Bowhunting is one of the most challenging forms of hunting. Using a bow to hunt deer can be one of the most difficult, but rewarding of all hunts. It requires a different discipline compared to using a rifle, first off because of the range involved: gun hunters can afford to sight a deer at up to 300 yards, whereas bow hunters will probably be as close as 20 yards away. This closeness requires a different approach to the hunt, but some principles will stay the same.
Add that to the fact that deer can be one of the more difficult animals to hunt, and you get the idea why not many beginner bowhunters take home a harvest after their first season.
While it is true that experience is the best teacher, especially when it comes to bowhunting, here are the best bowhunting tips to help the beginner bowhunter take home his first deer.
Be Prepared. One of the most obvious but sometimes overlooked concepts of any hunt is to be prepared. This can be even more true when it comes to deer hunting with a bow.
First, you have to make sure that you have the right equipment for the hunt. The most basic of this is your bow, and how well it feels in your hand. Your bow should be an extension of you as a hunter, and not a clumsy tool. It’s also a good idea to have a range finder to help judge distance, as well as a good pair of binoculars, among other things.
There are many different things to consider when choosing your bow. A question I hear a lot from people that want to start bowhunting is whether to use a traditional or compound bow. What is most essential however is that your bow feels right in your hands. This means that you’ve spent the time to make sure that the bow is tuned to your physical characteristics, that you have taken the time to familiarize yourself with it’s weight, and so on.
If you are comfortable with your bow, this will be another advantage in your hunt for deer.
Practice, practice, practice: one of the ways to make sure your bow is familiar in your hands is to take the time to practice with it. Perfect your skills with the bow on the range, make sure that it becomes natural for you to handle your bow, so that it becomes an advantage in the field, and not a liability. It would be disastrous to be able to come so close to a deer and then to miss, because you didn’t take the time to perfect your skills.
A huge advantage in your hunt for deer, is if you’re fully comfortable with your bow. This means practice time with your bow in as many ranges, angles and targets as you can. If you are hunting deer, you should take time to hit targets that are the size of deer, from many different ranges. Some hunters may also recommend that you practice in your hunting attire, in full gear. Aside from your bow, knowing how to use your equipment will save you time in the field.
Bring a Partner
It may be a good idea to bring a partner during a hunt as well. One can be the designated shooter, while the other scouts and may rattle or call for deer. Usually, this will allow the shooter a good angle to the responding deer, allowing for a close-ranged shot.
Another advantage to having a hunting partner is having another pair of hands when it comes to field dressing a harvest. More so if they are an experienced pair of hands, which can help speed up the process, as well as teach a new bowhunter a few good tricks.
Know your deer
It’s always a good idea to know as much as you can about the animals that you hunt. This can give you an important advantage in spotting and hunting them. One of the ways to do so is to collect books on deer, taking note of their behaviors and habits. Another way to learn about them is to listen to or read about the experiences of veteran deer hunters.
Scout the Area Before Your Hunt
This next principle sounds almost like it should be common sense, but some novice bowhunters fail to realize the importance of this. While deer are usually easy to locate, it is still a good idea to be familiar with the area you will be hunting in. Know the best places to set up camp, and where deer may best be found.
Take the time to know about the area you hunt in. If you can afford to, spend time there even off-season, so that you can discover the most likely areas the deer will feed in, or places they will hide. A hunter should realize that, when you hunt a deer, the deer know the area intimately, and you should do all you can to minimize their advantage.
Binoculars and/or a Rangefinder
One of the most important tools a bowhunter can have, aside from his bow, is a good set of binoculars. A good set of binoculars can be very helpful during the hunt, so you can easily spot the deer and then move carefully towards them.
In addition, a good rangefinder can also make the difference between a shot that takes a deer down, and one that lets it get away. Once you’ve spotted a deer, you may also want to consider a fawn call, which could stop a deer from racing away. Be careful when using one, as a deer can also be spooked if you overuse a fawn call.
This is another very important aspect to consider when choosing to bow hunt deer. Again, the areas where deer are found can be in difficult terrain, and maintaining good physical health and building up your endurance is important, more so if you choose to hunt them at higher elevations. I’m sure you would hate to finally find your trophy deer, but be unable to draw your bow, or be shaking too hard because of exhaustion.
Take The Shot!
You’ve practiced with your bow, you’re confident with your skills. You and your partner have scouted the area, and your partner has managed to help you get a shot at an deer. The last consideration you have is this: are you sure you can make the shot? Unless you are confident that you can, don’t release that shot, or you may miss, or worse, wound the deer without taking it down.