Bow Shooting Tips

Bow Shooting Tips written by Andrea Haas was originally published via The Huntress View



With more & more people getting involved in archery & bow hunting, I feel I should share a few basic, but important, archery tips that help me when shooting my bow.

-The number one, most important thing to me is that you shoot the exact same way each time. Form & consistency is everything so make sure you are anchoring the same way each time. I have a kisser on my bow that really helps find my anchor point quicker each time.

-Loosen up your grip. Gripping the bow too tightly can cause you to torque the bow left or right & make your shooting off.

-Shooting at smaller dots on your targets help improve your accuracy & will help you shoot tighter groups. If you always shoot at the biggest dot on the target & can cause you to get a little sloppy. I like the Mckenzie Shot Blocker.

-For the women bow hunters: Here’s a tip to see if you are pulling back too much weight with your bow: Get your bow & sit down in a chair. Pull your feet up so they aren’t touching the ground & pull your bow back. If you can’t get it back, or are struggling too much, you are pulling too much weight. I only shoot about 45 pounds, and that’s really all you need.

Refusing to Hide: Tanning Part 1

Originally published via Armed Rogue- Armed with strength. Armed with knowledge. Armed to survive.

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When I decided I wanted to teach myself to tan animal hides I received a lot of mixed responses. Notably negative remarks such as, “Why would you do that? It’s too much work.” Or even, “That’s nasty” followed by gruesome faces of disgust. And those were from hunters! Honestly, the fact that something was hard work or “nasty” never stopped me in my tracks…Besides, I wanted to find out for myself.

Even before I became a hunter I always found it interesting the way humans categorize animals- from levels of disgust all the way to admiration. We admire the bald eagle because it is America’s symbol of freedom however, it is no more important to the ecosystem than a turkey vulture which is an animal many find repulsive. For the record I like eagles and turkey vultures all the same.

Perhaps their faces of disgust came from the fact that the very animal I decided to learn to preserve was a javelina. A javelina is one of those “nasty” critters that I find absolutely fascinating! Though similar to a pig the javelina is really a member of the peccary family. They are a relatively small 30-70 pound pig-like creature with a stink gland on their back and long razor sharp tusks adapted to crush hard seeds and roots. By rubbing their tusks together, the javelina can make a chattering noise that warns predators to back off. Their hair is long and bristly with a porcupine like quality to its appearance. They are known to be viciously aggressive and their habitat ranges from the southwestern region of the United States through Central and South America.

Having just recently moved to Texas I couldn’t wait to see my first javelina, from a safe distance of course. So when I found myself sitting in a ground blind on our good friends 2250 acre low fence property in Whitsett, Texas (New Ranch Outfitters) with nothing but a slab of wood between me and the peccary I was extremely surprised and invigorated.

I watched as the large boar, nose to the ground, sniffed out his next meal. I could hear his pig like snout at work when he winded my husband and I and ran into the brush only to show himself from a distance a few minutes later. So it turns out that the first javelina I ever saw I got to harvest with my .243 rifle…half standing, half kneeling on my husband from the ground blind. Not only was it my first javelina sight and kill but my first animal harvested with a rifle. A decent size at 55 pounds with large tusks he didn’t seem nasty to me. In fact I have seen deer with more fleas and ticks then this so called wicked creature.

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Immediately I went to work researching more about tanning hides. What I found wasn’t a whole lot of information. The information that I did find was either conflicting or made tanning seems like a science experiment gone wrong.

Surely the Native Americans were not running to their local WalMart for battery acid to tan deer hides. Well, I am a pretty simplistic gal so I highlighted different methods step for step and made a game plan to experiment myself how to tan a hide.

  • Step one: Fleshing & curing

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On a cold but sunny January day at our property in Adkins, TX I pulled my freshly skinned javelina hide out of a cooler of ice and laid it flat, fur side down, on a piece of plywood. My husband Adam, also known as Boots, helped me nail it down and gave me pointers on how to shave the flesh off with my knife without poking a hole through the skin.

I found that the javelina skin was very hard and tough which was good for me as a beginner because I was less likely to stab my knife through it…or stab myself.

Holding my trusty knife (BRT Bladeworks) at an angle in my right hand I held the flesh in my left and slowly shaved piece by piece off, peeling it back in strips as much as possible. If you’ve never skinned or fleshed an animal before it is hard to describe the action.

