To become an expert in archery hunting takes a lot of time and patience. There is nothing better than being out there yourself, but there are a few great tips that can give you a head-start or improve your existing skills. While there are some mistakes you’ll have to learn from yourself, there are others that can be avoided if you take advice from someone who has been there and done it. Here we look at the top 10 things I learned from archery hunting for 10 years, which will hopefully give you an insight into everything that goes into archery hunting.
Practice makes permanent
There is a well-known saying when it comes to anything in life of ‘practice makes perfect’, but that isn’t always the case. To become the best in anything you have to ensure that you are putting in the hours of practice. If you are practicing in the wrong way, however, you could be cementing bad habits that could hold you back when it comes to hunting. Just shooting for shooting’s sake isn’t the best idea, there has to be a method behind it.
A better way of saying it would be that ‘practice makes permanent’ as if you practice bad habits, then they are going to become your permanent bad habits. On the other side, however, if you practice good habits then you will become perfect, or close to it. In archery this involves target practice and experimenting with various draw weights and equipment. With all aspects of hunting it’s about trying things out and learning from the experience. Make sure that you’re always shooting, and always taking care of your equipment, when it comes to that vital moment, you don’t want to miss your shot due to bad practice.
Get the best bow you can!
As with most things in life, you get what you pay for, and that includes your bow. While there are some great bow’s out there at a reasonable price, it’s always best to make sure you get the best equipment you can. There are two big considerations when it comes to archery hunting and getting that kill, and they are speed and accuracy. You always want to make sure that the arrow is going exactly where you want it to go, but there is little point if it’s not going to get there quickly enough.
The best bow will give you that high speed that you’re looking for, but without sacrificing any accuracy in the process. Bow’s with fast speed can often have heavy and difficult draws, but the best bows will make this a smooth as possible. They will also be light, quiet and well-made to give you that confidence you need. Trust me, you don’t want to go to all that effort of waiting for the perfect shot just for your bow to let you down.
Find your range
Judging distance can be difficult, especially if you’re in treestand awaiting your prey. Being on the practice range will help with this, as shooting at various points will give you a good gauge for when you’re out there in the wild. Each archer will know the best distance for the perfect shot. A lot of this depends on your strength and the draw weight and accuracy of the bow. Getting distance wrong could mean missing the animal, or simply just wounding it. Therefore it’s always vital to know your range.
One way to perfect this is by using a rangefinder which will be able to give you the security of knowing the animal is within perfect distance. Most modern rangefinders used lasers to give you the perfect accuracy. They shoot out a laser which comes back into your device at the speed of light which gives you an instant reading. It’s vital to know you’re in range, and using your eye isn’t always the most reliable tool, there have been many times where the rangefinder has given me a different reading to what I thought, leading to a much more accurate shot.
Hunting is a lot of fun, but it also takes a lot of hard work. It involves getting the right equipment, a lot of practice, finding the perfect spot, checking the wind, masking your scent and using a scent to attract wildlife. With all of that preparation, it’s easy to get too eager to find the shot what you want to take. Impatience can hurt you in a number of ways when you’re hunting, and you have to trust yourself. If you are impatient then you could ruin all your hard work and put off the animals that may have otherwise crossed your path.
Another way, however, is if you have that animal right in front of you. Again, you’ve gone through all that hard work to get to this stage and you just want to release that arrow for the glory that you came for. It isn’t that simple though, just hitting a target isn’t what you want to achieve, you want to make sure that you go for the kill and in order to do that, you need patience. Taking that shot too early might mean that you don’t get that vital kill shot. There is nothing more frustrating in hunting than knowing your own foolish mistake has cost you the prize that you were looking for.
Know the land
Animals can be hard to hunt, and they all have their trails and paths that they take to be in the right place. That means that you have to be in the right place at the right time. That will only be the case if you carefully plan where you’re going to hunt, and the behavior of the animal that you’re trying to hunt.
It’s important to bear in mind that just using the same place every season might not produce the same results every time. Don’t be complacent with the land that you’re trying to hunt in. Use your skills and make sure you understand how your actions will affect the animals that you are trying to hunt.
