Getting Ready

IMG_1886It’s getting to be that time of year again!  The days are getting a little shorter and that certain kind of breeze is beginning to blow.  Birds are chirping a certain way, nature is alive.  I seem to be spending more time in my archery room, getting my bow tuned up and making sure I’ve got the right arrows; checking the points for straightness, making sure the feathers are on firm.  Taking the lucky arrows that will come along on the hunt and making sure they’re doing their job by flying straight and looking cool.  Carefully sharpening my Zwickey’s, same ones I’ve used forever.  Two blade Eskimo, I love EM’, I think I got my first Zwickey blades probably fifty years ago and my first deer at about that same time; they’ve never failed me.

In past years…. when I went to archery shoots they always had the steel deer shot and you had to shoot a broadhead through a heart sized hole and the only broadhead that I ever saw stuck in the targets was the Zwickey, lots of others on the ground with broken or bent shafts, but none stuck in the steel like Zwickeys.  I figure if the blade is strong enough to stick in steel then it ought to be good enough to go through whatever critter I might shoot at. Admittedly, I have stuck a few in the steel myself.  It was always a pretty tough shot and when you missed the hole everyone in your group insisted you had to try it again, that practice could get expensive.

IMG_1894Getting ready for hunting season, I draw upon past experience to help me prep for the future.   It’s the small things on hunts that have helped me over the years become a more successful hunter.  I do remember the time I was out hunting and I pulled out an arrow hitting the string with a broadhead, I had to walk miles back to camp for a replacement string.  All because I was too stupid to make sure I had a spare, lucky it was only a day hunt from camp and I had more strings back at home base.  Extra string nocks and whiskers are a must also.  Time for a hint—if you find yourself out in the woods and you need a string nock you can make a very passable one out of dental floss, same goes for serving, “dental tape” works best, same as floss only thicker and stronger. Of course I make sure I have extra arrow nocks too.  All of these thing give you something to do while your mind is on hunting, you need to get ready and keep busy.  Got to check all of the camping gear, shake out the sleeping bag to see if any critters have taken up residence, that’s a thrill I don’t need.  Drag out the Coleman stuff and make sure it works, batteries, matches, knives , sharpeners, etc.  Get clothes out and get them cleaned up, put some oil on the boots and I’m about ready to go.  I have my kit with canned food stuff and dry goods that I try to keep ready all the time, but stuff happens.


I even clean out the freezer and find delectable treats from past adventures.  That’s what I do to pass the time until season begins.  Salmon season is another fun distraction…  they’re running hot and heavy right about the time archery season is just starting so you better get the fishing gear ready as well.  Ducks and geese will be coming in during fishing season so it’s necessary to get out the decoys, clean them up, check out the waders for leaks and set up the truck for the canoe and toss it on the roof where it stays until Xmas.  Almost forgot, we’ll be picking fresh goodies out of the garden, pulling the plants and getting them in the burn pile, canning, and freezing other stuff.  Busy little beavers.  Hunting season has began in a few units around the United States, in all reality with all the constant prep work, does season ever really end?IMG_1897

Keep Shooting,


Summer Time



We just got the garden planted and I’m beat.  We decided to put in a new type of garden, it’ called a “straw bale garden”.  It’s really neat, what you do is get a bunch of straw bales and set them up in rows then you put plants right in the straw bales.  Then you water and add some fertilizer and all of the vegetables grow right in the straw. According to the book it’s easy but the book is full of crap.  First you wrestle (50 ea.) 70 pound bales of straw into your truck to bring them home.  When you get to the farmers who has a 12 year old kid throwing these bales around like they weighed 10 pounds, me and my 30 year old son are struggling with, I convince myself it must be a matter of technique.


We get them home a put them into whatever type of configuration has been decided upon by “SHE” who must be obeyed (my wife).  Then you have to prepare the bales for about 12+ days with nutrients and lots of water until you begin to get mushrooms growing, then you are pretty much ready to go.  Then you have to set up a watering system and did I tell you about the ground cover you install first and of course you have to put wire, small chicken wire to keep the moles and gophers from chewing their way up through the bales to gobble up your veggies when (if) they grow.  I forgot about the 8’ deer fence around the whole thing after which I got to roto till the whole area, well if the veggie’s are going to grow in the bales why roto till the ground?  Well some of the veggie’s have roots that will grow deeper than the thickness of the bales and if you don’t roto till they will get root bound and then all your work goes down the drain.  Trust me on this one, you don’t want your work to go away because it is an incredible amount of work and mucho sweat.  Just to get the first little plants to raise their little heads above the soil takes a few weeks of hard work, but it’s fun.  The older I get the more I appreciate hard work, especially when I’m the one doing it.  OK so now we have a month and a half into this a project and we see our little veggie children popping their collective little heads up above the straw and we have enough cash into this to buy veggie’s for at least a year, and another years worth of vegetable stuff.  But we’re off to the races, were rolling right along and most importantly my wife is happy.