To me it is something you feel. You just know when you’ve got the right angle of the blade to line up perfectly with the flesh. The sun was setting on our property and though my hands were freezing and my latex gloves were too big I found it exciting work.

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Once as much of the flesh was off that I could handle for the evening the question came up of where to store the hide for curing, aka drying. Living on acreage in South Texas is a little different then my accustomed suburban life in Oregon where I am originally from. I had learned previously that leaving any sort of bone/skin out (in my case a fresh jackrabbit skull) will result in burglary from a predator be it raccoon, wild hog, fox, coyote, bobcat or neighbors dog. Lucky for us we had recently built a new duck pen for our mallards and their old pen remained a vacant prison cell perfect for protecting my hide. It is now affectionately referred to as “The skinning shed”.

That evening Boots and I went to the local grocery store in the neighboring town to purchase a large amount of one key ingredient in drying an animal hide: non-iodized salt. Non-iodized salt on the flesh of the animal hide aids in the effort to draw moisture out of it.

We made it home in the dark and I salted the hide immediately with generous amounts of salt. I mean generous! I read to use one pound of salt per pound of hide, but who’re we kidding? Can you really over salt a hide? I didn’t bother with worrying about my salt to hide ratio (Reason number one why I am a terrible baker).

In addition I read that you can let a skin air dry like the Native Americans did however, it is best to use non-iodized salt if there is excess flesh or folds in the hide to speed up the process. Since this was my first hide and salt is so inexpensive I figured it was a good route to take.

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The next few weeks proved interesting. I read that the salt would become absorbed within two or three days and to re-salt for a total of two weeks. However, we had a spell of interesting weather in South Texas that was not condusive to drying anything out: Rain. Rain. Rain.

Because I could not house the hide indoors (I have only about 300 sq ft of living space) I covered the hide with several boards in the skinning shed but moisture still found its way to it. Every day I shook off the excess rain and moisture and re-salted the hide.

Finally- sunshine in Texas!!!

Nearly a month later, with the addition of a couple raccoons**and a lot of salt, my hides are finally cured and are ready for the next step in the tanning process which I will share with you in my next post.

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It isn’t that I think I will have to tan hides to actually survive when a natural disaster occurs- probably not. Being a survivalist to me is not only about real knowledge but mental preparation.

Learning any new task is demanding on your brain in many ways. The ability to focus, follow directions (I am terrible at that!) and execute a new task is sometimes a lot harder then it seems.

Ultimately, in an emergency situation you might not get a second chance. Mental preparation is a key element to survival.

Not only that but working with raw flesh is also taxing on the brain and stomach- and while I do “ew” my way through tasks, sometimes I feel it prepares my body for the unknown emergency.

Sharpening my knife skills are a plus! This is why I think it is always important to learn and try new things- whatever interests you, take on the obstacle and it will mentally prepare you for different situations.

Don’t let anyone tell you that you CAN’T or that it’s too hard. You can, and you will.

IMG_20150130_085640Kristin Brooke Parma

Evo Media Coordinator

**Check your local hunting/trapping regulations, license requirements, etc. before harvesting fur-bearing animals

Connect with me at:

https://www.facebook.com/Czechoutranch

Instagram: Mrsbootsparma

#Czechoutranch

Gumbo: One Dish, Endless Possibilities

Ingredients

The endless possibilities of gumbo are due to the different combinations of ingredients that are possible to include, but one thing they all have in common is that it’s a favorite heart-warming, comfort food of choice for most Cajuns. No two individuals will fix a gumbo exactly the same and most will argue to the death that no one makes it better than their Momma!  I will try to breakdown the different parts of gumbo and explain a few possible variations to give you the basis for your gumbo attempt while sharing my favorite recipe for chicken and andouille gumbo. Fear not! It may look complicated, but in actuality, a gumbo is pretty hard to screw up.

