Wisconsin’s bow season opens Saturday – are you ready?
I asked myself this question the other day. I knew I had done a bunch of stuff, but was I really prepared? What had I accomplished since the close of the 2014 archery season some 9 months back? A list began to form.
The local indoor archery league began in January – 40 rounds for 12 weeks. That’s 480 arrows right there. Add in practice throughout the rest of the season and I've done a bit of shooting, hopefully enough.
Winter and spring scouting – I put in my time on the private and public lands I hunt. I dubbed one scouting outing "the mega-transect." I followed a track from a public land corn field to a secluded bedding island 2 miles away. I laid down boot leather in all of my usual haunts, as well as in some new spots. I even found a “hidden-under-your-nose" buck bedding area less than a quarter mile from a popular parking area on public land. Should the winds cooperate, this spot will be the setting for my first hunt this season.
Habitat work – our main habitat project this winter was aspen regeneration. My wife Jane and I felled a quarter acre stand of mature aspens, along with some basswood and a few swamp white oaks. While small, I felt the spot would receive enough sunlight to promote the return of young aspens- which are favored by whitetails and vital to grouse and woodcock. A flush of new growth this summer suggests I guessed right.
As we do every season, we planted trees this spring. Black and blue spruces for screening and thermal cover, some dwarf chinquapin oaks to hedge against oak wilt, another apple tree, and on Labor Day weekend, a couple of pear trees.
Food plots – mowing and spraying to control weeds, fertilizer, top seeding, tilling, reseeding, culti-packing and then hoping for rain. Food plots consumed a lot of man hours this season.
Trail cams – beginning in mid-July we began our trail cam "trap line." We place most of our cameras on scrapes. Those still active in the spring are the best choices, but if they are not yet hot, and the licking branch is still in good shape, a hit of scent will jump start them. Sooner or later every buck in the neighborhood will visit an active scrape, most likely at night. We have already begun to collect results.
Fitness – I work out because I am a bowhunter; balance and stamina are my objectives. Indoors in the winter months and on the mountain bike trails beginning in the spring. I logged more than 500 miles this year. If I arrive at my most difficult stand site this fall, composed, instead of winded and wringing wet, each one of those miles will be worth it.
Wisconsin’s bow season opens Saturday, Sept. 12. Are you ready? I think I am!