by Mike Hanback
Start now from a simulated hunting position.
Don’t just stand in the backyard and fling arrow after arrow into targets this summer. Go the extra mile and hang a stand in a tree behind your house, or hook a couple of platforms in the woods on a buddy’s place. Set the same stand (fixed-position, climber, whatever) that you’ll hunt out of in 4 months. That way you get a good feel for the stand. Stand up, sit, practice your footwork, draw and shoot, just like you’ll do in a hunting situation.
If you hunt 20 feet high, hang your practice perch at 20 feet. By practicing and hunting from the same height you learn to better estimate range accurately to targets and deer. You also burn into your mind the downward sight picture of bucks. You learn how your broadhead-tipped arrows fly at various yardages from on high.
Scatter deer targets 10 to 40 yards around your stand. Set some broadside and some quartering away (the only shots you should take). Place the foam deer in low brush and partially hidden behind trees.
Climb into your stand, attach your safety harness, rope up your bow and hang it on a hook like you would on a hunt. Sit and envision a big 8-pointer sneaking in, rack brassy in the morning sun. Stand up and ease your bow off its hook; fine-tune your footwork and ready your bow in its holster. Imagine the buck walking in and stopping where one of your 3-D targets is located. Take a deep breath, draw and aim at a spot low on the lungs. When everything feels right, release an arrow, follow through and watch the shaft strike its mark.
Repetition is the key. Keep simulating hunts all summer, shooting over and over at foam deer beneath your perch. When archery season rolls around, the act of shooting an incoming buck will be instinctive, and that’s exactly what you want.