Hunter’s Corner: Archery season is on the way

For the Monitor
Sunday, August 20, 2017

August gives archers three opportunities to improve their skills and enhance their opportunities to enjoy success in the coming fall archery season. The first option are the two free public archery ranges located in Allenstown by Archery Pond in Bear Brook State Park and Owl Brook Hunter Education Center in Holderness.

Fish and Game manages the Allenstown range which features a woodland archery range with 15 targets and a four-target practice range that is universally accessible. The Owl Brook Hunter Education Center features a woodland archery range with 14 targets placed in a variety of challenging situations at varying angles and distances. The first target is wheelchair accessible with signed parking nearby. Brodhead’s are prohibited at both ranges for safety and maintenance reasons. Fact is, they will just tear up the targets. Also, do not attempt to use a crossbow on the range as the arrow or bolt from crossbow will pass right through an archery target.

The second opportunity the archer has is the placement of trail cameras. This will provide information as to whom is frequenting the neighborhood and what time of day they are passing through. A key tip in setting up a trail cam is to have it 6 feet or higher so that when the cam goes off, the deer will not be distracted by the red light.

The final opportunity is the setting up of your tree stands now. This affords the tree stands to blend into the background of where they’ve been set up. Landowner permission is required to tend the tree stand site.

I had the opportunity to attend a family gathering in Rhode Island recently. This gave me the opportunity to commiserate with my brother-in-law Jim. Jim is a retired toll and die maker and an excellent hunter with a firearm, bow or crossbow. I expressed my interest in crossbows and his knowledge on the topic was encyclopedic. First off, crossbows are not silent, there is a string twang. If the deer is alert, the deer will duck at the twang. Outdoor Life magazine has a gear rating issue each year and the No. 2 rated crossbow was one third of the price of the top rated crossbow. So, I ordered a Crosman Center Point Sniper 370. The minimum pull in New Hampshire is 125 pounds the sniper pull is 150 pounds. All crossbows list their carry weight which deceptively omits the weight of the scope quiver and arrows. Jim then took me online to YouTube to check out the reviews. Sighting in at 20 yards, the reviewer videoed a Robin Hood. Which means that his arrow hit the previously fired arrow in the knock.

While there Jim showed me three different scopes. Each had a gauge on top of the scope where you dialed in the feet per second (FPS) the arrow would be traveling. When you sighted in at 20 yards, you were automatically sighted in at 30, 40, and 50 yards. I don’t think I would take a 40- or 50-yard shot, and besides, where I hunt you would be lucky to get a 30-yard shot.

Once cocked the only way to decock the crossbow is to fire it. Most crossbows have an anti-decocking trigger which will prevent you from firing the crossbow unless there is an arrow present. To get around this you will need an arrow without a tip that can be safely shot into the ground. If you attempt to fire the crossbow without an arrow, more likely than not, the limbs will break off. The decocking arrow solves that problem. Oh yes, there is one piece of additional gear that you will need: a good range finder. I already have a shooting stick which will serve as a rest when shooting.

A friend of mine is an engineer and has all the high-tech gear imaginable. His latest toy is a drone. This thing is great. It is powered by a battery and has a GPS core to it. Its takeoff point is recorded as home base. When the power source gets to a certain point it will return to home base without further instructions. It comes equipped with a live action camera which transmits pictures to his phone. I thought that was pretty cool and even though I felt it was not a legal tool to use in deer hunting, I checked in with the Fish and Game Law Enforcement Division to get it right. The bottom line is that it is illegal to use a live action camera in any device be it a drone or a trail cam to scout for deer.

Normally, we receive two bear warnings a year, one around Nov. 1 indicating it is okay to put out birdfeeders, and one around Apr. 1 indicating it is time to take down birdfeeders. Not so for the summer of 2017. There are more black bears in New Hampshire than ever before, best estimate 6,000-plus. The peak period for bear-human conflict is June and July; however, bear activity in and around human-occupied areas can continue through August and occasionally September.

This time period coincided with the peak tourist season and at a time when a lot of residents and visitors are recreating outside in bear habitat. “Campgrounds are full, restaurant dumpsters are overflowing and human-related food attractants remain highly abundant across the landscape. When these conditions exist, bears will exploit these feeding opportunities,” Fish and Game Biologist Andrew Timmins said.

The root cause of most (approximately 86 percent) annual bear-human conflicts is birdfeeders, garbage and inadequately secured chickens. Campers, particularly in the White Mountains, should secure all food to that bears cannot gain access. Food left on picnic tables and in coolers at campsites are easy targets. Bears quickly learn that their mere presence causes campers to move away, making these attractants easily attainable.

Overall, bear-human conflicts have been below average this summer, according to Timmins. “Conflicts both in residential areas and in the White Mountains National Forest have been much less frequent as compared to previous years and particularly down from 2016 levels. I attribute this to the fact that 2016 was a drought year and 2017 we have experienced above-average rain fall resulting in more natural foods being available.”

Bob Washburn can be reached at hunterscorner@aol.com.