Now I just came back from lunch and the plants are happy, happy, happy.  I just saw our first flower on a squash plant, the tomatoes have little baby tomatoes on them and some pretty good sized ones too and they are covered with flowers; woo-hoo, nothing like fresh tomatoes right out of the garden.  Now if we can keep the stupid dogs off the bales, keep them from eating all of the fertilizer and berries off the Blue Berries and the raspberries the minute they get a little red or blue.  Squash blossoms are in mortal danger the minute they bloom and our pooches spot them, that soil must taste pretty good.  You don’t use any dirt, you exfoliate all of it and remove any traces of dirt from around the plants.  Now, you may ask why is old Jerry doing all of this stuff to get a few veggies he could just a easily buy at the store when the time is right.  Well I’m going to tell you right now if you’ll listen.  (A) My wife wanted to do it and I’m her slave and this makes my life much easier and pleasant.  (B)We get great vegetables, the tomatoes don’t taste like saw dust, and the strawberries are wonderful.  They are sweet like they were when I was a little guy.  (C)Plus my archery targets are right by the garden for a little well needed practice.  (D)Lots of good exercise and I can’t think of any reason not to.  (E)Now a straw bale garden is not supposed have any weeds which will be wonderful because the garden grows in the bales and not the dirt so there is no opportunity for weeds to get a foot hold….I hate weeds.  In a normal garden you spend most of your time weeding and that takes a lot of the enjoyment out of the garden for me.


OK, Now we have the garden going and growing and even glowing, everything is clippity clopping right along and life is good, or so I think.  Actually I had forgotten about all of the critters out there who like to eat vegetables just like we do and now we have an onslaught of squirrels, raccoons, skunks and other assorted mammals and birds who are just starting to drive us nuts.  Fortunately our doggies just love to chase these furry and feathered guys out of the garden area.  Our Beagle; Old Logger, he starts to bugle and the Labs join right in and they don’t care what time it is.  They look at their job is to keep the AO clear and they intend to do it. Of course the neighbors might not agree on the time schedule, but our pooches look at it this way, as WTF, they have a job to do and they’re going to do it.

The dogs each have kennels and sleep in our room in them and when the time to bark comes around they bark, they don’t ask permission they just do it, if your sleeping well OK get ready.  I believe this will all turn out OK, if we can just get some sleep, it will.  The plus side is I have some archery targets right by the garden and I can sneak out and shoot a few arrows for my breaks.  I did see a couple of nice bucks the other day, just outside our fence at our house.  So who knows this all may turn out well.


We just got back from a friends wedding in Alaska and while we were there we got to see our son who has been up in Homer, AK commercial fishing for the last six years. The wedding was great and to visit with our son was even better so things are going well this summer.

Thanks for listening and we’ll see you soon.

Good Shooting,


Bowfishing is an Awesome Summer Archery Sport!

Some Proud Girls! They did an awesome job paddling the canoe into some carp!

Some Proud Girls! They did an awesome job paddling the canoe into some carp! Archery provides great family fun!


What do archery and bowhunting enthusiasts do in the summer months?  Well…there’s different kinds of target shooting like 3D shooting, paper targets, stump shooting, roving…and BOWFISHING!  Many of you have experienced how much fun it is to bowfish, but sadly so many people have not.  There are many different types of water dwellers to bowfish for across the world…a simple search on the internet can open a world of possibilities and adventures for you.  Some of these creatures are just magnificent!  Up where I live, in Northeastern Montana, bowfishing addicts can usually be seen on the lake and rivers bowhunting carp in the summer months.  Paddlefish bowfishing is an addiction all its own and is popular here as well.  But where you can only harvest one Paddlefish (and it’s worth it…from 15lbs to whoppers around 50lbs!), your common carp take is unlimited.  In Montana, there are entire tournaments dedicated to bowfishing carp and it is used as a means to control the carp population in many lakes.  Well, if you haven’t bow-fished before and your interested, it’s easy to get into the sport.  It can be quite affordable to get into or as expensive as you want to go.

Walking the riverbank for common river carp.

Walking the riverbank for common river carp.

You can hunt from shore while walking along a riverbank or lake, bowfish from a canoe (watch your balance!), or from a boat of nearly any size.  Kids can participate to as it doesn’t take a strong bow to spear a fish with a bowfishing arrow.  As a matter of fact, you can still find a short, vintage, fiberglass Bear Archery kid’s bow with a taped-on bowfishing-reel and arrow stuffed in the rafters at my wife’s family’s cabin where she spent most of her summer’s growing up as young girl. So you see, anyone can do it and it is a great way to participate in an outdoor family activity.  There are all kinds of setups for both compound and traditional bowhunters alike.  I picked up my first bowfishing bows used off

My First bowfishing setup...Bear Grizzly recurve and vintage Bear Archery reel and arrow

My First bowfishing setup…Bear Grizzly recurve and vintage Bear Archery reel and arrow

an online auction site. Same goes for my old-school manual Bear Archery bowfishing reels, and arrows.

There are amazing, modern bowfishing reels that attach to all kinds of bows on the market today and they are the most popular as they reel in your line like a fishing pole, but I guess I just like the nostalgia and simplicity of my old reels (or spools, really…with them your arm does all the reeling!)  I used to bowfish with a 60lb Bear Grizzly, but I save that for my dreams of huge Gar in TX as it is simply too much weight for bowfishing carp. With a heavy bow like that, you arrow usually blasts right through the carp and makes it difficult to get the tip of the arrow to release the fish from your arrow.


This was a 19 pound river-carp!

This was a 19 pound river carp!

My favorite bowfishing bow is a 45-50lb recurve bow and is plenty of bow, while many people, including my family, bowfish with 25-35lb traditional type bows such as recurves and longbows. Most people use older recurves and compound bows…this is simply because your bow can get beat up a bit, muddy, scratched, etc…and they are generally much cheaper…these become dedicated bowfishing bows and that way you don’t have to worry about re-tuning or marring up your favorite hunting bow.

