Hot Bowhunting Tips Never to Forget

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arrows and vanes
Shoot arrows with bright fletchings. Once you zip one through a buck, the vanes are easy to see on the ground under leaves or grass.

Shooter’s tip

To reduce hand pressure and torque that can throw arrows off line, hold your bow with a relaxed, open grip. When you relax your shooting hand your entire body tends to follow suit and loosen up, which makes you shoot better.

Arrow Test

Screw broadheads into the 6 hunting arrows you’ll carry in your quiver. Shoot every arrow into a broadhead target a few times. You’ll undoubtedly find that 2 or 3 of those arrows fly truer than the rest, especially with fixed heads. Mark those shafts 1,2 and 3. Those should be the first ones you bowhunt with. If arrow 4, 5 or 6 planes or wobbles don’t carry it in your quiver.

Perfect Peep

Is your peep sight set right? To find out, clip your release to the string, close your eyes, draw your bow and anchor as you would when bowhunting. Open your eyes. You should be able to see bow sight pins clearly through the peephole without moving your face, anchor point or bow. If not, let down and adjust the peep slightly up or down.

deer trails
Check your trail: When bowhunting the plains, look for deer trails gouged through the weeds.

Scouting the Plains

If you bowhunt the plains, say in Kansas, eastern Colorado or the Dakotas, climb a ridge and glass down onto grassy draws and sprawling flats. Deer trails gouged through the grass will be easy to see and decipher. Try to glass from one end of a trail to the other to see what it connects—maybe a timbered draw (bedding area) and a nearby field of corn or alfalfa (food source). Now you have a good idea of deer patterns in the area. Play the wind and hang your tree stands, or if no good trees are available, set up a ground blind.

Short & Long Of It

Short compounds are lightweight and easy to wield in a tree stand. They burn arrows at better than 300 fps. On top of all that, they’re dipped in hot camouflage patterns and look cool. But is a 30- to 32-inch bow really right for you?

If you practice year-round and have great shooting form, the answer is probably yes. But if like many bow hunters you shoot a few weeks or months before deer season, you’re probably better off with a longer bow. The heavier and longer a bow’s axle-to-axle length, the easier it is to hold level and steady. For most shooters this leads to better accuracy. A longer compound is more forgiving, and that helps to cover for small flaws in shooting form.

Visit your local archery shop and shoot a short display bow. If it feels good, and if you have good shot placement, go for it. If not, scale up to at least a 34- or 36-inch bow (a good, middle-of-the-road choice). If in the end you still shoot a 38- or 40-inch bow the best, buck the craze and hunt with it!

Draw, Shoot, LISTEN

If you hear an arrow “ka-thwack” into a deer, chances are it struck bone and muscle in the front shoulder. That’s good. But if you hear a hollow “ka-thump,” like an arrow striking a drum, that’s probably bad, the sound of hit too far back in the paunch.

Need More Speed?

Three Ways To Increase Arrow Velocity

  1. Increase your bow’s draw length by an inch, which will increase arrow speed by 5 fps or so. But don’t go overboard and try to pull too long of a bow, because that will mess up you anchoring technique, your shooting form and ultimately your accuracy.
  2. Increase draw weight 5 or 10 pounds, which will speed up arrows by 10 to 20 fps. Be sure to turn each limb bolt precisely the same.
  3. Try carbon arrows, which are lighter and thinner (less drag in the air) and thus a little faster than aluminum shafts.

Early Transition

Say a farmer cuts his corn in September or October. The days immediately after the harvest are awesome for bowhunting. The sudden change in habitat will force deer to move a lot. The animals will seek out new food sources in nearby woods and thickets, and any bucks that bedded in the stalks will transition to bedding thickets. Play the wind and hang a tree stand 100 to 200 yards off a freshly cut field and you’ll see lots of activity as deer sort things out. Even if you don’t get a shot, you should be able to observe bucks settling into new bed-to-feed patterns, which can only help on future bow hunts or gun hunts.

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