Have you ever wanted to start bow hunting? I started learning to bow hunt later in life while I was in my forties, I had no idea about the new world I had walked into. My new found love of archery tugs at my heartstrings every time turkey season rolls around or the crisp air comes to South Carolina in late September! For those who are experienced bow hunters, you will probably reminisce about some of the things I think we all struggle with in the beginning. Regardless, I want to share them with you, so you know what NOT to do if you are just falling in love with your compound bow and hunting is indeed on the bucket list!
- Misjudging Distance: If you think that your arrow is dead on point but it flies past or ends up short of your target, you are not alone! This error can be fixed by improving your range finding and having your eyesight checked, especially if it has been a while since your last visit to the optometrist. I had no idea that I had stigmatism in my left eye which didn’t help me when judging distance! Range finders and pre-ranging are like digital tape measures that you can actually attach to your bow. This is a game changer, and you must know distances so you can be aware of safety! Check out these Vortex Range Finders in True Timber Strata!
- Shooting Too Soon OR Waiting Too Long to Shoot: If you shoot too soon you run the risk that other animals might be scared away by your shot. On the opposite side, wait too long to release your arrow and you have lost the opportunity for the perfect shot. Do you know your wind conditions, distance or surroundings? As soon as you think you have a clear shot at the vital organs, take your shot. I frequently struggle, waiting too long to release my arrow and then the opportunity has passed me up! I promise you will end up replaying that scene in your mind for a long time to come.
- Using the Wrong Arrow/Bow Combination: Most bow manufacturers will provide advice for the type of arrows you should use and caution about those that are unsafe for your particular bow. Make sure that your bow actually works with carbon fiber, aluminum, and hybrid arrows. You need to determine the minimum and maximum length for each arrow…this was all new to me and I wish someone had spelled out for me in the beginning. Are your arrowheads and arrow shafts compatible with the bow? If you are unsure, take your bow to a specialized archery store, they will help you navigate this.
- Losing Form: During the off season ensure you are still practicing, whether at the indoor range or a 3D archery range, to keep your form. It is very easy to lose your touch if you don’t practice often. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t make a kill, remember it is the entire experience that makes it so enjoyable! Find some good mentors and others that enjoy the sport as you do so you can learn from the more experienced shooters.
- Losing Hope: I cannot count how many times I saw a deer every morning at 4:43am on a game camera, but I would sit for 6 hours and see nothing. Why? I would get so discouraged that I was investing so much time just sitting, even changing locations and still nothing. Everyone reminds you, “that is why it is called hunting not shopping,” eyeroll. I try on those days to remember what I love most about the experience and realize I will be even more appreciative when I successfully have a harvest after all the trial and error! Don’t lose hope, find something positive about your outing. Start a journal to document what you learn each time you go hunting.
Some other things to research on the topic of hunting are choosing the wrong location, failing to arrive early and staying late, removing scent from your body and clothing before venturing into the woods. How to avoid becoming an overconfident shooter as well which I haven’t become yet, but have witnessed. There is always room for improvement! I hope these confessions of a new bow hunter will give you some things to research and help you prepare before venturing out on your newfound relationship with your bow! Happy Hunting.
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