My girls would help spot the carp...then we would slip in for a shot. Bowfishing the lake from a boat.

My girls would help spot the carp…then we would slip in for a shot. Bowfishing the lake from a boat. Bear Archery Magnum Recurve.

So get after it and expect to have a blast!  Here are some photos from the last several years of bowfishing in MT…the most fun I have had has always been while my kids were participating…and they love it!

Tweet us your bowfishing or trad archery photos @RoseCityArchery and we will retweet them!  Shoot Straight! -Luke Strommen @LukeStrommen



You need to have your bow up and ready before you get within bow range for those carp just floating on top of the water...otherwise they may spook!

You need to have your bow up and ready before you get within bow range for those carp just floating on top of the water…otherwise they may spook!






A fat one!




We got this one on video...he put up a heck of a fight in 2' of water!

We got this one on video…he put up a heck of a fight in 2′ of water!



Here's a river Buffalo Carp...shore bowfishing!

Here’s a river Buffalo Carp…shore bowfishing!








A Fred Bear Archery ad from 1957...

A Fred Bear Archery ad from 1957…


This is me trying to duplicate Mr. Bear's's a bit off, but vintage 1957 Bear Archery Kodiak, Bear Archery reel and arrow!!

This is me trying to duplicate Mr. Bear’s ad…it’s a bit off, but vintage 1957 Bear Archery Kodiak, Bear Archery reel and arrow!!


The Star


It was kind of boring in the house and for some reason I had a desire to go outside.  I gathered up the dogs and out we went.  Freddy Bear, one of my Labradors started barking over on the other side of the back yard, so I went over there to see what was up.  I had been under the trees on the side of the property I was on and I ended up in the clear with lots of stars and the Moon right above me.  I told Fred to shut up before the neighbors started yelling, I’m on seven acres so not much chance of that as no one’s very close and they are pretty used to Fred yapping his head off when something comes around.  It was pretty clear and I began to stare at the sky.  The moon was out and I was looking at Mars when I spotted a bright light up there that was really unusual.  It looked more like a satellite than a star and seemed a lot closer, but it wasn’t moving.  I stood there looking at this thing for ten or so minutes and a bright red light appeared on the bottom of this thing.  I kept looking and then a blue ball appeared next to the red one.

I stared some more and it didn’t change any more and I began to freak out, now it seemed to be moving; just a little, but some.  So crap, I went inside and got my wife and brought her out and we stared together and at first she didn’t see the red and blue balls for a couple of minutes and then she did, Whoa, it’s a UFO.

I didn’t know what to do and then Kate remembered we had an APP on her I Pad that tells you what is in the sky, all you had to do was take a picture with the I Pad and it read out where you were in the sky, so we got the I Pad, took the picture and waited for the information to load.  It did and guess what: no satellite, no UFO, no nothing just a star. Damn!


We had spent about an hour on this and I couldn’t believe that after all of that it was nothing. I/we spent all of that time and nothing, so we read all of the information and the Star had a name of “Adhara” which is an Arabic word with a literal translation of “Adara”, so what?  The star was first discovered by the Chinese thousands of years ago who called it “Hu Shi”.  So we read on and the translation from Chinese to English is, now I was not ready for this, here goes the translation is “seventh star of the Bow and Arrow”.  It is in the “Episolon Canis Majoris Constellation” OK what are the odds that I would pick out a star, stare at it and go get my wife to stare at it with me and have it be named “the Seventh star of the bow and arrow”.  Considering what I do for a living and considering the billions of stars out there why would I pick that particular one to fixate on, I don’t know.  It just seems that the odds are very slim that I would pick that one.

You go running through life and strange little things happen to you from time to time and you can’t help but wonder why?  What got me off my butt and possessed me to grab the pooches, trot outside, stare at that one particular portion of the sky.  It wasn’t random, when I got out the door I looked at that one star, stared at that one star, why?  It was like I was programed to do this and then get my wife and drag her outside with the intention of finding out what I was looking at.  I mean I knew nothing about that star, that APP, how and why did that happen as it did?  I don’t know how to operate an I Pad; at least not good enough to know Doo Doo about stars and constellations and how to find them.  Maybe when I was in High School or College, but not now, I’m happy making arrows.

I just thought it was interesting how it all flowed together.

Thanks for looking, Good Shooting,

Jerry Dishion

Ode to the Hunt


Ode to the Hunt

Ode to the Hunt

We took this photo to represent a reflection of the overall hunting experience…because it’s about the journey that led us here, to this very spot in the wild. This may be the successes, the frustrations; the countless hours of scouting, studying, practicing, planning; the rhythmic lapping of river water against a Coleman canoe; the pre-dawn, headlamp-guided walks into your deer stand; the light wind current and thermals causing your breath vapors to rise and drift as you exhale into the frost-bitten air; the welcome sounds of the woods and sweet absence of man-made chatter; the sudden rush of a mature, commanding whitetail buck confidently coming into your calls or your rattling horns; the silent time when your mind wanders and you contemplate your life and how your living it, judging yourself; when thoughts of your loved ones and truest friends are interrupted by a rutting buck that offers a perfect broadside bowshot that will aid in a clean ethical kill; the decision to pass or deliberately take the shot; your selfless buddies that help you without gripe or question; the comfort in knowing that your supportive family understands why you hunt and the satisfaction of knowing that same family will be eating protein-rich backstraps that The Lord provided…but only after the work is done. All those grand experiences that lead to the collective moment when you realize that it’s not about me, and you lower your head in humility and thankfulness. Then your smile grows big and you take some more photos with a deer that you honor, respect, and are proud to have harvested. Ode to the hunt.

