The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Breaking News


October 14, 2012

How times have changed in the bowhunting world

With another hunting season here, I can’t help but think back to past hunts. I remember how excited I got when I saw deer as a young teenager. The hunting industry has come a long way since then, with high tech hunting gadgets and lightning-fast compound bows.

You always remember your first deer with a bow. My first bow was a bear and I hunted with it for a couple years without harvesting a deer. After that I upgraded to a golden eagle bow and finally connected with my first whitetail during the 1994 archery season. I was hunting with my cousin Chad near the Scenic Highway when a deer walked under us. I tried to remain as calm as possible while drawing my bow back.  

Chad tends to hang his tree stands very high and this one seemed like it was 50 feet off the ground in a huge hemlock tree. The climb up was quite the experience. My knees were shaking as I slowly stood up and drew back my bow. Up until then, I hardly moved, as I was a little scared of heights and I had never been that high up in a tree stand. Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve ever been that high off the ground while hunting since then.  

I settled the pin behind the deer’s shoulder and let the arrow fly. The arrow found its mark, although it hit just a tad bit back. We gave the animal plenty of time before we made the long climb back to the forest floor.

After an hour or so of searching we finally found my first bow kill lying in a laurel thicket. I’m glad I got to share that moment with my cousin and I’m glad he took me hunting that day. I still remember it like it was yesterday. There have been plenty of deer harvested since then, but that button buck is one I’ll never forget.

Back then bow hunting was just taking off. The compound bows were basic, but kept getting better and faster year after year. There were no range finders, no trail cameras, very few cover scents. I remember using fox and coon urine as cover scents back then.

There were no cams on the bows with 80 percent let off, and carbon arrows definitely hadn’t made their way on the market. I actually still shoot aluminum arrows. Expandable broadheads were unheard of and everyone shot fixed blade broadheads.

Targets consisted of hay bails with mining belt behind them for extra stopping power. Tree stands were very basic and I’m glad they’ve become better and safer over the years. I had some close calls in my early days of bow hunting with the first climbing tree stands to come out.

The new safety harnesses that are out now have made hunting from a tree stand safer, but there’s always a risk of falling when hunting from a tree. That’s why it’s critical to always wear a safety belt or harness when hunting from a tree stand. You buckle your seatbelt every time you get in a vehicle; it shouldn’t be any different when you’re in a tree stand 30 feet off the ground.

In recent years, I’ve found myself hunting out of the new pop-up ground blinds that have hit the market. Like my one buddy Bill says, “You can’t fall out of a ground blind.” Sometimes there just aren’t any good trees to get in and the ground blind is a good alternative. I’ve had deer literally stick their noses up to the blind and have no clue I was in there. The key is to have one side blocked off to keep it dark inside and wear black clothing.

And speaking of hunting clothes, there was no such thing as scent lock clothing when I first started deer hunting. It took a few years of getting busted by deer before I realized the importance of trying to cover your own stench. Now there’s soaps, shampoos, dryer sheets and scent killing sprays for that.

Despite all the new so-called scent killing implements, the direction the wind is blowing should determine how you set up.

I would have to say one of the biggest advancements in the deer hunting world would have to be trail cameras. Before, you had to look for rubs and scrapes to find an area a buck was working and even then you wouldn’t know exactly how big it was or if there was more than one buck. Sure, the size of the tree the rub was on could provide some clues as to how big the buck was, but you didn’t know for sure unless you spotted the animal on a scouting trip.

Now, the animal walks by and a picture is taken. There’s surveillance on the area you hunt 24/7. Deer, bear, coyote, foxes, raccoons, trespassers — whatever walks by you’ll see once the camera card is downloaded. By knowing what particular deer are using the area can help you hold off and wait for the biggest buck, as you know he’s there and even what time he’s coming in, as most trail cameras put the time and date for each picture taken.

My, how times have changed in the bowhunting world since I first started. The bow I’m currently shooting is over 10 years old and I’ve threatened to upgrade, but haven’t yet. Like I stated earlier, I’m still shooting aluminum arrows, which seems to be a rarity nowadays. I’m one of those “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” kind of guys.

