How To

Bow Hunting: When to Take Your Shot

when to shoot

When it comes to drawing back the bowstring and anchoring your pin on a mature buck’s vitals, there are many things that can cause your perfect setup to go awry. Most of what I know about shooting deer I’ve learned the hard and painful way. That is, I’ve flopped my share of shot opportunities. A very important thing to keep in mind when waiting for a shot opportunity is that regardless of the direction a deer is facing, if you can see the deer’s eyes that deer can also see you.

In addition, how high you hang your stand does not matter if the deer is far enough away. A deer standing off in a distance staring at the base of your tree has only to look up a couple degrees from ground level to see you 18 to 20 feet in that same tree.

Here are 10 things I’ve learned about shooting deer:

  1. If a deer is walking towards you, let him pass before you draw your bow.
  2. Pay careful attention to the angle the deer is standing in relation to the angle the arrow will travel through its vitals. Think double lung.
  3. Whenever possible, wait until the deer’s vision is obstructed before drawing your bow.
  4. Do not wait until deer are too close before standing. As soon as you hear or see deer approaching, slowly stand and get into position. Even if you do not plan on shooting any of the deer you see approaching, I highly recommend you stand anyway because the next deer out of the brush might be the bruiser you’ve been waiting for.
  5. Know you limitations, I believe it’s much wiser to pass a questionable shot and hope for another encounter than to take an “iffy” shot and risk missing or maiming a trophy buck, thus eliminating any chance of a second encounter.
  6. Even if it looks like you might get a better shot, take the first good shot you get. A sudden swirling wind or a barking squirrel can instantly change everything.
  7. I recommend you get ready, but don’t draw you bow too soon because your trembling muscles might cause you to let down, or at worst miss or maim the deer because you couldn’t hold steady.
  8. Don’t wait too long before you draw your bow because you might get caught in mid stride.
  9. Numbers 7 and 8 may seem contradictory. However, when it comes to drawing down on deer, timing is very important. The best way I know to acquire this skill is simply by watching deer and studying their behavior.
  10. When a shot opportunity presents itself, calm down, pick a spot, anchor your sight pin on that spot and execute the best shot you know how. Execute your shot like you’re shooting a “Yo Buddy” target, think accuracy and think form; and shoot your targets like you’re shooting a world class buck.

Images courtesy Whitetail Properties/Dan Perez

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