Submit your photo

Shooting lanes

by Matt Cheever 23. January 2012 10:11
Matt Cheever

There seems to be two distinct schools of thought when it comes to pruning shooting lanes, most gravitate to one end or the other with a few folks hovering in the middle.  On the one hand you have guys that don’t like to cut anything they don’t absolutely have to, in fact these extremist at times won’t cut a single limb and just rely on the deer to step through a tiny opening at the moment of truth. You can probably tell by my description this mindset doesn’t include me.
The other school of thought is to make sure you have a clear shot with reasonable shooting lanes in any possible area the deer could travel through. The obvious down side is you open yourself up more to be picked off and you disturb the deer’s living room at some point. I tend to lean more in this direction but am cautious as not to open things up too much and ruin a stand site.

The ramifications of too much or too little are huge.  If you film your hunts like I do, you need to consider camera angle and not having to focus through a lot of limbs to capture the image; if you take too many limbs it leaves a huge hole that lends itself nicely as a focal point for the deer’s line of sight.  You want at least three good shooting lanes, preferably one to each side at an angle to your stand and another one straight in front of you. I realize many like to have their stand on the back side of a tree for concealment but this makes it very difficult if not impossible to film your own hunts.

An extendable power chain saw is very effective when you have many limbs or larger limbs to do prune 

Where is the fine line between these two you may ask? I have an approach that may take advantage of the best of both words.  Take some time during the late Winter months while out hiking or shed hunting and do your heavy pruning; you know that one big limb 20 yards out 18 feet up that always seems to be between you and the deer, take out a pole chain saw, extendable hand saw or even a small hand saw that you can duck tape to a sapling and get that limb down.  Do your massive pruning directly after season if you have determined to keep that stand site. There are three benefits, one is having less of an impact on the deer you are hunting, two is you will open things up but allow new spring growth to come back in and camo up your area a bit; last but not least you are putting more tree buds on the ground for the deer to browse, why not do it when they need food the most?

Don’t be afraid to use a large saw for nuisance trees in the winter months as long as the land owner doesn’t mind.


Doing this late season pruning isn’t a catch all, you will still need to pop a few little twigs out of the way come late summer or fall, but it will be with minimal disturbance. Late summer is a great time to slide in there and take a hand saw and quietly snag a few nuisance limbs. The perfect tool for small touch up or public land pruning where chainsaws may not be allowed is the Hooyman extending saw. This model reaches around ten feet, or can be used as just a hand saw, and folds up small enough to take on each hunt if necessary

I don’t personally like climbing stands but if I did, this would be a must have tool

I find there is always that one little twig that seems to cause most of the problems, but I have eliminated that by toting this aluminum I beam framed saw along with me

Get out in the woods during late winter and don’t let that one little limb or big limb keep you from your trophy next fall. You will be amazed how your success rate goes up once you take out the limb factor excuse.  Remember to be safe when using saws in trees and always have a safety harness on.

Until next time, be safe and God bless
Matt Cheever 


Categories: Bowhunting Blogs

Shot Placement-The Key to Finding Your Deer

by John Mueller 30. November 2011 15:40
John Mueller

Every year the forums at have way too many threads like “I hit a deer and can’t find it, now what?” In my opinion, it’s too late now, in a lot of cases the work should have been done before the season actually started. I will say that bad shots can happen to anyone at any time, but a good share of the bad hits happen to those who haven’t prepared properly before ever taking the shot.

Rule #1: Know where to hit the animal you are hunting.

This would be considered a good hit. Do you know exactly where the heart is located in a deer?

I’ll wager a fair amount of money that a lot of bow hunters have never seen the inside of a deer or even studied the anatomy of the species they are hunting. This simple task could prevent many bad hits in itself. You have to know where to hit the animal to effectively kill it. If you don’t know EXACTLY where the vitals are located, how do you expect to make a quick clean kill? I guarantee a good number of bow hunters could not point to the exact location of the heart in a real deer’s body. And I promise you that most bow hunters would be off if they tried to draw the front leg and shoulder bones on a live deer. They are way forward compared to where most people think they are.