-Luke Strommen

A highlight of the journey

A highlight of the journey w/ Bear Archery Custom Kodiak and Rose City Fancies

A Moon with a View

A sunset where I hunt elk

A sunset where I hunt elk

Have you ever seen the old Fred Bear photos and noticed a leafy branch or somehthing similar sticking out of his hatband?  I think I read somewhere that his Dad told him to always take time and see what’s around you, take in nature and never get in so much of a hurry that you forget to look and appreciate what is around you…so Fred would pick a flower, a plant…pick up a feather…study it and put it in his hat as this reminder.  It was something along those lines, anyhow.

I know that times have changed since those days, but in all reality this concept may not be any more important than it is today.  I’m not typing this to preach, scold, or step on a soapbox.  This is kinda an off-the-wall blog perhaps, but it came to me yesterday.  Late yesterday.

I had hiked to the spine of the timbered ridge because I was tired and I knew there was a road leading back to my pickup.  Much easier to walk on a dirt road then pushing through pine, juniper, and other brush while trying not to be tripped up in the darkness.  My feet were tired and they hurt.  My attitude sucked.  I hadn’t seen an elk all day and it was obvious that the rut hadn’t really kicked in yet or at least had slowed dramatically because of the abnormal heat.  I tried pretty darn hard and followed the fundementals and even stepped outside the box, but to no avail.  The night was now silent and the fickle wind that had tormented me all day was now absent.  It was just me, the perceived silence, and my footsteps plodding on the dirt.  A coyote howled and was followed by a volley of young dogs.  I knew I would probably hear over a dozen other males before I got back to the pickup.  As I walked, an enormous, full, brilliantly bright moon climbed in the sky at my back, casting my shadow on the road in front of me.  I carry my recurve over my shoulder while grasping it’s limb on long hikes, and the outline looked pretty cool.  I chuckled to myself and was instantly humbled.  I remembered that just a few days ago, I was taking a similar walk on a game trail back to my pickup when the same moon, at that time the “Supermoon”, rose at my back.  Just a couple hours before, I had called in 4 bull elk…all at the same time and in from 3 directions.  You would think that having 4 bulls come in under 40 yards, with three of them at 25 yards, a bowhunter would be cleaning a carcass.  But nope, not me.  Not the world’s worst bowhunter.  Not the guy that consistently gets close to good bulls but can never close the deal.  This was all going through my head then, at that moment when the Supermoon cast my shadow in front of me.  Seeing such a “vivid” shadow of oneself while  alone in the wilderness causes a wandering mind to ponder all kinds of things.  I stopped, turned around, and looked at that amazing moon and all it’s greatness.  I pulled out my Vortex binocs and peered at it for some time, in awe.  “What a perfect night” I thought.  I remember thinking of Wayne and missing my family, so entirely wishing that I could set them here and let them feel what I was feeling and see what I was seeing.  I was reminded why I bowhunt.  I know I don’t ever forget, but sometimes I think I forget to think about it…does that make sense?  So here I was now in the present, on an entirely different ridge, walking back to my pickup.  I looked at the same moon again and thought about my hunting day.  I had seen many dens today.  I had a first experience…I came upon a spot of timber that was choked full of Robins…yes, Robins!  There were hundreds and hundreds of them fluttering around the pine trees and spouting off- all within an area smaller than a football field.  Then I walked out of them and never saw another one.  Crazy.  I found a hunters arrow resting on a well-used game trail.  The broadhead was marred, but I suspected it was marred from the trees it rested among as there wasn’t any matter on the arrow.  I discovered a full waterbottle on it’s side with a pair of prescription glasses next to it.  I don’t like being reminded that I’m not the only human that has hunted this timber, but now I thought about it differently and ate some humble pie with a quirky smile on my face.  Yea, I didn’t see or even hear any elk today…but…I didn’t miss one with my bow either.  And I wasn’t thirsty because my water was still on my back. And I was having no problem seeing the moonlit road in front of me on my way back to my pickup.

As I looked down, I could see four-wheeler tracks imprinted in the dirt.  I remembered seeing a pickup parked alongside the road with an ATV trailer on my way in today.  I bet their feet didn’t hurt and they were already back at their pickup.  I was still several miles away from mine and the elevation increased the entire way.  But then I thought of Fred Bear’s hat and the branches and whatnot in the hatband.  I bet those guys on the four-wheelers didn’t hear the packs of coyotes I was hearing. Or the crickets.  Or the owls.  I bet over that buzz of the motor they didn’t hear anything.  And with their headlights on I bet they coUldn’t see the amazing shadow the moon could cast.  And so, I bet they didn’t contemplate the days hunt or life in general during their relatively short ride back.  The last time I was on this road back to my pickup, I was walking with a buddy.  He had just missed a huge herd bull. We had located, stalked, and then called the big bull away from his cows enough for my buddy to get a perfect opportunity with a close, broadside shot.  I have missed bulls more times than I care to remember and countless times on game in general, so I sympathized with him.  “Welcome to bowhunting” is about all I had to offer his anguish.  My buddy is a great shot  too…in fact, he just “Robin Hooded” an arrow during our last shooting session.  Last year he shot his first buck out of a stand we put up together on only his second evening of hunting.  Bullseye.  I found myself thankful to have shared that day’s hunt with such a good friend and we had a great conversation during the long walk back.  Bowhunting is a lot like life in general I suppose, and nature has other plans in many ways.  Both of us just lost a true friend this week and it’s been tough. During tonight’s walk,  I again thought about my friend and my wife and my kids and my many blessings…and, and, and, and. I thought about precious life and cherishing it’s moments.  This is why I bowhunt.  Thank you Lord for hanging such a wonderful moon and reminding me.

