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Bow-Hunting: Avoid Common Mistakes

Bow hunting is challenging. A successful hunt requires patience, skill, and perhaps even a bit of luck. The unpredictability of the weather, food and water supplies, and basic animal behavior can put a wrinkle in the best plans. However, human mistakes often contribute to more missed opportunities; minimize the human error and the chances of landing a big buck increase. All bow-hunters make critical mistakes. The key is to be aware of the common errors, learn from them, and even train to avoid them.



Nervous excitement, also known as buck fever, is a primary culprit for missed opportunities. You might only get one chance to make your shot, so it has to be your best effort. Practice will help. However, you have to do more than shoot at targets in your backyard. Hunting practice needs to take place in the woods, with full-gear, shooting at a deer target. Use a mental checklist to ensure that you do your very best each time you pull and release.  The more you practice, the greater your confidence.


Day One

Do not go out on your first day hunt under the impression of practicing or warming up. Your first day in fresh and uncontaminated environs is likely the best day for catching a big buck off-guard.




Bow hunting is not about the clothes so leave the camo-coordinated outfits at home. Focus on lean, quiet clothes that allow you more stealth. Wool and fleece both work well; avoid noisy ‘wind proof’ jackets. Additionally, make sure your backpack zippers are quiet.


Scent Control

Shower before the hunt with scent-free soaps and shampoos, using a scent-free towel, and then decontaminate your gear wiping it down with scent-free products. Transport all items in scent-free bags. All of this may seem like a nuisance, but if your scent contaminates the hunting area; your chances of coming across a big buck diminish greatly.



Scouting is essential for successful hunts. Spend time in the late summer and early fall identifying the best places to hunt, how deer travel in those areas, and the location of the best ambush locales. If you scout properly, your confidence is high and your preparation will pay off.


Patience In The Waiting, Not In The Shooting

Many hunters lose patience if nothing ‘happens’ in the prime early morning periods. These hunters leave by lunch, not realizing that midday hours can be lucrative. Be prepared to stay out for long periods. Wear layers, proper footwear, and carry snacks and water.

The patience rule, however, should not bleed over into the act of shooting. If a buck walks within range, be ready to draw and fire. Being overly patient in this situation can lead to a missed opportunity. Do not wait for the perfect shot; take the first good shot that is available.


Source: RealTree (http://www.realtree.com/hunting/articles-and-how-to/10-bowhunting-sins)

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