Release Comparison – What are you shooting?

Like most archers, I started out shooting a compound bow with a wrist-strap style release back when I was in middle school. Not out of choice, it was the only one lying around the house that was available.  For most hunters starting out, after you fork over the money for a bow, sight, quiver, arrows, broadheads and the rest of your hunting gear you have to make some sacrifices.  After all, a release is a release, right?

Not exactly.  Arguably better than finger  shooting. Nowadays there is everything from your traditional wrist-strap & jaw style to a true back-tension style release you’d see on professional archery competition lines (with variants in-between).  Just like there is no one single tool that is the best in every situation, each release has its pros and cons. The most common styles are:

  • Wrist-strap & jaw (index finger triggered)
  • Hand held (thumb trigger)
  • Resistance-activated
  • Back tension

Back-tension are much more common within the target archery world, and though some archers do hunt with them, I am not included in that number.  The style of shooting emphasized with a back tension release is not necessarily best suited to hunting in my opinion, though it is thought that with a back tension style release you can achieve some of the most accurate shooting results.  However, not knowing exactly when my release is going to let off is a deal breaker for me.  Not to mention I rarely have ideal conditions for a shot in the wild. Then again, it could just be that watching my brother punched himself in the face when he first drew a back-tension release ruined my desire.

Resistance activated has a close resemblance to a back tension style release.  Basically, a set amount of “pull” on the release causes the jaw to release.  While I personally have an easier time controlling this than a back-tension, I still do not believe this is a good fit (for me) for hunting.  I’m sure with practice I could get to the hang of it, but I like the control over shot timing that I get with other styles of releases.

While there are multiple variants of the remaining two types of releases, there are some substantial differences between the index finger and thumb triggered release aids.  Let’s start with the one I personally started with;  index finger releases.

Pros:  As I mentioned earlier, they are probably the most prevalent among beginning archers due to the ease of obtaining one (both in price and finding them locally in stores).  They also are easy to pick up and use, especially for the hunters who started off shooting firearms.  For those with weaker forearms, wrists, or hands it can also allow you to pull heavier draw weight.  However, I have found there are some inconsistencies that come with this style release.

Cons:  Especially with a velcro-style strap you may see some variability in draw length (and potentially anchor point) based upon how tight you had the strap the day you were practicing/sighting in your bow.   While a buckle-style strap can help with consistency, variances such as how much clothing you have on your arms that day, if you are sweating or not, and even changes in your body weight can have an impact on your perceived draw length and anchor point when using a wrist-strap style release.   Therefore affecting your accuracy.  In addition to this, I personally tend to “pull” more at the trigger with an index-style release.  As for my biggest pet-peeve with wrist-strap style releases:  I have to wear it all day in the stand instead of just letting it hang from my bow’s D-Loop.  It’s just another thing to get caught on/clank against stuff as I’m trying to be quiet. Think metal on metal contact with your treestand climbing sticks, camera arm, you name it. Not to mention, the last thing I want to do when a bruiser is coming into range is look at my bow to hook on my D-loop.  If you are self-filming your hunts a wrist-strap style release puts the already difficult odds further in the quarry’s favor.

My personal favorite is a thumb release. Ideally, one would shoot this style of release in a similar fashion to a back-tension release.  Using a thumb trigger type release, I feel as if I have ultimate control over my shot timing (which is important when you need to capitalize on that split-second pause you were waiting on).  My accuracy/consistency definitely improved moving to a thumb release, mostly because I no longer had the itchy-trigger finger/target panic I had developed as a kid.  Perhaps my favorite feature of all is that I do not have to wear my release… it stays clipped on my D-loop ready to rock and roll!

There are many brands out there that make good releases, many of which make every style that I have mentioned.  I am quite partial to Carter Enterprises (personal favorite is the Too Simple) as I have used their products for about eight years now and despite thousands of shots, I have never had a single issue.  These releases are rock-solid engineering marvels.  Check out their lineup at www.carterenterprises.com.