Take time and look around you.  It’s not about what’s at the end of the blood trail, it’s about what you experience along the way.  Here are some photos I would like to share with you from some of my journeys.  I have thousands, these are just a few.  I can’t imagine the content we would have if Mr. Bear could have recorded, photographed, and shared his hunting experiences with us merely using something that fit in his shirt pocket.

Shoot Straight, and may you be blessed with a walk through the wilderness while a full moon shines at your back.   @LukeStrommen

A view of my paradise while chasing Wapiti

A view of my paradise while chasing Wapiti

My buddy Alex found this shed

My buddy Alex found this shed


Digging deep for smiles after a miss

Digging deep for smiles after a miss



Alex taking in the view

A view from my deer stand the other day

A view from my deer stand the other day

A deer stand from last season

A deer stand from last season

Appreciate the things around you

Appreciate the things around you


No matter how high my stand is, when I'm in it I always feel closer to God

No matter how high my stand is, when I’m in it I always feel closer to God



A memorable experience

A memorable experience

My cousin's elk killed with a bow he made.

My cousin’s elk killed with a bow he made.

Me...appreciating the view.

Me…appreciating the view.

A Montana mountain range during a spring bear hunt

A Montana mountain range during a spring bear hunt

Dick's dig pics bear hunt 06 (1) copy

My Uncle

I can't remember what kind of spider this was. His dinner was ready. Elk hunt.

I can’t remember what kind of spider this was. His dinner was ready. I watched him for half an hour. Elk hunt.

A buffalo skull I found while hunting. What was nature here like when it was King of the Plains? Hundreds...thousands of years ago...?

A buffalo skull I found while hunting revealed in a washout after heavy rains. What was nature here like when it was King of the Plains? Hundreds…thousands of years ago…?

Soil next to a lake after a hail storm added character to it.

Soil next to a lake after a hail storm added character to it.

Feeling small

Feeling small

Reeber, Lange, Grumley 1943

Friends have always been a part of our hunting heritage. Reeber, Lang, Grumley 1943

Take time to appreciate the view around you.

Take time to appreciate the view around you.

My greatest memories are with family and friends. Kids are a blessing

My greatest memories are with family and friends. Kids are a blessing

I'm thankful for family and friends that have shared my memories.

I’m thankful for family and friends that have shared my memories.

Bowhunting provides ample time to reflect and re-prioritize the important things in life. A few of the effects of this are humbleness and thankfulness. I am thankful for having had my friend Wayne in my life, even if too brief. He showed us what true courage really is and has set the bar rather high on how life should be lived.

Bowhunting provides ample time to reflect and re-prioritize the important things in life. A few of the effects of this are humbleness and thankfulness. I am thankful for having had my friend Wayne in my life, even if too brief. He showed us what true courage really is and has set the bar rather high on how life should be lived.








Bowhunting With Wood Arrows

Screen Shot 2015-04-04 at 6.57.16 PM

As any experienced bowhunter knows, the selection of quality arrows is as important and involved as choosing a bow. Arrows that lack exactness, strength, and accuracy of flight make Bowhunting nearly impossible. And with the dramatic equipment changes of the past decade, you have never before had such a wide selection of materials and equipment to choose from to prepare for the hunting season. Though many things have changed, one arrow material, wood, has remained popular and has proved its effectiveness with both conventional and the latest designed archery equipment. Seasoned bowhunters have always known the ideal performance characteristics of Wood Arrows, and novice bowhunters are finding that wood, the only natural choice, is an ideal arrow material for them. Without question, Wood Arrows do add much to the excitement and tradition of bowhunting. This informative booklet has been developed by your Wood Arrow Manufacturers. Besides giving you a background into the history and manufacturing of Wood Arrows, this booklet will also give you many guidelines in the use and care of Wood Arrows that will make your bowhunting season more enjoyable and rewarding.

