Bowhunting is one of the most thrilling activities that you can do. It offers up a sense of adventure as well as giving you the satisfaction that you can only get from hunting with a bow instead of a gun. That thrill though can come from the amount of skill required and it’s something that takes a lot of knowledge.
There are many mistakes that a beginner can make, and often it can come from not asking the right questions or thinking that you know what’s best. Aspects like not spooking deer and trailing them after a shot are skills that you develop over time before you become an expert yourself.
As a beginner though, you have to ask questions as you have to learn the ropes and know how to do things the right way, whilst also making sure that you’re not doing things the wrong way. Here we break down the top 10 most common bowhunting questions for beginners which will give you a great start in your quest for being a knowledgeable bowhunter.
1) How to tune a bow?
Tuning a bow is obviously an essential part of making an accurate shot. Firstly though, there are a few steps that need to be taken before you can accurately shoot that bow. You shouldn’t try to start tuning your bow until you have everything on there that you want, this could be sights, silencers or arrow rests, but whatever accessories you have, and they can all affect the weight and feel of the bow so it’s important your bow is complete before the tuning process begins.
It’s then important to make sure that your arrow rest is centered with the nocking point and this can be done with a bow square or other simple device just to make sure your arrows will sit straight. In order to tune your bow, you’ll need to make sure that you’re using the right arrow length as your bow will be set up for a particular arrow. Make sure that you check it before you tune your bow.
What you’ll want to do next is step up a target whereby you can shoot through a piece of paper and on to a safe target behind. This can be done numerous ways, as long as you have a surface that is tight enough to take an arrow and thin enough for it to fly through. A great way to do this would be to have a sheet of paper on an artist’s easel, but many methods can be used.
Once you have your target, then simply fire through it. This will show you if your bow needs to be re-tuned. The arrow should make a perfect hole if it flies straight through, but if that hole is long and, and not circular, then you have a problem. You can then tell where the problem is by looking at the whole. If the rest of the hole is below the entry point, then you need to lower the nocking point, if the rest of the hole is above the entry point, then you need to raise the nocking point.
If the hole isn’t vertical, and horizontal, then it’s likely that your arrows aren’t correct for your bow as this will cause side-to-side wobbling. Make sure you check your bows manual clearly to ensure that you are using the correct arrows. Once you have adjusted the nocking point and are using the correct arrows, then repeat the process and you should find that your bow now flies straight.
If it doesn’t, then there may be something wrong with your bow. It could be the fact that your cams aren’t stopping at the same time, and if they’re not then adjustments can be made by checking your manual for timing marks and then altering it while it is placed in a bow press. There is a high amount of tension in your bow and this is tricky to do, so if you think you might have an issue with your cams, then it might be best to take it to a professional who can take a look at it for you.
2) What are arrows shot from untuned bows likely to do?
There are not many more graceful visons than an arrow flying through the air like a perfectly thrown football, spinning on its axis before hitting its target. The tighter the rotation then the more accurate the shot and the greater distance it can travel.
Naturally, you want the wind resistance to flow from the tip and over through the arrow which will keep it stable in flight. What you don’t want is any resistance on the stalk of the arrow as this will affect the accuracy. If your nocking point is too high, or low, then it means that the arrow isn’t leaving the bow perfectly straight. This will mean that it either flies pointed down or up. The real-world effect of this is added air resistance to the bow and a lack of power and the full arrow weight can’t be transferred through the shot.
If your bowhunting, this can be the difference between getting a kill or not. The degree of accuracy when trying to kill an animal has to be high, an arrow flying all over the place isn’t exactly ideal. This is also true for if your arrow is flying side to side. This could be due to an incorrect arrow weight, for example and arrows being too light for a high draw weight and not being able to cope with the high air resistance.
If you’re out on the practice range, then you might be able to get away with not having a great tuning, but when you’re bowhunting it is essential. The perfect scenario is for an arrow to hit an animal with the full force intended. Firing an untuned bow will not only make it harder to hit that animal, but it’ll make it less likely to get the kill while you do.
3) From which distance is it best to practice in order to increase your accuracy in the field?
Clearly practicing on targets is a lot different to taking a shot while you’re out on a hunt, but it’s essential in order to get that critical show when you’re out there in the wild. Different deer require different distances in order to be hunted, whitetail deer are relatively easy to get close to, while other species are near impossible.
