Deer hunting season is back and when that big buck wanders by, you want to be as ready as you can to take the best shot. Bow hunting is a fun and adventurous way to hunt wild game. For hunters new to archery, it’s best to put the time in before the hunt begins to be well-prepared. These 10 simple bowhunting tips can go a long way towards improving your hunt.
1. Get Comfortable in the Field
You’re going to hunt out of a tree or in a forest, so get comfortable. Have your archery gear ready, wear comfortable camouflage clothing and pack your necessities for the long hunt. Remember that the trees are where most hunt deer from, so focus and train on shooting downward. Don’t forget to wear a harness for safety!
2. Maintain Your Bow
Bow maintenance checks are an extremely important part of hunting safely and avoiding injury. If your a single season hunter that means your bow has been in storage during the off season. Temperatures can change often in various environments and boxes can get shuffled around so it’s very important to check bowstrings, cables as well as your limbs before shooting.
3. Train Your Dominate Eye
While some professional shooters close their lesser eye during a competition, it’s not the same as putting the right pin on moving deer in low light. Once you learn which is your dominate eye, learn to aim having both eyes open. They say this provides the widest field of view.
4. Stick to a Light Draw Weight
Choose a compound archery bow that will allow you to shoot a lighter weight to start. You can gradually increase it as you get stronger but the less the better for beginners. You will know the draw weight is too much if you are shaking or inaccurate when coming to full draw.
5. Take the Right Shot
Understanding where to strike your deer or game most effectively is what archery hunting is all about. There’s no benefit to causing prolonged suffering for your target. You have to take the ethical and most lethal shot. Any amateur can sling arrows all over the field. Until you’re experienced, the best target area for deer is the lungs. The lungs offer the largest lethal area to hit.
6. Control Your Scent
While you are the one doing the hunting, the Deer have the upper hand. And it’s because of their noses. Control your body odor by showering with scentless soap or body wash. Absolutely no cologne and make sure your clothes are washed with scentless detergent. You need to get as close as possible to your big game without it seeing, hearing or smelling you.
7. Start Early
Early season for archery hunting starts in the late summer while fields are still green. Deer are focused on feasting on late summer food, making them easier to ambush as they roam. They are still in their summer pattern and likely not used to hunters being in the field yet. Get in early during the season and try to learn the deer feeding and movement patterns.
8. Be Prepared to Get Lucky!
That’s right! All the trail research, deer sign tracking, and careful preparation can’t predict what a deer will do on any given day. Sometimes you’ll spend the whole day without taking a single shot. Other times the deer will do what you least expect and stop right in front of you for an easy shot. Be prepared for those rare easy opportunities. The best carry a ‘good luck’ charm for a reason.
9. Be Prepared for Failure Too
Sometimes the target is on sight and the moment is perfect. Then suddenly…a branch gets in the way, the wind gusts out of control or another animal darts by distracting you or your prey. Don’t beat yourself up over circumstances you can’t control. You won’t be aiming for every deer you see. Be ready for the long wait. Part of being patient involves keeping your eyes and ears ready and alert. Every professional archery hunter faces a bad beat sometimes.
10. Enjoy the Great Outdoors
It’s not just about the hunt. It’s about being outdoors in nature and taking some time off from staring at your phone all day. Breathe the fresh air, watch the movement of the clouds, trees and wildlife all around you. The sunrise and sunset feel a little extra special when you have a bow in your hands. Connect with your fellow hunters and most importantly, make it home safe.
Even though many of these tips may seem obvious, it’s always good to review the basics before every hunting season. If you’re just starting out, get to a popular archery range to practice and keep these tips in mind for the field. Any instructor or experienced hunter can familiarize you with all basics and the best archery equipment and accessories.
What other advice would you give a bowhunter heading out for their first hunt?