Wood Arrow History

As we all know, wood was the first arrow material. But its history begins hundreds of years before the use of bow and arrow for defense, survival or sport. All Wood Arrows are made from quality Port Orford White Cedar. It is this wood that gives Wood Arrows their excellent performance characteristics. Coquille Valley Port Orford Cedar has its origin in the Orient where it has always played an important part in Japanese rituals and heritage. Even today, this special cedar is considered a sacred wood, and it is traditional for every Japanese home to be constructed with at least one white cedar beam. Because of this demanding use of the cedar, the Japanese supply has all but vanished. Currently, there is only one area that offers a good supply of this natural arrow material. The Coquille Valley of Southwest Oregon is now the world’s producer of the cedar.Screen Shot 2015-04-04 at 6.57.32 PM

It is theorized that thousands of years ago the warm ocean currents of the Pacific carried the cedar seeds from the Orient and washed them ashore to North America in the limited area of the Coquille Valley near Port Orford, Oregon. Fortunately, Oregon’s Coquille Valley proved to be an ideal growing environment for the cedar to flourish. The moderate temperatures, ample moisture, and high mountain altitude of the coastal canyons allowed this special tree to grow slowly, straight and tall. It is this combination of slow growth and fertile soil that gives the Port Orford Cedar its fine grain necessary for arrow shaft material. The Coquille, a native Oregon Indian tribe, were the first to discover the fantastic characteristics of the cedar. They found that “downed timber” which has been naturally aged through time and forest fires, provided the best arrow shaft material. The Coquille Indians hand-made arrow shafts that were lightweight, tough yet resilient, and most importantly, straight. The Coquille were not a hostile tribe, and used their bow and arrow mainly to feed and clothe their families. In fact, many of the basic bowhunting skills that we know today for hunting elk, mule deer and blacktail deer were handed down to us from these Native Americans. It is this adventure of hunting in a traditional fashion as did archers hundreds of years ago that attracts many bowhunters today to hunt with Wood Arrows.

Wood Arrow Manufacturing Today

Screen Shot 2015-04-04 at 6.58.33 PMThere are hundreds of arrow manufacturers today that produce “finished arrows” which are ready for use. But every Wood Arrow shaft is produced by one of three manufacturers in the Coquille Valley which supplies these superb shafts to the entire world. These manufacturers are Acme Wood Products of Myrtle Point, Norway Archery of Norway, and Rose City Archery of Powers, Oregon (now located in Myrtle Point, OR.). Each of these manufacturers produce the Wood Arrow shaft in much the same manner. Matched arrows shoot more accurately.

The process begins with the selection of naturally aged Port Orford Cedar. Choice logs which have been downed for several hundred years are brought to the arrow shaft plant. Having been cured by Mother Nature and occasional forest fires, gives the cedar its toughness, lightweight, and resilience. The wood is first cut into four-inch planks called “cants”. The cants have a thickness that is slightly larger than the finished arrow shaft diameter. After being stacked on drying racks, the cants are transported into drying ovens for a “finish cure” on the wood. Even though the naturally cured wood has been dead for hundreds of years, the moist climate of the region allows the wood to maintain a twenty percent moisture content when it is chosen for shaft production. This moisture must be reduced to as little as seven percent before shaft production can continue. The low-humidity, ninety-degree temperature of the drying ovens rids the wood’s capillary system of the excess moisture. Within four to six days the wood has been dried to the correct moisture content. This may seem to be a lengthy task to rid the wood of moisture, but this slow, traditional drying method keeps the wood resilient and useable by the bowhunter After leaving the drying ovens, the cants are hand-inspected for flaws in the wood grain. Only wood that has consistent, fine grain is used to make arrow shafts. After this inspection, the selected wood is then separated into squares and is ready for the doweling process which gives the wood the correct diameter and notable natural sheen. (One doweling process seals the wood prior to cutting, but the end result is much the same.) From doweling, the shafts are again inspected for flaws guaranteeing you of the best quality Wood Arrows. At this point, full grading takes place and the arrows are separated for spining.

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How Spine Weight Affects Arrow Flight!

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The spine weight, or “stiffness” of the shaft is the most important characteristic of the arrow shaft. Wood Arrows are spined both automatically and manually. The average dozen arrows with the same spine weight will not vary more than plus or minus five pounds, and that difference is sometimes hard to notice for the bowhunter. Unlike aluminum, fiberglass or carbon shafts, the spine weight of Wood Arrows is virtually natural and cannot be “manufactured”. the spine weight is solely determined by the size of diameter of the shaft and the density of the wood. Top grade Wood Arrows have small diameters and high spine weights. But since the advent of the compound bow, the larger diameter and high spine weight arrow shafts have been of high demand. These shafts not only give bowhunters the necessary spine weight, but they also provide acceptable mass weight which is so important for penetration power. There are three sizes of diameter in which cedar shafts are produced. They are 5/16, 11/32, and 23/64- inch diameters. The latter two sizes are the most popular. Wood Arrows are available in spine weights from twenty to seventy pounds.

How To Determine Arrow Shaft Size

When choosing an arrow shaft, you must find a shaft that matches your draw length and spine weight needs. To determine your draw length, you must measure the distance at full draw from the nocking point on the string to the back of the bow. This measurement is your general draw length. (General draw length differs from the standard draw length that manufacturers use to weigh and mark bows.)

Measuring Draw Length

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Update Note from Jerry Dishion: When this booklet was written it did not take into account the fact that all bows are not created equal. The proper way to calculate your draw length is measuring from the throat of the nock to the back of the bow (farthest part away from you) at full draw. The purpose of draw length measuring is to give you appropriate clearance between your arrowhead and the bow for proper aiming and shooting while ensuring that the arrow isn’t excessively long. If you are using your finger as an arrow rest, extra length should be considered for comfort as well.