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Rich Peace – 2018 Ohio Archery Buck

I’ve heard it said many times that you can’t fill a tag sitting at home. I would argue that it was sitting at home on November 1st that put me in a perfect position to do just that. Of course, the hunt that took place is far from your classic whitetail hunt. However, we must be opportunistic at times. When you are presented with a good chance to put a stalk a whitetail, I would rather err on the side of excitement. As I stood at full draw on what would be my first archery buck since 2013, I had zero regrets as I let my arrow fly!

Earlier that afternoon on my way home from work, I noticed the river behind the house was way above its normal level. As a result, the creek running through my property would be up as well, and that typically shut down deer movement. So in lieu of hunting, I decided to get a few things done around the house.  Shortly after I got home, I took notice of my German short-haired Pointer pup Quinn running frantically from window to window. Nothing unusual for her and typically meant she had spotted a squirrel in the yard, however something about the intensity in her chirping told me there may be something more to it. I walked to the nearest window and pushed open the blinds. I quickly spotted a buck following a doe through a small grown up field behind the house. I watched in amazement as they meandered their way to the northwest corner of the field and bedded down. For a moment, I contemplated going to find my DSLR so I could snap a few photos. Instead, I rushed to the basement to grab my bow, rangefinder, and throw on some camo. Suddenly it dawned on me. I hadn’t the slightest idea what I was about to do. What was the wind like? How would I approach the deer? I carefully considered my options.

A quick check showed the wind was coming out of the ENE which was far from ideal for the approach I had initially considered. I also pulled up my onX Hunt App to look at an aerial photo of the field the deer were bedded in. I had a few small trails mowed through the field that I hoped would assist in my stalk, but it was going to take a lot of luck if this was going to work. Ultimately, I decided to work my way into the field from the southeast corner and head west with the intention to use the trails to help silence my approach before getting within bow range. With a deep breath, I pushed out the door and fell into a crouch as I made my way across the yard.

As expected, I had little trouble reaching my entry point. The eastern edge of the field was grown up enough that I had ample cover, however I couldn’t go far before I would have to be much more careful. The gusting wind and several inches of rain over the past few days helped to silence my movement. About 20 yards into the field, I thought things were going perfect. That was of course until I got tangled up in some wild rose briars. I worked frantically to get loose but felt I was causing to much of a ruckus. With the next gust of wind, I ripped myself free. I looked up quickly fearing that I might have alerted the buck to my presence, but I couldn’t see him. I waited a few seconds to be safe, and then I began moving forward once more. I could see the mowed trail ahead of me. The buck should be within 40 yards now. Cautiously, I raised my head to see if I could spot the buck’s antlers, but there was nothing to be seen. I thought it might be the vantage point I had, so I moved forward a few more yards. Once again, I raised my head only to see an empty field before me. I was surprised as I felt I should be able to see the buck by now. Hesitant to go any further without first pinpointing his location, I began to lift myself up off the ground. Before I was even sitting upright on my knees, I heard stomping to my right. There at about 45 yards stood the doe starting right at me. She had clearly spotted me, but it appeared the buck had not, his full attention was on her. Before he had a chance to spot me, I nocked an arrow and cranked my bow back. Just as I anchored, the buck popped out from behind a small brush pile and jerked his head my direction. I found him through my peep sight and held the second pin on my Fast Eddie XL just a little low. The buck took one step as I touched off my Carter Wise Choice release. My arrow took the buck right at the last rib and exited just a few inches behind the front shoulder. He whirled around and plowed through a honey suckle bush before I lost sight of him. I did my best to listen as he ran down the hill, but the wind made it impossible. I didn’t hear him crash, but I knew he wasn’t going far with a Whitetail Special through his vitals!

