After having some of the worst luck with shooting deer this season, I decided to see what I could do to help control my “deer fever” and make better shots. Last time I was out I caught myself flinching before the trigger release went off, which is one reason that the shots I’ve taken that should be chip shots, have turned into lethal wounds instead of instant kills.
On my first deer of the season I simply rushed the shot. The doe was within 15 yards and started to become more cautious so I rushed the shot before she had a chance to spook. Since that deer, I have been telling myself that I have time to shoot a deer and I don’t need to pull the trigger the second my pin rests on the deer’s vitals. Last weekend, I drew on the deer before they got to my shooting lane and followed them with my sight pin for almost a minute before taking the shot. It’s not necessary to follow an animal with your pin for an entire minute, but in this case it was helping me stay calm and focus on shooting the deer when it was calm and relaxed. After the shot is when I really start shaking.
After shooting my first deer, a second deer came out of the thicket and presented me with a shot opportunity. I was still shaking and had sat down so I looked away and took a few deep breaths until my “deer fever” was under control. Then I slowly drew my bow back and placed the pin right behind the deer’s shoulder. Once I had a tiny spot on the deer I slowly squeezed the trigger until it surprised me and went off. It is important that you don’t pull the trigger and force the shot, this will only lead to bad shot placement and will wound a deer instead of killing it, trust me I know and you don’t want to find out.
When you see a buck and you know it’s a big buck that you want to shoot, then stop looking at its antlers. This will only make you more nervous and put more unnecessary thoughts in your head. Instead, focus on where the deer is traveling and where your shot opportunity will come from. Then pick out a tiny spot behind the shoulder, slowly draw your bow back and take aim. If the deer is moving you may want to grunt with your mouth to stop the deer if you are not comfortable shooting at a moving target. Once the deer has stopped to investigate the origin of the sound – that’s you up in the tree – then squeeze the trigger with even pressure until it fires and the arrow hits its mark.
After the arrow is release hold your form and watch the spot you aimed for on the deer. Once the deer is hit you should quickly reload incase a second shot presents itself. This is another thing to note – if you have the opportunity for a second shot do not think if you should take it or not, just take it because you won’t have a third opportunity. The second deer I shot had the arrow find the deer’s shoulder and rolled the deer twice before she laid still at 30 yards away. I should have nocked a second arrow and shot her through the lungs while she was laying down. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of saying to myself “well, she’s laying down so she must be hit good, she won’t be going anywhere.” Boy way I wrong, the doe got up after 2 minutes and “walked it off” like a quarterback taking a hit. I was completely dumbfounded and extremely mad at myself for passing on a finishing shot. Always take a finishing shot if you can. If the deer isn’t lying motionless in front of you, it could probably use another shot, so take it. I once put four arrows through a spike that I shot at 15 yards with a spine shot. I had broke his back on the first shot, but he dragged himself about 10 more yards and I shot him about every 3 yards until he was finished moving. It was unnecessary in this case, but I would rather overshoot a deer and make sure it was dead than wound a deer and have it run off and die days later.
A good way to practice this is to take a 3D deer target into the field with you and practice shots on the 3D target from various angles and distances. If I had practiced this a lot more I may have been able to place better shots on the deer I have released arrows on. One thing that’s for sure is that practice and actual hunting situations are not the same. I can shoot with the best of them at targets all day long, but when the moment of truth arrives, sometimes I loose it mentally. Stay focused, stay calm, breathe, and slowly squeeze that trigger when you are presented with a shot opportunity. And remember, if you have any doubts then don’t take the shot. It’s better to let an animal go and hope for a second chance another day than to wound a deer and leave it for the coyotes.
Keep Your Bowhunting Skills Sharp with 3D Shooting
Over the last few weekends we’ve been headed over to Blue Mountain Sportsman Center to shoot 3D. The course has been a lot of fun to shoot. There’s several targets to shoot at including deer, turkey, bear, and fox. The terrain makes it very realistic practice for hunting with shots at inclines and declines to simulate actual hunting scenarios.
One thing I like to do is shoot from the furthest stakes and guess the yardage. Then after we all shoot we range the target to see how close we were to guessing the distance. This really helps me to learn how to judge distance in the field and is a valuable tool for when an animal catches you off guard in the field. Shooting from the furthest stakes also make the closer shots seem easier.
If you haven’t been out shooting 3D this summer then you better hurry up and get out there because hunting season will be here before you know it. Blue Mountain Sportsman Center is open Thursday – Sunday and holidays. Shooting a round of 3D costs $12 with a county park pass and is $15 without a park pass.
Indoor Archery Leagues at Extreme Archery
Team NYB will be joining the Hunter League at Extreme Archery set to begin on September 3rd. The Hunter League will be held on Fridays for 6 weeks and feature various animal targets.
We’re looking forward to participating in the league and sharpening our skills for the upcoming season. The indoor league is a great way to meet fellow archers and practice shooting under a little bit of pressure!
Here are the details on the Indoor Archery Leagues at Extreme Archery:
Kids League ($70, 8 weeks)
– begins Saturday, September 4th @ 10:00am
300 Target League ($90, 7 weeks)
– begins Wednesday, September 1st @ 6:30pm
Hunter League ($90, 6 weeks)
– begins Friday, September 3rd @ 6:30pm
Traditional League (TBD)
– call to find out more
To sign up for any of the Indoor Archery Leagues call Extreme Archery at 914-777-7500.
Extreme Archery is located at 801 East Boston Post Rd, Mamaroneck, NY 10543.
How to Set the Perfect Treestand
This is something new I’m adding to my arsenal of tricks this season to help me set the perfect stand (works for trail cams too)! It’s called the Photographer’s Ephemeris, a tool designed to help landscape photographers take the perfect picture at sunrise or sunset.
The tool allows you to pick a location, date and time to see exactly where the sun and moon will be. This allows you to follow the path of the sun and moon on any given date and at any given time.
So how does this help the hunter? Simple. It allows the hunter to find a stand location on the map and then see how the sun will rise and set during the hunting season so that the sun is never in the hunter’s eyes.
I entered the location of our lease in the program and changed the date to opening day. Where we have our stands situated is in the perfect spot with the sun rising to our right and circling behind us before setting to our left. That means if the deer are out in the hunting plot where we hope to shoot them we will have the sun behind us which will make it much harder for the deer to pick us out of the tree.
This is a great tool I will be playing around with more and more this season as I hang some tree stands over the next few weeks. Below is a video on how it works:
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