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Taking a Tom With a Stick and String

By Tracy Breen

 

Hunters who want to make turkey hunting a little more challenging this spring should consider bowhunting them. Bowhunting longbeards raises the level of difficulty significantly. Getting a bow to full draw and making a good shot can be near impossible at times so if you plan on bowhunting turkeys this spring you will need a lot of patience and a little luck. Below you will find a few tips to help you succeed this spring if you decide to chase longbeards with a stick and string.



SHOT PLACEMENT


    1.    Shot placement is everything when it comes to turkey hunting with a bow. You might be thinking that is the way it is with all animals you bowhunt, but turkeys are a little different. If you gut shoot a deer and the arrow enters the body a little high or low, there is still a decent chance you will recover the animal. That is not the case with turkeys. The vitals on a turkey are about the size of a softball. That isn’t very big. If you hit the bird an inch high or low you wont kill it because you will just take out a little flesh and feathers. Often what happens when bowhunters turkey hunt is they make a marginal shot that hits a small portion of the vitals. The bird is mortally hit but won’t die right away. The bird flies away or runs away after the shot and is never seen again. Turkeys are great at running away and hiding. I have shot birds that actually cover themselves with leaves under brush. Finding a wounded bird is extremely difficult. The way to solve this problem is by shooting the bird just above the legs. The reason I like shooting a turkey here is because it takes out the back of their chest cavity and it breaks the muscles going to their legs. When the legs are broken the bird cant run or lift off and fly. Shooting the bird a few inches above the legs often results in the bird dropping in it’s tracks or only going a short distance. Some bowhunters prefer a head on shot, a head shot or shooting them right up the hind end. Taking out their legs and putting the broadhead through their chest cavity at the same time is my favorite shot.

 

Fixed Vs Mechanical for Turkeys

    2.    Some bowhunters like using fixed blade broadheads on every type of animal they hunt. I like using fixed blade broadheads sometimes to, just not on turkeys. Mechanical broadheads are perfect for turkeys. A large cutting diameter head will quickly bring down a turkey. Best of all if your shot isn’t perfect the odds are still pretty good that you will recover the bird if you are using a head with a large cutting diameter. The first turkey I ever killed with a bow I made a marginal hit on and I only killed the bird because one blade on my 2-inch cut mechanical head hit the vitals. If I was shooting a smaller broadhead I would have went home empty handed. Can you kill a turkey with a small fixed blade head? Yes you can but we all can make a mistake when shooting so I prefer using a mechanical head with a large cutting diameter it increases my odds of success.

 

Decoy Tactics

    3.    When bowhunting turkeys I always use a turkey decoy. Some bowhunters don’t like to use decoys because they can spook gobblers as they approach the fake decoy. I have had this happen but more times than not the decoys bring the birds in close. I typically put place my decoy 12 steps in front of me. I make sure the decoy is facing me. Regardless if the decoy is a jake or hen decoy, an incoming tom will always want to face the bird he is trying to interact with. This will most times than not cause the tom to walk around and get in front of the decoy. When he does this he provides you with an up close shot. Best of all as he comes around the front of the decoy his attention is on the bird not you giving you time to get drawn without being noticed.


Turkey hunting with a bow is both exciting and challenging. If you are looking for a way to spend more time in the woods turkey hunting this spring take a bow instead of a gun. The odds of filling your tag on opening day are much smaller than they are if you hunt with a gun. Your odds of spending more time in the woods and having more fun in the process are much higher with a bow.

If you have never bowhunted turkeys before below you will find a couple broadhead options that will help you put a longbeard in the freezer.


GRIM REAPER CARNI-FOUR


One broadhead that is worth mentioning is the Grim Reaper Carni-Four. This mechanical broadhead comes equipped with four blades. Two of the blades offer a 1-1/2 inch cut and the other two blades produce a 1-1/4 inch size hole. Combined that is a 2.75-inch linear cut.  The devastating hole created by this head will quickly bring down a tom. Learn more at www.grimreaperbroadheads.com




Slick Trick RaptorTrick

Another great broadhead is the RaptorTrick from Slick Trick Broadheads. This 2-blade mechanical broadhead comes with a 2”-inch cutting diameter, a 4-edge blone splitting tip which will easily penetrate the feathers and flesh of a big tom. Broadheads that offer a 2-inch cutting diameter are perfect for turkeys. Learn more at www.slicktrick.net.

Deer Reaction Study - Best Shot Placement on a Deer

 

Grant Woods and the Growing Deer TV team recently did a study on how deer react to the sound of a bow shot. The results will help you determine when to take a shot and where exactly to aim. You can watch the full video by clicking here.

