As hunters we invest hundreds of hours and dollars just to have a chance to draw our bows on a deer. Whether it’s a trophy buck or a doe destined for the freezer, missed shots are part of the equation. We all hope that our misses are clean misses that never hit the animal. In the worst cases deer are hit in non-vital areas leading to wounding. There are several causes for misses, but most of them have simple fixes. Here are three common mistakes and how to fix them.
Arrows can be deflected by a variety of objects. Branches, fences, clothing, and equipment can all deflect an arrow bound for the vitals. A friend of mine recently fired three arrows at the same deer a few years back. All three of them hit the barbed wire fence in front of the blind. At that distance, the wire wasn’t in the sight but it was directly in the flight path of the arrow. Cutting shooting lanes before the season or the hunt is good prevention. Obviously, cutting barbed wire is a no-no. But bring along some baling wire to pull up or down any wire that may be in the line of fire. In the offseason, shoot some arrows in the woods. Shoot around trees and branches to simulate possible hunting situations.
Shooting Over The Back
The vast majority of treestand misses are going to be high. Shooting over the back is probably the most common miss from a treestand. Most archers practice from ground level with their target straight out in front of them. Yet, they hunt from elevated treestands. The angles are completely different. When placing the pin on a deer below the stand, many hunters keep their body straight and bend their arms down to the target. Proper form would leave the arms straight while the hunter bends at the waist. Bending at the waist keeps proper sight picture. The best way to practice this is to shoot from a treestand or at least from an elevated platform like a patio.
From a treestand or the ground blind, knowing the distance to a target is vital to putting the arrow where it should be. Misjudging from a 20 yards is probably not going to be a big deal. However, placing the 35 yard pin on a deer that is 45 yards away isn’t going to end well. Having a rangefinder can help eliminate the problem. There are rangefinders that mount right to your bow if it’s in your budget. Those of you who have a traditional style, hand held rangefinder know there are times when you just don’t have time to put the laser on an animal. If it doesn’t pass by a point you have already ranged, you’re just making an educated guess. Shooting 3D in the offseason is great practice for determining distances.
There are many reasons for bowhunting misses but these three are the most common. The good news is they are generally preventable with some preparation and practice.