If you hunt deer long enough, you will eventually become curious about deer hunting with a bow. With the shorter ranges involved, hunting with a bow provides a much more intimate experience than gun hunting.
Bow hunting is a fun and adventurous way to hunt wild game. It requires more patience, skill, and perseverance. Your ability to utilize the opportunity to close the distance and take a great shot is what determines your success during the archery season.
In this article, you will learn more about deer hunting with bow, including the three periods of deer hunting season. This will help you to improve your chances of bagging your sought-after buck in the next season. In addition to 8 basic tips for beginner hunters that can put them on the path to archery hunting
Early Season Hunting
The early season of archery is widely considered the best time for bowhunting deer. It is especially true on archery hunting opening day since the deer are not afraid yet of seeing humans out in the woods.
Much of the early season hunting revolves around 3 key concepts, which include preparing a hunting plan before the deer season begins, keeping hunting pressure minimal, and targeting hunting areas with good deer populations.
1. Do not Pressure The Deer
To hunt deer with a bow, you need to get up close and personal with deer. So make sure not to spook the animal early in the season as this may cause them to run. Try to practice low-pressure hunting techniques like using unscented gear and using trail cams to get information about the deer movements.
As opening day approaches, it may be tempting to spend more time in the wild checking hanging stands, trail cameras and scouting for deer. But you should try to resist the desire to be there and not go out too often.
Other deer hunters might do the same thing in their hunting areas. This will spook deer and make them escape from the pressure. If you spend less time scouting before opening day, the deer should move to your area.
Hunting in the evening can be a wise decision. Warm weather feeding patterns often keep deer in or close to food sources from the evening till early morning.
While unsuspecting hunters make their early morning walk to their treestand, they are often busted by a field full of deer. To avoid this, you can hunt in the evening. This way, you are not educating deer about the location of your stand or blowing deer out.
2. Plan In Advance
As the opening day of archery season is getting close, your visits to the hunting area become lesser. Ensure that the tree stand is set up for you and your draw length and that you are able to draw without obstruction well ahead of opening day.
Lots of beginners find that pulling back on a target in the backyard is much easier than pulling back on a real buck. Adjust the draw weight of your bow accordingly.
If it is hard to draw your bow in the backyard, then you will really struggle to do that in the field. A week or two before opening day, try to prepare a solid hunting strategy and then leave it alone.
By preparing your strategy well in advance of others, you set yourself up to enjoy a stellar deer season. When the activity starts to increase in other hunters’ areas, you should decrease it in your area. So the deer will escape from the activity elsewhere and migrate to your spot as a haven.
Also, planning a good exit and entry to the tree stand is a great way to decrease hunting pressure. Ensure that you can walk quietly down the trail and you are concealed. It is better if the trail zigs and zags a bit. If the trail is straight, the animal can stand at one end and see you at the other one.
3. Target Bedding-To-Feeding Routes
Deer search for high sugar content foods. If they can choose between various food sources, then fruits, acorns, and nuts usually take the top spots.
As opening day approaches, search for an area that can be a food source for deer, choose one where the deer’s preferred food types are abundant. Set up trail cams in this spot and identify where the bedding area could be if deer choose this spot to be their feeding area.
When you decrease the pressure, the deer in your hunting area should begin following more predictable patterns. This way, you can figure out which routes they take to go from bed to food.
Once you identify the deer patterns and which routes they use, you should know how best to position yourself in order to achieve the best results once the archery deer season opens.
Hunting The Rut
Hunting animals during the rut using a bow and arrow is not an easy thing to do. It is a thing that can take some time to master.
While lots of gun hunters are pressuring deer, the odds of hunting a buck with a bow are very low. So the ability to score a kill at this time of the deer season is an incredibly self-affirming event.
Deer will be wary of all the human activity, and to hunt one, you need an incredible amount of skill. If you want to hunt during the rut, here are two hunting tips that can put you on the path to mastery
1. Stalk The Does
If you want to hunt a buck during the rut, you should look for does. If you find the does, a buck is almost guaranteed to be nearby.
During the rut, female deer are especially wary since they have to contend with bucks on the chase and hunters as well. So it is crucial to have a good instinct of where they might be and a good knowledge of the land.
When bowhunting, seeing a female deer alone is a rare thing. Does tend to travel in groups. During the rut, does are wary and constantly on the watch for hunters and bucks.
Hunters who also hunt the early season might have more luck finding female deer than those who only hunt the rut. Early season hunters can scout out open spots female deer have to cross with a buck on their tail or areas where the females congregate. Set up your tree stand in this area, make sure you are well concealed and watch for bucks chasing the does
2. Use Your Ears
With buck grunts, chases, fights, and wheezes that ring through the air, all of this makes the rut a noisy time. With all that information drifting in from everywhere, you can locate a buck looking for does by just listening for cues and then chasing them down.
