Nothing gets us quivering quite like the way the words ‘bow hunting’ does. There’s an element of skill involved. There’s an element of danger involved. There’s also a huge reward for those who know the right way to combine the other two elements.
Let’s just say that in order to be successful at bow hunting you need to use your smarts. As exciting as it may be to actually take on wildlife with a tool that won’t be as loud as a firearm, you need to have a firm grip on how to properly get the job done.
1 – Put On Stealth Mode
Okay, we know you probably already know this. Even if you don’t, you are probably going to say that you already know this. But on the offhand chance you don’t, remember you need to be able to get within striking distance of your target.
This means leave the ghetto blaster back in the truck. It also means keeping as quiet as possible. If you can’t do this, the only things you’ll be firing arrows at in the woods will be innocent trees. While that may be satisfying for part of the day, it won’t provide you with the kind of protein you went hunting for in the first place.
2 – Ready, Aim, Fire…Not Ready, Fire, Aim.
You’ve heard people being called straight shooters, right? That means that you can rely on them to tell you things without a lot of additional fluff. When bow hunting, you need to be a slightly different kind of straight shooter. It may sound easy enough right now, but most beginner’s fail this part of the test the moment a buck jumps out in front of them after an hour in the woods without sighting any other wildlife.
We get that there is going to be an adrenalin rush. It’s part of the package. However, you also need to remember that you are out there doing what you can to supply for your family and missing your target is not an option. Aim and fire for the win.
3 – Speaking Of That Crazy Adrenalin Rush…
There is gonna be a day where the thrill of flushing out scared animals into your sights will get old. We know, that’s a bit hard to believe. However, you really do need to find a way to keep that heart-pounding, sweat-inducing, knee-weakening reaction under control. It’s going to be important for a couple of reasons.
First off, if you happen to be out hunting with a few ‘seasoned’ regulars and you suddenly react like a little girl on Christmas morning when a prize-winning animal appears, you may not like their feedback. That is unless you’re okay with nicknames like ‘Sissy’ or ‘Pansy.’ Secondly, losing your cheese when you should be focused on the matter at hand is not only going to reduce your kill ratio, it’s gonna get dangerous out there, and you need to be able to react in a way that will keep you sane and not turn you into dinner.
4 – Timing Is Everything In Bow Hunting
Actually, bad timing in anything sucks. With bow hunting, it happens to suck slightly louder. Remember, you don’t have the advantage of explosive accelerants pushing your weapon to the target as you would with a rifle. Nor do you have the advantage of a couple of ‘do-overs’ as you would with a handgun with a magazine.
Oh, kind of ignore that last statement. We only said it to make the point that when bow hunting, you really only get one chance to send a perfect shot at the ass end of that deer. Again, that statement was just for comic relief. Timing is going to be your best friend or worst enemy. It really depends on how you get along with using it.
5 – There Is A Season, Turn, Turn, Turn.
Just like you can’t hunt deer during the summer, there also happens to be specific times during hunting season where you can go bow hunting. Plus, there are going to be some places that have many restrictions related to the sport. That’s okay. It keeps everything clean and on an even playing field for all the other bow hunters out there.
But how will you know when the time is right? All you need to do is get acquainted with the hunting regulations in your specific region. You can get help on this by visiting your local outdoor supply store. If that doesn’t help, reach out to your local or regional hunting and fishing regulatory body for some insight.
6 – Simon Says Switch It Up
There is nothing wrong with having a favorite bow. You can even give it a name if you’d like, but you may want to keep that part to yourself if you do. What we are trying to get at here is that you don’t have to stick with one bow for all your hunting. That is unless you can’t fire a shot to save your life with the others in your collection.
And, yes, you will have a collection. Try taking more than one out the next time you going hunting. Compare and see if maybe one works better for you when hunting grouse and another is slightly better for bear or whatever you shoot at.
