Bowhunting Tips and Strategies
Bowhunting is a game of inches. Whether the big buck needs to take one more step out from behind a limb, your stand needs to be one tree closer to the trail or your arrow needed to be a couple inches lower, its inches that can make the difference between success and failure. No single bow hunter can ever know everything about this complex sport we love so much, which is why we are always learning. If you think you’ve tried everything in the whitetail woods and still come out empty handed, continue reading for some tried and true bowhunting tips to employ in your bowhunting strategy this fall.
Find Hidden Food Sources
A common bowhunting saying is ”Find the food and you will find the deer.” As a bowhunter, you likely know the importance of having a good food source and how it can hold bucks on your property. However many hunters limit themselves in the food sources they hunt. Corn, soybeans, acorns and food plot forages are obvious food sources to keep in mind while formulating a hunting game plan but keying in on hidden food sources can put you closer to the action. While the aforementioned food sources are favored whitetail foods, they do not feed exclusively on those foods. The whitetail deer is the ultimate browser and will feed on a variety of forages and browse in the woods and fields. Let’s examine some hidden early and late season food sources.
During the early season bowhunters often key in on acorns and standing soybeans. These are preferred early season food sources for whitetails, but the fact that nearly every bowhunter will target these foods can put the deer on edge. Soft mast species of shrubs and trees definitely warrant a hunt during the early season and could produce some good buck sightings. Fruit trees such as persimmon, apple, pear and peach trees are whitetail magnets during the early as the deer love the sweet, juicy fruit. Autumn Olive groves loaded with berries will attract many whitetails and they also serve as bedding areas, increasing your chances of seeing and shooting a mature buck while hunting those groves. Wild turkeys and bears also enjoy browsing on autumn olive berries as well. Be warned, however, that if there aren’t any berries on the shrub, they won’t attract any deer. Whitetails also enjoying snacking on wild grapes so be sure to look for areas thick with tall, heavy grapevines. Black cherry trees, and pokeberries (or pokeweed) are also great hidden early season food sources.
As the season progresses, these hidden food sources have either dried up, or been eaten completely. Whitetails will still browse on these species, but hunting a lot of black cherry trees during the late season will yield frustrating results. Hidden late season food sources will not be as fruitful (pun intended) as hidden early season food sources, but they can still produce. During the late season, clear cuts or any previously disturbed area can be golden big buck opportunities, because of the browse available. Wild rose bushes, greenbrier bushes, white pine, white cedar, red maple, yellow-poplar Japanese honeysuckle and dogwood trees all provide excellent browse during the late season when temperatures drop and food becomes scarce. These food sources can’t compete with carbohydrate rich corn in farm country, but in mountains and big woods regions, whitetails rely on these food sources for winter survival so you can bet you will find deer in areas rich with these food sources.
Being a More Efficient Hunter
Efficiency is an often overlooked aspect of bowhunting. You will read and hear many whitetail “experts” preach the age old saying, “you can’t kill one from the couch!” While this is certainly true and persistence definitely pays, being efficient in your bowhunting strategies is of equal importance. Knowing when to hunt certain areas and when to stay out of them can make a world of difference in your overall success. By avoiding your best stands when the conditions are wrong you will keep these spots fresh for when the conditions are right.
Another important factor in staying efficient is knowing which areas to hunt and which not to hunt. One of the best ways to determine this is through the use of trail cameras. Using trail cameras to monitor your hunting areas while you’re not there can tell you which areas are hot and which are not. If you can avoid the areas with little to no deer activity you’ll increase your chances for success the moment you step out of your truck.
A bowhunter’s attitude is more important than what bow he shoots and what broadhead tips his arrow. The mind truly is a powerful thing, and positive thinking in the deer woods goes along way when hunting mature bucks. Believe it or not, simply believing in yourself and your hunting spots can lead to more success in the field. A positive attitude will make for a more enjoyable hunting experience, and will increase your drive and determination to get back in the stand despite repeated “failures”!
There is no such thing as a negative bowhunting experience. There is no such thing as a negative bowhunting experience. There is no such thing as a negative bowhunting experience. Drill those words into your hunting brain, because they are true. The worst hunting scenarios make wonderful opportunities to improve as a bowhunter. For example, all hunters will hit, wound but never recover a deer. It provides the worst feeling possible, but the humility felt can serve as reason to relentlessly practice to ensure you never experience that feeling again. A missed shot may seem like a blown opportunity, but instead be thankful it was a clean miss and the deer wasn’t wounded.
Some of the best bowhunters in the world are eternal optimists because they simply won’t let themselves get discouraged. Optimism sounds like an easy practice to adopt, but it can be quite difficult to stay enthused and energetic about hunting when you aren’t shooting deer. Instead of focusing on the kill, let the more simple aspects of the hunt determine whether or not you have a successful outing. For example, anytime you safely and ascend and descent the tree without falling should be considered a blessing. Watching the sunrise from a treestand provides an unequalled energy and watching the sunset after a hard day of hunting will do the wonders for the soul. There is no such thing as a negative bowhunting experience, there is no such thing as a negative bowhunting experience…