This should be required study material in any hunter education class.

Then put it to use on the real thing.

The area we all strive to place the arrow in is the heart/lung area. Put a razor sharp broadhead through there and you will watch a good number of your deer tip over. They can’t run very far with their lungs full of blood. And in my opinion it doesn’t matter what broadhead you send through the boiler room as long as it is sharp. Don’t get caught up in all of the hype of this head vs that head. Any legal, razor sharp broadhead will do the job as long as it is put in the right spot. The Indians used to kill them with sharp rocks.

The Indians used to kill deer with these.

I prefer these.

Rule #2: Only take high percentage shots.

How many times have you read or heard, “He was about to leave so I HAD TO TAKE THE SHOT”?      NO YOU DIDN”T!! If you wait the deer might offer you a better angle or a broadside shot before leaving. Plus, if the deer is nervous and about to leave, chances he are his vitals won’t be where they were by the time your arrow gets there anyhow resulting in a bad hit. I’ve hunted long enough and observed enough deer to know that shooting at a nervous deer is asking for trouble. Your bow is not fast enough to beat the reaction time of a nervous deer. They can drop and whirl before your arrow ever gets there. Even calm deer will usually have some kind of reaction at the shot. I have really noticed this a lot more since I have been filming my hunts. It’s kind of fun to play the arrow flight back and forth to see just how much the deer moves from the shot to impact.

Broadside and quartering away are the only ethical shots in most cases. These two offer the best chance at an unobstructed path to the heart/lung area. The ribs on the side of the deer offer little resistance to a well placed arrow. The frontal or quartering to shot can be deadly, but the vitals are much better protected from these angles by the shoulder bones and the front of the rib cage.

Rule #3: Hit where you aim.

You have to be able to put the arrow where it needs to be. This can only be done by practicing and then practicing some more. The time to sight in and tune your bow is not the night before opening morning. Bow hunting should be a year round undertaking. We all need to practice throughout the year to keep our muscles in shape and our equipment in tune. And when you practice, practice in hunting situations. Shoot from tree stands, or sitting in ground blinds, or kneeling if you will be stalking.

Make sure you know your own effective range. If you plan on shooting game out to 30 yards, make sure every arrow hits in the kill zone at that range. Then practice longer shots. This will make the shorter ones easier.

I’m not saying following all of these rules will eliminate all bad hits. There are way too many variables in the woods for that to be true. But if we plan ahead and know our game, equipment and our limitations, maybe we can eliminate a lot of those “What do I do now” threads.

May all your blood trails be short ones.


Will there EVER be a Cure for Buck Fever?

by Marshall Kaiser 30. July 2011 15:22
Marshall Kaiser

We’ve all been there, watching a nice buck, doe, gobbler, elk, or Muley come in and our heart feels like it’s going to spook the animal because it is pounding so loud.  Appendages may start to shake uncontrollably.  You may even find it difficult to draw your bow because your muscles have locked due to the epinephrine hormone that has been released in your body by the adrenal glands that are located on top of the kidneys. Epinephrine and Adrenaline is the same thing.  The key is to be able to control this rush and focus on the job at hand.  Yeah right…  A lot easier said than done.  The advice of don’t focus on the antlers, pick a small spot on the animal, look away for a brief moment, close your eyes to reset yourself, lower your draw weight so you can easily handle it when the situation is needed are all good bits of advice.  I personally don’t think there is a cure all for controlling the epinephrine when it comes to crunch time other than experience.  But even that is not a guarantee.  I am sure several pro’s face the same issues.  Every encounter is going to cause the adrenal glands to secrete different amounts of this potent hormone.  Quick encounters may let your conscious take over relying on your experience to quickly close the deal.  Watching a big bull elk makes its way through the timber for 30 minutes to find that mysterious cow that’s enticing him will cause an overflow of epinephrine giving you too much time to think about your next move. 

