Bow hunters across the Volunteer State are ready to climb a tree and pull a string. Practice time is over. The game begins Saturday as the state’s archery season opens in all 95 counties.
Archery season dates in all five of the state’s deer hunting units are the same. The dates are Saturday through Oct. 26 and Oct. 29-Nov. 2.
Tennessee is divided into five deer units for better management — A, B, C, D and L. The antlerless deer bag limits are four in Units A-D management areas and three a day in Unit L areas. The antlered deer bag limit is a total of two for the entire deer season.
In addition to deer, archers may harvest one bearded turkey during the archery-only deer season in counties that have a fall turkey hunt. Turkeys harvested during the archery-only deer season count toward the fall turkey county bag limits.
So, are you ready? Odds are several hunters are anxious for the bow season to kick in but may not have taken the time to properly prepare before taking that first shot once the season opens.
“There’s a checklist that bow hunters need to follow each year as the season opener arrives and you’d be surprised how many hunters fail to take the time to check out their bow before going to the field,” said Brian Hopkins, archery technician at Hulme Sporting Goods in Paris. “If they would practice ahead of season and test their equipment it would save them a lot of frustration.”
Hopkins ought to know, as he’s seen lots of neglected equipment and disgruntled hunters come in the door once they’ve missed a nice deer. In most cases the scenario could have been prevented.
Here are a few things Hopkins recommends to all archery hunters:
• Don’t neglect your strings. He says dry firing, especially on crossbows, can increase aging and damage.
• Wax your strings before hunting season.
• Replace strings every three years or so as they will dry rot.
• Have your bow tuned up. Timing the cams to work in harmony is important.
• Does your bow still fit? The draw range can change as a person ages.
• Practicing is mandatory. Don’t go hunting without practice and expect everything to work perfectly.
• Don’t wait until the last minute. Take your bow to a technician long before the season opens and get it checked out. It’s like a lawnmower; don’t wait until the grass needs mowing before servicing the engine.
• Today’s menu of archery equipment and accessories continues to reflect the advances in technology. Modern day bows are lighter, faster and stronger with less noise and vibration than their ancestors.
Prices for entry level bows ready to take to the field start around the $450 range with top-of-the-line models offering more features ringing the register to the tune of $1,000. Like cars, there is a wide price range available for today’s deer hunters.
The list of accessories seems endless to a novice but technicians like Hopkins can help get you started on the right foot and keep you tuned up for many years to come.
Using his experience and recommendations will save you lots of headaches and make the sport of archery hunting and shooting more enjoyable.
Meanwhile, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency makes the recommendation that all archery hunters obtain a 2018-19 Tennessee Hunting and Trapping Guide. The guide lists the counties and bag limits for each of the different deer management units.
Guides are available at any license agent and on the TWRA website, www.tnwildlife.org, and the TWRA app.
Hunters are reminded that they must possess the appropriate licenses and permits.
Any hunter born on or after Jan. 1, 1969, is required to carry proof of satisfactory completion of a hunter education class or be in possession of the Apprentice Hunting License (along with other required licenses), while hunting any species in Tennessee.
STEVE McCADAMS is The Post-Intelligencer’s outdoors writer. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.