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Don’t kid yourself, archery is expensive for bow hunters

Published: Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2012 10:08 a.m. CST

AUSTIN, Texas (MCT) — When I got into bow hunting, I naively thought that I would save some money on equipment and get lots of extra hunting time with the special season.

After all, once you’ve bought the bow, all you need are a few arrows, maybe some points, a face mask and some smell-good scents, and you’re in business.

Not so fast Natty Bumppo.

This is America, the land of consumerism, where bigger means better and better means more.

As I recall, my first bow, with a dozen arrows and a carrying case, cost me $1,200. The last one, with no carrying case and no arrows, cost me close to $1,500. Arrows run about $100 a dozen, and, between shooting hogs and targets, I go through a couple of dozen during the year.

Mechanical broad heads run about $12 each in a package of three, and I’ll use three or four packages each year. Throw in field points for practice and fixed broad heads for hogs, and there’s another $150 every year.

Then, I have to buy a couple of pop-up blinds every year, because they just don’t make those things to last. That’s another $300-400. Scents will set me back $30 a season, and I’ll buy some new kind of camouflage every year, so figure another $50-75 for that.

What I’m getting at here is that hunting costs money; bow hunting costs real money.

Take binoculars and range finders, for example.

Ordinary binoculars will not do when you’re bow hunting.

Unless you want to be chasing wounded animals or watching your $10 arrow go sailing off into the atmosphere, you better have some kind of range finder hanging from your neck when you’re hunting.

I’ve been using Leica binoculars when I’m stand hunting. They are good and light, but I still need a range finder. Ideally, the binocular and range finder are in the same piece of equipment, but that can run $3,000 to $4,000.

I tried regular range finders for a while, then switched to Leuopold’s range finder binocular. That was less than optimal, since you had to adjust the eyepieces for every distance. Essentially, you were blind except at one range. And they were — are — clunky and heavy.

Then, Bushnell came out with the Fusion 1600 range finder binocular. Reasonably priced — I got mine at McBride’s for $895 before tax — with adjustable center focus and a range out to 1,600 yards, these are perfect for archers.

They also have the angle adjustment compensation measurements built in to the binocular’s computer, which can be set for rifle or bow. The internal display gives you the actual distance, then gives you the angle of incline or decline, and tells you how much adjustment to make when compensating for that angle.

That distance compensation — it’s shorter whether you’re shooting uphill or down — can be critical for archers, where a single yard can mean the difference between a perfect hit and a miss or wounded animal.

I’ve also been trying a new face mask system from some local guys. The Bunkerhead system is really different because it keeps the mask away from your face and that helps keep glasses from fogging up on cold mornings.

I killed an eastern turkey while wearing the face mask last spring and the guys have made some adjustments so that there aren’t so many moving parts.

Basically, the mask clips to the bill of your cap. There’s a flexible frame that can be twisted to allow you to draw a bow or mount a shotgun or rifle. There are different camo patterns and other products such as hoodies to cover your neck. The price point for the face mask is about $20, which is a little high but if you figure to use it for 10 years or more, not so much.

Texas Archery Season for mule deer, whitetails and Rio Grande turkey ends Nov. 2. It is followed immediately by the statewide hunting season, Nov. 3 through Jan. 6.

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