I stood for a minute in complete disbelief! Had that really just happened? I made a few quick phone calls to my dad and few hunting buddies after seeing a lot of good blood at the point of impact and a blood soaked arrow.  I was so excited that I wasted little time before I took up the trail. The trail was easy to follow, and the buck was bleeding out of both sides. I trailed him all the way to the base of the hill before the blood trail ended at the creek. Most of the year, this wouldn’t have been any concern, but the heavy rainfall had caused the creek to rise well above normal levels. My heart sank immediately, and I was suddenly questioning my shot placement. I was 90% certain the shot was good, but I was a little surprised the buck had chosen to traverse the flooded creek. Before accepting the buck had swam across, I grid searched the area around the creek for about 50 yards in every direction. Just as I was about to give up hope, I found a single drop of blood. A few feet later, a few more drops, and then the blood trail was back just as heavy as before. It was as if the buck had come upon the creek unexpectedly and gotten out as quick as he could. For another 50 or 60 yards I followed the blood trail before it once again terminated into the creek. I searched for a hundred yards in every direction, but there was no more blood to be found. I was convinced the buck had swam the creek. I found myself on Facetime with good friend and SELFILMED member Steve Shields looking for advice. I showed him the blood trail and we both agreed the buck had to be dead. He asked me if I could see where the buck had exited the creek on the other side, but I could not. Not at first anyhow, but upon second glance I could see blood. A heaping pile of blood on…I started laughing. I told Steve I could see blood and felt confident I knew where the buck was. I turned the camera on my phone to show him, but the picture wasn’t clear enough for him to make out the main beam sticking out from the brush. At last, I told him I could see the buck lying dead. I had finally ended my 6-year drought on archery bucks. To say I was pumped was an understatement, but the work had just begun, and I knew there was only one way to get to the buck.

A short while later, I stood with my kids and a good friend as I dove into the cold waters and swam to my buck. It was far from enjoyable, but the second I put my hands on the deer’s rack, I forgot all about the cold. Fixing a rope to his antlers, I jumped back in and returned as we pulled the buck back across and shared a few high fives before dragging him up the hill. What had started out as a normal afternoon quickly turned into an adventure I won’t soon forget. Best of all, I got to share the recovery with my daughter and oldest son. They were just as excited as I was, and it was perfect timing as we will be spending the next few weeks trying to get Morgan her first deer as well. Best of all, as of this writing, there have been a few more deer to hit the ground for the SELFILMED crew. Brett got us kicked off in October and things are looking up for us this year as there is a lot of season left and a few tags to be filled yet in other states. Check back soon at www.selfilmed.com/blog for more field updates from our 2018/19 deer season.

Rich’s Gear:

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New SELFILMED Intro Released!

We are working hard behind the scenes to get more hunting content up on the site as soon as possible.  Part of this effort included completely redoing our video intro for the 2018-2019 hunting season.  Let us know what you think about the intro by commenting below!

If you like what you see, please smash that “subscribe” button to subscribe to our YouTube channel.  Stay tuned to our website, blog and social media channels for future updates.

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October 13, 2018 – Ohio Archery Buck

It was now almost five years since I had successfully filled a buck tag here in Ohio.  The last buck tag I’ve filled was on November 3rd of 2013 to be exact.  I had spent countless hours in the tree and in a blind over the course of those five years and passed up buck after buck, sit after sit, waiting for the right one to come by.  Of course I had close encounters here and there, but could never close the distance on a buck I had my eyes on, or at least one I’d be happy to put my tag on. Unlike my unsuccessful years, it took only three hunts this fall to find the one.  Three hunts.

I’ll start with a quick recap of the first two hunts before diving into my successful hunt on the 13th.  Season opens up for us in Ohio in late September.  It’s typically hot, humid, and the mosquitos are relentless that time of year.  This year, season opened on the 29th and unlike other years, it was quite a bit cooler on opening morning (50’s or so). After a long night the night before preparing, I was up bright and early ready to get the 2018 season underway.  That morning I took a step into my treestand and one of the cables snapped!  I was luckily hooked into the lifeline on the tree, and since the other cable was still holding I made the bold decision to hunt that morning from a somewhat unsafe treestand.  To add insult to injury, around 9:30AM or so, a few does came in…and to make a long story short, my Carn-four tipped arrow ate tree bark instead of whitetail.