 

Roux (pronounced “rue”) 

Even down to the basic building blocks of the dish, there is often debate on the type of roux that should be used and how dark to make it. You can make a classic roux or an oil free roux just depending on your preference.  All roux is a 1:1 flour to oil (or omit the oil for the oil free version) mixture that is slowly toasted over a low heat  stirring constantly until the desired color is achieved. The darker the coloring, the richer,deeper,nuttier the flavor, so I personally prefer my roux very dark, almost the color of a rich chocolate.  Constant stirring is very important to getting the entire roux a uniform color without burning it. Start over if even the slightest hint of burnt roux is present.  Roux can also be done in the microwave to save time, just be sure to heat in small increments stirring between each. Roux is the basis of many Cajun dishes and it’s flavor can be easily varied by using different oils and flours. If at any point your roux becomes even slightly burnt, do NOT attempt to salvage it in any way. A even slightly burnt roux will mess up the flavoring of the entire dish.

**Warning: Never, ever, EVER let hot roux get onto your skin unless you want to experience what we call Cajun napalm! Seriously, Madea’s hot grits has nothing on a hot pot of roux,**

Roux

 

The Flavor of “The Trinity”

Chopped onions, bell pepper, and celery often make up “The Trinity”.  This, like a roux, is often a staple in the beginning of the majority of Cajun food. I personally am a garlic feign so I add garlic to it (usually in obnoxious amounts) and I often leave out the celery out of personal preference.  Adding the chopped Trinity into the piping hot roux once the desired color is achieved helps break down the veggies quicker and also tempers the roux down so that it doesn’t continue to cook and potentially burn.  You want to be sure to cook down these veggies until tender before added the liquids.

(There is also the option of adding chopped tomato at this point, but then you are diving into the argument of “Creole” vs Cajun gumbo. I’m not a fan of the “Creole” gumbo, so you will never find tomatoes in my gumbo.)

The Trinity

The Meats

The meat choices for gumbo are incredibly unlimited. Basically anything you can catch, shoot, or raise on a farm is considered fair game (well except fish, I’m sure it can be done, but those are better saved for a grill or a Cajun courtbillion).

A few favorite combinations include but not ever limited to are:

Andouille or smoked sausage with chicken, turkey, and/or duck

Shrimp and crab (some add okra to this too)

I usually brown all of my meats (with the exception of seafood obviously) in my pot before cooking my roux and place it aside while the roux and Trinity cook down. It is added back in once all the liquid has been incorporated into the roux so that they simmer in the stock allowing the flavors to incorporate into the gumbo. Be aware that some seafood may overcook if simmered for too long, so add accordingly.

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The Liquids and Seasonings

Only liquids that are hot should be added to the roux and Trinity mixture. I repeat ONLY HOT LIQUIDS! If cold liquid is added the oil/flour mix will separate and cause a “curdled” appearance and preventing the gumbo from properly thickening. The liquid of choice to add is completely up to you, but be sure that it compliments the ingredients. I typically use a half flavor complimentary stock/half water mixture.  Add a large ladle full at a time, being sure to fully incorporate the current hot liquid before adding the next ladle full. Continue to add liquids until desired consistency is reached.

Once the liquid is fully incorporated and your meats have been added, add your seasonings of choice which can vary from a General Cajun seasoning like Tonys to herbs and peppers. Just be sure to remember not to over season or salt the gumbo at this point because as it cooks down the flavors will greatly intensify. I almost always add a few dried bay leaves in there during the simmering process also to add a subtle depth of flavor.

Once everything is added I continue to cook it down for no less than an hour, but I recommend letting it cook for several hours or simmering slowly overnight in a crockpot.

Finishing It Off

A completed gumbo can be topped with a medley of things such as gumbo file (powdered, dried sassafras…my favorite), green onions, paprika, pepper, etc.

Most gumbo is served over rice, but I was brought up to also always have a healthy serving of potato salad along with it (often served right in the bowl). The potato salad we use is of the mustard variety, consisting of minced boiled eggs and potatoes blended together with mayo and mustard and optionally pickle relish and chopped onions. A slice of bread also works wonders as a accompaniment to soak up the juice.

The SINGLE Most Important Part

I know, I know. By this point you’re thinking, “Seriously, Sarah? More to remember?!” Yes!

The single most important part of having a any Cajun dish be the best it can be is to share it with others. Having said this, on a recent adventure to visit some friends up in Pennsylvania, I froze my favorite andouille and packed it in my suitcase so that I could share a taste of Louisiana with them. This is the recipe for the gumbo I shared with them one day after a long day on the  snow catching a few perch on a frozen lake and glassing for elk. Doesn’t get any better than that does it?

