Local bow-hunter shares tips before season starts

Published 12:56 am Sunday, July 26, 2009

FERRIDAY — A 12-point buck stalked below Homer Hewitt’s stand on a cool October morning, Hewitt silently drew back the 60-pound string as he zoned in on the six-inch sweet spot near the heart. He released and felt the exhilaration of the perfect ethical shot.

Bow-hunting season will start Oct. 1 in both Mississippi and Louisiana, and Hewitt, who owns Hewitt’s Archery and Pro Shop and teaches archery classes, has some tips for bow-hunters.

Hewitt said bow-hunters need to scout out locations where there are potential food sources, if the season is dry, a spot along a water source may be best.

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“Look for a persimmon or a honey locust tree,” he said. “If you have access, hunt along the edge of a corn or soybean field.”

The next course for a bow-hunter will be fooling the deer’s senses, Hewitt said if a hunter is up in a stand and being quiet, he or she has fooled his eyes and ears but still needs to be mindful of the deer’s nose.

“A deer’s sense of smell is his best defense,” he said. “Make sure you are on the right side of the deer trail, that way you will be downwind. If you are upwind, the deer will know you are there.”

Hewitt said the appeal to bow-hunting is the challenge involved, but with that challenge comes an ethical code to keep in mind.

“If you can’t get an ethical shot, don’t shoot,” he said. “There have been many deer I have let walk on by because I couldn’t get that shot.

“But you don’t want to have the exhilaration of a great shot to send you to the lowest of the lows when you get down to find you have wounded this beautiful creature,” Hewitt said.

An ethical shot is in a precise area of 6 to 8 inches around the deer’s chest. If the deer is running, concealed or too far away to accurately hit, it risks putting the creature through unnecessary suffering.

“Bow-hunters are using a primitive weapon that travels one fifth the speed of a gunshot,” Hewitt said. “We have to learn to shoot with the kind of precision a surgeon cuts with.

“And if we can’t get that ethical shot, we have to learn to let the deer pass,” he said.

Archery is a sport that requires a lot of time to build the skill, Hewitt said.

“The wonderful thing is you can practice in your yard all summer,” he said. “Then you can take the application that you have learned and release it out in the field. It is an accomplishment.”

Hewitt said bow-hunters have more chances to appreciate nature.

“Walking through the woods you can get a better appreciation of the trees and animals,” he said. “You get to see beautiful things happening out there that you would otherwise miss.”

For safety, Hewitt recommends replacing a bow string every 2,500 shots, or every year, whichever comes first.

“If you pulled back a 60 to 70 pound string and it popped you could be knocked out of the tree and cause some serious damage,” he said.

Cracks in arrows are another issue to look out for, Hewitt said.

“Doctors have found when an arrow cracks, the shaft can end up going into the wrist,” he said.

Hewitt said it is important to be properly fitted for a bow.

“There are about seven ways to shoot a bow correctly, and 1,500 to shoot it wrong,” he said. “People who are teaching themselves with equipment not set for them are probably doing it wrong.”

“I don’t want a new hunter to get discouraged because the weight on their string or training are wrong,” Hewitt said. “Everyone can shoot a bow if they have the proper training and equipment.”