So what can be done to help matters in this situation?  The more practice shooting will definitely help, however putting your mental state of mind in that “fight or Flight” feeling is impossible.  The more a person thinks about this mysterious process the more we as hunters may not want to be able to control the situation.  I know everyone wants to be calm when that 200 inch whitetail shows up so we can make the perfect shot.  This is the very reason why bowhunting is so intriguing because we can’t control our emotions, heart rate, lack of blood flow to our skin, shortness of breath, and of course the ever popular lockage of the muscles to prevent drawing our bows.   Then there is the complete opposite, the overconfidence of imagining what the deer is going to look like above the fireplace, or how the steaks will taste, or which one of my buddies should I call first to start gloating over the animal that I am about to harvest.


I think if I ever lost that feeling of excitement, or the inability to control my patience I would wonder what I was doing in a treestand to begin with.  This to me is what bowhunting is all about.  For the past 30 years of hunting I have felt that rush of the adrenal glands pumping out epinephrine by the gallons from my first miss at a nice little 6 pointer when I was 12 to now when I see deer going about their business of wandering by my treestand.   I hope Scientist come up with a cure for cancer, HIV, and other fatal disease, but leave Buck Fever alone.  It needs no cure.  My favorite outdoorsman, Fred Eichler says “when confronted with a harvest possibility tell yourself it’s not going to happen.” Using negative reinforcement to trick your mind into thinking you are going to control the situation instead of the situation controlling you is the method Fred had learned from another great hunter by the name of Chuck Adams. 

Overall I think we all agree that getting a case of the “shakes” when the opportunity arises is one of the best feelings a bowhunter can have.  Without it we should second guess our reasons to enjoy what God has created for us.  After all that when God created Adam he put the Adrenal Glands there for this specific purpose.  Without them we wouldn’t have any excuses for all of our misses.




Ted Nugent Elected into National Bowhunters Hall of Fame

by Bow Staff 11. February 2009 14:58
Bow Staff

"Vegetarians are cool. All I eat are vegetarians - except for the occasional mountain lion steak.”

-Ted Nugent

Love him or hate him, no one bowhunter over the past quarter century has had more influence or impact on the American public than "Motor City Madman", Ted Nugent. His tireless accolades include award winning television shows, best selling books, countless charity work, and a rock n' roll career that has spanned the last 4 decades! An outspoken conservationist, the 60 year old Nuge has hunted with our presidents, spoken before our Senate, and fought alongside the NRA. Yes.. Ted has come a long way from the man who once shot flaming arrows into his concert-goers' seats. Today, the only thing Ted shoots is his signature bow and anybody who stands in his way and the way of the American ideal.

This past February 6th, 2009, Ted Nugent may have just received the greatest tribute of his life as he is inducted into The National Bowhunters Hall of Fame. The induction, which took place in Las Vegas, Nevada, was part of the National Field Archery Association's World Archery Festival at the famed Riviera Hotel. Ted is being honored for both his excellence in bowhunting and literary excellence. This acknowledgement is presented to him for his outstanding skills as an avid outdoorsman, and his tireless promotion of the sport of bowhunting through his many best-selling books and popular writings.

The staff at would first like to congratulate Ted on, what we think was, a well deserved induction. Although not without controversy, we know and thank you personally for some of the outstanding work you have done to keep our sport alive as others wish to devastate it. wants to know how you feel about Ted Nugent. Please respond below to tell us if you think he should have been elected into The National Bowhunters Hall of Fame. We want to know if you feel Ted helps or hurts the hunting community.


Categories: Bowhunting Blogs

Close Call With an Illinois Whitetail

by Justin Zarr 8. December 2008 12:40
Justin Zarr

For those of you who may have been following along in my blog this season, you know it's been a trying year for me.  It started off promising enough with a successful doe harvest on my third sit of the year and peaked around November 9th with one of the most exciting mornings I've ever had in the woods.  As Mike and I counted nearly a dozen bucks running around that morning, chasing does like crazy, I was feeling pretty good about my season.  Little did I know it was going to take a turn for the worse.