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The spine weight which is best suited for you is determined by the draw weight of the bow that you are shooting. If you are shooting a Recurve bow, your arrow spine weight should match the draw weight of your bow at full draw. If you are shooting a compound bow, your arrow spine weight should match your peak bow weight rather than the full draw let-off weight. It is very important that your arrows have the correct spine weight or stiffness for your bow’s draw weight at your draw length. Your equipment must be matched. If your arrows are too stiff or not stiff enough they will not fly properly. After determining your draw length and spine weight, you can refer to the arrow spine charts to choose the correct shaft. If you have yet to choose your bow or draw weight, always remember to pick a draw weight that is easy for you to handle. The ideal draw weight is the heaviest you can handle, coming to full draw and holding and aiming well for shot after shot. Also, it is better to have a longer arrow than one too short- for broadhead safety and shoot ability.

From Shaft To Finished Arrow
Today’s bowhunter has three buying options for Port Orford Cedar Arrows. First, you can purchase finished arrows “ready to shoot” at hundreds of pro shops and dealers across the nation. Second, there are arrow kits available that include treated shafts and all components needed to complete the arrows. Third, you can purchase the standard shaft from a Wood Arrow distributor or dealer, selectively buy the arrow components which best suit your hunting style, and produce your own “home-made” arrows. Many bowhunters find the third option most satisfying. Making your own arrows is very traditional and can be very rewarding, not to mention the extreme pride that can be obtained by having a quiver full of arrows that you personally made. Making arrows does take quite a bit of time and effort. Every component must be attached to the shaft with extreme care so that you can have maximum performance out of the finished product. To make your own Port Orford Cedar Arrows, you must first cut the shaft to accommodate your draw length.

Shafts are manufactured and distributed at thirty-two inches in length and they must be shortened to accommodate most bowhunters. Cut the shaft the length of your draw plus one inch allowing the extra length for tapering at the point end. If the shafts that you are using are not sealed, they must be given a sealer coat of clear lacquer or color rather than just painting them. The idea is to totally immerse the shaft into the solution to get full penetration into the wood. Automotive lacquers can be used for the dipping, but keep in mind your future use of the arrows. You may want your own personal color identification, but if you are going bowhunting, it may be wise to stick to drab camouflaged colors. If the paint or lacquer that you use leaves a shiny lustre, you can lightly buff or rub the shaft with steel wool to remove this sheen.

Next. you must ready the shaft for a point or broadhead and nock. By using a tapering tool (one can be purchased for a few dollars from a pro shop) you must cut a five-degree taper on the end of the shaft. Go to the other end of the shaft and do likewise for the nock, using a ten-degree tapering tool. Your next step is to determine the grain of the wood. The edge of the grain should be against the bow window since the edge gives you maximum spine weight. It is also important that each shaft’s grain is located in the same manner so that you have consistent spine weight and arrow flight between shafts. After locating the edge of the grain, cement the nock on the end of the shaft with the nock “notch” running perpendicular to the wood grain. Without a doubt, it is a good investment to purchase a good gluing or fletching cement for your arrow making. Your pro shop can offer you some excellent suggestions. Simple household glue will not work effectively. The secret to nock installation is to use the fletching cement sparingly. Place a few drops of cement on the tapered tip, apply the nock and rotate the shaft slowly making sure the cement is spread evenly. Take care to seat the nock in straight alignment.

Your next step will be to fletch the arrows. There are two commonly used materials for fletching, feathers and plastic vanes. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, and it is up to the personal shooter to determine which fletching material is best for him. Feathers are most forgiving of errors in shooting form and cause the least clearance problems on cables, arrow rest or bow sight window. They are very consistent in flight and create a better “air drag” for arrow control. Also, they can be shot off the bow window. But, feathers must be waterproofed for rainy weather and they can be noisy bowhunting. Plastic vanes are fully waterproofed and tougher. But, they are less forgiving, don’t straighten the arrow out as quickly upon release, and can cause severe problems with cable and arrow rest clearance. A bow must be “tuned” for vane arrow flight.

Once you have chosen the fletching material, you must choose the type of fletching, and again, it is usually decided upon personal preference. According to the Archery Manufacturers Organization’s Fletching Standards, three vane or feather fletching must have a minimum length of five inches and maximum height of five-eighths of an inch. Four vane or feather fletching must have a maximum length of four inches and a maximum height of five-eighths of an inch. These are the standards that the arrow manufacturers follow, and are good guidelines for home fletchers to follow. Also, you might keep in mind, four fletch is impossible to nock wrong. Accurate broadhead flight requires adequate fletching for guidance. True spiral fletching, or helical, is recommended for hunting broadheads. Diagonal fletch is limited to the arrow shaft diameter and to the amount of rotation it can produce and subsequently has less guidance effect. Also, excess spiral (where the arrow has to travel less than two and one-half feet per revolution) creates excessive drag or deceleration, wind drag, and surface noise.

Vanes or feathers are attached to the prepared shaft with a fletching machine. Place the nocked shaft into the fletcher and index it to the correct position. Place a vane or feather in the fletcher clamp and align it with a position mark to insure consistent location. Apply a thin coating of fletching cement to the base surface of the vane or feather. Place the clamp against the face of the magnet which will hold the clamp in place while you push it downward pressing the vane or feather against the shaft. Close the clamp carefully and allow for a drying time of at least fifteen minutes before continuing to the next feather or vane. Repeat this process until all the vanes or feathers are fletched. Next, drop a spot of cement on the leading and trailing edge of each vane or feather. This will further seal the fletching to the shaft and prolong the fletching life. To attach a field point or broadhead to your arrow, use a ferrule cement that is heated to form the adhesion between shaft and point. When finished, always check for accurate alignment of all components.

