Modern problem? Medieval solution. With a high tech twist.
My 2013 whitetail season has come to a close. Between training for a new hobby job and extreme weather conditions my time in the woods this season did not meet my ample expectations. No venison for me. Bambi pitched a shutout. Aside from some opening day close encounters it was a good learning experience for not having hunted deer in over twenty years. I learned a lot and am already making serious plans for next year.
One way to game the system (pun intended) is to extend my season. Having two weeks in which to pick out a few days in the woods doesn't leave me much time. Weather and work can get in the way and so can natural seasonal movements and behavior of the whitetail.
The rut as it is known, is the prime annual breeding period for deer. The length of days combined with weather triggers their instinctive most passionate desires when their mind becomes carelessly preoccupied. Rut can happen early or late in the fall. If a relatively short two weeks of the Indiana firearms season doesn't parallel the rut then hunter success can be reduced but likewise it can also be enhanced. Still, way too much is left open to chance.
For my late-in-life whitetail challenge I ruled out archery as my method of choice. Even with modern compound bows I not only suck at archery, my old shoulders simply won't put up with it. As archery season this year was in full swing I was downloading a ton of trail cam data that held proof to me there were countless whitetails browsing our farm in October. During that time they seemed more plentiful than later on during the firearm season in November. When my chances for success were greatest I was legally tag-less.
While working at the big box outfitter store in October a coworker friend that runs the archery department offered his solution to me. He had me try out a modern crossbow after listening to my preference of using a firearm and complaints about the short firearm season. To my surprise the crossbow he had me try out at the fifteen yard in-store range was incredibly accurate, lightweight and fast. He also informed me I could obtain one through a special discount offer between the manufacturer and our store for employees only. It happened to be the best mid-level crossbow available.
The crossbow I chose to purchase is the Parker Bushwacker. This brand is highly regarded at most online archery boards and pro reviewers. Being able to purchase the Bushwacker at 50% off along with my extensive research tells me this was one hell of a buy. While it is not the most powerful or fastest crossbow it will serve my needs more than adequately. It's short (33.5"x24.5") and light (7lbs) so it's easy to carry and maneuver. It has a draw weight of 150 lbs.
The maximum speed is 285 fps for good kill shots up to 40 yards. After 40 yards the power of the broad head/bolt combination lacks the power to get the job done humanely. Since archery season is a time when leaves are still on the trees a 40 yard shot isn't all that possible for me as it is since the woods are much too dense. There are faster crossbows but few are lighter. Some are able to launch a 400 gr. bolt at 420 fps but for my purposes that would be overkill (another pun intended).
Speed helps accuracy, power and distance. I learned the 285 fps speed is good enough to eliminate the lag time when a deer first hears the sound of the string from a good distance away and is reflexively able to jump, making the bolt arrive a split second too late to be perfectly on target.
The scope that came with the Bushwacker is multi-reticle and illuminated by battery making accurate low light shots more possible. At 3x power it's as much as needed within 40 yards. I shot it at the store range and had very tight 1" groups at fifteen yards. Soon I intend to zero in the scope at 20 yards for the top reticle and the lower three will range at thirty, forty and fifty yards respectively.
Since the bolts it came with are carbon fiber I need some cheaper aluminum bolts for target practice since it is so accurate it's possible to splinter one bolt with another. Speaking of target practice I can get plenty of that right here behind the ol' country bunker perched at the second story window without alarming someone as would a gunshot. Since all of my hunting is done from an elevated position this type of practice is a must.
Next October can't get here soon enough. Following that will be November, just in case…