By Jack U. Baker Jr.
Photo: Consider reducing your bow’s poundage when the weather turns cold. Failing to do so could cost you a deer.
Bow season starts as early as August in some states, so it’s usually warm when we are practicing.Since it’s easy to draw a bow in warm weather while wearing a T-shirt, we often crank up our compound bows to maximum poundage and get used to practicing this way.
Our big mistake is leaving the draw weight heavy as cold weather arrives.
When the temps drop 20 to 30 degrees or more, there will be times when it’s nearly impossible to draw the same bow you’ve been practicing with.
Between cold muscles and binding from bulky clothing, an archer’s ability to draw has been impaired.
For example, years ago, I was bowhunting in Georgia on one of the coldest mornings of the year. The temperatures were in the teens.
From my treestand overlooking a creek bottom, I sat motionless for about four hours without seeing a thing because the deer were smarter than me and had stayed in their beds.
When I decided it was time to go home, I tried to shoot a practice arrow at a pinecone before climbing down.
To my surprise, I couldn’t begin to draw the bow!
This was the same 65-pound compound I’d been shooting with ease all summer. But had a deer walked by, it would’ve been useless.
Since then, I’ve learned a couple of ways to avoid cold day bowhunter’s surprise.
First, I like to draw my bow two or three times before settling into the stand. I repeat this exercise from time to time — about once an hour — to keep my muscles loose.
Practicing with the same jacket and clothing you will be hunting with is a good way to avoid surprises.
I also reduce the poundage of my bow as hunting season approaches. A 3- to 5-pound reduction only decreases arrow speed a few feet per second, but you’ll thank yourself on a frigid day. Make sure to re-sight your bow if you back off poundage.
Considering the modern compound bow can put an arrow completely through a buck with only 45 pounds of draw weight, the payoff of poundage reduction is well worth the loss of a little arrow speed.
Remember, a 70-pound compound bow is useless if you can’t draw the string.
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