There are many subtleties to the art of crossbow shooting. Novices and those with experience would do well to review this checklist of tips for safe and accurate shooting: Do you know the proper draw weight? Are you familiar with proper arrow trajectory? Can you identify your maximum effective shooting range? Taking the time now to properly learn about your gear can make you unstoppable during the hunt.
For starters, here’s tip 1: Buy the best you can afford:
There’s a big difference between an el cheapo, bargain-basement crossbow and a top-of-the-line model. Sure, the bargain model costs a lot less, but it will not be built as well, be as accurate or reliable, and sooner or later it will fail you when the moment of truth arrives. You can buy crossbow packages that include everything you need to get out shooting and hunting—crossbow, a few arrows and arrow points, a scope sight, cocking device and quiver—from anywhere between about $800 to $1,500.
As in all things in life, here you get what you pay for. Spend a few more dollars and get the best you can. You’ll never be sorry.
Photos: Beckett Crossbows
New York fisherman Rick Beauchamp set the state record for brook trout after snagging a six-pound, 22.5-inch brook trout in Silver Lake in Hamilton County in the Adirondack’s Silver Lake Wilderness. The trout, caught on May 16, broke the record set last year by two ounces.
The Department of Environmental Conservation also sees this as a win for the organization, touting the state’s NY Open for Hunting and Fishing Initiative as a way to encourage residents to enjoy the state’s natural resources. The catch also represents another win:
The brook trout is not only a success for Mr. Beauchamp, it also reflects the ongoing recovery of Adirondack lakes from the effects of acid rain. Until a few years ago, Silver Lake was too acidified to support a trout population. In 1969 the lake was determined to be fishless and in 1976 it had a pH of 5.0 which is too acidic for brook trout to thrive. After water chemistry samples indicated the pH of lake had risen to almost 6.0, DEC began an experimental stocking program for brook trout in 2002. Currently DEC stocks Windfall strain native brook trout in Silver Lake and brook trout are the only fish species known to be present.
Mr. Beauchamp submitted details of his winning catch as part of DEC’s Angler Achievement Awards Program. Through this program, anglers can enter freshwater fish that meet specific qualifying criteria and receive official recognition of their catch and a distinctive lapel pin commemorating their achievement. The three categories that make up the program are: Catch & Release, Annual Award and State Record.
Photos: Eat More Brook Trout (top); Fly Fishing 247 (above)
Jason Leon made the news recently when he caught and killed an 18-foot, 8-inch Burmese python in Florida. Leon, who once owned Burmese pythons, said he wishes he could have kept the 128-pound snake he pulled from bushes alongside a road and then killed with a knife, but now he has the next-best thing: the record-setting snakeskin.
Wildlife officials have returned a roughly 18-foot-long snakeskin to Leon. The snake’s skeleton is being preserved by University of Florida researchers.
Leon tells WSVN-TV that he plans to have the snakeskin preserved so that he can mount it on a wall. He says he’s awed by its colors.
“Look at the pattern on that snake,” he said. “I see God’s creation, I guess, an artist.”
Burmese pythons are considered an invasive species in Florida. Leon reported his find to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Photo: Jason Leon/Tampa Bay Times
Did you know that three inches of eye relief at a scope’s highest magnification is ideal for most big-game hunting rifles? Measure the distance between your eye and the scope’s ocular lens; three inches’ distance is the sweet spot. Outdoor Life Editor Andrew McKean offers his reasoning in this video.
There’s nothing like the true field-to-table experience of catching and then eating your own fish. With just a few steps, you can filet your fresh catch and ready it for dinner or put it in your freezer for later. Cindy Haenel, a chef instructor at the Central Market Cooking School, demonstrates how to filet fish from start to finish.
Photo by: Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries
National Fishing and Boating Week, a national celebration of fishing and boating, lasts from June 1 to June 9, 2013. There’s no better time to get outside and enjoy the water. It’s also a prime time to enjoy one of the nation’s many free fishing days or weeks, to plan a family fishing trip, or to mentor a young aspiring angler. Take Me Fishing provides tips to celebrate National Fishing and Boating Week, and state-by-state lists of events.
