The title of this article may seem a little strange, especially to experienced bowhunters. As a responsible archery hunter, I hope you are putting in the time to shoot consistently and know your effective range. But the fact is a deer is not an archery target. Not only do you have to shoot well, you have to shoot well under pressure and avoid being spotted by an animal that is always on the lookout for danger. Here are some tips to help you be more effective in the woods.
Well, everyone knows you should practice. But it’s how you practice that counts. When shooting at the range make a bet with yourself. Your first shot is the most important since you will probably only get one shot at a deer. If you can’t place your first arrow inside the x-ring on the first shot maybe you give up beer for a week… whatever will put pressure on you to make the shot is what you’re looking for in a bet.
Practice In The Field Too
I make it a point, especially early in the season, to draw on just about every deer that passes by my stand. This way I learn what I can get away with and what I can’t. If you can’t legally shoot a doe, don’t actually put your sight pins on her. But see if you can draw without being detected. This exercise will either boost your confidence or educate you. Speaking of does, there are a lot of hunters who will wait for years before firing an arrow at a deer because they are waiting for the perfect buck. Then, when the moment of truth arrives they fizzle. If you have some doe tags, don’t be afraid to put a few on the ground. Killing a doe is great practice for killing a buck.
On The Approach
The moment I see a deer, I slowly ease into a standing position. Even if the deer walking in isn’t a deer you’re interested in shooting, you never know what is walking behind it. If you wait to stand until you see a big boy, you may have does all around you. Try getting up with four or five sets of eyes and ears surrounding you. It won’t be easy. If the deer is walking towards you, let it get past you before drawing. This will help you stay undetected and give you a good opportunity at a quartering away shot. If the deer is walking from right to left or left to right, draw when it is looking away or has an obstructed view.
So everything has worked perfectly and you’re about to let an arrow go. Wait! Some hunters bring their bow from above the target and work their way down. Most of the time a deer is going to duck the string. If you release a little too early, your arrow will fling right over the top of the deer. Start from below the deer and work your way up to the target arrow. Float the pin and let the arrow go. This will help you avoid missing due to the deer ducking the string.
Your limitations are another factor to consider before releasing. If you’re comfortable at the range at 30 yards, don’t shoot at a deer at 40 yards. Hitting a deer poorly doesn’t do you or the deer any favors. Lastly, don’t follow what you see on TV. If a deer is walking and you have to give them the “mehhhh” to stop them, fine. But if the deer is feeding and taking it’s time, don’t make a sound before shooting. If the deer is relaxed, it is less likely to duck when the arrow is released. Grunting or bleating at them only puts them on alert.
My best advice is this: If you practice like you’re hunting, you will hunt like it is practice. Take your time at the range and don’t get caught up in how many arrows you shoot. Quality is more important than quality.