How Far Can Deer Drop?

Below is a chart that the Growing deer team created based upon their research and testing.



Head Down or Heads Up?

Grant and his team dug into their archive of shots from over the years, and they noticed something interesting. They found that deer can drop more quickly when they have their head down than when they have their head up. So why is that? Grant theorizes that it is because deer that have their head down can throw their head to help force their bodies down.


Aim Low

Most deer drop at least a little at the sound of the shot. Some deer drop a lot. It is impossible to predict how far a deer will drop. So, your best option is to aim at the lower third of the vital area. That way you’ll be covered if the deer drops quite a bit or if the deer doesn’t drop at all.


Grant’s research reminded us about a bow kill here in Michigan a couple years ago. Check out the video below. Pro Staffer Rob W. shot at this buck and he really dropped, but, if he really wanted to survive, he didn’t drop in the right direction.



Growing Deer’s research gave us a little different perspective on how we will evaluate shot opportunities in the future. You want those deer up close with their heads up and you want to aim at the lower third of the kill zone. If you have’t watched the full Growing Deer video, watch it now by clicking here.

Much of Grant’s research was possible because he had so many shots on film. Filming your hunt is really fun because you can share your experience with others. In addition, being able to review your shot is a huge bonus that comes with filming your hunt. Knowing exactly where you hit a deer can help you determine how long to wait before you start on the blood trail.

3 Things You Can Do to Get Prepared to Film Your Hunts This Season

By Nate Coughlin: M.C.T. Productions

 

In the past few years the idea of filming a successful hunt has spread like wildfire amongst all hunters in the country.  Myself being one of those people that films their hunts, I can relate on why this idea has exploded.  It is down right addicting.  Once you accomplish the task of harvesting a deer on film, you will never want to go into the woods again without a camera in the stand beside you.  That being said, I always make sure that I’m ready for the moment a big buck comes walking down the trail towards my tree.  There are three main things that I do to prepare myself for each hunting season.

 

Keep That Camera in Your Hands


Imagine that you want to shoot a deer with a brand-new bow, but you wait until opening morning while a deer walks by to shoot it for the very first time.  You wouldn’t do that, would you? Same goes for your camera.  Don’t wait until opening morning of the season to finally try and figure out your settings on your camera.  Whether it is adjusting the white balance, shooting in a certain picture profile or learning how to be proficient with the focus ring, don’t wait until the last minute.  When your adrenaline is rushing as that deer walks in, you want it to be second nature to hit that record button, stay in focus and execute getting that perfect shot on camera.  
Just because your main objective is to video or photograph a hunt, doesn’t mean you can’t take your camera game a step further.  I try to take my camera with me every chance I get.  Family gatherings, sporting events or just driving around looking for wildlife to capture.  Every second that camera is in your hands is beneficial in one way or another.  Taking photos and video regularly, keeps your eye sharp on what different angles to get and most importantly keeps running your camera second nature when it counts the most.
   


Practice Gear Organization and Setup in a Tree

Knowing how to run your camera is only half the battle.  Another very difficult part of videoing hunts, in my opinion, is having all this extra gear and knowing how to organize it in your pack for easy access when setting up in your stand.  Not only do you have to set up all your gear in the stand, but you have to do it quickly and quietly, so you don’t alarm any deer close by.

It all starts with being consistent in how you pack your gear and how you set it up.  If you do it differently every hunt, then you aren’t going to get any better at it.  A huge game changer that Fourth Arrow has made to make this process a lot easier is having multiple camera arm bases.  With the very affordable price tag on extra bases, you need to have one in every stand. It takes the hassle of trying to be quiet with a ratchet strap out of the equation.  It’s as easy as placing the Fourth Arrow Camera Arms shoulder into the base, make sure it is level, insert the arm, then install your camera and fluid head.  Organizing those items in a way that you can get to the one you need, at the time you need it, will save you in setup time and limiting noise by not having to dig through your bag.

    Once that part of my gear is setup, usually I would move to getting audio hooked up on my main camera.  Following that, I put up the Outreach Arm from Fourth Arrow, with a go pro attached and lastly getting my DSLR out so that I can take pictures if the opportunity presents itself.

    As you can see, there are a lot of steps in this portion of videoing your hunts.  That being said, make sure to take the time to organize your gear and practice setting it all up in a tree stand.



Have a PLAN


    You can’t control when or even if a deer will walk by your stand within shooting distance, but you always need to be prepared for it to happen at any second.


