By: Ryan Johnson

I had some work to do last week in the north end of the valley, so my bow just “happened” to find its way into my work truck. After my jobs were wrapped up, I hit the 3D course on the mountain.

It was that quiet time of evening, maybe an hour before dark and just after a rainstorm had passed. The woods seemed to stand perfectly still. I stepped up to first target, a 38-yard bear. As I reached down to hook my release on to the D loop, it let out a loud squeak as the head pivoted. It may as well have been a D-10 dozer coming down the side of the mountain amongst the silence of the evening. Immediately, visions of a gargantuan mule deer rolling out of his bed at mock 10 raced through my head.

Like most of you, I wait all year for hunting season. For those of us who hunt out west, August means the start is very, very close. If you’re an eastern whitetail kind of person, well you haven’t much more time. And little things like a release squeak—no matter how much your gear cost, no matter how much you pattern a buck, or how much coin you spend on that dream hunt—could cost you that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Take Ten Minutes Now and Work Over Your Bow and Accessories to Ensure This Doesn’t Happen to You

I like to start by simply taking an allen wrench set and checking every single bolt on the bow for tightness.

Pay extra attention to screws in and around your rest and sight.

Pay attention to where your mods bolt to the cam is a suspect place also.

Using blue lock tight in key areas, like your mod screws, is good peace of mind as well; just don’t overdo it and stay away from the red stuff; it’s sure to cause you problems later.

After a Quick Once Over on Bolts, Take a Close Look at the C-Clips and E-Clips That Hold Your Cam and Yoke Bearings to the Axle

Make sure they’re all there and don’t seemed stretched out.

Draw your bow and check the serving on those places that like to “hide,”such as under your cable roller bearings or the part of the string that winds up onto the cam.

Take the Time to Shoot Your Bow in the Clothes You Anticipate Hunting In

I know it’s cliché, but the last thing you want is to find out in the moment of truth that your water bladder hose catches your string or your binocular harness sticks out too far. Maybe your backpack straps creak or as in my case, your release squeaks as it rotates.

Also practice shooting with your quiver on and off. On my setup if I have a quiver on the side of my bow, I need a back bar to keep from kicking my arrows out right. Conversely, when my quiver comes off, so does my back bar. 

Number Your Arrows

Another overlooked tip is numbering your arrows. It’s amazing how often a specific arrow just doesn’t want to play well with the others. By writing a number on a vane of each arrow you can identify one that’s being a troublemaker. Make it your grouse arrow or leave it at home.

Mark Up Your Bow

Lastly, once all my bits and pieces seem to be in line and my broadheads are flying true, I take a paint marker or sharpie and make little marks on my cam on either side of the limb. This allows me to easily check my bow is still in tune if it happens to take a tumble, goes for a rough ATV ride or gets tossed around by a baggage attendant anxious for lunch.

I also like to make marks on my rest and sight for both the windage and elevation adjustments for the same reason. One quick glance can give me the assurance I need that everything is still happy.

It’s the most wonderful time of year, if you’re a bowhunter. The air is filled with hope and excitement and the thoughts of, “Could this be the year?” Whether it’s hours upon hours of checking trail cameras, hours upon hours of watching that special bull, or hours upon hours of working your tail off to save up for that dream hunt, don’t let all your hard work get ruined because you didn’t take ten minutes now to shore up the little things that ultimately make a big difference.

By Ryan Johnson, Bowtech Pro Staff

Chances are, if you’re a bowhunter, you fall in to one of two categories: an elk hunting junky or someone who’s always dreamed about elk hunting. If you find yourself in the first category, please let me know if you want to start a support group, we can drown our withdrawals in some over-priced coffee until fall hits. If, however, you identify more with the second group, this article is for you.

For many, elk hunting is a dream that stirs the soul but seems about as realistic as tossing a touchdown pass to Gronk, or playing 18 with Rory. That, I feel, is one of the biggest misconceptions for the have-yet-to elk hunter. You can elk hunt this year, I promise you, if you’re willing to do a bit of leg work right now.

The first and most important step is having realistic expectations. We all see magazine articles; oh excuse me, nowadays Facebook and Instagram posts, of giant bulls walking through lush green meadows with 23 cows and screaming their brains out. This is where the newbie gets led astray. These types of hunts can happen to any elk hunter, on any hunt, in any western state (and now a couple back east as well) but the reality is, most of these types of hunts either take a small fortune, a guide and an awesome chunk of private ground, OR many years of playing the tag draw game. However, if you just want to get out west and pursue the majestic wapiti, it can realistically be done for a grand or two each year. As archery hunters, we have the bonus of season dates falling where the opportunity to call in a satellite bull slinking through the dark timber to hair raising close distances is very much a reality for those willing to wear out a little boot leather.

So, here’s the skinny on hunting elk out west this fall, or as much as I can cram in just a few paragraphs. I will add that there is an endless amount of resources available to anyone tech savvy enough to find it. Honestly, it’s not that hard and I list a few of my favorites at the bottom.

Okay, we’ve decided that just getting out west and looking for an elk this fall is a must. But where do we go? Idaho? Colorado? Utah or New Mexico? The answer is yes! For those that don’t already know, every state in the West offers elk tags via a draw process. Each state’s process varies to some degree and some states offer over-the-counter or easy-to-draw tags. Most states award some sort of “point” for each year you apply but do not draw, except for Idaho and New Mexico. The number of accumulated points increases your odds of drawing a tag in that state. As a rule of thumb, the harder the tag is to draw the better the hunting will be. It’s best to approach the elk draws with a strategy and I would suggest this one; Identify a state or area that offers the over-the-counter tag or easy to draw type tag AND you have a connection to. A long-lost high school buddy, a cousin, that good friend that’s always said “come on out” but you’ve never taking him or her up on it.

