Piecing Together The Perfect Treestand Bow

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bow sights
Having multiple pins may be advantageous out west where shot ranges run the gamut, but for the treestand hunter it is often a mistake waiting to happen. Short-range shooting requires little of the same equipment that long-range shooting does. Don’t make the mistake of trying to mesh the two together.

Another important consideration is the actual size of the sight pin. When shooting at long distances a small pin will cover less of the target; allowing more precision in the aiming process. However, that feature can spell trouble. Since effective close range shooting doesn’t require small aiming pins, opt for a large bow sight; at least.029 diameter. This will allow more light to gather in the fiber optic, making it brighter and easier to see; especially during those “last light” shot opportunities that so often go hand in hand with trophy whitetails.

Additionally, pay strict attention to the number of pins that accompany a bow sight. Some treestand hunters use 5, sometimes even more, aiming pins. Most bowhunters when they reach full draw normally can’t remember their name. The last thing you want to do is choose between several different pins (some of the same color) that are all screaming “Pick me! Pick me!” while old tangle horns simultaneously walks past your tree stand. The potential for choosing the wrong pin is genuine if you ask some bowhunters. Therefore, if shots are unlikely to go beyond 30 yds, then some see little need for more than 3 sight pins.

However, depending on the speed of your setup, and the maximum range you expect to shoot, you can even go a step further and reduce the number of sight pins to 2, or even 1. One option is to set two pins; one for 20 and one for 30 yards. Another option is to simply set one pin for 25 yards (if you don’t plan to shot past 30 steps). It is important to experiment with different combinations in order to get a good idea of how much drop or elevation your arrow exhibits at certain distances when employing this method. Then, do your best to reduce the number of pins to only those you actually need. This procedure will drastically clear up the sight picture; allowing you to focus on one thing….making the shot.

Arrows

With all of the differing sizes, weights and materials available, picking the right arrow shaft for the job can be intimidating. But, if you stick to your M.O. (treestand hunting) the choices will be much clearer. Let’s examine the available options.

Light weight arrows, those weighing between 5 and 6 grains per pound of your bows maximum draw force, will provide top speed and forgiveness in range estimation errors; turning an otherwise miscalculation into a possible punched tag. The downside is that light arrows tend to be louder and shed energy faster; particularly past 40 yards. Also, because of their thinner arrow shaft walls, durability can sometimes be an issue.

Heavy arrows, those weighing over 8 grains per pound of draw force, provide plenty of penetrating “punch” should a shoulder bone or heavy muscle be encountered. These arrow shafts are also quieter because they soak up more of the bows energy, can be more forgiving when you rough release the string, and are usually the toughest by nature. The downside to all of this is a severely arching arrow that provides very little forgiveness if you miscalculate the shot distance or have to shoot between limbs and branches further downrange.

Mid-weight arrow shafts, those weighing between 6 and 8 grains per pound of draw force, carry plenty of punch, are very forgiving of range estimation errors, are quiet, maintain their energy well, fly with great stability, and offer outstanding strength.

So which arrow is best for you? Well, to be honest, you’re going to have to figure that one out on your own; so to speak. For example, what will your maximum shooting distance be? If you only plan on taking up-close shots, like the ones found in thick cover (25 yards or less), then why not go with the added penetration of a heavier arrow over the range estimation forgiveness of a light-weight arrow. But, what if you’re deer hunting in strips of timber that border open crop fields? In that case, a mid-weight arrow shaft, or an “upper-limit” light-weight arrow shaft could be a great choice; providing plenty of energy for those slam-dunk shots, as well as the speed for those “out there” opportunities along the field edges. The decision really is up to you. But, by understanding arrow options and the performance you can expect from each, and then applying that knowledge to your expected hunting situation, you’ll more than likely make the right choice.

fixed-blade broadheads
Not only are the newer “compact” fix-blade heads a good choice for fast treestand rigs, but mechanical broadheads are a reliable option as well. This style of broadhead has come a long way in design and function. Some models today can even out-penetrate certain fix-blade heads. Good choices include: Trophy Ridge Meat Seeker and Steelhead XL, The Rage Slipcam, G5 Tekan, NAP Spitfir. The NAP Bloodrunner shown here is the best of both worlds, and has proven to be DEVASTATING. Hunter shown wearing Mathews Lost Camo.

Broadheads

Broadheads are probably the most highly discussed archery accessory in the history of mankind! Seriously though, in most bowhunting circles, nothing gets guys talking like what’s at the business end of their arrow.

When it comes to making the right broadhead choice, no matter how you hunt whitetails, the bottom line is accuracy. Because you can’t kill what you can’t hit. If you’re shooting a really fast set-up, then you should probably steer clear of large broadheads with wide cutting diameters.

In his new book Technical Bowhunting, Bow and Arrow Hunting editor Joe Bell suggests heads with cutting diameters larger than 1 3/16-inch and blades longer than about 3/4-inch should be avoided when speeds are in excess of 270 fps. “A much better choice would be a smaller, more compact fixed-style head”, he adds. Good examples are the Muzzy MX-3, Slick Trick, Trophy Ridge Ultimate Steel, Wasp Bullet, and American Broadhead Buckmaster; just to name a few.

Aside from accuracy, when it comes to choosing a broadhead for treestand hunting there is another important aspect to consider...exit wounds. You see, when delivering an arrow into a whitetail from an elevated position, it is important to have an exit hole in order for the blood to escape the chest cavity. Without an exit wound, the chest cavity must fill completely up to the high entry hole in order for blood to hit the ground. No blood on the ground makes for some pretty tough tracking conditions.

Therefore, some tend to be a little conservative when it comes to cutting diameter. However, an entry and exit hole has never been a concern. Sure, very large heads may cut more surface area, but they take more energy to drive through flesh and bone which will hinder overall penetration; potentially costing you that buck of a lifetime. Remember, when your broadhead stops moving forward all of its cutting potential goes out the window.

Tree Stand Placement Conclusion

By now you should have a pretty good idea about what to look for in your next treestand bow rig. Sure, it is exciting to review all of the latest and greatest bowhunting equipment. But, like it said in the opening paragraphs, using it won’t necessarily make you a better bowhunter; especially if it doesn’t mesh with the unique task of tagging whitetails from above.

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