It’s where most hunts go wrong. Hunters are good at knowing how to locate the bucks on their land and put a stand in a spot where they will get a chance for a shot. They know how to time their hunts to see plenty of deer on the move. But when it comes time to actually take the shot, that’s where things can get shaky and most mistakes are made. A lot of hunters spend so much time devising ways to get close to a big ol’ buck that they fail to focus on the actual steps they need to take to close the deal. This is the most important part of the hunt.
KEEP IT SIMPLE
The first rule of thumb, particularly when you are bowhunting and looking to execute some serious death from above, is to keep everything as simple as you can. From the setup of your bow to the way you have your gear organized in your stand or on your body to the way you will approach making your shot, the less you have to think about when your heart is racing and your lungs are gasping from the excitement of seeing a huge buck approach, the less chance you will have of making a mistake.
When it comes to my bow setup, if an item isn’t something that makes me better or more efficient, I don’t use it. Just because your bow has room for some sort of gadget that you can attach to your bow doesn’t mean you need to use every accessory out there. For me, I keep it to the basics.
MY BOW SETUP
To start with my own bow, I like a standard solid pin setup when it comes to sights. The one I use is the Truglo Apex. Regardless of which type of pin sight you use, I suggest that you stick to using five to six pins and learn to shoot your bow out to 70 yards. I know that sounds like a long way to some hunters used to keeping shots to under 40 or even 30 yards, but today’s bows are more than capable of delivering killer shots out that far. Naturally, the objective is to always get as close as you can to the animal you want to shoot, but even if you never shoot at a deer that is standing 60 or 70 yards away, being able to shoot that far will make you more deadly accurate and capable at 40,30 and even 20 yards.
Back to my sights. I like smaller pins. I want to focus more on the target and not on my pin, especially in hunting situations. Smaller pins also provide a better reference when I am bracketing my target between pins. Set your first pin so you are dead on target at 20 yards, then set each subsequent pin in 10-yard increments. When you have a deer that is between the yardage for your pins, you can simply bracket the target area between the two pins. Bows are fast enough now that you don’t need to set a pin for every five yards.
Other key items on my bow are cat whiskers to help silence the sound of the strings vibrating when released, a drop-away capture rest that drops completely away upon releasing an arrow so there is no contact between the arrow and the rest to interfere with the shot and a peep sight with the hole drilled out to make it larger. Remember, I’m not setting up my bow to shoot in very precise 3D target competitions. I’m setting it up to hunt, and because most shots will come early in the morning or right after dark, I want a good hole that will allow in more light so I can see. My peep sight preference is one that G5 makes that I really like.
I also prefer a D-loop at the nocking point of my string, which makes it easy to quickly grab the string with my release and draw. I use a Tru-Ball Beast that T-Bone Turner and I helped develop. It uses an offset trigger and leather strap for total silence. It is totally set up for murder.
OTHER GEAR CONSIDERATIONS
In addition to my bow (and, of course, arrows), the only other gear I really want to carry with me in the stand is a rangefinder, binoculars, my release and usually a call. The rangefinder is critical because it eliminates the guesswork of how far away that deer is standing when you shoot. Not knowing this can mess up a hunter more quickly than anything else because bowhunting is such a precise game. You can’t afford to misjudge a deer by 10 yards, which is very easy to do without a rangefinder. I use a Bushnell version with ARC technology that compensates for angles in calculating the true distance you will be shooting when high up in a stand or on a steep hill.
While in the stand, I’ll constantly play with my rangefinder and range things around my stand in order to get distances down. If you do this over and over, drilling those distances in your head, it will help you in a crunch when you need your instincts to take over and help you make an accurate shot. If your bow’s pins are on and a deer steps into range, it will be as simple as ranging the animal, counting your pin to match the yardage you need to shoot and taking aim.
Once in my stand, I hang my bow on a Realtree EZ Hanger (which screws right into the tree) so it’s level with me or slightly higher to my left. When I spot a deer coming, it is simply a matter of slowly reaching right next to me and taking hold of the bow. My binoculars are fastened to my chest by a Bino Buddy, where I can reach them if I need them quickly, and my rangefinder is on a slightly longer cord around my neck and hanging down on my right side where I can get a hold of it and range while gripping my bow in my left hand.
By keeping everything organized and within easy reach, you’ll make less movement and there’s less that you need to think about other than focusing on when the best time is to make that shot.