Bowhunting Tips and Strategies
Practicing- Get Out of Your Comfort Zone
Aside from actually taking an animal’s life with “primitive” weaponry, bowhunting is a very docile sport. The relaxation experienced in the tree stand on a cool October afternoon is unattainable any way other than bowhunting and many hunters declare their mind is most at peace when perched high in a tree on a frosty November morning. The tranquility experienced during the hunt is precious, however, the preparation and practice, more precisely shooting your bow, shouldn’t be.
It’s easy for the majority of bowhunters today to go in their back yard and tightly group arrows to their maximum comfort level, be those 20 yards, 30 yards, etc. Having fired a several shots at predetermined distances, they feel content in their abilities and call it a practice session. However, when the moment of truth arrives, they are unprepared, second guess their skills and botch the shot. Had that deer hunter gotten out of their comfort zone at the practice range, they may have made the shot on that trophy deer.
To truly better yourself as an archer, you must practice outside of your comfort zone. Many bowhunters consider 30 yards their effective kill range when hunting, so that’s as far as they shoot when practicing. There’s no reason to practice any further, right? Wrong! Why limit yourself at the practice range, when you could seize the opportunity to better yourself? Practice at ranges that you wouldn’t dare shoot at animal from. Practicing from 60 yards will make shots from 30 in hunting situations much less intimidating. Picture yourself in a hunting situation and give yourself no more than 5 seconds to settle the pin on the target and release an arrow to improve target acquisition. Conversely, hold at full draw as long as possible to prepare yourself for that stubborn buck that stops just before entering your shooting lane.
Another innovative practice technique is “blind shooting.” Drawing your bow back with your eyes closed, comfortably finding an anchor point and releasing an arrow blindly will build muscle memory and reinforce consistent shooting form. This may sound like a dull and ineffective practice technique, but muscle memory and true shooting form pay big dividends when your adrenaline gets pumping and your heart is racing when a shot opportunity presents itself. Letting your subconscious handle your pre shot routine (drawing, finding your anchor point, settling the pins, etc.) will allow you to focus entirely on the shot; this could be the difference between a dead deer and a clean arrow.
Competition is perhaps the best way to enhance your archery skills. Competition is a wonderful tool for self-improvement in anything in life and archery is no different. Putting your skills to the test against another shooter is an excellent excuse to push and better your archery abilities. Nobody likes losing, and the added pressure you feel shooting alongside your buddy can simulate the pressure of drawing back on a big buck.
Be a Deer Hunter, Not a Deer Finder
Complacency is the most common problem that prevents hunters from regularly harvesting trophy animals. They fall victim to hunting treestands where they have killed deer in the past, or where their scouting tells them the deer should be, instead of hunting where the deer are. Simply finding and seeing deer from stand isn’t enough for some bowhunters. If this sounds like you, then stop waiting for the deer to come to you, and you go to the deer! This type of versatility is almost required when hunting mature bucks because they are so unpredictable. Being a versatile hunter requires a lot of extra effort, because it means taking down and hanging multiple stands often, and/or carrying climbing treestands in and out of the woods. The extra work, however, can pay big dividends.
Hunting the same stands repeatedly allows the deer to pattern you rather than you patterning them. If you hunt a stand, and in two or three sits you don’t have a close encounter, then move! For many hunters time in the woods is considered a precious commodity, and it’s more efficient to go get your deer than waiting for the deer to make a mistake.
Being a versatile hunter will keep the deer, especially the bucks, off balance and keep your entire property fresh for the entire season. Certain gear is required for hunters who want to say mobile, and lightweight, durable treestands such as those from Lone Wolf are necessary for quick and quiet set up. A trusted pair of climbing sticks will also allow you to set up in areas where the deer are spending the majority of their time.
Ground Blind Greatness
Pop up ground blinds have become insanely popular in recent years because they offer incredible concealment and are easy to erect. It’s unfortunate though, that many bowhunters are still reluctant to use them. The purpose of a treestand is to position you above the deer’s line of sight and above their sense of smell. Of course, even when hunting from an elevated position, deer will still see and smell you, but treestands are definitely an advantage. Since ground blinds put you literally at eye level with the whitetail as well as our scent, some bowhunters feel it’s impossible to get an old buck within bow range. Unfortunately, they are missing out on some incredible bowhunting opportunities.
The most obvious benefit of a ground blind is safety. Not having to climb high in a tree for a shot at whitetail is the primary reason many hunters utilize ground blinds. However, they offer many hunting benefits as well. Sometimes a well placed ground blind is the only way to get close to deer. How many times have you found a promising area, yet were unable to hunt it because there we no good trees to hand a stand in? A ground blind would have enabled you to get up close and personal with the deer and hunt that area immediately since it takes less than 5 minutes to erect a ground blind.
A well brushed in ground blind provides maximum concealment and allows deer hunters to draw their bows without being detected. They also serve as great alternatives to hunting in foul weather. They keep you dry in rain or snow storms and shield you from freezing wind chills. Another bonus of ground blinds is how little they seem to effect deer movement. Since they are so well camouflaged and blend into their surroundings, deer do not recognize them as a threat and pay little mind to them as soon as they realize they are safe.
Hunting whitetails out of ground blinds is a unique and exciting way to get up close and personal with your quarry. They are safe, advantageous and offer flexible hunting situations and should become a part of your hunting arsenal this fall.