This is the first in a series of eight articles on Bassmaster Elite Series angler Brent Chapman’s best bow hunting tips
Bow hunting and bass fishing wouldn’t seem to be married at the hip, like say peanut butter and jelly. But according to Brent Chapman, the 2012 Bassmaster Elite Series Angler of the Year, being successful at both is very similar.
They fit together like fingers in a glove. On one hand, Chapman is at the top of the fishing game, and on the other, he consistently arrows Pope and Young class whitetails in his home state of Kansas. In both situations he utilizes the same mindset to be successful.
The following is a series of bow hunting tips that if you are an angler could help you in the woods this fall. Or if you are a bow hunter could help you on the water anytime.
Click the image to see photos of Brent’s Bass to Bucks
“Tournament fishing and bow hunting just go together,’’ Chapman said. “The little subtleties that set a professional fisherman apart from a weekend angler are the same thing that sets apart a successful bow hunter from one who is just spending time in the stand.”
Chapman starts with attention to detail. “Being organized and having your equipment working 110-percent means everything. I’ve seen it for years on the bass fishing trail. You go to an open event and you hear of a guy that shows up and knew for years that his battery wasn’t working, or he was having trouble with his battery or livewell. Then he has to deal with them in the tournament.
“All of that stuff comes to a head tournament time. It’s the same thing bow hunting. If something is telling you, ‘Hey, my shooting is off a little bit,’ or I think I didn’t do this properly or I didn’t cut this shooting lane, it’s going to come back to bite you in the moment of truth. It’s the same thing in tournament fishing.
“Every night before I go hunting or every night I come home from hunting to get ready for the next day. I think you see a lot of weekend anglers and beginning bow hunters get out of the woods and they rush things.
They come in and they go eat dinner and go do other stuff instead of preparing for the next day or the next hunt.
“With us anglers, usually for every hour of fishing time there’s probably two hours of prep time. When I come in from a hunt or actually when I get back to the truck, there’s a routine I have there of putting stuff away. Then when I get back to the house or the camper, I've got another routine of making sure everything is situated and organized to where the next morning I’m ready to go again.
“The guy that’s trampling around and is late or something like that or ends up getting out in the woods and realizes, ‘Oh man, I forgot this or that,’ now they’re in trouble.”
Those are the physical properties of bow hunting (and fishing) preparation. Where things really make a difference is in the mental preparation. Like, visualizing the hunt like a professional would a day of fishing?
“That part of it is huge -- the mental game of ‘do I stay, do I go because this isn’t playing out.’ Many times I’ve been out there and you just think this day is a waste and all of a sudden it materializes right before you know it.
“I look at a hunt last year where I sat there until like 11 o’clock. I had seen like one little buck and I'm like, ‘Alright I'm done.’ I start climbing down and I'm literally like three steps from the bottom of my tree and I turn around and there’s a family group of does not 15 feet walking right to me.
“These two yearling doe’s walk up and I can hear them sniffing they’re so close to me. I just wonder if I had given it five more minutes, who knows what would have happened? It’s amazing how you have to be ready every time.
“I look at the very first big buck I ever killed. I got in the stand at like 2:55 p.m., and killed that deer at like two minutes after 3 p.m. That is how quickly it all happened. Had I not been somewhat ready, I may not have had that opportunity. It just all happened that quick.“The deer I killed last year, I went out the last evening of the buck season. I went out without very high expectations. My plan was to go and hopefully fill a doe tag. Thirty minutes before the end of buck season this thing comes in and I was able to kill my buck.
“The biggest deer I ever killed was Thanksgiving weekend a couple of years ago. It was raining and sleeting snow and I mean it was one of those tough seasons. I just kept grinding it out and grinding it out and the last 10 minutes of shooting light that day, all of a sudden this buck comes in with 10 minutes to go and I end up killing the biggest deer of my life.”
In the professional angling world, competition days are rarely called because of weather and then only when safety is a concern. That mindset is the same for Chapman on the deer stand. Deer are used to dealing with the weather. From his perspective that big buck could just as easily had been the biggest fish of his life.
“When you look at tournaments you see it all the time, those of us that don’t give up. How a day goes from a mediocre day to an incredible day in the last 30 minutes. I can look over the years of where literally I've pulled in with two minutes to go and you’re just giving it your all at the last and you don’t expect a lot but you don’t give up. Then you end up catching a fish that makes a huge difference in your season.”
Next: Chapman explains his best tips for bringing more weight to the scales, or literally more deer to the hanging pole.
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