Do You Use These Tactics?
Want to be a better bowhunter? Follow these 10 tips.
1. Be Patient
As I've grown older, this has become the most valuable piece of advice I could tell any hunter. I used to get antsy and want to call my hunt early every day if I hadn't seen deer in awhile, but now I'll stick it out another hour or two. And I've learned that just because deer don't show up by your stand one day, doesn't mean that it can't and wont happen the next. Try not to get discouraged because you didn't shoot that buck during the rut. Some of my best deer have been from late-season hunts. The more experience you have in the woods, the better you will be at putting the necessary time into your hunt.
2. Know the Land You Hunt
It's important to know the lay of the land you are hunting and to look at different trails deer will be traveling so you can put your bow setup in the perfect spot. Use trail cameras before, during, and all season long to ensure deer are still in the area. Deer can sometimes change their traveling habits during the season.
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3. Pull It Up
I use a rope with a plastic clasp on the end to make it easier getting my bow in and out of the stand when hunting from the tree. You can find them at any local retailer and it will save you the hassle and cause you to be safer from lugging your bow up and down the stand. Mine is about 25 to 30 feet in length, which should be about all you need. Also, make sure your rope is a dark color (like black or green). Too many times have I had friends that used a white rope where the wind caught it and deer spooked from it. May even be better for you just to tie the rope around a limb where you don't have to worry about it at all.
4. Hunt the Wind
Nothing can mess up a deer hunt more if deer are downwind from where you are hunting. An old girlfriend once asked me while discussing wind direction with my dad, What does the wind have to do with deer hunting? Um, EVERYTHING! I'm not a scent-control freak, but I do pay attention to wind direction at all times when I'm in the woods. For some reason, many hunters neglect to do this and don't carry wind-detection tools, or refuse to use them with slight breezes when they are probably needed most.
5. Shoot More
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Practice shooting. And then practice some more. But make sure you make that first shot count the most when you are practicing. When that moment comes and that big buck steps into your lane, you only get that one chance. Mimic hunting situations that you will have in the field by hunting from different elevations and wearing the same clothes you'll be wearing afield. Sometimes, in cold conditions, you'll have to wear multiple layers of clothing, which increases the chance of your bow string hitting your arm as you go to release your arrow. A great tip for this would be to buy the Realtree EZ Arm Guard.
6. Hunt Safe
Wear a safety harness. Too many hunters I know have become hurt or worse from falling out of a treestand. It's my biggest fear, so I'll sometimes even wear a lifeline when climbing up and down the tree.
7. Spray Away
Human odor can ruin your deer hunt. While I said before I'm not a scent-control freak, I make sure to spray down my feet good. I've learned this the hard way when forgetting to do this. Deer have entered the field close to where I walk in and knowing the wind is in my favor, they still act is if they are downwind of me. Took me awhile to learn they were smelling the scent from my boots walking to the stand. So be sure to spray down!
8. Play It Smart
During the early season, don't press too hard on deer. Invading their territory and getting too close to their bedding area can be a disaster that will not only mess you up early season but also spook deer off your property for the entire season. I've learned this one the hard way as well. Mature bucks aren't stupid, and once they realize they're being hunted, then your chances of having an opportunity to kill one range from slim to none.
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9. Pay Attention
Don't be caught looking at your phone or not paying attention. Deer can come from any direction, especially during the rut. Take advantage of your time and monitor the woods to catch that trophy buck of a lifetime. With the psychological need and addiction for us to be connected with our phone in today's world, try your best to leave it alone as much as you can while in the outdoors.
10. Stay Sharp
Use a sharp broadhead with a large diameter to cut wide and deep. This will obviously kill more effectively and leave a good blood trail for you to follow. One broadhead that I have loved using the past three years is the NAP Spitfire. The weight I use is the 100-grain Spitfire that has a cutting diameter of 1-1/2. Every little bit helps, right? So they say.
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Editor's Note: This was originally published October 7, 2015.
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