By Stuart Hoegh
It’s cold out. You can’t hunt, and you can’t stop thinking about it. Here are some suggestions to start improving for next year.
Join a league
Did you miss a deer this season because of nerves? Competition shooting is a great way to practice under pressure. Additionally, you can talk with other hunters about what strategies they use to be successful. There are leagues all across Iowa and competitions on most of the upcoming weekends. I have compiled a list of competitions. Check out the blog “Upcoming Archery Leagues and Events in Iowa.”
Scout and Pick Up Sheds
Last January we found a rub line along a creek bed. In the fall we set up a mock scrape near that line, and this January I took an eleven point from the stand. It is unlikely we would have been aware of that trail if we had not scouted in January. We don’t go onto our properties in the season unless we are hunting. As a result a mature buck may have established a trail during the season that we didn’t know was there. February is a great time to go back into your stand locations and explore enough to fully understand where the deer highways are. Deer often travel the same trails year after year, so this could be a deciding factor next fall in hunting the right spot. Furthermore, while you’re looking for scrapes and rubs you can look for sheds as well.
Tune Your Bow
Opinions vary on when to replace your string. If you recently restrung your bow now it’s a good idea to put 100 shots through your bow before you start to sight it in. Though bowstrings come pre-stretched it takes time for the string to set. This offers a great opportunity for blind bale shooting. Blind-bale shooting only takes a few yards so it can be done inside, which is nice when it’s negative ten in Iowa. Also if you just bought a new bow or release, blind bale shooting will help you get used to the feel. Just set up your target at around 6 feet away and shoot with your eyes closed while focusing on form. Another option is to paper tune your bow right now.
Give your optics, bow, rifle etc a good cleaning. You don’t want to open up your case in June and find rust. Scopes and binocular lenses often also get neglected during the season.