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).

diamond_infinite_edge_650

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.)

v3

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

peep

Quiver

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

Trophy Ridge 6-Shooter $34,99.

6shoter

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

whiskerbiscuit

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

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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

point

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

muzzy

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

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Mechanical Release

You’ll shoot a lot better with a release.

You need a good one.

Tru-Fire Hurricane Extreme Buckle Release – $44.99

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

Buy a New Bow

Now, as the season winds down and ends, it is a good time to buy a bow. Much like new cars, new bows come out every year. In order for the sellers of bows to make room for the new bows they need to get rid of last year’s new bows. So these retailers will sell their overstocked bows at a discount around this time of year.

You and I don’t care if our new bow is a 2013 or a 2014 model. Some new bows from each year are good, and some are bad.

So, now is the time to buy a new bow.

Actually midway through the season was probably the best time to buy a new bow because midway though the season the retailers were already dropping their prices, and yet still had lots of bows to sell.

Around now, December, many bow models may well be sold out.

It may not be available anymore, but PSE’s Brute X is a good 2013 bow ($500). It weighed too much at 4.7 pounds, but it was excellent otherwise. If you can find one, I’d recommend it. (But do throw the sight and quiver that come with the package deal away and get better versions. The Whisker Biscuit, stabilizer, and wrist strap are good though.)

brute-650

In my brief time spent setting up bows in a bow shop, I’ve heard of two guys who shot bucks with bows that I set up. And I think that both were shot with Brute X bows. (I should have asked them to send me pictures to post here, but maybe I’ll hear of more.)

I did recently happen across an interesting website that discusses bows and how they are sold.

Hunter’s Friend

Their “Bow Selection Guide” is very informative and interesting. I suggest reading the whole thing.

I particularly enjoyed reading about the comparison between bow brands; starting with this:

YOU MAY BE UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF A MIND-ALTERING DEVICE: The archery industry is often plagued by a “better than your bow” mentality – as brand loyalty sometimes gets out of hand. Some bow manufacturers even seem to develop a cult-like following of shooters – who’ll openly malign any other brand of bows (just visit an online archery forum). This is unfortunate for beginning archers who’ll surely hear brand-biased advice, which may or may not be helpful (or accurate). Of course, this kind of brand bias is to be expected. In fact, the expensive process of training you to prefer one brand over another is precisely the point of most marketing campaigns.

In any case, you absolutely do not want to buy a used bow.

DO NOT BUY A USED COMPOUND BOW!

Every single used bow that I have seen to get worked on in the shop has been worse than my now 15 year old first bow.

Nearly all need new strings and cables ($120), many smell bad, many have issues, hardly any can be adjusted to fit the new owner.

“But the guy who sold it to me said that it was worth $300 and he sold it to me for $150! Isn’t that a great deal?”

Sure. But if you gave that bow to me I’d be happy to sell it for $20.

I don’t want a used, beat up, smelly, bow that does not, and will never fit me.

This past year you could have bought a Bear Encounter Package for less than $400. That cheap new bow is massively better than any ten year old bow, and still better than most five year old bows.

The only reason for which you should consider a used bow is if your best friend buys the newest bow each year and you get his last year’s model.

For any other reason, never buy a used bow. If you still want to consider doing so, may I suggest blowing that $150 on alcohol or something else instead?

Compound bows do not increase in value, their worth drops like a rock as they age. But you need a good bow and $400-$600 for just the bow, or a bow package that you’ll need to have some things replaced on will have you well sorted until you decide to buy another bow (5+ years).

The Best Rifle Cartridge for Deer

I recently read an article in a hunting magazine about what the best deer cartridge is.

There are essentially infinite rifle cartridges. I think I’m right in saying that every rifle cartridge is capable of knocking a deer over. But some are more appropriate than others.

A very small cartridge, like a .22 Long Rifle or .17 HMR, can kill a deer, but you will have no room for error. One of these small cartridges will not be as able to shoot through bones like bigger cartridges can.

Great big cartridges, like a .416 Rigby and .375 H&H, are also capable of killing deer, but the recoil and weight of the rifles make them too large to be suitable animals the size of deer.

The size of the deer will play a part in deciding the best rifle cartridge. Deer in warmer climates are smaller than deer in northern climes. The ideal bullet size will vary with the size of the deer.

The amount of cover the hunting occurs in will also affect the ideal bullet size. I’m told that a flat nosed bullet will go through brush better than pointed bullets, which are liable to be deflected by brush. Long distance shooting requires a bullet that is as aerodynamic as possible, and that means pointed bullets.

A rifle cartridge can’t be both big and small and both blunt and pointed, so no cartridge can be ideal in every situation.

But a cartridge can be ideal for many situations and good in others. I think that the best deer cartridge should be big enough to work on the heavier bodied Northern deer and flat shooting enough to work at long ranges. A cartridge big enough for big deer should be big enough for small deer. And a cartridge good at a long distance should be good at short distances.

The ideal cartridge should also be widely available so that you can buy more bullets wherever you go. And not so big that its recoil is excessive.

The magazine article I read decided that the .308 Win, .30-06 Sprg., and the .300 Win Mag are the top three deer cartridges. I’ve shot deer with all three, and the .300 Win Mag is a fine cartridge, but its size means that not many cartridges will fit in a gun, and its recoil is far more than is needed for whitetail deer.

I would suggest that the .308 Win, .30-06 Sprg., and the .270 Win are the three best deer cartridges. They are good at a distance, have been around for decades, are widely available, and are a good size for any whitetail.

That article finally decided that the .30-06 Sprg. is the best deer cartridge becasue it is the most widely available of the author’s top three. There is some merit in that argument. Anywhere in North America, and probably the world, will have .30-06 Sprg. cartridges available for sale.

Muzzleloaders

Shooting muzzleloaders can be fun.  In many states there is a dedicated muzzleloader deer season.  This was put in place so that hunters could claim that they are forced to use more traditional weapons, for more of a challenge.

Here in Wisconsin the muzzleloader rules have been relaxed.  You don’t need to unload your gun while traveling (just remove the primer) ‘scopes with magnification are allowed, etc.  This, with the advances in modern muzzleloaders, means that the only drawbacks for hunters using them is the slow second shot and the pain that they are to clean.

We now have nine days of a rifle, or shotgun, or pistol, or crossbow, or muzzleloader season, then the next seven days are a dedicated muzzleloader season.  This is an irritant.  Why not allow the use of whatever firearm during the firearm season.

Were I in charge of the regulations for the Wisconsin firearm deer seasons the first thing that I would do is combine the standard season with the muzzleloader season.

The way the rules work are just complex and seemingly designed to make following the rules as difficult as possible.

What’s the difference in hunting with a rifle, a shotgun, or a muzzleloader anyway?

If you are forced to hunt with a muzzleloader, or miss hunting days, then buy a very modern one (even those that are ten years old are much worse) and run a cleaning patch through after every shot.  They can be a big pain to clean after several shots.

In conclusion: our hunting regulations are stupid and hunting with muzzleloaders is more of a cleaning pain than a memory of a time when muzzleloaders were all that was available.