With archery seasons starting in West Virginia on Sept. 25, my backyard has been the local hangout for young bowhunters and my son practicing shooting their bows.
I am always amazed when their energy switches from fishing to hunting.
The transition is very visible — shorts, flip flops, and river attire quickly get replaced with camo and hiking boots.
Their talk switches from top-water baits and smallmouth bass to trail cameras, planting food plots, and treestand placement.
I love the energy and anticipation toward the archery opener seen through the eyes of youth.
Every new season brings a heightened level of anticipation that this year may be the year to fool a mature buck into bow range.
Whether you’re an avid archer or a first-timer to the sport, I offer the following as a resource in grand anticipation of the archery opener. (Plus, I am getting excited too!)
Pre-Archery Season Checklist
1. Rekindle relationships with landowners — It’s never too early to obtain written permission for this year’s season. Remember, the early bird gets the worm or in this case, keys to the gate. Often the difference between the buck of a lifetime and a scrub is hunting where they live. A couple of hours of homework now can pay off later.
2. Get out and scout — Look at topo maps for natural funnels, bedding/feeding areas, and travel routes. Locate mast trees and areas deer are traveling between food and bedding areas. With apps on your phone like onX Maps, getting a bird’s eye view of your hunting grounds is easier than ever. Also, hanging a few trail cameras early to identify which trails the deer are using during the early season can pay big dividends on the season opener.
3. Inspect your bow and have it tuned — Replaced frayed strings, silencers, and realign peep sight. Strings stretch and wear out so visit your local archery counter and get a tune-up. Trust me, it’s money well spent, and finding a good bow shop technician is priceless.
4. Perfecting a pre-shot ritual through practice — Field points are fine for tuning and the initial sighting-in process. Shoot practice broadheads and number the arrows putting the best fliers in your hunting quiver will greatly increase your odds when the shot matters. Buy your broadheads now to avoid not being able to find the ones you want to use this fall. We all know it is hot but practice the same way you are going to play. If you prefer hunting from elevated platforms, hang a stand in your yard the same height as your tree stand.
6. Inspect both permanent and portable treestands — Examine the overall condition of the structure, nails, and bolts of your treestand. Make sure everything is secure and quiet.
7. Purchase necessary licenses and tags — Don’t wait until the last minute and get caught scrambling the night before.
8. Make a plan to take a kid or someone new to the sport, hunting this season — Open a door behind you for the next generation of hunters and shooters. It is time well spent and can perhaps be the most rewarding days afield this season.
I hope this helps you get ready for the upcoming archery seasons and adds to your enjoyment afield. West Virginia archery season for deer, boar, and bear opens Sept. 25. Check the WVDNR regulations for more details.