Here in Utah, our bowhunting season is already here. This weekend, thousands of bowhunters will take to the mountains and do what mankind has done for more than 50-thousand years- take game with bow and arrow. I think it’s the ultimate challenge.
Over the years, I’ve had the blessing and privilege of hunting in a lot of different places for all sorts of game. Growing up in an archery family meant I got a lot of great guidance from my dad and others, and over the years a lot of that advice for success has been proven to work, over and over again.
Some of my favorite tips for success include:
1)- Always pay attention to the wind and wind drift direction and always stay down wind of your target. It is the only way that big buck won’t smell you. Remember a deer’s sense of smell is a whole lot better than that of humans.
2)- Always move slowly and deliberately, stopping to glass frequently. Time and time again I have watched hunters in such a hurry to get to the top of the hill, that they walk right past deer and other wildlife without ever seeing them. Move slowly and deliberately and you will see more ….. I promise you that!
3)- Spend at least as much time looking through your binoculars as you do hiking or riding. The more you look through your binoculars the more you will see! Be patient and look hard. Sometimes deer will be in the wide open, and it will still take some effort to see them. Your binos are your tool to help see what is not obvious.
4)- When in the field, always talk in your “quiet” voice. Almost a whisper all the time. You think deer can smell really good? Well look at the size of their ears, they are giant! They can hear humans talking over a mile away under the right conditions. When they hear you, they now know you’re there and they will be on high alert!
5)- When it is time to make your shot, DON’T RUSH IT! Take a deep breath. Aim small—miss small. Execute a good shot.
6)- Don’t shoot long shots beyond your capability. At 60 or so yards the arrow will be in flight for 2 to 3 seconds. That is a ton of time for a deer to take a step and move after your shot- which could lead to a poorly hit target. Stay within your shooting distance accuracy. I recommend that if you can’t hit a 8 inch paper plate 5 times out of 5 shots, then you are shooting longer than your capability. This will likely lead to missed shots and more poor hits. That’s just not fair to the game.
7)- Once you have hit your target, no matter what you think about where your arrow hit, wait a minimum of 45 minutes before you start your blood trailing. If you rush your recovery, you stand a great chance of pushing your deer and getting him all fired up on “new found adrenaline”. This means he gets up and runs faster and further than he normally would have, and this decreases recovery by a large margin.
Be patient. Give him plenty of time to expire. Go super slow on the blood trail. Use your binos a lot! Every 5 or so steps, glass to see if you can see him 20 yards ahead of you, 50 yards ahead of you, 100 yards ahead of you. Again the more you use those binos, the more you will see!
8)- When you recover your trophy, enjoy it! Again don’t rush. Slow down and savor the moment. Take some time to appreciate what you have accomplished and to appreciate the animal for what a truly awesome creature he is. Try to clean up as much of the blood as possible and take some time getting lots of photos. You will always have the memory and stories of your hunts, but great photos will last forever. Remember that a photo is worth a 1000 words or more without saying anything at all!
9)- Tips for a good photo—
*Position the deer in a manner that shows him off the best. This is different for different deer and antler configurations. Trial and error and trying many different poses will get you the picture you’re hoping for.
*The antlers should fill at least 40 – 50% of the picture frame, and you should be about a quarter of the frame. Show off as much of the deer as you can under these guidelines. Overall, the best pictures will have 75% of the frame showing the trophy and you.
* When you get into the picture, make sure you are always sitting on the ground. “Butt on the ground” is a must in my regimen for a good photo. This ensures that the trophy will look his best, will be the primary item in the photo, and will generally make your trophy look proportionately correct as compared to you in the photo.
* The camera lens should be at the trophy’s eyes level or just slightly above. Good rule of thumb is that the lens should be lower than your eyes and either level to the trophy or slightly higher.
Good luck! Be Safe! And have fun!