The excited anticipation present when setting out in a bow hunt only grows as you complete a successful harvest. Bringing home a deer taken with a bow sounds easy enough, right? Sure it is, provided you take into account a few necessary tactics and take the time to hone your skill before setting out on a hunt. Anyone can go out in the field with a bow and hunt, but it is entirely possible that person will come out of the woods with nothing to show for their time. It is only those who put in the work developing a good bow hunting ethic that bring home the buck.
A common misconception is that performing certain feats looks easy. We've all known someone who thinks they can do anything after watching for mere minutes and then goes on to fail miserably when they try. The fact is that if bow hunting looks easy, that is because you are watching someone who took the time necessary to practice. In order to look the same way yourself, it is necessary that you follow the same path, practicing techniques such as these five:
1. Don't forget to breathe. Sure, you are going to get excited when a buck emerges from cover and you have that perfect shot, but it is important to remain calm so you don't blow it. The first step in keeping composed is controlling your breathing. This will keep your nerves, and therefore your hands, steady, enabling you to more easily hit your mark when the trigger is pulled.
2. Make your practice realistic. It is important that you practice in conditions similar to those in which you will be hunting. If you plan to hurt from a tree stand, for example, you need to recreate in practice the same angles from which you will be hunting. If you only practice from the ground, you will be missing out on development of the skill necessary to hunt from a heightened position and at a different angle.
3. Use in practice the same tools you will be using in the field. This means practicing ahead of hunting season with your broadhead of choice as opposed to cracking the package open at dawn on opening day. You need to know in advance how your broadheads will fly and how to compensate for that flight path, which means shooting and getting acquainted with them before the season begins.
Photo: Bow Hunting Mag
4. Develop and implement a routine that you follow before every shot. This will keep you from getting flustered in the moment and missing a shot. There is a sequence of steps unique to each hunter that needs to go into each shot you take. It is important to stick to that sequence as it keeps you from forgetting anything in the exciting moment that a deer steps out in front of you. Creating and practicing this routine makes it habit; habits are hard to break, so make sure yours are good ones.
5. Walk out distances beforehand, marking them off so you don't forget or estimate distances incorrectly in the moment. Knowing the distance between yourself and your target makes it that much easier to hit your mark. It also helps you remember to bide your time and wait for deer to move closer into range rather than taking an unnecessary risk that ends in a miss and wasted opportunity.
Being a successful bow hunter does take effort, but the effort is worthwhile when paired with a successful harvest. Just be sure to remember that success comes in many forms; a deer on the table is still food to eat, even if that particular deer is not wall mount material. The more deer you pass on as you wait for that dream buck, the more opportunity to sharpen your bow skills that is lost.
Do you have any suggestions to add as to how to hone your bow hunting skills? What methods do you implore in order to get and stay on top of your whitetail game? Let us know in the comments.