    When I’m sitting in the stand, I’m constantly thinking in my head about the things that need to be done and in what order I’m going to do them before I let an arrow fly.  Turn on POV camera, turn on main camera, turn on audio mics, grab my bow and get on the deer.  Part of being ready for that very moment is to have all my camera settings exactly the way I want them so when a deer comes in all I have to do is turn it on and hit record.  In the heat of the moment I don’t want to be thinking about anything else except keeping that deer in frame, in focus and then putting a good shot on the deer.

    Another little thing I do while in the stand is imagine in my head that there is a deer coming at different locations around my stand and think out exactly what I’d do to get that deer in the frame as quickly as possible.  Imagining it and being ready for different situations keeps your mind fresh and on point for anything to happen.  

    The last part of my PLAN is knowing what B roll shots I need to get to bring my story full circle.  This doesn’t start when you get in the stand.  This story could’ve started a couple years ago with a deer that you have history with, or it could be a story that is the length of the day the hunt was on.  Different situations will have different stories, but the bottom line is to tell your story and always have the extra footage to show your story to the audience to make them feel like they experienced it with you.

    In conclusion, always have your camera with you, practice every aspect of videoing your hunts with your gear and come up with a PLAN so that you can be prepared.  If you aren’t prepared and don’t have a plan, plan to fail.  I promise if you set yourself up for success, you will be glad you did when you see the end result.   Good luck this season and most importantly have fun!

Quick Tip: Stay in Your Comfort Zone
 

Nick McWhorter of Empty Quiver
 
Bow season is fast approaching, so more than likely you've been out shooting in the yard after work lately. One thing you may notice is the further you go back, the more the groups start to spread out. You need to establish is the maximum distance that you're comfortable taking a shot at. If your groups are nice and tight at 30 and 40 is all over the place then make 30 yards the furthest you'll shoot a deer at. Everyone is different with different abilities, so just because the next guy down the block can kill deer at 50 yards doesn't mean you have to. Don't rush expanding the effective yardage. It will come in time but you're gonna have to practice. Keep pounding those arrows and build confidence!

 
Audio - The Vital Component That Nobody Talks About

Stephen Robinson
Working Class Hunter

Audio is easily the most overlooked aspect of filming.  We spend countless hours honing our video skill and practicing our craft.  That time is well spent and has led to being much more creative and skilled behind the camera.  Unfortunately, we tend to forget or even trivialize the importance of audio.  We get so focused on the visual aspect of filming that audio tends to be relegated to the backseat or even the trunk at times.  This is often a fatal mistake, as quality video is only as good as the audio that goes along with it.  If the overall goal is to distribute your work via a profession platform such as Television or the Internet than you need to make sure quality audio takes as high a priority as the video you are laying down.  We will discuss how to produce quality audio as well as the type of equipment necessary.



Internal Mic is Not Enough

First of all, as a general rule of thumb the internal microphone on your camera will not produce quality audio.  It doesn’t matter if you are running a $300 Handicam or a $5000 professional camera.   They just won’t cut the mustard as the saying goes.  You are going to have to add a professional audio setup to your camera.  Now, what type of audio setup depends on the type of camera you have, and I’ll cover several varieties.


Camcorder Audio
 
Most entry level videographers will start a consumer Handycam  or some type of prosumer video camera.  If you are using this style camcorder, it’s likely that your external audio options will be fairly  limited.  You will want to make sure that the camera has the capabilities of adding an external microphone via a 3.5mm stereo mini jack.  Also, you will most likely need to mount the external microphone so it’s a good idea to purchase a camera that has a cold or hot shoe mount.  The most common and probably the best external microphone for this type of setup would be the Rode VideoMic or VideoMic Pro.  Something to keep in mind, and it is a drawback of this type of setup is that the cable on this type of microphone is not shielded and can experience radio frequency interference.  That could be very problematic to your production value if it were to occur at the wrong time.  Considering you will be doing most of your recording in the outdoors away from lots of electrical equipment you would expect to be safe from radio frequency interference, but you can’t forget about that wonderful cell phone that seems to always be readily accessible.  

