Beginner’s Guide to Bow Hunting
Heading out on your first bow hunt is an exciting time. It doesn’t matter if you’re an experienced hunter that has just decided to try something new or a total newbie – bow hunting is a different experience.
It’s a challenging pastime, but also a very rewarding one once you get the hang of it. There are a few things you need to know before you head out on your first bow hunt though and we’ll take a closer look at these below.
When choosing your first bow you need to ask yourself what it will be used for. Hunting deer from a tree blind is a very different experience than hunting in open terrain. For the tree blind hunter a shorter bow in the range of 30 to 32 inches is ideal.
All of your shots will be taken from close range – no more than 30 to 40 yards. If you’re hunting on the ground in the open you’ll typically need something a little bit larger in the 34 to 36 inch range. You’ll be able to keep your shot steady with that extra axle length.
Choosing the right arrows for your bow is an important consideration if you want to be a successful bow hunter. If you decided to treat yourself to a top quality bow, but then you run out and buy some cheap arrows that aren’t up to the job you’ll be doing yourself a great disservice.
You should spend the extra money and purchase some quality arrows. One common mistake I’ve seen beginners make is to opt for the lightest arrows because they believe they’ll travel at higher velocities.
This may be true, but as a novice bow hunter you probably won’t have the expertise to handle these arrows successfully. You’re better off with something a little heavier that will react less to the slightest variations in wind patterns.
There may be experienced bow hunters that don’t feel the need to use a release aid, but they’ve likely been hunting with a bow for many years. As a novice hunter you should definitely invest in a release aid.
They will help you reduce the side to side motion that causes many hunters to lose accuracy and they will provide you with a more accurate shot every time. There’s less chance of human failure when using one of these devices and the novice bow hunter needs every advantage they can get.
Drop Away Arrow Rests
One of the biggest problems novice bow hunters experience is the tendency to drop their bow arm resulting in reduced accuracy. A Drop away arrow rest helps to reduce the chances of these problems happening and allows for a much truer more accurate shot.
An arrow rest holds your arrow straight until the shot is released and then it simply drops out of the way automatically so that it doesn’t cause wobble or oscillation in your arrows trajectory. Forget about the nostalgia of hunting the old fashioned way and add a drop away arrow rest to your bow hunting gear.
Unless you have the eyes of a hawk you need to have a good bow sight before you head out on that first bow hunting trip. All bow hunters these days use one and the only real debate is whether you should be using a fixed pin sight or one with moveable pins.
We believe a fixed pin sight is better for bow hunting especially for the novice as it’s easier to use. A bow sight will allow you to more accurately hit your target – especially from greater distances.
Even if you’ve found you’re a pretty good shot on the range remember the animal you’re hunting is a moving target and that’s a whole different ball game.
Hit the Target Range
The last thing you want to do is to head out on your first bow hunt having never shot an arrow before. Find your local target range and head over there for some practice.
If you have a large piece of property in the country you may be able to set up your own target range and that’s fine, but don’t assume you can learn on the fly.
Bow hunting takes a lot of practice if you want to be good at it. It’s also not safe to head out on a bow hunt without any real practise – that will make you a potential danger to those around you.
There’s no substitute for the real thing, but target practice will at least allow you to familiarize yourself with your bow and how to find a target.
Avoiding Common Mistakes
There are some common mistakes that novice bow hunters make and with a bit of diligence you can avoid them. For one thing don’t take on more bow than you can handle. Consider your own size and strength and consult with an expert before choosing a bow.
The other common mistake is not pre-scouting your territory. Before you settle into that tree blind understand the range to your target areas so that you can make proper adjustments to your shot accuracy.
Finally, make allowances for the conditions. If it’s a windy day it’s probably best to aim for a larger target area on an animal so that you have a little bit of forgiveness
Knowing Where to Shoot
The best kill shots to take with a rifle are not necessarily the same with a bow. If you’re an experienced rifle hunter making the switch to bow hunting it may take a bit to wrap your head around that, but you need to if you’re going to be a successful bow hunter.
With a bow you’re best to aim for either the heart or the lungs. Both of these shots offer a decent sized target area and there’s a greater chance of penetrating the hide and finding your target.
The head shot should be avoided when bow hunting. There’s too much bone between your arrow and the brain and unless you make the perfect shot your chances of success are minimal.
Learning to Be Patient
Learning patience is not something that comes naturally to a lot of people, but if you’re going to be a good bow hunter it’s something you have to learn.
You may have to spend hours in a tree blind before a target crosses your path and even when it does you still have to be patient and wait for the right shot. Rushing things will only result in disappointment.