“National Fishing and Boating Week highlights the importance of recreational boating and fishing in enhancing peoples’ quality of life and preserving our country’s natural beauty. The best way to celebrate National Fishing and Boating Week is to get out on the water! Fun, stress-relieving activities, fishing and boating are some of the best ways to unwind.”
Check with your state’s natural resources department for official licensing and boating regulations.
Photo by: Take Me Fishing
When choosing an archery release, the most expensive options aren’t necessarily the best. There are features to consider besides price, including length adjustment, an upgraded strap, and trigger-pressure adjustment. But first consider whether you want a hand-held or wrist model. Steve Tentler, owner of Tru-Fire, a Wisconsin-based archery accessories company, says both models have their benefits, and tells how to choose the best archery release for you.
“Handheld releases are great for the person who tree stand hunts since you can usually leave the release attached to the loop of the bow. The downside is the possibility of losing the release since it’s not attached to the wrist. For spot and stalk situations, a hand held release can sometimes be a hindrance especially if it’s in your hand and at the same time you are trying to make your way up or down a hill grabbing whatever is close to ‘keep you vertical.’
“In my opinion handheld releases are slightly more difficult to draw a bow back verses a wrist model. This becomes even more obvious the more clothes you have on, especially in the later seasons. Wrist models, which are the most popular, are a great option since the bow’s draw weight is distributed around the wrist which seems to make the draw cycle have less effort than a hand held.”
Photo by: Realtree
June marks the beginning of summer and also the end of high school for millions of students worldwide. It’s a point where decisions are made about whether to go to work or attend college, and what to study in college, if that’s the route you choose. It can be difficult to choose a job you think you’ll enjoy doing until you reach retirement age. If you’ve ever considered that deer hunting could be more than a hobby for you, Brian Grossman has helpful advice regarding career paths for deer hunters.
“If you have ever dreamed of turning your passion for deer hunting and management into a career, then I am here to encourage you to pursue that dream… or at least give it serious consideration. There are a variety of wildlife careers out there, depending on your current interests, education and skill set. While these careers may carry a variety of job titles, most of them can be lumped into two broad categories: wildlife technicians and wildlife biologists.”
Grossman goes on to explain the qualifications needed for both job types, and other helpful tips. Read the full story.
Photo by: Department of Natural Resources of Michigan State University
With National Fishing and Boating Week right around the corner (June 1–June 9), now is a good time to tune up your vessel and plan a fishing trip. If you’re mentoring a new angler or are a novice yourself, Andy Whitcomb offers five tips for learning to cast from a boat.
“One of the great parts of fishing from a boat is that you are going closer to the fish. Sometimes, you may even find yourself directly over fish. Long, forceful casts may not be necessary. A stealthy approach will be helpful too. Save the loud voices for the celebratory “Yee-ha!” for after landing that big one.”
Photo by: Take Me Fishing
Spring has arrived, and there are plenty of reasons to enjoy the outdoors. Take a hike, cast a line, or pitch a tent, but whatever you do, be sure you don’t disturb young wildlife. If you encounter young wildlife while enjoying the outdoors, you may want to help or “save” it somehow. But Calvin W. DuBrock, who directs the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s Bureau of Wildlife Management, encourages all outdoor enthusiasts to leave young wildlife alone.
“Rest assured that in most cases, the young animal is not an orphan or abandoned and the best thing you can do is to leave it alone. While it may appear as if the adults are abandoning their young, in reality, this is just the animal using its natural instincts to protect its young. Also, young animals often have camouflaging color patterns to avoid being detected by predators.”
DuBrock noted adult animals often leave their young while the adults forage for food. Also, wildlife often relies on a natural defensive tactic called the “hider strategy,” where young animals will remain motionless and “hide” in surrounding cover while adults draw the attention of potential predators or other intruders away from their young.
Photo by: Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife