with Tyler Vanderkolk & Jordon Janecka of Archery Country
When did the “bow bug” first bite you?
Tyler: Right out of high school, I had some buddies who were into it and I got into it pretty quickly. I hunted with a rifle for the first 2 or 3 years and wanted more of a challenge. I first switched to open sights and then got into the bow and never looked back.
Jordon: I grew up around bowhunters and shot myself seasonally growing up. In college, I started getting into it more by practicing in the offseason shooting longer distances of 60+ yards and this made it more challenging and fun.
What’s the most interesting part of bow hunting that keeps you going back?
Tyler: For me, it’s the thrill of the hunt and also getting close to the animal. Trying to outwit the animal. With a rifle, you can get away with watching the football game or smoking a cigarette, but that doesn’t fly with bow hunting. It’s more of a challenge.
Jordon: I studied wildlife, so I like getting more intimate with the animal. You can’t get that in a box blind.
If you could give two pieces of advice to a first-time bowhunter, what would that be?
Jordon: Having the bow fit to you makes a huge difference. A lot of people get into bow hunting by just inheriting a bow. Just grabbing one and shooting it doesn’t do the trick because it’s not set up for you. Have the peep sight adjusted, modernizing it a bit. Maybe a shooting lesson. All of this is going to do more than buying a fancy release or anything like that.
With a rifle or pistol, anyone can go shoot it. But with a bow, it’s set up for one person.
How important is scent control in bow hunting? How about quiet fabrics?
It matters. Maybe it’s because I grew up doing that. There are studies that prove and disprove the scent spray, but I think it’s something that takes the edge off in the back of my mind. It builds confidence, so I’m going to spray. Wind is going to be your best scent control, so that’s the main thing.
Do you factor in the wind, and how do you make decisions based on wind direction?
Jordon: I have an A and a B stand so I can work off the north or south wind. One thing I tell new bowhunters is you’re going to pay closer attention to the weather, wind, time of year, etc. There’s a lot to consider - where’s the sun going to come up. You factor in a lot of things to get the stand positioning perfect.
If the wind is not in the right direction, will you not hunt it?
Jordon: It depends… (laughs). If it’s early in the season, I won’t hunt it. If there’s 2 weeks left, I will.
Do you enjoy hunting from a ground blind or tree stand more? Which do you do more often?
Jordon: I’d rather be in a tree or on foot. Ground blinds are very convenient and easy to reposition. But it’s cool to feel the tree sway and lets you know when something is blowing in, too.
Tyler: I prefer tree stands because I hunt a lot in the early season. It’s brutal in a pop up blind. Like an easy bake oven! No good in October.
Let’s talk about draw weight - when do you increase it and what’s the ideal weight to be lethal?
Jordon: We tell people to shoot the highest weight they can without sacrificing accuracy. A lot of people think an arrow is similar to a bullet, but they’re so different in terms of how the energy is being transferred to an animal. It’s not like going from a .22 to a Win Mag.
Tyler: Shot placement means a lot more than trying to get to 80lbs!
Here at Archery Country, we tell people you need to be confident in your equipment and you need to be able to shoot where you want it to hit. The reality is if you shoot a lighter arrow, you lose kinetic energy when it hits the animal. Put the arrow where it needs to be. Don’t get caught up in trying to get pass throughs because it makes the blood trails easier… If the arrow goes in the animal, it’s not necessarily a bad thing if it’s in the right spot. If you hit the shoulder bone, your arrow isn’t going anywhere. The broadhead will do its job. Placement is key.
It also depends on what animal you’re chasing.
Which game animals are the most fun to chase with a bow?
Tyler: My favorite is pronghorn. Every year, Brendan and I go to Wyoming to spot and stalk hunt them. You play the terrain and work hard to get after these animals.
Jordon: My favorite is mule deer. I don’t think they’re terribly difficult to hunt, but you get a little bit of everything. You get to glass, stalk, you could sit. You make a game plan and execute it.
How often should you be practicing and how do you define being ready to take an ethical shot on an animal with a bow?
Jordon: You should practice enough to where you feel ultra confident with your equipment. If you’re unsure of where you’re going to hit, you need to keep practicing. If you’re not going to hit the animal behind the shoulder, you probably shouldn’t take a shot. No one wants an animal to suffer.
We’ll see first time bow hunters come in here and can group arrows at 20 and 30 yards. They’re probably ready… You also don’t have to let the arrow fly. You can go hunting and draw back, practice moving, get in the driver’s seat.
Expandables or Fixed Blades?
Tyler: That could be an hour long discussion! Here’s what I’ll tell you: I like an expandable because I shoot 31’’ of draw and 70lbs. I have enough kinetic energy so I know the broadhead is going to open. In the past, only 4 out of 6 in the package fly the right way. If your bow is tuned right, it doesn’t matter what you shoot.
Jordon: I always have both in my quiver. I look at it like what is the right tool for the job. Shooting pigs, I’m going with a fixed blade. If it’s deer, that’s different.
Tyler: Brendan and I were hunting one time and a rattlesnake came out. I shot it and it kept moving, shot it a second time, kept moving and a 3rd time. Brendan’s like, “dude, that’s a $100+ snake!”
Who do you think is the best bowhunter in the game today?
The dude that gets after it the most is probably Aron Snyder. Traditional bow adds a whole different level of difficulty to it.
Do people start with big fast bows and then evolve to more traditional gear?
Jordon: You’re describing my last 1.5 years. I moved to fly fishing and more traditional bows and I’ve gotten so much satisfaction from that.
How do you take the next step from beginner to intermediate/advanced?
Make sure your equipment is at 100% and completely fits you. From there, start working on perfect practice. Just because I tuned your bow doesn’t mean you’re going to shoot it perfectly. Consistency is key.
How and where do you get fitted for a bow?
Anywhere you go, they’ll sell you a bow. What we’re trying to do at Archery Country is take time to make sure it’s all right before we send you out on the streets. You can buy a bow at a big box store and set it up the way you think you should. It’ll probably not be exactly right.
We’ll get you setup, hands on. Check measurements, have you draw and release. We’ll tailor it perfectly for you. We’ll also take into account what kind of shooting/hunting you’re trying to do. If you’re wanting to shoot targets, we’ll get you setup for that. If you’re wanting to shoot deer in the fall, or pigs in the spring, we’ll get you set up for those different types of hunting.
That’s why you come to a shop like ours - because it’ll be perfectly set up and fit for you. We’re here 5 days a week and have enough manpower to handle the crowds. Come on in, we’ll get you set up!
8121 Research Blvd.
Austin, TX 78758
Feel free to call the shop and ask for Tyler or Jordon. Or email them directly. Archery Country also accepts walk-ins.