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Bowhunters find their mark at Mit-Ti-Quab course

Mit-Ti-Quab president Dave Trout takes aim at a target on the club's outdoor course.1 / 2
A 3D version of a deer took two hits from the bow of club member Ken Broker.2 / 2

You can take it from Dave Trout, the smartest thing a bowhunter might do with his or her spare time this week is take a walk around the Mit-Ti-Quab Archery Course.

"You wouldn't believe how it helps," said the president of the 70-member archery club. Trout, an avid bowhunter himself, is inviting archers to sharpen their skills at the club's outdoor course, which is on County Road 104 on southeast side of Wadena.

The archery course is laid out a lot like a shotgun sporting clays course, with varying degrees of shooting difficulty. The biggest difference is that the targets are not orange-painted clay discs -- many of them are looking at you.

The club has cut narrow shooting lanes through the thick wooded cover on their 14-station course. The targets might be 10 yards away or 80. They can be a deer, a bear, a coyote or a mountain lion. Some are three-dimensional.

The club uses the course for competitions and to sharpen this skills for hunting.

Bowhunting is one of the most challenging sports around and it attracts some of the best hunters. Take a walk in the September woods this weekend and you might get a big surprise. That tree you are standing under might have a bowhunter in it, and you might be in the way.

The invisibility that bowhunters strive so hard for is matched by their quarry. Whitetail deer are the phantoms of the woods. One moment they are not there, the next moment they are.

In addition to being invisible, both to the eye and the nose, it is crucial that bowhunters know the range to their targets.

"If you misjudge by 10 yards you will miss it and if you misjudge by five yards you will cripple it," Trout said.

Trout, like many bowhunters, has fiber optic sight pins set up on his bow which are set for a shot of a certain distance. But the pins are no good to him if he guesses wrong about the range.

Trout firmly believes that the form a bowhunter uses in making his or her shot is even more important than knowing the range.

Trout knows few bowhunters that will try a shot at more than 30 yards. Bowhunters can not count on a second chance at their target and a crippling shot is the last thing they want. When the wind, the range, your form and even a small twig make the difference between a hit and a miss, you have to use good judgment.

"It's more of a challenge," Trout said. "Most of us can shoot anything with a rifle."

Trout and his fellow club members have been practicing pretty hard for the bowhunting season for the past 2 1/2 weeks.

"You build your confidence up by practicing here all of the time because after awhile 50 yards seems to be pretty easy," Trout said.