7 – Practice In The Off-Season
There’s a reason why some bow hunters are better than others. It probably has something to do with the way they keep shooting during the off-season. This means that you can set up targets at home or go to a local target range and take in some extra time firing off arrows in controlled settings to work on such things as your aim, timing, and celebratory dance moves.
Also, it wouldn’t hurt you at all you see what kind of fitness routines the experts follow. A little bit of weight training never hurt anyone and at the very least, you may find it easier to carry your gear with a little bit of exercise building your muscles, stamina, and strength.
8 – Don’t Be Fooled By The Colors
When shopping for a proper bow for hunting and all the associated extras, look for function. The buck you plan to stuff into your freezer will not be all that interested in whether or not your bow has red or yellow accents. The same goes for all the do-dads.
Do your research and stock up on only the essential items you need to kill your next meal successfully. Do not get sucked into the marketing ploys used many manufacturers to up-sell you on stuff you really don’t need or won’t need. Here’s where contacts in the local fish and game club will come in handy. They may even have a member selling the exact set of gear you need to get started.
9 – Bow Hunting Isn’t For Everyone
It’s true. You may get more of a rush at shooting at animals with firearms. That’s perfectly alright and happens to be understandable. That being said, it also takes a special kind of hunter who can master the intricacies of bow hunting. That doesn’t mean it isn’t the perfect thing for you, but it is truly not every hunter’s cup of tea.
However, don’t let that scare you away from at least giving it a try. You may find that if bow hunting isn’t exactly what gets you jazzed with a bow and arrow in your hands, maybe target shooting is in your future. You didn’t hear it from us, but there are some mighty fine athletes at the Olympics that use bows, and they are not hunting animals.
Pick the right equipment
It is important to have the right set of equipment to ace the skill of bow hunting. Not only should the equipment be of good quality, but it should also be such that it suits your requirements.
• Hunting Bow
Among all the equipment that you need for hunting, a bow is obviously the most important one. Nevertheless, choosing the right bow can be a bit difficult, especially if you’re a newbie. It is highly recommended to focus on the height of the bow. The bow’s size should be such that its height and weight suits your own body’s height and overall build.
The selection of the bow also depends a lot on whether there are any restrictions regarding the height of the bow that can be used for hunting in your state. Many times, the height of the bow also differs depending on what kind of game you are going for.
• Bow release style
Apart from the height and weight of the bow, you also need to decide between the traditional style release bows and mechanical release bows.
Traditional release bows are those where you will have to rely on your fingers to leave the bowstring in order to release the arrow. As the name itself suggests, traditional release bows are those that have been used for hunting for centuries. The best part of these bows is that you have the trigger in your hands at all times. This allows you to aim the arrow before releasing it at the precise moment.
On the other hand, mechanical release bows are more popular over the traditional release bows, all because of the ease that it provides. Since the release contraption is mechanical, it increases accuracy and makes it easier for the shooter to aim.
Apart from bows, using the right arrowheads is also very important. You should always go for broad arrowheads which have a sufficiently wide diameter. This is because these arrowheads create a wide and deep cut which rules out any chances of deer escaping away after being wounded.
During practice sessions, however, you should choose to go for field point arrowheads as they equip you better while aiming and shooting. However, the field point arrowheads are designed like small bullets and should not be used on actual game as they can cause serious injury to the deer and allow it to run away. Deer may have an agonizing death in the course of the next few days. This is perhaps why these arrowheads are illegal in many states for game hunting.
• Safety gear
You will also have to pick out a set of safety harness that you can wear while you are out on the hunt. This harness will especially come in handy when you are hunting from a tree. Moreover, if you have kids or teenagers accompanying you, you will have to ensure that they are properly equipped to handle any kind of danger.
• Bow Hanger
This is another equipment that you will need if you are hunting from a tree. In most states, bow hunting is done by climbing up on a tree and waiting for the deer to show itself. If you carry the bow for hours on end, your arms will probably get too tired to aim properly when you do spot the deer. This is where a bow hanger will come in handy as you can just hang up the bow while you are waiting and give your arms some rest.