Bow season started Sept. 29 and runs until Dec. 31. The leaves are changing and the cool, crisp fall temperatures are here. Have fun out there this deer season and good luck to all my fellow West Virginia bowhunters.

Text Only
  • 071714 Coda and Callie.jpg Coda and Callie’s excellent adventure

    How is it something that you profess to love so much can cause you so much anxiety and grief? No, I’m not talking about dealing with your children (or your spouse). This is worse. This is about dogs. More specifically, hunting dogs. 

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • 071314 Chris Ellis.jpg DNR’s ‘outdoor summer school’

    Attention all West Virginia hunters and trappers. It is once again time for outdoor summer school and the course materials are hot off the presses.

    July 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Meet the Eurasian collared-dove

    Back in 1974 a local pigeon fancier imported a flock of about 50 Eurasian collared-doves to the Bahamas. Ultimately he released the birds, and they took to living in the West Indies. By the late 1970s some had reached south Florida, and by the late 1980s, some had been seen in Georgia and Arkansas.

    July 13, 2014

  • July in W.Va.: Recreational opportunities abound

    It’s July in the West Virginia mountains, which brings vibrant orange tiger lilies, blooming rhododendron, and of course fireworks. Usually the heat and humidity is in full force, but so far the weather has been nice.

    July 13, 2014

  • Shotgun 101: Shoot more and live better

    “God is not on the side of big battalions, but on the side of those who shoot best.”
    — Voltaire

    July 9, 2014

  • Fireflies are living lights

    At recent Fourth of July fireworks displays, spectators squealed with delight at the annual spectacle that illuminated the night sky. And I’m sure more than a few compared the spectacular pyrotechnics to the subtler displays of fireflies that punctuate backyards, parks, and campgrounds all summer long. We call these displays “nature’s fireworks.”

    July 5, 2014

  • Get on up, or you’ll get left behind

    “Let me embrace thee, sour adversity, for wise men say it is the wisest course.” —
    William Shakespeare

    July 3, 2014

  • Catfish, it's whats for dinner

    I think for far too long the catfish has had an image problem. They seemed to be the Rodney Dangerfield of the fish world. You know, they got no respect. Fortunately though (maybe unfortunately if you are a catfish), that seems to be in the past. They are a fish whose time has come.

    June 28, 2014

  • It’s more than a boat, it’s an adventure

    Growing up on Elk River, I couldn’t help being connected to the river and its waters. It is where I caught my first fish, learned to swim, paddle a canoe, to read water and throw a buzz bait, killed my first duck, gigged frogs and spent many a Saturday night fishing for catfish. We lived in a river bank community, and the Elk provided us with everything from water for our homes to all the recreation a young boy would need to fill his youthful requirements for adventure.

    June 28, 2014

  • Old friends at the beach

    If your summer vacation plans include a trip to an east coast beach, I can’t predict everything you might see. But one bird that I guarantee you’ll encounter many times is the laughing gull.

    June 28, 2014

Web Special Sections
  • Special Web Sections

    Click HERE for stories about natural gas and Marcellus shale gas extraction.

    Click HERE for stories about the Upper Big Branch mine disaster.

    Click HERE for stories about the passing of U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd.

    Click HERE for stories from The Greenbrier Classic PGA TOUR event.

    August 6, 2010

Helium debate
AP Video
Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kerry: No Deal Yet on 7-Day Gaza Truce Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow Gaza Residents Mourn Dead Amid Airstrikes Raw: Deadly Tornado Hits Virginia Campground Ohio State Marching Band Chief Fired After Probe Raw: Big Rig Stuck in Illinois Swamp Cumberbatch Brings 'Penguins' to Comic-Con Raw: Air Algerie Crash Site in Mali Power to Be Restored After Wash. Wildfire Crashed Air Algerie Plane Found in Mali Israel Mulls Ceasefire Amid Gaza Offensive In Case of Fire, Oxygen Masks for Pets Mobile App Gives Tour of Battle of Atlanta Sites