Check the wind
One of the most important aspects when it comes to hunting is the wind, and knowing how an animal is affected by it is imperative to getting an animal where you want it. For those that don’t know, the likes of a deer have a much greater sense of smell than me or you, and will be able to detect a human smell for a long way away.
To counteract this, you simply have to make sure that you’re always upwind of the deer. What is meant by this is that the direction of the wind should be blowing from the animal towards you, as this way the animal will never detect your scent. If it is blowing the other way, then the animal will know to stay clear of your bow. There are some great wind detection devices that can take the guesswork out of it for you, as if you get it wrong, it will ruin your hunt.
Use your spray
As we discussed there, a lot of animals have an incredible sense of smell and therefore it’s not just the wind that you have to worry about. If you have to walk across a trail to get to your vantage point, then a deer might be able to sense the smells that you leave behind. If they do, then they won’t be anywhere to be found regardless of the wind. It’s important to mask your scent with a spray so that you’re not giving them a reason to be scared.
The other way spray can be effectively used is in order to attract deer to a certain position. There are quite a few different sprays on the market for different animals that can be highly effective in making the animals think that there could be others nearby. In this way, you can set up a trap which will allow you to find your perfect shot. Using spray in both ways will keep you from making any big mistakes which will ruin your day.
Keep your attention
I discussed earlier the importance of patience in ensuring you don’t ruin your perfect shot, but if you’re not paying attention then you might miss your chance altogether. More than ever there are many things that can easily distract you, and when you have a smartphone in your pocket it can be tempting to get lost in it.
If you wait it out though, you will get your rewards. The chance to find that perfect shot can come and go quickly. There have been many instances where I have been attempted to take my eyes off the trail only to find that the animal just around the corner. There have been other times where I’ve been distracted and had a really quiet day, and maybe on those days I missed the opportunity. So it’s important not to just stay patient but also keep your focus as well.
Accuracy over speed
There are many aspects of sport where people crave power. Be it being desperate to hit a home run or throw a ball further than you think you can, everyone wants to try and show off and show how they are stronger than everyone else. In archery this can be seen with draw weights and trying to pull your bow back further than you’re physically capable of. I have been guilty of this myself, just like trying to bowl a ball and hit the pins as hard as possible; it can be tempting to test your limits.
Testing your limits though is for practice, and not when trying to kill a wild animal. By spending that time practicing you should know what the best draw is for your bow to still give you that perfect accuracy. As will all sports, the faster you try and throw something, the less accurate will be. You’ll get no satisfaction from an arrow whizzing past an animal at a million miles an hour. Don’t sacrifice accuracy just for the sake of speed.
Best hunting tools
You want to make the best of your time out in the wild and make life as easy for yourself as possible. Having the best equipment will not only make things easier, but you’ll have a much more enjoyable time in the process. That all starts with your bow, but after that you’ll want to ensure you have your rangefinder, grip & rip tool, a hat light, trail camera, skinners, gloves, and boots, just to name a few. If you’re just starting out, getting all these tools can be expensive, but it’s worth it.
If you don’t have that money straight away, then getting cheaper alternatives or building up your kit as you go is the next best thing. It’s really frustrating when you want to complete a task and get something done but find you don’t have the right tool. This can make a job that should take 10 minutes and make it last for an hour. That’s precious time that you could be spending doing what you love, instead of the hard boring work that you don’t.
Hunting isn’t easy, especially with a bow. That is though what makes it all the more rewarding and fun. What isn’t fun, however, is making mistakes and ruining your day. It took me a long time to work out the best way to get things done, with a lot of missed opportunities and a lot of bad days along the way.
If you follow these simple tips though, you can fast-forward through a lot of those mistakes and then use your own experience to get the perfect shot that you were looking for. You will still make mistakes, of course, but it’s all about learning and getting better at what you do. These ten lessons will put you on the right path to making the most out of your days and going home happy and eager to do it all again.