Previously published in the Traditional Bowhunter Magazine , Tips from the old timer is one of my favourites sections. Dennis makes a great work with these tips. Enjoy.
The Adventurous bowhunter team
Living in the Pacific Northwest, I have lots of experience living with rain. I have tried more rain gear than I would like to admit. I have finally settled on using the versatile poncho as my garment of choice when hunting in rainy conditions. This versatility is the main reason for choosing the poncho. Remember that our U.S. military spent a lot of money developing the poncho for use in field conditions.
I’ve used one on several occasions as an emergency bivi tent, by wrapping a small rock in each corner and tying off to any secure object. Naturally, you have to tie the hood closed in rainy conditions; but once this is done, I’ve found a bungee cord handy to pull the poncho into a tent shape. In cold and rainy conditions (like Alaska) the poncho will capture more body heat when sitting in one place. In a pinch, the poncho can be used to capture rain water for drinking. The poncho can also be used as a waterproof covering for your pack or to cover butchered meat. When dressing an animal, it is also useful as a convenient and clean place to lay cuts of meat. There is one little trick that you will have to master with a poncho and that is – Shooting while wearing one. Most ponchos have vertical fasteners on each side, running from under the arm hole to the bottom of the hem. To shoot, simple unfasten the left side completely (assuming you are a right hand shooter- left hand shooters, unfasten right side) and throw the front panel of the poncho over your right shoulder (left hand shooters throw over right shoulder). By so doing, your bow arm is left unencumbered which allows you to shoot without hitting any part of the poncho. I prefer the fasteners to be simple snaps instead of Velcro in order to eliminate the noise. I also prefer a poncho that is made with very thin veneer material which makes walking in one much easier. Remember to choose one that is long enough to use as a bivi if necessary.
When hunting in hot climates, I prefer to sleep in a hammock. There are several high quality “ultra light” backpacker hammocks available at any good mountaineering store. Be sure to try one out before buying. Getting in and out of these hammocks can take a little practice and the cheap ones are simply too narrow to be comfortable. Aside from the cooling benefits of a hammock, they can be very useful for other things: It makes a good food cache bag in bear country; it keeps you away from the ever present ants; in a pinch, it makes a serviceable tree stand; it can even be used as an emergency fish trap. I purchase mine in green or brown color (hard to find, so you might need to dye one) for use as a portable ground blind. By using four bungee cords to suspend the hammock and a few small twigs, it makes for a great blind when varmint calling or to bugle elk. One helpful hint when using a hammock to sleep in- You will hardly ever find two trees the correct distance apart to attach your hammock; so invest in some once inch wide nylon webbing with a mountaineering cinch clamp that will let you adjust the “stretch” of your hammock. Remember to pull the hammock tight between two trees because they will stretch once your body weight is in it.
Someone smart once said “Cleanliness is near Godliness” . Whoever said this was probably a backpacker. Personal hygiene can be very important when you are “fly” camping. Aside from the health and comfort aspects, feeling “clean” can add immensely to your mental attitude, which keeps you from heading back to the truck ahead of schedule. A hunting buddy introduced me to a very simple routine that can start off your day with a positive attitude. I know this may sound dumb, but don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. Boil some water as soon as you get out of your bag (you will need it for coffee anyway) and pour some boiling water on a wash cloth. As soon as you can stand it, drape the wash cloth over your face and thoroughly wash your face (if you’re really grimy feeling, you might want to hit a few other areas as well). Try this at home and see if it doesn’t make you feel “different”.
N-Rit backpacking towel
Fast Flight strings- do they give any advantage? Keep in mind that if you wish to shoot Fast Flight strings, your bow must be able to handle them. Usually this means beefing up the limb tips. Don’t try Fast Flight strings on some of the older traditional bows you may be collecting! I consulted my arrow making guru (Bob Burton of Whispering Winds Arrows) and he tells me that you should add 5 lbs. In spine weight of your arrows if you shot Fast Flight and that you can expect a “little” increase in arrow speed. I have all my bows made to handle Fast Flight strings and I shoot them for one reason- I don’t have to wear an arm guard. Since these strings do not stretch, they stop at the end of the string “throw”, which prevents the string from carrying forward into your arm. In fact, I think it makes a convenient monitor for bow torque. If you hit your arm using Fast Flight strings, you are gripping the handle incorrectly. With proper hand position and Fast Flight strings, you should never need an arm guard, unless you use one to keep loose fitting clothes out of the way. Add to this that Fast Flight strings wear like iron and I have to conclude that they do have advantages.