With the advent of Craigslist, Facebook groups, and other local and regional peer-to-peer selling and auction websites and outlets, purchasing a bargain of a deal on a bow or crossbow is not hard. There are things to look for such as splitting or cracking in the limbs or riser, fraying or drying-out of the bow string, and nicks or sharp edges in the cams, to name a few important factors to look for when shopping. Tuning a compound bow bow is not hard to do these days in most cases and with the advent of different sized draw modules, most adult –sized bows can fit just about any adult archer with the right cam module installed for his or her draw length. This is also true with many youth bows.
A good rule of thumb I learned when purchased my bow used is to try to find a bow that is 4 years old or newer if possible. Older bows are fine (especially for uses like bowfishing) but with the advent of newer models of bows, sourcing replacement parts can become an issue down the road if and when you might need them for the bow you purchase. I bought one of my bows when it was only 3 years old and it had less than 50 arrows shot from it by the previous owner, who was getting out of bowhunting completely in favor of gun hunting exclusively. I bought everything he had, and I mean everything, for only $200! This included a hard case, arrows, field tips, extra nocks, you name it! The bow retailed new for $500 in stock form when it was new and the previous owner had upgraded many accessories in the time he had owned it as well. I have won several 3-D Archery tournaments and harvested number of deer and wild hogs over the years with my bow without any issues with replacing parts aside from getting a draw module to accommodate my longer draw length.
Make sure however and get your used bow checked out by a prop shop to make sure there are no problems. Do not forget you are holding a potentially dangerous piece of equipment.
The same rules apply for purchasing a crossbow except for the consideration that most crossbows are pretty universal to any size or age. An overall good rule of thumb is to buy a bow as new as you can afford in the used archery market to maximize the best in quality and durability before having to put money into replacing the bow string or any moving parts. Like a used car, let the first owner take the hit on the depreciation while still getting the best part of owning part of the “new” life of the bow if you can.
One quick point about accessories for your bow should be mentioned here. Never purchase broadheads used or go with cheap knock-off brands. It’s not worth the chance of losing an animal or having a malfunction, which has happened to me in the past in such cases. I am a fan of Grim Reaper Broadheads (www.grimreaperbroadheads.com) which can retail in the $39 range for three new broadheads and a practice tip but I always buy a replacement/rebuild kit and am usually able to rebuild the heads a few times before they become unusable. Grim Reapers have a solid core to their ferrule, or center part of the broadhead, making them easy to rebuild time after time. Many brands of premium broadheads on the market sell rebuild kits but are not as durable to go through as many rebuilds as the Grim Reapers. This is one reason why I will always spend a little more up front if I can get more utility out of what I buy down the road. The old saying goes that it’s better to by the best now than pay for inferior products over and over again several times down the road later and this is especially true in the realm of broadheads and other accessories we use in hunting. I always either shoot new or completely rebuilt broadheads on every hunt I go on to keep the odds in my favor.
Day Hunt Ranches
One of my many roles in the outdoor industry is working in outside sales and marketing for DB Hunting Ranch (www.dbhunting.com) in Central Texas. Day hunt ranches are an excellent and affordable ways to hunt without having to lay down thousands of dollars for a deer lease or other hunting property. If you don’t have access to hunting land of your own or if you are after some exotic big game and don’t feel like getting on a plane or crossing state-lines on the road, this is an excellent choice. Find a ranch with a good reputation and ask around on hunting forums on the internet and or other venues about other hunters’ experiences. I have seen plenty of hunting ranches come and go over the years working in the business and a general rule is that ranches that don’t serve their hunters well over time don’t last very long.
Hunters talk and news travels fast, especially in our current time with social networking platforms like Facebook and Twitter. I have shot trophy rams, exotic deer, Catalina billy goats, tons of hogs and more on hunting ranches like the one I work with and they are unbeatable. This is especially true when it comes to a variety of factors such as the amount of time and money you can save on a guided or semi-guided hunt compared to doing it on your own. Most hog hunts can be done in the $150-$250 range and exotic hunts are fully-guided with a guaranteed shot opportunity, giving you the best chance possible to close the deal on your pursuit. Exotics and hogs can also be hunted year round here in Texas, making it even better for any season of the year.
Affordable Hunting Land
This is a subject that I am well versed on and all of my hunting buddies know me well for hunting on land in trade or barter for something or even free in some cases. Some of my friends even give me a hard time about my barter skills but I also spend my hard-earned on better things than they do most of the time. Two deer hunting hot spots I have had were near residential areas which make them perfect for bowhunting. One spot was on a 5-acre tract of land outside the city limits but about a 15 minute drive from my house. How did I get this place? A married couple that attends church with me invited me to hunt there after hearing that I am a bowhunter a few years ago. I trade them a some processed deer meat in return for hunting the back part of their property and improving their land quality while I hunt there.
Another spot I have had was behind a neighborhood in a municipal utility district, outside the city limits, along a creek that is has been there for thousands of years. This spot is really close to civilization so I am extra respectful of the landowners and communicate regularly with them as well as my local game warden every season I hunt there. I nicknamed this spot “Deer City, Texas.” Hunting this area cost me nothing in trade except for a little sweat equity from time to time. A single elderly woman owns this land and she asks me on occasion to help her with a few chores around her property that she is unable to do such as trimming trees and mowing from time to time. Plentiful deer and close to home.
These were not my only hunting spots by any means but as a busy guy with a wife, growing family, and a demanding job, having two blinds set up 15 minutes from home to go spend a morning or evening was a welcome option versus having to pack up for a whole weekend and be away from my family. Many hunters I tell about the two above properties never believe they could pull something like that off where they live. My response comes from a famous quote from Andy Rooney, “Opportunities are never lost. Someone will always take the ones you miss.” I am certainly an opportunist and am never afraid to ask if I see a chance to hunt somewhere new, which is how I ended up with these two hot spots. Your mileage might very but chances are there are ample hunting areas that are far less than an hour drive away from you. Consider the fact that some recent studies have shown that bigger and better trophy bucks are being harvested near residential areas with archery equipment than many surrounding popular “deer hunting” counties way out of the city. This is one reason why many hunting shows now cover “close to city” style bowhunting. It can be done but check with your game warden and local landowners around you to make sure what you are doing is legal and safe for everyone in the area. You will be surprised on what is available out there and how many homeowners and land owners welcome you back if you are respectful and professional in the way you handle yourself in your hunting activities.