Pirch-Tanner Barcom With Whitetail

Tanner Barcom, 12, with the great whitetail deer he harvested on the opening day of archery season.

It’s that time for the camo-clad archery hunters to try to outsmart a wily whitetail or a high antlered mule deer buck in any of the units along the Mogollon Rim.

The early season began on Aug. 21 and continues through Sept. 10 for those who purchase an over the counter $45 deer tag. If a hunter does not harvest a buck in the early season, the tag can be used again for the December archery deer hunt.

If you are hunting the pine forests of one of the local units, purchasing an over-the-counter turkey tag for $25 would be a wise choice since both hunts are for the same three-week season.

This is especially true if you are sitting near water because turkeys usually visit stock tanks or springs in the mid morning during these warm late summer days. The target is much smaller, but a well-placed shot within the 30-yard range is very doable for the average archer.

One of the keys to success is practice. Grouping your practice arrows within the 9 or 10 range is the goal at 20 to 30 or 40 yards. Many avid archers can extend the field to almost 100 yards, but again the key is to practice and absolutely know what your equipment and you are capable of in the field.

I enjoy the challenge of archery hunting, but my comfort zone for distance falls into the 20- to 40-yard category, so those are the distances that I practice.

If you don’t have the proper target shooting area, then maybe a visit to a local archery shop with an indoor range is the perfect fit.

Most businesses charge a very nominal fee for the use of their range and more than likely will offer some expert tips on improving your accuracy.

Chasin’ A Dream archery shop has moved to their new location in Star Valley, which was previously the old Circle K market. Owner Jeremy Ulmer or any of his employees are always quick to offer expert advice, so stop by and say hello.

Another key tip for the early deer season is to know the area and where the water sources are. Where there is water in late summer, there will be game, which includes deer and turkeys.

Placing a ground blind or treestand near water or a route to the water can be a golden opportunity to at least see game in the field. Always take plenty of drinking water because a long wait in a blind with temperatures approaching the century mark can be dangerous for a hunter and keeping hydrated is essential.

Wind currents play a key factor in a successful archery deer hunt. A gentle breeze in one’s face will improve your odds of seeing a deer within archery range.

Swirling breezes happen most often during the mid morning through mid afternoon when whitetails may be most active coming to water. This will make it much tougher to get that perfect shot.

If an archery shot is made in the heat of the day it is still wise to wait 20-30 minutes before following the animal. With an accurate shot in the vitals it is likely the deer will go on a short distance and retrieval will be easy.

If that is the case, place the tag on the antlers, get the photos and then quickly remove the hide and begin field dressing. The sooner this happens the tastier the venison will be.

If you like to see game up close where the animal has the advantage, I would recommend archery deer hunting. The late summer hunt ushers in big game hunting in Arizona and it’s a chance to be in the woods with a bow in hand.

Every hunt seems to create a new story and adds to the learning curve of hunting big game with a string and a stick. The odds are greatly in the deer’s favor, but when it all comes together, the challenge is worth it and there will be venison in the freezer.

Good luck on your next archery hunt this fall enjoying the Arizona high country, God’s creation.

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