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Chicken and Andouille  Gumbo

(Caution: I never actually measure when I cook so these are rough estimates, and I made a huge batch so that they had plenty left overs so feel free to cut down on portions)

2lbs of andouille sliced and halved

2 large chicken breasts diced

8 oz of olive oil

8oz of all purpose flour

2 large onions

2  green bell peppers

3 cloves of garlic

10 cups of half chicken stock and half water mixture

seasonings: Tonys, Louisiana hot sauce, cayenne pepper, bay leaves, gumbo file powder, salt and pepper

Rice, bread, and/or  potato salad to finish it off

Brown the meats, then place them aside as you prepare the roux and the Trinity as I have previously mentioned. Slowly incorporate the stock and water until you get the desired consistency, then reincorporate the meats. Season and let simmer for a few hours.  Serve with rice, bread, and/or potato salad.

Gumbo

Total Archery Challenge: The ultimate 3D trial

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When I first saw mountain goats effortlessly move about a treacherous rocky ridge along the Snake River on the Oregon/Idaho border I dreamt of what it would be like to hunt them with my bow. How exhausting it would be to hike miles in search of the ghost-like creatures and what kind of impossibly lucky shot you’d have to have the opportunity to get.  For a moment I got to imagine that I was there on that ridge at the Total Archery Challenge event in San Antonio, Texas. On a steep muddy incline in the south Texas hill country I drew my bow at 35 yards. Focused. I shot my arrow across the deep ravine and made contact with my target, even if he was only made of foam.

If you’ve never heard of Total Archery Challenge (T.A.C.) you’re about to wonder why. Total Archery Challenge is one of the biggest and best 3D archery shooting events in the United States. The T.A.C. crew is selective about where each event is held in hopes to focus on family friendly locations across the nation where archers of all skill levels can practice their craft.

I had become a fan of 3D archery shooting when I joined a small league in my home state of Oregon. It wasn’t until I moved to Texas last year that I heard about Total Archery Challenge through none other than a conversation about my new dentist (a bow hunter). I immediately contacted the T.A.C. coordinators and volunteered my time for the event at Natural Bridge Caverns in February 2015.  At the event I expanded my knowledge of the benefits of 3D archery from a volunteer and a participant’s perspective. In this article I will discuss and elaborate on my experience.

1. Practice With Purpose

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Adam Parma. EvoOutdoors ASAT hat, EvoOutdoors jersey tshirt

As an outdoorswoman and bow hunter there is much to be said about practicing your craft. Whether you’re a beginner or pro athlete, practice leads to confidence in the field.  Confidence should lead to an improved shot placement when bow hunting wild game. In general, a swift ethical shot is the number one goal when I am hunting. While shooting at Total Archery Challenge I was able to envision bow hunting situations such as the mountain goat on the ridge, an alligator on a riverbank, a strutting turkey in a clearing and much more.

If you read our previous blog written by Stephen Casey, you will know the many benefits as a bow hunter to practicing shooting at different distances and angles. Stephen Casey writes:

I always find it shocking how much can change out on the 3D range when shooting 40 yards downhill as opposed to horizontal… I like to practice with the target at varying inclines and declines, at uneven yardages, and from a kneeling, sitting, or other position(s). A great 3D range with a course that enables this kind of shooting is a great place…I like to consistently push myself to be accurate and consistent at farther distances, so that 40 or 50 yards feels like a breeze.

Total Archery Challenge really emphasized this model. Various courses offered different types of angles, distances and targets.

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EvoOutdoors ASAT hat, EvoOutdoors Women’s Fitted Tee

Intimidated? Don’t be.

One of the best rules about Total Archery Challenge is that participants are allowed to move closer to the target. This rule gives shooters of all skill levels the opportunity to practice what they are comfortable with.

As the name suggests the event was challenging, in more ways than one. I will admit the challenges did toy with my emotions. What I didn’t expect to be an added challenge was the weather. It was an unimaginably cold weekend in South Texas and many elements were against us- wind, rain, freezing temperatures. I watched many Texans struggle against Mother Nature but alas, it was just another obstacle to tackle…and very good practice for hunting in the cold weather.

