Department of Fish and Wildlife
Kentucky Afield Outdoors: Preparing your bow for the offseason
the third of a series of articles detailing essential outdoor skills to learn
before the warm winds of spring arrive in Kentucky.
FRANKFORT, Ky. – Archery hunters in
Kentucky enjoy a generous deer season that opens in late summer and spans more
than four months.
When it closed
earlier this week, hunters had pushed the overall harvest past 130,000 for the
third consecutive season and to Kentucky’s second-highest harvest total on
Archers played a
big role in the success, arrowing more than 18,000 whitetails, and may be left
wondering what to do next.
bowhunter might turn attention to other hunting opportunities or devote more
time to improving shooting form and skills through practice.
For those who
intend to put their bow up, performing some routine maintenance now can help
ensure it’s ready to go when the urge hits to reach for it again.
“If you shot it
and were comfortable with it all fall and put it away, you should feel
comfortable enough when you get ready to pull it back out that it’s still
pretty close,” said Dave Frederick, public lands biologist with the Kentucky
Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources and a high school archery coach.
“You’re still going to have to shoot it and make sure your arrows are on
A bow’s lifeline
is its string and cables, so it’s important to inspect them for wear and
replace any that are damaged.
A broken string is
the worst-case scenario, and it happens all the time, Kentucky Fish and
Wildlife Lt. Richard Adkins said.
“It usually breaks
at the contact points in the cam where the string rolls,” said Adkins, who
started bowhunting when he was 15 years old. “When you shoot that bow and that
cam whips, there are high-wear areas on the cables. If those are left unchecked
or you just keep shooting, there’s a possibility your string could break. You
don’t want to take that chance.”
To protect your
string and cables, apply string wax and work it in by hand or with a small
piece of leather. The friction warms the wax and helps the string absorb it.
strings well waxed and protected is a big thing,” Frederick said. “Even when
the bow is not in use, it conditions those strings and makes them last longer.”
Whether you hunted
a few days or several, you’ve been out in the elements.
Rain and snow
fell, and temperatures fluctuated wildly during Kentucky’s archery deer season.
Take a damp cloth and wipe off any accumulated dirt and grime. This is also a
good time to clean any broadheads. If a bow sight uses batteries, remove them
to eliminate the risk of corrosion. Also, check and tighten any loose screws
and make sure all attachment points for bow accessories are secure.
practice is to inspect the bow’s limbs, looking for any cracks or splinters.
“I can’t tell you
how many people have brought me bows and I’ve found cracked limbs,” Adkins
said. “You need to check your limbs and inspect them.”
satisfied the bow is in good shape, store it somewhere that isn’t prone to
extreme heat or exposed to direct sunlight. Ultraviolet light can damage
certain materials on the bow over time.
“My bow is usually
in its bow case during the offseason, if I have an offseason,” Frederick said.
“If I know I’m going to be shooting my bow two or three nights this week, I’ve
got hooks in my basement where it’s not in direct sunlight.”
manufacturer’s maintenance recommendations and specs, but know your
limitations. If you don’t feel comfortable performing the work, or don’t have
the proper tools, ask a fellow bowhunter or visit your local pro shop.
A diligent archer
becomes intimately familiar with a bow over time and inspects it before and
after every use. The end of bow season is a good time to do the same. Doing so
can prolong the life of a bow and instill confidence that it will be ready to
perform when it counts most.