I spent the next day relocating that set and replacing the stand as well as setting up a new set over a small food plot I had planted earlier in September.  Fast forward another week and summer decided to again rear itself in the Buckeye state.  Temps soared to the upper 80’s, and mosquitos came out in full force.  I saw a small buck around 10AM but that was about it.  With a similar forecast for the next day, I decided to wait and not hunt until conditions improved.  It only took another week and the weather again took another 180 degree turn.  The weather forecast was showing lows in the upper 30’s/lower 40’s with a NW wind.  The perfect conditions to sit in the new set I had relocated a couple of weeks prior.

I made it into the woods about 30 minutes before shooting light and situated all of my gear after climbing 20′ up into my Lonewolf stand.  I sat and watched the woods come alive as the sun peered over the horizon and through the leaves behind me.  Squirrels ran rampant across the forest floor and through the tree tops searching for acorns.  A lone raccoon also ventured across one of the shooting lanes in front of my stand and made its way up and down a couple of trees no more than 30 yards away.  I was tempted to help out the local turkey population, but quickly realized that raccoon season wasn’t open for a few weeks yet, so he got a free pass.

After the raccoon finally made its way off into the distance, I spent a bit of time shooting b-roll and playing with a few of the settings on my camcorder while the morning ticked on by.  The weather and temperature were perfect I thought to myself, but the deer were obviously not following the script. I spent the next half hour or so catching myself dozing off.  It was overcast and cool but I was warm and cozy in my Sitka Stratus bibs and jacket with only a few layers underneath.

Around 10:15AM I glanced towards a large oak tree that was sitting about 50 yards away directly in front of me and caught movement through the thick honeysuckle.  After quickly realizing it was a whitetail, I immediately reached for my camcorder to start recording.  I no more than got the camera turned on, pointed in the general direction and recording when I suddenly notice the headgear.  I grabbed my bow, turned on the second angle GoPro mounted to it and moved my attention to getting the deer in the viewfinder on my camera.

When I first noticed the antlers, I wasn’t positive he was going to be a shooter, but as he cleared from behind a honeysuckle bush, I quickly noticed the tall tines and wide spread between them.  He was being followed by a smaller buck as they both headed directly for my tree.  There was a small trail offshoot that began about 10 yards in front of me and shooting off to my right, the bucks left, heading back to a large block of timber.  I tried to hold my composure as he got closer and closer and eventually turned to take the small trail to my right.  I repositioned the camera to make sure he stayed in frame and began to come to full draw.  I tried to stop him at first by giving out a soft “meh”, and when he didn’t immediately stop, I became more insistent and eventually let out a loud “bah” to get him to come to a complete stop.  He stood broadside at only 10 yards away.

I settled the top pin slightly above mid-chest and my arrow hit its mark, high chest with projected exit low in the offside shoulder.  He took off and expired after only 30 to 40 yards in a few short seconds.  Just like that the monkey was off of my back.

A quick tip for those shooting an adjustable type sight.  I keep my Fast Eddie XL dial set on 30 yards for the top pin knowing I can shoot anything in closer by compensating on my aiming point slightly to hit where I want.  It has worked perfectly for me and reduces the need for me to adjust my sight dial for 99% of my whitetail hunts.

Although I am ecstatic to have filled my buck tag, I must admit that I’m a bit bummed that I will be missing out on the fun of hunting a buck during the rut.  I’m not saying that I won’t be hunting anymore this fall, I still have 5 doe tags I can fill in the two counties I hunt – and I intend to fill a few of them.  This will however give me the opportunity to spend a little more time with my wife and daughter through the fall and winter months, which I’m sure they will appreciate as much as I will.

Brett’s Gear:

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