Archery seasons are opening back up all across the country, and bowhunters are anxiously headed back to their treestands in hopes of punching a tag. But for many, those opportunities will never come. Bowhunting blunders cost countless hunters the chance at a punched tag season after season.
Want to avoid these mistakes?
Here’s a look at 5 bowhunting fails that’ll cost you a deer and how to avoid them this season.
You Forgot Your Gear
Despite our best efforts, there always seems to be some piece of gear that gets left behind. The key is to make sure it’s not the deal-breaker gear that’ll blow your hunt. Bows, quivers, release aids, treestands, or the key to the locked gate – these are all the big ones that’ll shut a hunt down quickly. It’s important to have a checklist, whether mental or a literal checklist on your phone, to remind you of the must-have gear for your hunt. As you jump in the truck, be thinking, “Bow, arrows, release, treestand, harness…” This last minute mental gear check will help you avoid showing up at the farm without the gear you need the most.
But don’t forget about the smaller items as well. The little things can have a big impact on the success or failure of your hunt. Leave your Thermacell at home, and the mosquitoes will drive you out of the woods in a hurry. Forget your face mask and gloves and a wise, old buck may pick out your face shining in the sun. A missing bow or gear hanger can make your time in the stand miserable with no place to stash gear. Make a check list, and check it twice before you head out.
You Failed to Play the Wind
There’s a hunting apparel brand that once used the slogan, “Forget the wind, just hunt.” It was a bold statement to the effectiveness of the product they were trying to sell. But it was also sketchy advice when it comes to the decision a hunter should make regarding the wind. Never forget the wind! You should always have the wind in mind with every sit you make in the deer woods. Deer live and die by their nose. Their eyes and ears may deceive them, but their nose is what keeps them alive. Commit to making every set with a caution to the wind, and you’ll kill more deer every year.
You Spend Too Much Time on Your Phone
This one gets the best of bowhunters every year. It’s a tough one! The smartphone is a great way to help pass the long hours on stand. And you can justify it by knocking out work chores, task lists, and emails. But when you’re mindlessly scrolling through social media, snapping selfies, or the next great sunset photo, you’re not paying attention to what’s happening around you. The number of bruiser bucks that walk past your stand while you have your head down and eyes locked on Tik Tok videos will blow your mind! Stay focused. Keep your head up, and slow down on the treestand selfies.
You Set Up to Watch Deer Instead of Kill Deer
Bowhunting delivers the hunter an intimate, close-encounter experience with one of the greatest creatures God ever placed upon the earth. A deer within bow range will truly change your life. But it only happens when your treestand or blind is placed in the perfect spot. Many bowhunters fail to connect with their bow each season because they attempt to bowhunt the same way they hunt with a rifle. Rifle hunters can set up in those big, wide open spaces and cover lots of ground. Bowhunters must be on the X. Otherwise, you’ll simply find yourself observing deer, rather than taking meat home at the end of the day. Yes, those beautiful open areas make for a scenic sit in the treestand. But more often, you’ll find deer moving in the nastiest, thickest portions of the farm. When you find yourself on the edge of heavy cover and transition lines, you’ll likely find your opportunities to draw your bow on a buck go up exponentially. Consider each set you make. Is it a great spot to observe deer from a distance, or the opportune location to get a deer within bow range for the shot?
You Failed to Make the Shot
You can watch the best bowhunting hype videos social media has to offer, and post all the inspirational quotes you care to share about what you hope the season brings. But if you can’t handle the moment of truth, your deer tag will stay tucked away in your pocket. You’ve got to learn to handle the adrenaline-packed moments with a deer in bow range before the shot. The adrenaline dump is enough to make you pass out! But when you learn to deal with your nerves before the shot, you’ll punch more tags season after season.
How do you do it? The key is to build experience. Shoot every legal animal possible with your bow. Squirrels, coons, coyotes, and every doe that walks past your stand. Live targets get the heart pumping. Build your experience level by taking advantage of the opportunities that walk past your stand.
Deer season is here! Make the most of it this season by avoiding the mistakes mentioned above. Bowhunting success comes to those who are prepared, pay attention to the details, and properly execute when the opportunity presents itself.