Editor’s Note: Thirty seven year old Mike Hopkins of Junction City, Kansas, has been shooting a PSE bow since 2008. Hopkins is a classic example of how to become a better bowhunter. Mike decided to shoot 3D archery just before he took his first buck with a bow. As you’ll see, Mike consistently has been able to take more animals and a wider variety of animals, since he’s incorporated 3D archery into his bowhunting program.
PSE: Mike, what was the next buck you took with a bow?
Hopkins: The next season I was shooting a PSE X-Force Dream Season bow and shot several does and 4 point bucks and a hog. I was in the army, stationed at Fort Polk, Louisiana, as a human resources officer, and I was able to hunt about 1/2 mile from where I lived on the base.
PSE: Tell us about taking that wild hog with your bow.
Hopkins: My buddy had been hunting with me just about every afternoon, and we’d split up once we got into the woods. I’d get in my tree stand, and he’d get in his. We hadn’t been in our tree stands very long before we heard thunder and saw lightning, and rain started falling. After we’d been hunting about 30 minutes, I called him on the radio and told him I would climb down to try to move some deer toward him, before the weather got really bad. While I was walking through a thicket trying to drive a deer out to my buddy, I went by a large pine tree and saw something black in my peripheral vision. Looking harder, I realized the black object was a 110 pound wild hog. The hog didn’t move, so I walked up about 15 more yards to the next big pine. I stopped, turned around so I wasn’t facing the hog, nocked an arrow, drew my bow and released the arrow. The hog never moved from the spot where he was.
PSE: How far were you from the hog before you took the shot?
Hopkins: I was only about 15 yards away, and I hit the pig behind his right shoulder. I was shooting a 100 grain Slick Trick broadhead that lodged in his shoulder, but didn’t go all the way through. I quickly nocked a second arrow, and as I walked up to him, I shot the second arrow.
PSE: You also said that you took some does and 4 point bucks that season, which was only 1 year after you took your first bow buck. So, you must have gotten very active with your bowhunting.
Hopkins: I really did. You know the old saying, “Your first buck’s the hardest,” and I found that to be absolutely true. I filled all six of my tags the year after I took my first buck and added a hog to boot. I took one spike, two 4 points and three does. I went from bowhunting for 4 years and taking no deer to buying a PSE X-Force 7 bow and taking my first buck. Then the next year with my PSE X-Force Dream Season bow, I filled all my tags and took a wild hog also. I believe one of the key factors of my success was that between the year I took my first buck and the second year when I took the hog and the six deer, I drastically increased my participation in tournament archery. That year I started to shoot the national 3D archery circuit almost year round, instead of just local club tournaments.
PSE: What circuit were you primarily shooting?
Hopkins: The Archery Shooters Association circuit – ASA. When I first started, I shot in the Bow Novice class. That’s the first class available for a hunting style bow set up. Then, after four tournaments, I won my way out of Bow Novice and finished the year shooting in the Open C division. The following year, I moved up to Open B.
PSE: What bow were you shooting in the tournaments?
Hopkins: I was shooting my X-Force Dream Season hunting bow. When I won $350, I moved up in class. When I got to the Open C class, I started using a single pin, movable sights and longer stabilizers, and that was all foreign to me, because I was basically a bowhunter. So, I spent the second half of that season getting comfortable with all the new equipment. When I started in Open C, I started shooting the PSE Shark.