Hot Bowhunting Tips Never to Forget

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tree stand locations
When the crops are cut in your area have a large impact on your bow stand locations. Hunter shown wearing Mathews Lost Camo.

Tree Stand Tips

  • For safety, read the instructions and practice hooking a new tree stand on a tree at ground level. Get used to a climber or fixed perch before you attempt to hang it 16 feet or higher.
  • Most tree stands will fit a tree 8 to 20 inches in diameter. But whenever possible, hang a perch in a 10- to 16-inch tree. In this size tree, a tree stand locks down safely and quietly.
  • If an oak and a pine (with few or no low-growing limbs) sit side by side, choose the pine for a climber. The tree stand will bite the soft bark deeply as you climb and hunt.
  • After selecting a potential tree for a tree stand, back up 40 or 50 yards, kneel and check it from a deer’s perspective. If the tree offers adequate background cover (you never want to be silhouetted against the sky) go ahead and hang your perch.
  • For afternoon hunting in September or early October, lock a tree stand on a tree so that it faces a nearby crop field or acorns. Most deer will come from the woods and thickets to the rear; the tree between you and them will provide yet more cover.
  • If you shoot right-handed, set up where deer will pass within 30 yards to your left (vice versa for southpaws). You can draw and shoot with ease and little movement as a trophy buck quarters past.
  • With the leaves still thick on the trees in early fall, you might be able to see and shoot best by hunting only 16 feet or so high. Be doubly sure the wind is right and steady when you hunt low. After the leaves fall, hunt a little higher and above the sight plane of bucks.
  • If you’re not a “sky walker,” preferring instead to hunt from a tree stand only 15 or so feet high, try this. Hang your perch on the edge of a ridge, point, steep creek bank—you get the picture—where a trail or deer scrape line runs below. A buck traveling down in the funnel will be at least 20 to 25 feet below you. No way he’ll see or smell you.
  • Trim 3 or 4 shooting lanes to the sides and front of your tree stand. Drag trimmed limbs and saplings away from your tree stand so deer won’t see or smell them.
bow grip
You'll shoot better with a relaxed, open grip. Hunter shown wearing Mathews Lost Camo.

Not-So-Minor Adjustments

When changing a bow’s draw weight never apply extreme torque to a limb bolt or you might weaken and damage it! Turn and fine-tune each limb bolt exactly the same… When adjusting sight pins, “follow the group.” For example, if your arrows group right, move sight pins right. If arrows hit low, move sight pins down.

No-Hassle Travel

Flying with a lot of oversize bowhutning gear can be a hassle these days. You might think about sending your bow and arrows (in a hard-plastic or aluminum case) via UPS or FEDEX ground to your destination. Your bowhunting gear will be waiting for you when you arrive, and you won’t worry about an airline losing your case for a day or 2, which could ruin a 4- or 5-day hunt.You will be able to sail through airport security, and won’t have to worry about an airline misplacing the case.

4 Hot Bow Sets

Field Corner

Anytime you plan to hunt around a field of corn, alfalfa or clover, look for a corner bordered by a fencerow or strip of timber. It’s a natural choke point where a lot of deer will funnel into and out of the grain. A corner generally offers good cover and at least one stout tree for a tree stand. Try to hang a perch 25 to 75 yards off a corner, and within shooting range of one or more trails gouged through the surrounding cover. Before you hunt the spot make sure the wind is right. Ideal is when the wind quarters out of the cover, across your tree stand and out the corner of the field (see sketch).

Perimeter thickets

Many deer hunters think does and bucks bed a mile or more from a crop field. Wrong! Many deer, including some good bucks, lie up in thickets within 200 to 300 yards of grain. Scout for bedding/staging thickets on the perimeter of a field, but don’t poke too far back in the cover or you’ll spook a lot of deer. Check 50 to 100 yards max back in the woods for trails wending through thickets. Hang a tree stand along one of those trails and hunt it evening or morning when the wind is right.

Swamps

A marshy hardwood or willow bottom that connects 2 woodlots or, say, a woodlot with a crop field is a prime travel corridor for trophy bucks. Try to hang a tree stand along a strip of dry ground inside a small swamp. In September white, swamp or pin oak acorns might fall inside a marsh, and there’s green browse all around. You should catch some bucks feeding there at dusk and again at dawn.

Oak Bench

Hang a tree stand on a flat, narrow bench on the side of a ridge. Rather than walking the top of the ridge, many does and trophy bucks will drop down and travel along the bench. Acorns might fall on or near the bench, doubling your odds of success. A good buck might use the bench as a bedding area, so you might get a crack at him one morning.

Easy-To-See Arrows

Try arrows fletched with white or yellow vanes. When you shoot a deer, your eyes will instinctively follow the bright white or yellow blur; watch the vanes disappear into a buck and you’ll have a good idea of how good the shot was. After the shot, check an arrow that passed through a deer. Red blood with pink bubbles (lung hit); dark, thick blood (liver); or green, watery matter (stomach) will be easy to see and decipher on white or yellow vanes.

Bow Maintenance

The pros at Hoyt Archery answer 3 FAQs

  1. How often should you replace a bow’s string and cables?
    When wear is evident or every 2 years under normal-use conditions.
  2. How often should you lubricate wheels or cams?
    Lightly lube the axles where they pass though the wheels or cams every 1,500 to 2,000 shots. When bowhunting in dusty or rainy weather, lube wheels or cams daily. Always use a silicone- or Teflon-based lubricant.
  3. How often should you wax a bowstring?
    Once every 2 weeks during peak-shooting times.

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