Use this hunt to get your elk hunting feet wet. Find a way to stash a hundred bucks each month and make yourself just go hunt elk every year or every other year. Plan to work hard for the 10 days you’re there and look at it as building your elk hunting knowledge bank. If you happen to score, awesome! If you don’t, you’ll have the time of your life. Colorado and Montana offer good options for the over-the-counter guy or gal, and Wyoming has good hunting on their general elk tag which has to be drawn but has very good odds of drawing every other year or so. Use your connection to identify roads and access points, and maybe a place to grab a warm shower every few days or at least have an emergency contact close by.

At the same time, start building points in as many states as makes sense for your budget. Colorado and Wyoming offer decent hunts that can reasonably be expected to draw within a decade. New Mexico and Idaho both have true lottery systems with no points, meaning you have as good of chance of drawing in year one as you do in year 20. Utah, Arizona, and Nevada offer some of the best elk hunts in the west in states with a point system but be prepared to wait 10-20 years for that coveted tag. Some states require you to front the entire tag fee and return most of it if you do not draw, while others do not require you to front fees, but will likely get you with a larger application fee and/or even a small game license.

What this plan will accomplish is allowing you to gain some elk hunting mojo by getting out and hunting. Even the best elk tags still require work; elk don’t just stand on the side of the road. They like deep dark hidey holes and trust their nose with their lives, literally. Spend some time learning a area that you can hunt regularly to find some of those hidey holes and learn how elk behave. Then, when the magic hits and you score that dream tag, you have the tools you’ve been able to put in your tool box that will allow you to make the most of your “dream hunt.”

Here’s a few tips to help you along the way:

  • Use OnX maps to help find units with good amounts of public land to hunt. There’s nothing worse than finding out your unit is riddled with private property after you’ve picked up your tag; (No I’m not sponsored, there’s just not anything else that even comes close on the market right now when it comes to public/private land sorting apart from amassing a library of paper maps).
  • Most state game agencies will publish draw odds on their websites along with harvest statistics allowing you to find areas in which you can realistically draw tags and have a decent chance of at least finding elk. Keep in mind anything north of 15-20% harvest success is darn good.
  • The states that offer a point system use one of two types: Preference Points or Bonus Points. A Preference Point System is a true winner take all system. Those with the most points get the tags for that unit or hunt code. This gives a hunter the ability to somewhat predict when they will draw a tag. Bonus Point systems usually have a split, where a portion of the tags are given to the top point holders and a portion is drawn randomly amongst all applicants, giving all who apply at least a chance of drawing, all though the odds are often very low.
  • Apply for tags online. Often the online process will not allow you to make a mistake. If applying on paper and you miss enter a hunt code or forget to add a $5 conservation fee or whatever the case, your application will be rejected.
  • Hunt as often as you can!! Every single year people draw tags they’ve been waiting multiple decades for only to learn they know nothing about elk hunting and waste their tag.
  • Don’t overlook late season rifle hunts. It can be cold, many of them are just cow hunts, but it can certainly open the door to elk hunting in a successful way.
  • If you’re after a bull hunt, plan your vacation days for as late in September as you can. As a rule of thumb, September 15 – early October will be prime rut dates.
  • Application periods are early! End of January through May for most states. Even though it’s snowy and cold outside, you need to start planning your elk hunt now!

This in no way is a complete list, not by a long shot. But I hope it at least encourages you to start thinking about making your dream a reality. Use the resources below to expand your knowledge and good luck!

By Jon E. Silks

Gear Testing Editor – Petersen’s Bowhunting Magazine


The expert reviews keep rolling in!

“Shooting the SR6 was a pleasure – they could have named it the SR6 SS.”

“Shooting the Realm SS in the smooth setting will have you questioning the draw-weight setting. It is extremely easy to draw front to back in this setting and feels as if the bow is set to a lower weight.”

– Jon E. Silks, Petersen’s Bowhunting

Read Jon’s full Realm SS and Realm SR6 review at:

2019 Bowtech Launch: Realm SR6 & SS Review


By Jace Bauserman – Editor In Chief: Bowhunting World

“Shoot this bow once — just once — and it will instantly make you happy. Bowtech wanted smooth … well, mission accomplished. And not only did they accomplish it, in my opinion, the Realm SS sets a new standard in smoothness of draw.” – Jace Bauserman

Read the full article: First Look and Field Test: 2019 Bowtech Realm SS




By: Easton Ames:

Author – Bowhunting World/ Archery Business


Value comes in many forms, and there’s certainly no reason to go broke buying a new rig. Today’s mid-priced models are simply designed to perform. Whether you’re a farmland deer hunter or a backcountry elk addict, here are 10 budget bows you can trust…


Few companies can compare to Bowtech when it comes to ground-breaking technology. Naturally, when the engineers behind the bows come up with something revolutionary, it’s incorporated into the flagship models. Within a few years, however, that same technology will trickle down through their lineup, which makes bows such as the Fuel ($500) an absolute steal for the price.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE – Bowhunting World: 10 Best Budget Bows for 2018


By Scott Bestul

Field & Stream


Each January, the archery and bowhunting industry converges for the annual Archery Trade Association show. This is where most of the new products for the following season are debuted. The convention hall is surrounded by shooting lanes, giving us a chance to try all the year’s top new bows. Here’s a look at some of our brand-new favorites.


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