Let’s say you took the plunge and went for a professional camcorder.  You payed a pretty penny for all the features in a professional camcorder, but you also get the benefits.  One of the features that should be on all professional grade camcorders are XLR audio hookups.  An XLR audio hookup provides several advantages.  Firstly, the XLR on the camera can provide “Phantom” power to your microphone.  This means it is possible to power the microphone via the camera battery instead of a second battery that is associated with the microphone.  In addition to that benefit, you can purchase quality shielded XLR cables that will drastically cut down on the likelihood of having RF interference degrade your recorded audio.  If you are running a camera with XLR inputs, then you will have a wide variety of options to record your audio.  Typically these types of cameras will come with two XLR inputs.  Sometimes you will only need to use one, but other times you can use both to record a wider range of audio.   The first XLR input would usually be used for a shotgun microphone that is generally mounted directly onto the camera(assuming we are talking about filming your hunts).   There’s a pretty wide variety of shotgun microphones on the market.  Some of the more popular models are the Rode NTG1, NTG2, NTG3 or the Sennheiser MKE600, MKH416.  These range in price from $250 all the way up to $1000 for the models listed.  If you are looking for a budget friendly shotgun mic then check out the Audio-Technica AT875R.  This a compact 7” shotgun mic that produces very good quality audio.  I personally like the length so you don’t have any issues with the mic getting into the shot and at the price point, it’s really a bargain.  This is the microphone that I have been using for the last 6 seasons and it has never let me down.


Shotgun Mics

Most shotgun mics pick up sound from the direction they are pointed.  These Directional microphones do an excellent job of picking up sound, even at long distances, right out in front of where they are pointed, but do not pick up sound very well from the sides or behind the microphone.  An omnidirectional microphone will do a better job of collecting sound from all directions.  If you are using a directional shotgun microphone, it would be a good idea to add a wireless lavalier microphone so you can record quality audio of any interviews or of the hunter talking while the camera is filming something other than the hunter.  Regardless of the shotgun mic that you choose, you will need to also have a quality shock mount to minimize any vibration or sound from the camera being transferred to the audio recording.  Also, you will want to purchase a good quality windscreen to go over the shotgun microphone.  Most shotgun mics come with a foam screen that will do a solid job indoors, but once outside you will pick up way too much wind noise.  You just need to make sure that the screen you purchase fits your shotgun mic.


Lav Mics

There are lots of options for quality wireless lavalier microphones on the market and you can spend a pretty penny for a set.  Some of the most popular models include the Sennheiser EW122PG3-B , Sony UWD-P11, Azden WLX-PRO, Polsen ULW-16.  Lots and lots of options out there.  One thing to know, especially on the cheaper wireless mics, they burn through batteries pretty quickly.  Some models use 9-Volts, others use AA batteries and some are even rechargeable.  It’s always a good idea to carry spare batteries and it’s doubly important to constantly monitor your audio.  I have been running the Polsen ULW-16 for a about 3 years now.  I feel like it does a nice job in the audio department, however there are some problems with them.  It eats AA batteries like candy, so I run rechargeable batteries and always carry spare.  Also, the audio channel buttons are on the face of both the transmitter and receiver and there’s no way to lock the channel.  I have a tendency to bump the transmitter and change the channel I am on.  That’s a problem because the receiver has to be set to the same audio channel or it not only doesn’t record the desired audio, it records random signal interference which makes that channel of audio completely unusable.  Do your research before you commit to a wireless lavalier microphone so you don’t run into issues like this.


DSLR and Mirrorless Camera Audio

So let’s now talk about audio for DSLR’s and Mirrorless cameras.  The internal microphone just won’t cut it, you will need to invest in some type of external microphone.  As mentioned before, these type of cameras will only have a 3.5mm jack to ingest audio from an external source.  This means a shotgun microphone like the Rode VideoMic or VideoMic Pro would be a solid choice.  If you want to step up into the professional audio arena, you can do this by adding an XLR adapter like a JuicedLink or a Beachtek adapter.  These adapters allow you to connect XLR audio inputs through the adapter which connects to the camera via the 3.5mm Audio input on the camera.  The benefit of this type of setup is that you will now have full control of your audio volume levels for each channel and you have the capability of having both a shotgun microphone and a wireless lavalier to provide the best possible audio output.


Monitor Your Audio

Once you have selected all of the hardware, it’s crucial to practice and understand the capabilities and the limitations just as you do with your camera.  It is also extremely important to monitor your audio.  Every time you set up to film, you need to monitor the audio to make sure you are recording what you expect to be recording.  This is done by using a set of headphones or at least a quality set up earbuds plugged directly into the camera or audio recording device.  Don’t just rely on the audio meters on the camera, that will not guarantee you are recording the correct channels or that there isn’t something causing audio issues.  It’s much better to find the problem ahead of time than it is to find out in post production that you don’t have quality audio to match the video.  I can’t reiterate enough just how important quality audio is, don’t be the one that takes audio for granted and learns the hard way.

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