Now use your knowledge and set up your plans in order to approach the hunt. Stalking the buck is the first and most obvious approach. Although this way is tiring, difficult, and time-consuming, it is much more exciting and fulfilling than spending lots of hours in your tree stand waiting for a deer to come into your area.
But if you do not prefer this way, you can use buck sounds to find good spots to set up. You can arrive in the morning and listen to those sounds. Try to locate the areas with bucks activity and take your notes. Then you can set up in those places for the afternoon or evening hunt.
With enough luck, you can find some spots that are not pressured by other hunters, and you can harvest your hunt when coming back to them in the afternoon.
Hunting The Late Archery Season
Whether you are hunting with a bow or rifle, late-season hunting requires more of the hunters than any other hunting period. Deer become warier of human activities, the hunt is far less comfortable due to the colder weather, and in order to have any chance at success, more involved techniques are typically required.
In order to be a successful late-season hunter, you must master the art of going unnoticed and have an intimate knowledge of deer behaviour.
1. Hunt The Food
When the cold weather begins, food becomes very rare in the wild. Fields of grass start withering in the cold or vanish under layers of snow.
With freezing temperatures and less food, the deer are more likely to wander within a safe, small core zone that has lots of food and enough cover to conceal their bedding area.
Since it is a limited range, finding deer patterns will be much easier. Also, the paths will become more visible thanks to the snow on the ground. Find a route the deer frequents to set up your tree stand.
Also, search for rich sources of wintering food. Fields with standing crops, cover crops and other sources of nutrition that the deer can easily access will attract those big game animals from miles around.
Discover which route they take from the bedding area to the feeding area and begin the patterning there. Then try to find which place is the best to set up an ambush.
2. Master The Art Of Stealth
During the late season of bowhunting, hunters can easily spook the deer. This is due to two factors: they are in a pressured state from enduring the flurry of hunting during the rut, and they follow a more regular pattern, so they can easily spot anything that may be out of the ordinary.
Late-season hunters have to be especially careful. It is very useful to use trail cameras during this period of the deer season. Low-pressure scouting will help you not spook the deer, keeping them in your hunting area. Once you have the needed information about your prey, it is time to find out a potential ambush point and plan your attack.
With the shorter range of a bow, bowhunters may need to get closer to the deer feeding or bedding areas. To protect yourself from getting attacked by deer, you have to plan your camouflage well, wear scent-free clothing, and deploy a ground blind, so you can get as close as you can to those animals.
8 Basic Bow Hunting Tips for Beginners
1. Get Comfortable in the Field
Whether you are going to hunt out in a forest or from a tree, getting comfortable is an essential thing. Wear comfortable camouflage clothing, have your archery gear ready, and pack your necessities for the long hunt. Keep in mind that most deer hunts are from the trees, so you should focus and train yourself on shooting downward. Also, remember to wear a harness for your safety.
2. Train Your Dominant Eye
During a competition, some professional shooters tend to close the lesser eye, but this is not the same as putting the right pin on moving animals in low light. After learning which of your eyes is the dominant one, try to aim with both eyes open. It is said that this provides the widest field of view.
3. Maintain Your Bow
In order to avoid injury and enjoy safe hunting, it is extremely important to check your bow maintenance. If you are a single-season hunter, your archery equipment will be in storage during the off-season. Make sure to check the limbs, cables as well as bowstrings before shooting.
4. Stick to a Light Draw Weight
If you are a beginner, pick an archery bow that will allow you to shoot a lighter weight to start. The less the better for beginners, but it can be increased gradually as you get stronger. When coming to full draw, if you are inaccurate or shaking, this means the draw weight is too much.
5. Control Your Scent
Deer have a strong sense of smell. So you have to control your body odour in order to avoid detection by deer. You can shower with scentless body wash or soap and wash your clothes with scentless detergent. In order to have a successful hunting season, you need to get as close as you can to those big game animals. And you must ensure that they can not smell, hear or see you.
6. Take the Right Shot
Archery hunting is all about understanding where to strike the deer most effectively. There is no benefit to causing your prey to suffering for a prolonged time. You must take the ethical and most lethal shot. If you are a beginner, targeting the deer lungs can be your best option as it offers the biggest lethal area to hit
7. Be Prepared to Get Lucky
That is right, all the deer sign tracking, careful preparation, and trail research can not predict the behaviour of the deer on any given day.
Sometimes the entire day ends without taking a single shot. Other times the thing you least expect can happen, and the deer stop right in front of you, giving you an easy shot. So be prepared for these easy rare opportunities.
8. Be Prepared for Failure Too
Sometimes the moment is perfect and the target is in sight. Then suddenly, the wind gusts out of control, a branch gets in the way or another animal darts by distracting you or the prey.
Be prepared for the long wait. You have to be patient and keep your ears and eyes ready and alert. Any professional archery hunter faces a bad beat sometimes. So do not beat yourself up over circumstances you can not control.