• Concealing equipment
Camouflaging is an integral part of bow hunting without which you would probably spook all the deer you spot and end up returning empty handed. Carry a pair of gloves and a cap or helmet that covers your face as much as possible so that you do not show a lot of skin. Alternatively, you can also make use of a face paint kit to cover your face before setting out of the house that will have a similar effect.
If you do not know how to aim properly, you will probably miss all your shots in spite of having the right equipment. However, you can improve your aiming during the practice sessions. You should see where your arrows are landing on the target.
For example, if you shoot three arrows, and all three hit the target slightly towards the left of the bull’s eye, you know that you need to sight your bow slightly towards the right of the target. Some other tips that will help you aim properly are as below:
• You must always choose a larger area to target rather than a small fixed area on the animal’s body. We recommend you to aim for the area where the animal’s vital organs are located in order to ensure a quick, clean kill.
• Aiming for the head, neck or rear are considered to be unethical shots. Therefore, these areas of the buck should never be targeted. Aiming for vital organs like lungs or heart are considered ethical shots.
• After taking the shot, you should wait at least a few minutes for the animal to breathe his last. You should approach the buck only after ensuring that the wounded animal cannot run away.
Here are some additional tips that can make your bow hunting experience much more enjoyable and successful:
• Make sure that you hunt in an area where there is a good possibility of spotting deer. You can identify such areas with the help of trail cameras or just by speaking to other experienced hunters.
• Get sufficient practice before you actually go bow hunting. You should also ensure that the conditions for your practice sessions are as similar to those in the forest when you go hunting.
• Carry an odorless spray with you that will minimize the human scent that your body and clothes carry. To avoid alerting the deer with your smell, you should always aim to hunt in the opposite direction of the wind.
• Don’t let your attention stray when you are waiting to spot a deer. Many times, spotting a deer turns out to be a blink, and you miss the moment. Therefore, if you get distracted with your phone or start chatting with your companions at the opportune moment, you will probably end up missing the target.
• Before going out on a hunt, it is highly recommended to study the animal’s nature that you are planning to hunt. Having some knowledge about the animal will help you understand his movements and reactions more accurately.
• Another great way of learning about the animal as well as the basic techniques of bow hunting is to just tag along with an experienced hunter who will introduce you to everything related to bow hunting. Right from how to spot a deer, to taking aim and everything that comes after you have brought down the animal can best be learned through experience and practice.
• It is also vital to be patient when you are out hunting. There even are cases when you are unable to spot the dear for hours even when you’re sure that he is nearby. In fact, it is even possible that you may not spot any deer at all the whole day. However, this should not dishearten you. Patience, as well as perseverance, is the key to bow hunting.
• If deer are hard to come by in your hunting spot, you can also use an attractant such as doe in estrous or tarsal gland scent which will draw out big bucks. These attractants usually come in the form of sprays and are pretty convenient to use.
• If you are reasonably tech-savvy, you can even make use of Google Earth’s detailed imagery to spot the deer trails around your property.
There is no doubt that bow hunting is exciting. It really puts you in a situation where your skills will have some impact on the outcome.
Plus, when you are bow hunting you reduce the amount of damage you do to your intended target if you are thinking of selling pelts or using as much of the meat as possible – minus the buckshot. You will never know if you have the skill to pull this off if you never give it a try.
Besides, those who whine about how guns have wrecked society have no idea how safe bow hunting can be in comparison. Mind you, there is always an opportunity for someone to be the first person to hold up a bank with a hunting bow although we don’t recommend that as the smartest way to get your name in the news.
Practice, learn from experts and start working on your skills. Even if you don’t bag a big one in the wilderness, you still may end up on a pedestal somewhere around the world with a gold medal dangling around your neck.