16 Tips to Make You a Better Bow Hunter
Bow hunting is one of the most exhilarating experiences that I've ever been a part of. Regardless of which type of animal I hunt with my bow, it is always extremely challenging, and also extremely fun. My personal favorite animal to bow hunt is the white-tailed deer, but there are many other types of animals that you can hunt with your bow.
When bow hunting, there are many different factors that you can improve upon which will increase your chances of success. Listed below are 16 different tips that will help you to become a better bowhunter if you apply them. The first 8 tips will address specific archery tips, while the last 8 tips will address specific hunting tips.
1. Find a Comfortable Draw Length and Weight
Your draw weight will depend on how old and strong you are. Draw length will depend on how long your arms are. If you are shooting a compound bow, there is a quite simple way to measure your draw length. Measure your arm span and then divide that number by 2.5. There are bows that are able to adjust all the way from a 19" draw, to a 30" draw.
You will be able to know your draw weight after attempting to pull back a bow. On average, adult males draw between 55-70 lbs. Adult females will be able to draw roughly 25-40 lbs. Last, children will draw anywhere from 15-25 lbs. Some may prefer to use a long bow for added sport.
2. Accuracy is the Biggest Priority
When choosing your bow, and draw weight, it is important to consider accuracy first. It doesn't matter how many feet per second a bow shoots if you are not able to shoot it accurately. Additionally, many hunters will increase their draw weight in order to shoot faster. Increasing the draw weight will cause it to be much more difficult to hold steady on your target. Accuracy should be your first and biggest priority when selecting your bow type and weight.
3. Speed is important
While speed isn't nearly as important as accuracy, it is quite important still. Your shooting speed will determine how much your arrow will drop at varying distances. How fast a bow shoots is measured in feet per second. While at short distances feet per second won't play a large role, it will at longer distances. If you are shooting at 50, 60, 70, or even 80 yards, and your bow doesn't have much speed, you arrows will drop a significant amount. So if you plan on shooting such distances, keep in mind that speed is important.
Speed is also important for the type of animal you are hunting. Speed plays a role in how far your arrow will penetrate into the animal. So if you are hunting large game such as elk or moose, it is very important to have a lot of speed in order to get a lot of penetration.
4. Have Your Bow Tuned
Having your bow tuned is important for a number of reasons. Overall, it causes your bow to shoot your arrows as straight as possible. When your bow is tuned, it will ensure that your rest and nock height are in the correct places. If they are too high or low, they can cause your arrow to kick off your rest or bow slightly impacting the arrows flight negatively.
Having your bow tuned will also ensure that your timing is correct and that there isn't cam lean. There are also factors that can cause your bow to shoot your arrow in a manner that isn't straight. You can have your bow tuned at your local archery shop.
5. Shoot Proper Arrows
Depending on your draw length, you will need to have your arrows cut to a certain length, and they will need to be a certain size. As a general rule of thumb, the higher the draw weight you have as well as the longer draw length, the heavier arrows you will shoot. An arrow's weight is measured in grains per inch.
Another important factor to consider when shooting your arrows is the stiffness or spine of the arrow. You want a certain amount of flex within the arrow, but you also want it to be stiff enough that it will fly straight. Arrow packages will have a chart on the back of them that show the recommended spine depending on your draw weight and draw length.
6. Find Matching Field Tips and Broadheads
Selecting the matching field tips and broadheads is extremely important in ensuring that your arrow will fly true when target practicing as well as actually shooting at the animal you are after. If you are shooting 100-grain tips, it is very important to also be shooting 100-grain broadheads. You can also purchase target broadheads which will help to make sure that your broadheads are flying the same as your field tips.
7. Practice Your Form
Your form is what will determine how accurate you shoot. Some of the important factors that play into good archery form are your grip, your release, your stance, having a consistent anchor point, and your breathing. Make sure that you have mastered each of these areas as it will help to cause you go from being a good archer to a great archer. Below is a link to a video which explains and demonstrates proper form.
8. Practice Often and Challenge Yourself
After practicing the correct form, it is important to practice often and to practice different scenarios. Some hunters will only shoot a handful of times before they go out hunting. When you're actually hunting you will get an adrenaline rush, and if you haven't practiced a significant amount, it will be easy to forget to have correct form.
It is also important to practice shooting at different heights, distances, and angles. Within many different towns, there are 3-D animal target shoots which you can attend and practice these different angles, distances, and heights. After practicing a significant amount, shooting correctly and accurately will become an instinct when you are hunting.
9. Use Trail Cameras
Using trail cameras will help you to pattern the animal you are hunting. It will help you to know what types of days the animal moves on, and at what times. Animals will move in certain areas depending on the wind, the time of day, time of year, moon phase, as well as many other factors.
10. Create Food Plots or Bait if Possible
Food plots or baiting are a perfect way to keep the animal that you are hunting near your land throughout the year. What you plant in your food plot will depend on the type of animal that you are hunting. Baiting is only permitted in certain counties within certain states, so make sure you read your local regulations regarding this matter.
11. Cover Your Scent
Certain animals are better than others at detecting a scent, but scent always plays a role in hunting success. Some hunters use certain types of clothes that contain scent within them. Other hunters use a spray that covers your scent. There are also other ways to eliminate your scent as well such as taking a scent free shower and not putting on body spray or cologne.
12. Minimize Movement
Whether you are in a hunting blind, tree stand, or are out in the open, animals are great at detecting movement. Frequently checking your phone may not seem like it is a lot of movement, but animals easily notice it, even from a large distance. Make sure that you settle in and move minimally.
13. Hunt the Wind
Even after you have covered your scent, and you are doing your best to minimize movement, it is still very important to hunt when the wind is favoring you. This means that you don't want the wind to be blowing your scent towards you believe the animal will come from. Hunting with the wind will greater reduce the chance that an animal will be able to smell you.
14. Don't Over hunt Your Land
Over-hunting your land is easily done, and can have large impacts. Each walk on your land, your chance to scare the different animals that are within it. If they are pushed away frequently, they will soon find a different piece of nearby land to live on instead. Pick strategized times to hunt your land.
15. Create Shooting Lanes
Shooting lanes aren't extremely important if you are gun hunting with a shotgun, but when bow hunting they are vital. If your arrow touches a small twig or brush, it likely won't hit where you were aiming. Take time to cut out certain small areas to shoot where you believe the animal will be moving.
16. Use Calls and Decoys
Depending on the time of year, calls and decoys can be extremely effective when bow hunting. For example, during the rut, white-tail bucks will show off their dominance by fighting other bucks and scaring them off. If you have a decoy and use calls during the rut, there is a better chance that bucks will approach your hunting location.
There are many different factors that play into making a person a successful bow hunter. Some of these areas are specifically shooting the bow itself and using correct form. Other areas that play an important role and actual hunting tactics themselves such as hunting with the wind, and using a food plot or bait. Overall, there are many different items that go into making a person a better and more successful bow hunter.