By Cole Daniels
After 45 minutes of slowly making her way down the fence line, the doe was approaching affective range of my Mathews. She was a good sized deer, probably three or four years old. A lot of hunters don’t understand the challenge in killing a doe like this. They would rather shoot something with antlers, even if it is an immature deer. Chances are, this deer has outwitted far more predators than any yearling buck. At this moment, she was about to fall to the whitetail’s apex predator. I released my arrow and about 60 yards later, she was down. Some would call it a management harvest. I call it dinner.
She was the first deer I have ever taken with a bow and I’ll never forget it. I’ve taken several whitetails since, and each time I am in stand with a bow I learn more. More about deer. More about myself. And more about the mistakes a hunter can make in this up close and personal style of hunting America’s favorite big game animal. Here are my thee tips for better bow hunting.
This may seem like a no-brainer. Everybody practices, right? The question is, are you practicing effectively? Practice shooting your bow with all of your hunting gear on. The clothes you plan to wear, your harness, your boots, everything. This will point out the noises you will make and if any part of your equipment will snag. Be sure to practice in hunting situations. A lot of guys practice on the ground and hunt from a tree stand. Does this make sense? No. The angles are completely different. Set up a tree stand on your practice range and shoot from it. Don’t forget to shoot some quartering away shots too. Most of the time when target shooting, we shoot at targets directly in front of us. That’s also a great way to put an arrow through a deer. But it doesn’t always work out that way.
No matter how many silencers we put on a bow, they are still going to make some noise. There’s nothing else we can do, so we need to move on. What a hunter can do is eliminate all of the added noises that come with hunting. Taking your bow off the rest, attaching your release, drawing an arrow, setting your feet for the shot… these are all actions that make noise. Practice doing this in your down time. Wrapping your bow rest with foam will make it totally silent. A piece of carpet on your stand platform will quiet your feet.
The bow is the piece of equipment hunters focus most on. But the broadhead is the killing instrument. Today’s broadheads are miles ahead of technology from just a few years ago. One thing remains constant. They need to be razor sharp. The edges of your blades should be fresh. Don’t shoot a broadhead into a foam target and use the same blade for hunting. Think about the razor you shave with. After the shave is complete, the blade is dull. The same thing happens with broadheads. Serious anglers sharpen their hooks before fishing. Serious hunters need to do the same.
The great thing about these tips is they’re not rocket science. Anyone from a veteran bow hunter to a first timer can use them to increase success this season and beyond.