There’s always that bunch of bowhunters who are more successful than the others. Visit any club or archery pro shop and you’ll note that there’s a group of bowhunters who tag the trophy bucks regularly. These great hunters may not be able to get the wall hanger every year, but they’re able to hunt down the monster bucks with ease. They always leave the average bowhunter drooling with envy.
So, what’s special about these successful bowhunters? Or what does it take to become a successful bowhunter?
Lately, we’ve had a chance to interact with the professional guides, pro shop owners, booking agents, and outfitters. We were able to ask them the burning question- what qualities do their best bowhunters possess that make them so successful in the woods?
The responses were amazing. We’ve compiled a list of these qualities to help bring out the best in your bowhunting skills in the woods.
Ready to learn what will make you become a successful bowhunter for food?
Here’s what we found out:
1. Go Where the Bucks Are…
…not where you hope to find them. One of the grave mistakes killing your bowhunting career is hunting the deer in the wrong places. Lucky bowhunters do things differently. They set up their hunting spots in areas where the bucks are currently feeding, rutting or bedding.
On the contrary, some bowhunters will tend to hang around a particular hardwood ridge or farm, because they spotted a buck there a year (or more) ago. They scout for a sign- and even if the tell-tale signs are scarce in the region, they’ll hunt it anyway.
The secret to successful bowhunting for food is moving like the deer. If the game’s primary source of food changes, you’ll also need to look for the new food supply and make it your new hunting spot.
Nothing good will come out of hunting in a corn field that has already been plowed under. Likewise, there’s no need to hunt in hardwood ridge in a season with poor mast crop.
2. Understand the Rut
Successful bowhunters also fully understand the various phases of the rut. They’re not afraid to change their hunting tactics as the deer season unfolds.
They know how to successfully set up on the food sources in the early season, and will quickly switch to hunting scrape lines the instant they notice them on the forest floor.
Even more important, these bowhunters know where to search for the essential food sources and can quickly determine where the scrape lines will be- long before the bucks lay them down.
By the time the deer season reaches climax, these hunters will again change their tactics and start chasing the does.
All this sounds corny, right? But if you spend some quality time in the woods, you’ll be able to predict the game’s next move and escalate your chances of bagging more and more deer. This is a quality lacking in most bowhunters out there.
3. Practice! Practice! Practice!
Time to get out of your comfort zone! The surest way to sharpen your bowhunting skills is consistent practice. Yes, go to your backyard, set up a fixed target point, and start shooting your arrows. Trust me; there can never be a better way to hone your shooting skills.
The more you practice, the more you become a pro at it. Don’t settle for what you can already do. Rather, break the mold. Go for more! Instead of 30 yards, try shooting 70!
One more thing: When practicing, imagine yourself in a real-life situation- in the woods with a buck or turkey in your bow range. Allocate approximately 4-5 seconds for settling your pin and shooting at your target. Make target acquisition a few seconds task.
Practice blind shooting technique. That is, shoot the arrows quickly and intuitively so as to develop muscle memory. This will help prepare your mind to act instinctively when you’re under pressure.
4. Patience is the Key
It goes without saying that bowhunting for food is a waiting game. In other terms, this is not the thing for the impatient hunters out there.
Take for example the Ontario hunters. They’ve access to over 100,000 acres of hunting grounds. They enjoy huge deer populations. But they understand that the deer does not grow on the trees. They wait in their stands all day long, during the rut. If a young buck comes around, they’ll let it go, knowing very well that the mature buck will come calling in a moment. They've got the patience to wait for what they want and will end up scoring the big thing!
If you can’t adopt this simple habit, then all the practicing will be useless.
5. Can You Read Topographical Maps?
Another surprising thing we came to understand about the successful bowhunters is that they know how to read the topographical maps. They do it like the average Joe will read a newspaper. And this places them a step ahead of the unsuccessful hunters.
How the maps help you become a better bowhunter?
The moment you learn how to study and interpret the brown squiggly lines in the woods, you’ll be able to locate natural features that harbor the game, or guide them as they move around the forest.
For example, you can quickly identify a feeding area by finding a water source, an abandoned orchard, clear-cuts, a hummock inside a swamp and so on.
6. Keep it Simple!
One more thing we learned from the elite bowhunters is that they strive to keep their hunting gear simple. Their bows are not equipped with all sorts of doodads and gizmos.
Most of them will only tie a simple thread to their bows to aid in keeping tabs on the changing winds instead of buying fake feathers or cans of talcum powder for the same job.
The surveyor’s orange tape is enough for them to mark the blood trails instead of the electric flash sensor.
But don’t get me wrong. In keeping it simple, you’re only eliminating what you don’t need. And carrying what you need to down that whitetail you’re targeting in your hunting spot. For example, you don’t want to forget your single pin bow sight; otherwise, your accuracy will be doomed.
Bringing it All Together
It’s not too late to become a successful bowhunter for food. You only need to change your ways of doing things in the woods today. Discard your poor hunting habits and adopt the better ones. Lear to be patient, hunt where the game is, understand the rut, practice consistently and remember to keep it simple.
In no time, you’ll be having a fun time bagging every deer or turkey you target in the woods.
Jennifer is the founder of BuckWithBow, a great blog that focuses on helping you learn how to hunt deer with a bow. As an experienced bow hunter, she will guide you through the Do’s and Don’ts of the bowhunting world and transform you into a better hunter. Whether you are an experienced bow hunter or an absolute beginner, you will find BuckWithBow a gem!