If you’re hunting whitetail deer then you want to be an expert from around 20 yards, as getting in that practice is essential for hitting the right spot. There may be times, however, when you’re hunting different animals and you require the ability to shoot from further away.
The reality is that it’s unlikely you’ll find yourself in a position where a deer is exactly 20 or 30 yards away.
That’s why it’s important to practice at a variety of different distances. Become an expert at 20, 25, 30, 25 and 40-yard shots and when you do the adjustments that you’ll need to make when you’re out there would be minor. I’d even suggest finding your range at a 60-yard distance, not because you should be shooting deer from that distance, but hitting targets from there will make you a better bowman overall and increase your knowledge.
Hunting deer from long distances should only be left to those with a great amount of expertise and experience. If you’re starting out then perfect yourself at the 20-yard line, before gradually moving further back. You’ll face all different kind of conditions when you’re tracking deer, so it’s best to mix up your practice for these real-world scenarios.
4) Why is it critical to be able to judge distances correctly when you are bowhunting?
So you’ve set up your shot, you think the deer is about 20 yards away and you line up your shot just like you do in practice. You release only to find that you’ve missed your shot, and it could well be that the deer wasn’t quite as close as you thought it was.
We all like to think we could judge a distance, but the reality is that our eyes will never be as good as a rangefinder. As you gain more and more experience of hunting, then it’s likely that your eyes will become more accurate, but even then using a rangefinder is a wise idea as you can never to too sure. The difference between 25 and 30 yards would be huge when there is a little bit of wind.
You need to know how everything will affect your shot, but nothing affects it more than distance. It’s the first and most important aspect that you need to know before taking a shot. The consequences of getting it wrong might be the difference between a successful or an unsuccessful day. If you’re inexperienced, then it’s easy to get giddy and impatient, but you’ll soon learn the value of judging the right distance.
The room for error when killing an animal is small, so you don’t want to ruin it. There is no pride to be taken from being arrogant and thinking that you don’t need to find your range, the only time when this would apply is if you find yourself really close to a deer and the shot is practically unmissable. Those opportunities though are very rare, make sure you always know your distance.
5) What type of arrow point is best for practicing in the field on dead tree stumps or other objects?
They say that practice makes perfect, but I prefer the saying that practice makes permanent. If you don’t practice seriously then you’re going to be in trouble when it comes to making a shot when the pressure is on. When you’re out there on a range, you will mostly be using bullet or field type arrow points. These are less dangerous than the broadhead arrow points but will still be able to penetrate hard objects.
The field tip especially is good as it is easy to remove from objects such as tree stumps. The newly developed arrow point called the judo tip is also brilliant for shooting at objects, as the tip makes it easy to find. It has grabbing hooks that are sprung out from the tip, this will stop the arrow from getting sunken into softer targets or soft ground. This means that the arrow is easy to remove, but also means that it won’t get lost.
While you won’t want to be using hunting points when you’re out there on the field practicing, you will want to use one that has an identical or very similar weight to the one that you have used. If your broadhead point is much heavier than the one that you have been practicing with, then you’ll have to make readjustments, which will make all that practice less beneficial.
6) What is a common bow shooting error?
Bow shooting isn’t easy, which is a part of what makes it so rewarding. There are some common errors that a lot of inexperienced shooters can fall into. One of the most crucial is not using the right bow and arrow combination. You need to make sure that you know which arrows will suit your bow, otherwise, you could cause injury or find it impossible to take an accurate shot.
It’s easy to forget the basics when you’re an inexperienced hunter. One of the mistakes you can make is losing your form as you’re just about to take a shot. Make sure that you remember what you’ve learned during practice and that includes keeping your composure and keeping your shape.
Another easy mistake to make is to be overconfident, and there are many areas where this can cause an issue. Of them is overbowing when you use a bow with a higher draw weight that is required. This can leave you with too much to do as your strain for that extra velocity that you don’t actually need. This can easily cause you to take inaccurate shots.
Patience is the key to a lot of aspects of bow hunting. You want to make sure that you judge distance correctly and don’t take the shot too quickly before you are fully ready. Choosing the right location is also important and also is the ability to not lose focus and concentration. You don’t want to ruin all that hard work in practice by making mistakes while out hunting.
7) What does knowledge of the animal’s anatomy tell the bowhunter?