After we returned home to Northern Illinois from that trip, my spirits were still high and I was hoping to ambush one of the many bucks I had gotten trail camera pictures of all summer and fall.  Unfortunately for me over the course of the next month not only would I not see any of those bucks, but in over a dozen trips to stand I would only see 11 total deer, only one of which was within shooting range.  The year and a half old spike just wasn't what I was looking for, so I elected to contently watch him from my elevated perch as darkness fell on yet another Illinos bowhunt.

This is what a cold, unhappy bowhunter looks like during a frigid December bowhunt in Illinois.

With the late season upon us and rutting activity for all intents and purposes over, my focus turned once again to food sources.  I knew the deer would be concentrating on them now, and with the cold weather we've had and several inches of snow on the ground I figured now was a good time to try and capitalize on their hunger.  My plan was relatively simple - I knew the deer liked to feed in a hay field on the farm I hunt during the late season.  The past two years we've had numerous encounters with does headed to this field before dark but for some reason never any good bucks.  After analyzing the situation I figured that we were hunting too close to the field and only catching the deer who were brave enough, or dumb enough, to show themselves before dark.  The bigger bucks that we are after were probably hanging back in the woods a few hundred yards and waiting for night to fall before entering the fields.  So I hung a stand about 300-400 yards off the field, adjacent to the nearest heavy cover that we know serves as a late season bedding area.

Sunday December 7th brought temperatures in the teens with a slight South wind, which was nearly perfect for my new setup.  I snuck into my stand ever so quietly over the snow covered ground, slipped into my bibs and heavy coat at the base of my tree, climbed up and got settled for the night.  If you're like me and don't like hunting the cold because your feet get frozen quickly, I highly recommend checking out the ThermalFeet boot warmers.  I've been wearing them for the past three seasons and LOVE these things.  You put a disposable hand warmer into the pocket on the ThermalFeet cover, then slip it over the outside of your boot and they keep your toes toasty warm all night.  I hunted for nearly three hours and my toes never even came close to getting cold.  Love these things!!!  Check them out right here at, they make great stocking stuffers and we're giving away a free set of hand warmers with every purchase.

ThermalFeet - the greatest things ever when it comes to cold weather hunting!!

In any case, I got settled into my stand around 2:30 and began the wait.  Around 3:45 I spotted my first deer making its way through the woods toward my stand.  At first glance it appeared to be a doe, but after futher inspection I found it to be a young buck with 2" spikes.  Although he would quality as an antlerless deer since his antlers were under 3" long, I elected to let him walk and took some photos of him as he passed by, right through my shooting lanes as I had hoped.

This 1 1/2 year old buck made his way right by my stand, just as I had hoped.  Too bad he wasn't bigger!

Shortly after the small buck left the first of 9 does that I would spot that evening showed up directly downwind of me.  The three does were headed the opposite direction that I thought they would come, and although they could smell me and knew something was wrong they never spooked.  In fact, they hung out about 40 yards in front of my stand pretty much all night.  Later on 4 more does approached from the South and were headed towards my stand, down a path that would lead them to my right.  I grabbed my bow off the hook, clipped my release on, and waited for them to head my way. 

As fate would have it, the 4 does hung up about 18 yards behind my stand, milling around and generally just teasing me because I couldn't shoot them.  As darkness approached my hands started to grow cold so I moved my body entirely around and was able to sandwich my bow between myself and the tree, so I could put my hands in my pockets to warm them up for a minute.  About this time I heard something directly behind me in the woods.  I thought perhaps the three does that were to the North of me finally made their way into the woods so I turned my head around only to see the big 10 pointer I have been chasing all year standing only 8 yards way, in my shoting lane, broadside, feeding on some underbrush!

