Bow Hunting Deer: Make That One Shot Count
Bow hunting deer is a challenge many hunters have come to enjoy. Not only does a bow hunter require discipline to master the fine art of archery, but he or she needs to learn skills and tricks that other hunters take for granted. Additionally, novice hunters have a tendency to not realize things that more experienced hunters have already come to understand and consider.
How to choose the right bow for deer bow hunting
The first point to consider is how important your selection of equipment is. When I was a beginner bow hunter, I had many wrong ideas about how to choose a bow. I thought that I would be a better hunter if I used a heavier, more powerful bow. In bow hunting, however, particularly bow hunting deer, that’s no way to select a bow. All a bow hunter needs is a well-placed shot and, of course, even a 40-pound bow can provide that. Compound bows are a great tool for bow hunting, as they are accurate and highly efficient. What is essential when choosing a compound bow is that it feels comfortable when you hold it. Simply put, it should feel well-balanced, and the pull of the bow needs to be right for your frame and size. Most importantly, you need to be able to pull the string without straining, making your shooting relaxed and accurate. Check out our compound bow buying guide to learn how to choose a compound bow that is right for you.
The best place to shoot a deer with a bow
The next thing bow hunters fail to consider is the angle of the shot they have to take. Aiming at targets is fairly easy, but a deer will not be a flat target. A bow hunter will want to place the shot in the heart and lung area to make sure they take down the deer, and this means a shot behind the front leg when the deer is quartering away or broadside. Some hunters also advise shooting a little lower to compensate for the deer dropping slightly at the sound of the release. Additionally, the majority of the shots a bow hunter will take will be from 15-20 yards away. This is accepted as the range where a deer won’t have the ability to see or smell you easily, while still permitting a shot that can take down a deer. Both these points mean that a bow hunter should practice shooting at a range of 15-20 yards, with a target about the size of the heart and lung area of a deer.
In the field, chances are that you will only get one shot, and many novices don’t realize this as well. A bow hunter needs to prepare himself for that one shot, as the deer will often be spooked and run away if the hunter misses. That shot is required to count.
Bow hunting deer tips
Bowhunting is a wonderful alternative to rifle hunting but requires a different set of skills. A bow hunter needs to get in close to his target to make a successful kill. Here are some tips for improving your skills when bow hunting deer.
1. Prepare your equipment
Before heading out on your hunt, make sure you can draw your bow silently. If it has a squeaky wheel, then apply some oil. Quiet compound bows such as the Bear Cruzer RTH are best for hunting. Make sure your broadheads are sharp to allow easy penetration into the animals hide, and that are tuned before shooting. Look after your arrows when you are storing and transporting them and ensure they are straight and intact before the hunt.
2. Know your bow’s effective range
This is the distance at which the bow is capable of a lethal shoot. The effective range is typically 30 to 50 yards from the animal. On the off chance that you don’t know what your effective range is, you will have to determine in target practice. The kill zone on a white-tail deer standing broadside is approximately an 8-inch circle. If you put your broadheads anywhere in that zone, your shot will be lethal.
Sight-in your pin for 20 yards, pace off 20 yards between you and the target and take a shot. Your arrow should hit the target ‘s dead-center. Move closer to the target by 1 yard and shoot again. Keep moving forward 1 yard and shoot until your arrow is placed above the 8-inch circle. Write down the distance. This will be your lower effective range limit for your bow to shoot lethally using your 20-yard pin. Repeat the same process moving 1 yard away from the target at each shot, until your arrow lands outside of the 8-inch kill zone. Note the distance down. This will be your upper effective range limit for your bow to shoot lethally using your 20-yard pin. If you have a multi-pin bow, repeat the whole thing for the other pins as well. You now are educated on your bow’s effective range, and can approach any game more confidently.
3. If a deer spots you, don’t move
Often the animal will not pick you out unless it detects movement. When it goes back to feeding or turns away, move closer with the aim of getting within shooting distance. If the deer turns its head towards you then freeze again and wait. Patience in using this method with produce good results in the long run.
4. Pay attention to draw timing
Avoid pulling back on the bow more than you can handle. If you have drawn your bow and are awaiting a deer you have spotted coming into range, your arms are likely to get tired and will begin to shake. At this point, the release will then be compromised. Make sure you carry out the pull back when the animal is looking away from you or has its head hidden behind a tree or other foliage.
5. Blend with the deer’s habitat
Use a deer call to help attract deer to your hunting area, but don’t call too often as it may sound unnatural. A gap of about 15 to 20 minutes between calls is a good guideline. Use scent masking chemicals to mask your body odor from the animal you are hunting and always try to stay downwind of the prey whenever possible. The ability to smell is one of the animal’s most effective means of survival, and unusual smells will send it running in the opposite direction to you. Use camouflage clothing and natural camouflage to disguise yourself as much as possible. Stay close to cover at all times and avoid hunting in the open when you can avoid it.
Finally, the best tip of all is to get as much practice and experience as you can both on and off season, in the field and on the range.
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