When it comes to bowhunting, there’s such a wide variety of equipment and techniques available that it can be hard to give people truly valuable advice about things, whether it’s how to build a treestand or what arrow to use.
Instead it’s usually better to take general tips, and try to extrapolate them to your own style whatever it may be. If you haven’t found it yet, you’ll want to find yours before you really try to take any advice. In this case it’s often a good idea to find a mentor, until you’ve truly been in the field yourself knowledge doesn’t amount to much.
That said, here are some general hints which might help any hunter, although they’re mainly geared towards stand hunters like myself.
Scouting the Location
Before the season even begins you’ll want to know the area quite well. There’s a lot of stuff that goes on in the woods, and if you’re under the impression you can just walk into any forest and find a buck you’re going to be disappointed.
One of the best things to do is to move carefully through the woods, looking for the various signs that deer, and particularly bucks, leave in their wake. This includes the animal trails, rubs, signs of past deer and where their food and water will be located.
The best way to go about this is on foot, slowly but surely make your way all through the area in the off-season. It’s a great way to be outdoors and getting set up for the thrill of the chase once the whole thing is ready to go.
Use Food Plots
Wherever you’re hunting, it’s a good idea to plant food plots. It’s definitely not unsporting, and if you have access to a property you maintain year-round you’re actually adding to the health of the deer population. You’ll find that deer prefer different foods in different seasons, and a lot of it will depend on your area.
Don’t just plant them around your stands though, plant them regularly along established deer trails and you’ll be able to make sure the deer have a varied and complete diet. They’ll be healthier and more active, and you’ll have a much better chance of scoring a big one when they come to feed.
While you might not have as dangerous of a weapon as riflemen, it’s important to always be safe. This means a quality quiver, never shooting when you don’t know where a miss will go, and in the case of stand hunting you’re going to be using a safety harness.
Don’t let machismo trick you into not doing this, more hunters are killed by falls than almost anything else every year. Be safe! It does you no good to tag a big whitetail if you fall on your head during the process.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Practicing your form is an essential part of the hunt. In all honesty, hunting is such a complicated art that some archers eventually forget that they also have to be able to shoot well. You’ll find this attitude is especially prevalent among hunters who use very accurate and easy to shoot modern equipment.
A bad shot is worse than a complete miss, you’ll cause the deer unnecessary suffering and might even lose it entirely as well. Keep your form sharp, and make sure you can shoot at a wide variety of distances. Even if you don’t want to carry a rangefinder in the field, invest in one and use it to make sure you can hit a target from a variety of areas.
Novice hunters will often blow a sure thing by acting too soon. A large part of hunting is knowing when and where to take a shot, nearly as large a part as being able to take the shot with confidence anyways. Let the deer get nearer, or into a more open area, or however things need to pan out rather than popping off your arrow earlier.
You’ll do a lot better with some patience, and it can be hard to develop, but do your best and you’ll get the hang of it sooner or later.
Doing things like the above isn’t going to replace experience, instead they’re there to help you develop the personal qualities you’ll need in order to get better. Hunting can be seen as an act of personal development, it requires many qualities which are rare in people to be a good hunter and it takes quality time in the field in order to build yourself up.
The important things are a happy hunt, the thrill of the chase, and getting to know and love the animals you’re hunting. Everything else, including the kill, is just the cherry on top of the glorious sundae.
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