I couldn't believe it.  All night I had been so careful to not let any deer sneak up behind me in the snow but my preoccupation with these does had gotten the best of me and there he was, right in the open!  With my bow in my hand and my release already clipped on all I had to do was turn around to get a clear shot at him.  As I made my rotation in my stand, once again Murphy's Law struck and somehow, someway I managed to rub the cable on my treestand the wrong way which made the slightest "twang", which was enough to send my dreams of this buck's rack on my wall up in smoke.  The 3 1/2 year old buck looked straight up at me, skylined against the sky, bobbed his head once to get a better angle, and headed back the way he had come with another buck in tow.

The buck that got away - I call this guy "The Sheriff".  Much like the Sherrif of Nottingham was Robin Hood's arch nemesis, he is now mine! By the way - this photo was taken about 80 yards from where I had my encounter with this buck.  It was taken shortly after darkness fell, which lead me to belive the buck was bedding nearby and exiting the safety of his bedroom after dark.  I hoped the cold weather would bring him out during daylight, which it did.  I just couldn't capitalize on his mistake.

My spirits sunk and I seriously was about 1/2 second away from tossing my bow right out of the tree and calling it quits for the year.  I had let my guard down for a minute to worry about shooting a doe, and the one buck I had set out for that night got close enough to me that I could've spit on his back, all without me knowing it.  Even as I type this my bowhunting heart breaks just thinking about it.  So close!

The view from my stand in the direction the buck approached.  As you can see, I can see for quite a ways which means he was probably there for quite awhile without me ever realizing it!!  When I finally saw the buck he was at the very bottom of this photo, in the small clearing in front of the tree you can see I had cut down two weeks earlier.  That close!!

So with all of that said, despite my awful season persistance finally paid off with a great night in stand and an encounter with a buck that I will no doubt continue to hunt for this year, and into next year if I have to.  Unfortunately I have some committments during January that are going to keep me out of the woods after the New Year which means I have exactly three weekends left to seal the deal on a buck or it's tag soup for this guy!  This coming weekend I'll be heading back down to our lease in Brown County to try and connect on one of the bucks I saw during our November trip, then I'll be home for a weekend before one last ditch effort after Christmas back at the lease.  I'm pretty much done relying on luck at this point, since I apparently have none of it!  So it's going to be some good old-fashioned scouting and deer hunting know-how that's going to get it done for me if I'm going to be successful.  Screw luck anyways!

What Happened to This Years Rut?

by John Mueller 19. November 2008 13:45
John Mueller

This has been one of the strangest years for the rut that I can remember. It seems like I have been seeing bucks chasing does for the last month. But never did see that frenzied few days when if a doe walked by, there were 4 or 5 bucks dogging her. Or you drive past an open field and there were deer chasing one another all over it. This usually happens around the 10th of November. Almost everyone I talk to has a similar story this year. Not really sure of the reason, but I have a few theories.


My first theory has to do with the amount of standing corn still in the fields. With all of the rain we had this spring and early summer the farmers got the corn in really late this year. Especially in the creek bottoms near my farm, it was just too wet to get on the ground to plant. That made the harvest really late and we have had a wet fall too. So there are thousands of acres of unpicked corn in the bottoms around my hunting property. This allows the deer to hide in the corn and the only reason they need to leave it is to get a drink. They have all the cover they need and food is everywhere around them. Much of the breeding may have taken place right in the corn fields where the does were living, and we never would have seen it.


My second theory has to do with the weather. I started seeing bucks chasing does during a cold snap on the weekend of Oct. 25th. I think the cold weather really got the bucks moving and in the mood. But then after a few days it warmed up again to near 80* temps. This shut down a lot of the activity or moved it until after dark when it was a little cooler. My buck sightings really took a hit after the weather warmed up. Then we had another cold snap, but along with the colder temps came very strong winds. The wind blew for many days in a row without letting up. I believe the deer head for heavy cover during strong winds because their defenses are somewhat useless during windy days. Everything in the woods is moving, making it hard for them to pick out danger with their eyes. Their hearing is not what it would be in a still woods. And they cannot trust their noses with the swirling winds. So where do they go? Back to the corn fields. 