Even when you’re out there hunting, you have to respect the animal that you’re trying to hunt. You have to know it well and know its strengths and weaknesses. Part of that respect is knowing an animal’s anatomy and where precisely you should be aiming.
You want a humane kill and for an example of a deer, you should know that just above the front legs are all the deer’s vital organs. A good shot there will get you a sure kill and you want to make sure that the deer is as side on to you as possible. If a deer is facing you head on then it can be very difficult to kill as the head is a small target and the neck muscles are thick.
For any other animals, you have to research the best points to hit an animal to make sure you are getting the kill. On smaller animals it is less important as the shock of the shot would most likely paralyze the animal and the targets are too small to hot specific organs. Any hunter needs a good knowledge of anatomy. Also, if you miss your shot it will tell you how to react and how to track the deer more efficiently.
8) How do you bring your arrows into an elevated stand?
Hunting from elevated stands can be a very effective way of making a kill, but there are plenty of considerations that you need to make first. One of the first things you need to do is practice, shooting from a height gives you a whole different range of angles, so practice is vital.
While there are many elements to shooting from a height, you first need to make sure that you are getting your weapon up there safely in the first place. You should never carry your hunting equipment up with you as it’s simply too dangerous. Falling with a load of sharp weapons would cause dreadful injury.
To get your equipment up there then, you need to be using a haul line that you can pull up. You want to first make sure that your arrows are covered in a quiver in order to protect them. Make sure that your arrows are points are facing down when you are pulling them up towards your stand. This again is to prevent any possibility of injury happening.
Once you are up in the stand then you need to untie the haul line. When you are getting down then you need to do the opposite. Except for this time, your arrows should be facing down when you are lowering your equipment. Once you have dropped off all your hunting equipment then you can come down safely.
9) What is the first thing you should know to ensure successful recovery after an animal is shot?
Successful recovery of an animal is a vital aspect of being a hunter. The first aspect is clearly knowing the animal’s anatomy so that you can make the most effective shot possible, this will reduce the risk of an injured animal running away. Once you have made the shot you need to make sure that you are paying attention to the visual and audio clue that you have been given from the animal.
After that, it’s then important to track the animal by reading the signs. This includes paying attention to such signs as blood drops and any tracks that the animals may have made as well as broken twigs and other clues. This process can take time and patience, so it’s important to keep going and keep looking for the signs. The better the shot, then the less time you’ll have to take in tracking the animal, so that initial shot is always vital.
This is often referred to as the second hunt where you will use those skills to find the animal. If you have taken a poor shot, then you have even more of a responsibility to track the animal. A lot about learning to trail an animal is about experience, so going on a hunt with an experienced hunter is a great way to learn the basics before you have to do it for yourself.
10) What type of shot increases the risk of wounding game rather than killing it?
When it comes to shot angles, it can make a huge difference to how successful your shot will be. By far the best angles to take is when the animal is broadside to you, which effectively means that it’s side on. This will give you the largest area in which to shoot in. Not only that, but hitting an animal side-one gives you the chance to get both an entry and exit wound which will both help kill the animal, and also provide more blood loss for tracking.
It also gives you the chance to hit both lungs, which are the biggest targets. Another great shot to take though is when the animal is quartering away which is when you are slightly behind the animal, but you still get a view of its side. This is a good angle to shoot game and other big animals. You aim slightly further back than with broadside as the arrow will be traveling into the animal.
They are the only two shots that should be taken, if the animal is quartering towards you then you only get a very narrow view of its chest. The shoulder bones will be shielding the majority of the vital organs and it would be a very hard kill. If the animal if face-on or has its read end to you then this shot should also not be taken. Aiming for the head isn’t an option as it’s too small a target and contains thick bones, it’s overwhelmingly likely that you would either miss or simply would the animal.
Always ask questions
These answers are important to know before you ever step out onto a hunt. While this is a great starting point for your hunting adventure, it’s important to make sure that you never stop asking questions and learning. Everyone has to start somewhere and bowhunting is one of those activities that you only get better at over time.
Making sure you know the basics is important, then once you know them you can build on that baseline of knowledge. It all starts with practice though, so before you ever get out there on the hunt, make sure that you have put in the hours of practice so that when it comes to that vital moment, you’re prepared and confident that you know what you’re doing.