dangerous, both to you and your expensive compound bow. Shooting an underweight arrow has a similar effect as dry-firing your bow. Without sufficient arrow weight, the string and limbs of your compound bow move too quickly and violently.”
  • “But when that same arrow is in motion, it’s stiffness is a matter of dynamic spine – which adds more ingredients into our consideration pot. So pay attention. This gets a little tricky.”
  • “Every arrow should have a tip.”
  • “Some arrow manufacturers have very complex charts that take many variables into account. But other arrow manufacturers offer a more simplified chart with an arbitrary number system, like the sample chart on the right which just references draw weight and arrow length.”
  • “We strongly suggest you choose fletching that will yield more accuracy rather than more speed, especially if you’re a bowhunter.”
  • “Right or wrong, speed is a major consideration for most archers.”
  • “With all other variables constant, your bow will have more knock-down power when shooting heavier arrows.”
  • ” In the field you’ll encounter unpredictable and complex variables that limit any mathematical model to just a “best guess.””

I happen to shoot Easton Axis arrows.  I’m of the opinion that there are some things that you don’t want cheap versions of.  Cheap razors for your face, cheap tires, and cheap arrows are not things that you want to  deal with.

So its Easton Axis arrows with feathers (2 pink one white) special ordered from Easton for me.

Illuminated Nocks

Many bowhunters have begun using illuminated nocks.  An illuminated nock gives you a better shot at finding a fired arrow, gives you a better shot at finding a hit deer (if the arrow stays in), and you can see the arrow in flight better than you can without an illuminated nock.

Jeff at has written a review of the Nocturnal illuminated nocks.  (I swiped a picture of his.)


It seems that he has rated Nocturnal nocks at 9.3/10 which is high praise.  Rather than his overall score though, I am impressed with his 10/10 reliability rating.

I have not used an illuminated nock becasue I seriously dislike adding anything to my hunting setup.  More things means more things to go wrong.  I even deer hunted with a recurve for a year, not because I wanted to be more traditional or becasue I wanted more of a challenge but, because with a traditional bow there is only a bow, a string, an arrow, a broadhead, and me.  That is many fewer parts and many fewer parts to go wrong than you have on a compound bow.

Because of my part time job in a bow shop I have played with and fixed all sorts of things like nocks.  From everything that I have seen and done myself, I agree with Jeff that the Luminock is less reliable and more difficult to use.

There have been several customers who have been happy with Luminocks, but I’ve also heard (third-hand only) about people who are happy with *cringe* Barnett crossbows.

The Nockturnal is easier to use and is simpler to understand how it works, both are advantages.  Rather than repeat much of what Jeff has written, I’ll suggest that you read his review.

I do have a few additional points to add:

  • Get the right size nock (S, G, H, X, GT) for your arrow
  • You install them merely by pressing them in
  • Make sure that you line the new nock up correctly (same as the one you removed)
  • Nockturnals last for 20 “on” hours (or so they say) and then you get new ones, no new batteries
  • Nockturnals weigh 20 grain, s a random S nock that I weighed weighed 16 grains (a miniscule, but there, difference)
  • Buy green, not red, illuminated nocks (Read next Monday’s post for why)

Since these nocks have been tested my others (the best way to test stuff) and their reliability has been stellar (I have heard no complaints) I will likely try out some green Nockturnals this year.