I also feel this weather stretched out the breeding longer than it normally would have been, eliminating the frenzied chasing of the peak of the breeding period. Some of the does may have come into estrous during the first cold snap and got bred then. Then a few were still coming in during the warm weather, but most of the chasing and activity was going on at night, when the temps. were cooler and more comfortable for the does. Then another round of does came into heat during the second cold snap, but since it was so windy those days, most of the activity took place in very thick cover or in the standing corn.


Now don’t get me wrong, I did see rut activity. Just not the kind I am used to seeing in that area. This year there would be one buck chasing a doe or a small buck in the food plot checking them out by himself. Heck I would even see does in the food plots for long periods of time without a buck even coming to check them out. There is usually a few days where the deer are running around all day long chasing and breeding, and packs of bucks chasing the hot does. I hunted a lot of days the past few weeks and it just did not happen.


Pine Ridge Archery Competes in Campbells 2008

by Todd Graf 4. November 2008 14:03
Todd Graf

I have been hunting the last 4 days with Jim Broberg, owner of Pine Ridge Archery, in Jo Davies county. Jim's home is near a new piece of property that I have been hunting so it was hard to say no when Jim asked me to stay at his camp. We have all been hunting hard the last week, but with this warm front it seems to really have shut these deer down. I guess we'll just have to wait a few days until the weather changes which are right around the corner. Marie's wife had some really good meals all prepared and the accommodations were perfect.

While I was in camp I asked Jim and Brian why they were not competing in the challenge this year and here was their response:  “This year, we made a shift in who is competing for the title in the Campbell Outdoor Challenge.  Instead of us, Team Pine Ridge Archery is being represented by two other Team Pine Ridge regulars, Scott and David Bakken.  Scott will be the cameraman while his brother David will be drawing a bead for the team.  Both of them are great hunters and worthy camera operators, but with Scott scoring on his largest buck ever on WI opening day he gave the reins to his brother David for the competition. Needless to say, we are all hoping that Scott and David "Team Pine Ridge" would pull off a win at the Campbell's Outdoor Challenge. We got some exciting news when they arrived in camp on Sunday as they took 2nd place. The boys were able to harvest a 164 inch buck on the last morning of the Challenge to pull out of 5th place into 2nd.

Congratulations Guys!

Last year Justin from Team won the challenge and has just arrived in camp to protect the title. For those of you who don’t know what the Campbell’s Challenge is here is an expert from there site:

The Campbell Outdoor Challenge features team competitions in “The Sport of Filming Hunts” and is open to anyone wanting to compete, regardless of age or experience level. Teams are awarded points based upon required video footage and the maturity of the animal filmed during the hunt. All outdoor challenge events are for wild, free-ranging game and hunts being filmed are conducted under the rules and regulations of the hosting states.


Here are some behind the scenes photos:

Here is a shot of all the teams competing in the challenge.


First deer harvested for Team Pine Ridge Archery.


On the last day they pulled off a super nice 164 inch Buck with great video footage!

The boys show up at camp taking 2nd place with a nice buck in the truck.

With warming temperatures we wasted not time getting this buck into the freezer.


Here we're all watching the footage that was captured during the hunt at Campbells.


I won't give away all of the details you will have to wait to see the full TV Shot. But it got exciting!

We'll I got to get to bed and get ready for another 5 days of hunting. The temps are getting colder and it's time to find another buck.

About the Authors

The staff is made up of "Average Joe" bowhunters from around the country who are serious about one thing - BOWHUNTING.  Keep up to date with them as they work year-round at persuing their passion and bring you the most up-to-date information on bowhunting gear and archery equipment.

» Click here to learn more about the Staff.

Editorial Disclaimer

The opinions expressed by Hunting Network LLC bloggers and by those members providing comments are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or policies of Hunting Network LLC. Hunting Network LLC is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by bloggers or forum participants. Hunting Network LLC is not responsible for any offense caused inadvertently through interpretation of grammar, punctuation or language.