It must be emphasized  that you don’t have to be a bow hunter to enjoy an event like Total Archery Challenge. In general, any 3D archery event will challenge you and force you to shoot fun, inventive shots which will ultimately help you master your craft.

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NO hunt’N, NO Fish’N, NO Nuth’N

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Members of a local youth archery club at the “warm-up” course

2. Entertainment

Participating in a Total Archery Challenge event might help you develop your bow hunting skills however; the event’s number one goal is to provide a fun and entertaining shoot for all. That being said, not all shots set up would be considered ethical and/or realistic while hunting (Unless you like to think that one day you’ll be taking on zombies hiding in outhouses and hunting blinds).

In addition to several different courses the event boasted a 3D pop up shoot controlled by computers. Described by the event’s coordinators as the archer’s “whack-a-mole” a handful of 3D targets raced across the lawn and popped up without warning. This was an extremely entertaining course to watch and very popular amongst those brave enough to tackle the challenge.

Even more entertaining, the event offered some extreme shots for prizes. By extreme I mean shooting a bulls-eye at an 3D elk target at over 150 yards to be entered into a drawing to win a new truck. Every time an archer would commit to take the challenge a crowd would gather to encourage the shooter. Instant comradery was formed.

My favorite entertainment at the event was a demonstration by local mounted archery rider Serena Lynn of S.T.A.R. (South Texas Archery Riders). The demonstration was a most impressive display of concentration as both rider and horse became one. Serena cantered and galloped across the open field while shooting her recurve bow with ease. Afterwards, Serena invited spectators to come forward with questions and pet her mare, affectionately named “Moonshine.” Serena states that the sport is “empowering and addicting” and hopes to inspire others to get involved. Serena is also confirmed to attend next year’s Total Archery Challenge in Texas. For more information on Serena and S.T.A.R. visit www.southtexasarcheryriders.com

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Serena Lynn of STAR (South Texas Archery Riders)

 

3. Comradery  

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Locals Course: Adam Parma, Kristin Parma, Morgan Garcia

 

Volunteering for the Total Archery Challenge event my friend Morgan (Armed Rogue) and I were given the task of overseeing the warm up course. During our long day spent at the course I spoke with many archers of all backgrounds and ages. I witnessed the gathering of so many types of archery enthusiasts as well as their family and friends who attended the event to cheer them on. In the hundreds of people I laid eyes on at the event not once did I see any severe negativity, aside from cursing the weather.

Adam & I enjoyed getting to shoot with our friends. In addition, we ventured on to another course and made friends a long the way. There was so much comradery between strangers, as well as guidance and direction. Each person wanted to see the other succeed. Inspiring to me was a 16 year old girl named Gabby whom we met. This sharp shooting girl had no fear of any target situation. If she missed the target she laughed, nocked another arrow and tried again. I asked her father how long Gabby had been shooting and he replied, “1…2…about 2 months now.” I couldn’t believe it! It was fun to be inspired by those around me and to be a part of such a positive atmosphere.

Noteworthy, I witnessed the constant dedication of the event’s staff. Setting up and running a large event smoothly is taxing and tough. As volunteers and as participants we were treated with utmost care, concern and hospitality. A true testament to their love of archery and all that comes along with it.

 4. Giving Back: The next generation

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Big kids can shoot the Kid’s Course too!

As outdoorsmen and women we know the value of passing on our passions to the next generation. Total Archery Challenge is a family friendly event and the staff encourage parents to bring their children. The warm up course as well as the kids course offered a fun challenge for kids of all ages. While volunteering, my husband Adam was stationed at the Kid’s Course. Adam reported that he enjoyed seeing kids with all the right equipment and more to get them started in archery. In the end, this is what it’s all about! Inspiring and giving back to the community and the next generation.

Don’t have a bow?

Total Archery Challenge has you covered. You can rent all the equipment you need to participate! No matter your experience with archery I encourage you to join a 3D league or find an archery shoot near you. Contact your local archery shop or to find the nearest Total Archery Challenge near you visit www.totalarcherychallenge.com You won’t regret it!

Thank you to EvoOutdoors for your support at this event. Thank you Total Archery Challenge, especially Monica DeGray for your kindness and hospitality.

Happy shooting!

 Kristin Brooke Parma

EvoOutdoors Media Coordinator

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See you next year Total Archery Challenge!