Sunday, September 30, 2007

Last-Minute Bow Hunting Reminders

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The wait is over, and thousands of bow hunters will greet the dawn tomorrow from a ground blind, elevated coop or a tree stand. With luck, and some in-depth pre-season scouting, it can lead to some fine hunting.

Of all the 90 days of deer season, it’s my opinion that opening day is the best day of all to shoot a deer. If the scouting efforts have not spooked the animals, they will still be in their summer mode of travel from bedding to feeding areas and back again. One thought, based on my deer sightings over the past month, is that fields with sweet green grass may offer more productive feed than bait. Deer seem unusually attracted to green grasses, clovers, winter wheat, brassica and beans this year.

I’d be tempted to forget bait and hunt near green fields. Determine where deer enter and leave the green fields, and set up downwind. Friends who have engaged in recreation feeding near their home tell me that few deer are going to corn although they seem to still enjoy a meal of sugar beets. We put out a tiny bit of corn on a daily basis, and the blue jays and squirrels eat more of the corn and the deer are in the brassica, clover and purple-top turnips.

Shooting deer with a bow becomes legal tomorrow morning, and it’s always a good idea to develop a mantra of what to do once the buck or doe arrives within bow range. I have a special list of things that I think about and go through before taking a shot, and it helps to develop this mental checklist. Here is what we do.

*Positively identify the animal as a deer and that it is within your effective shooting range. If it is a buck, note the number of points, and then forget about the antlers.

*Wait for the deer to offer a high-percentage shot. This means broadside or quartering-away. Never take quartering-to, rear-end or straight-on shots. Such low-percentage shots often result in a wounded and lost deer.

*This one is crucial. Deer often give a hunter far more time to draw, aim and shoot than they think. Wait for the proper angle, and never take the shot the deer first offers. A deer that is feeding will look up and around, test the wind, and will eventually move into the ideal position for a shot. Wait for it to arrive, and be ready to draw, aim and shoot when it does.

*Don’t rush a shot. Take your time, and if the deer changes position, let the bow down and wait for another opportunity. Sitting still, not making any noise and being downwind of the animal are a must to have relaxed deer within range. Jumpy deer are more difficult to shoot simply because they are constantly on the move.

*When the moment of truth arrives, give the opportunity your undivided attention. Pick a spot, and then narrow your focus on a specific spot. Make a smooth draw when the animal turns its head to check the terrain or to watch approaching deer, and hold your aim steady with a solid anchor point. Inhale, double-check that your aim is on that specific spot, exhale, and release the arrow.

*Do not lift your head at the shot as it often causes the arrow to go high. Keep your head squared to the deer, and hold your anchor point until the arrow hits the animal. Watch the arrow until it strikes before lowering your bow hand. Pay close attention to where they deer runs and enters heavy cover.

*I use and endorse the continuous use of a Game Tracker string tracking device. Combine the use of this device with following these simple rules of shooting, and it’s amazing how simple shooting a buck or doe can be. Good luck tomorrow!

Posted by Dave Richey on 09/30 at 07:56 PM
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