Shooting Your Wood Arrows

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Whether shooting Recurve or compound bow, sometimes the novice bowhunter has difficulty in obtaining consistent arrow flight. Many times the problem is shooting form including release. A troubled bowhunter must put in hours of practice with his equipment to conquer these shooting problems. But other times, inconsistent arrow flight can be an equipment problem. Two basic equipment problems deal with improper arrow nocking and bow tuning. Nocking point. As we mentioned in the previous section, it is best to establish nock location in accordance with the grain of the wood to take advantage of full spine weight. But if after shooting the finished arrows you find an arrow flight problem, the solution may be nock rotation. This may vary the spine weight slightly, but it is much easier than re-fletching your arrow shaft.

To test for improper nocking, sprinkle baby powder on the sides of the vanes or feathers leaving a gray film. Shoot the arrow, then observe which vane or feather is being struck in the bow window area. If it is the bottom vane or feather, remove the nock and apply a new one, progressively rotating it clockwise and shooting the arrow until clearance is achieved. If the top vane or feather is being struck, remove the nock and apply a new one, progressively rotating it counter-clockwise and shooting the arrow until clearance is achieved. Improper nocking is more of a problem with vanes than it is with feathers, being that vanes cause more clearance problems. Screen Shot 2015-04-04 at 6.59.45 PMBow tuning is essentially establishing the best “starting point” for your arrow’s flight, and it is almost mandatory if you are shooting arrows with vanes. Tuning mainly deals with nocking point placement and arrow rest placement.

One simple method in bow tuning is to have a friend watch the arrow flight as you shoot. First, you shouldTesting nock point on bow measure your nocking point location with a bow square. the standard nocking point should be five-sixteenths above square. Next shoot your bow and if your friend observes the arrow tailing in one direction (up or down), move your nocking point slightly in the other direction, i.e., if the arrow tails upward during flight, the nocking point should be lowered. If the arrow leaves the bow “nock left”, then the arrow rest should be moved right if possible, and to the left if the arrow leaves the bow “nock right”. After some trial and error, you will have your bow set-up and tuned for shooting. Another easy way to tune your bow is to follow the above procedure but to shoot “bare” or unfletched shafts into a close range target. The shot arrows will show the angle of tailing in the target.

Caring For Your Wood Arrows

Even though Wood Arrows are the least costly arrows for bowhunters to use, you will still want to take good care of them and get full life out of them. Wood Arrows should be stored in a vertical position so that the forces of gravity are parallel to the length of the shaft. Never store your arrows in your quiver. Feathers can become matted and plastic vanes may become wrinkled. If your Wood Arrows do show a visible bend, it is easy to straighten them. If you are bowhunting, simply “eye the length of the shaft and remove the bend with wrist movement by bending the shaft in the opposite direction. This straightening can last until the shaft is shot. For a more permanent straightening, use steam from a tea kettle on the arrow shaft. Also, you can let gravity straight your arrow by storing the bent shaft horizontally with the bend sticking up. Eventually, the bend will diminish. Good form with your bow gets good results It is also important to care for your arrows in use. Shoot your arrows in only appropriate backstops. Use care in pulling your shot arrows from targets. And always remember that your arrows protrude from your quiver when moving through trees or brush. Before shooting your arrows, always examine the shaft for breaks or cracks that may make the arrow unsafe when shot. Broadheads should be kept properly aligned and razor sharp. Keep them coated with oil to displace moisture and protect against rust. It may be a wise investment to purchase broadhead covers for safety’s sake. Nocks should periodically be checked for cracks Any nock with a crack in the base, ears, or mouth should be replaced. This is also a good time to check the nock fit on the bowstring. Pinch nocks should not be too tight or too loose. Also check to see if the nock rotation is the same on all arrows. Any fletching that is torn, damaged or unglued should be replaced. Ruffled or matted feathers may be smoothed out by steaming over a kettle. And it is also a good idea to waterproof your feathers prior to bowhunting.

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Bowhunting With Wood Arrows

You have chosen an ideal arrow for bowhunting. Wood Arrows are quiet, lightweight, tough, and a whole lot cheaper than any other arrow material. They are ideal for both stump shooting and big game hunting. Both bowhunters who shoot Recurve and compound bows have excellent results with Wood Arrows. But no matter how good your equipment is, it is you, the bowhunter, who is using it. If you expect top performance out of your equipment, then you must perform at your best, also. Port Orford Cedar Wood Arrows Practice extensively before hunting season. Restrict yourself to high percentage shots-usually within thirty yards. Practice this yardage with broadhead weight arrows until your are proficient. Practice shots you will shoot while hunting such as tree stand shots, from a blind, etc., and try to practice with a life-size target so you become familiar with the aiming spot and judging distance. And above all, respect the rights of land owners, other hunters, and nature.

Good Bowhunting

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We hope this small booklet has added some information and enjoyment to your bowhunting. If you have any further questions about Wood Arrows, your pro shop dealer can be your best friend. No one else offers as superior or complete facilities combined with equipment knowledge as does your local dealer. From coaching to equipment purchases, he is the man to see. He is always there in the time of need. The Wood Arrow Manufacturers thank you for choosing Wood Arrows for this bowhunting season. You are one of thousands of bowhunters who enjoy bowhunting at its fullest, shooting the only natural and traditional arrow shaft material – Wood Arrows!