CHOOSING A BOW AND ARROW as your weapon of choice may not result in the easiest hunt you have ever had, but I can guarantee that it will give you memories of great hunts and good times that you will not soon forget.
What do I need to know if I choose to hunt with a bow? Do I need camouflage clothing? How do I choose what arrows I might need? What about broadheads? Which is the best one for me? You can see that there will be tons of questions that you will need answers to.
I will try to cover most of them in this read. Call it a bowhunting basics cookbook, if you will. If all of the ingredients are used properly, you should have a tasty meal to enjoy and a "there I was" story to go along with your dinner fare as well.
So what do you need to go bowhunting?
A bow is a good place to start. Arrows with broadheads adequate for the game you are pursuing are also a necessity. You need your tags, obviously.
Camo clothing, although a nice thing to have, just is not necessary if you are after whitetails. Remember deer are mostly color blind. They can see only shades and cannot distinguish if you have on a camo shirt or a checkered shirt. Either way, your form is broken up into different shades and will not be detected by a whitetails eye. Camo is nice to blend into your surroundings and I wear it myself, but not really something you need to hunt.
What bow do I need? The answer is one that fits you, feels good in your hands, and has enough draw weight to get the job done. There are many different bow companies out there and finding a good bow to start with is not very hard. A pro shop will be able to set you up with the right bow for you in no time at all.
Broadheads come in many different sizes and shapes. The one for you is the one that flies well with your bow set-up. Try many, choose one. The most important thing to remember here is that the arrows you use are tuned and matched with your bow. It is paramount that you are using an arrow that is spined correctly for your particular bow.
Whoa, what do you mean here? Each arrow made today has a corresponding number that goes along with it. These numbers will tell you if it is the right arrow (or correct spine) for the amount of draw weight of your bow. Sound a little confusing? Once again, a pro shop will be happy to set you up with tuned and matched equipment for your personal set-up. That means if your buddy wants to borrow your bow some afternoon, he will need to possess the exact specifications as you in order to shoot the bow with any accuracy. It is probably not a good idea to give your buddy the bow in the first place. That way, you know that your bow is properly cared for at all times.
Ninety percent of bowhunters will be hunting their prey from an elevated position. There are many different types of tree stands to choose from and the manufacturers have made sure that they are safe as long as you read the directions and then follow them. Whichever one you choose make sure that you use a safety harness. I have heard of many veteran hunters who decided against using a harness for some unknown reason and their families wish they had.
Hunting from a tree stand may not be your cup of tea. Although it may be the most popular way to bowhunt, you can still bring home the venison from other methods.
Camo clothing helps a bowhunter blend into his surroundings, but is not necessary for hunting whitetails. Photo: CANSTOCK
A ground blind works well. I prefer a natural ground blind for whitetails. The commercial pop-up blinds work extremely well for turkey hunters, but it has been my experience that deer notice the blind immediately. If you can, try setting up the portable ground blind well in advance of the day you plan on hunting from it. The deer would then get used to seeing it and it would pose as no threat to them. Unfortunately, not all of us have the option of leaving an expensive blind out there for days. That is exactly why I prefer the natural ground blind.
Once you get to know the habits of the whitetails on your lease, then you can go there before the season and use downed limbs and blow-down brush to create your deer stand. Find out where the deer like to travel everyday and set up accordingly. Move the twisted tree limbs and brush all around you so that they help hide any movement you may make.
Bring along an old chair or something to sit on that you can leave in the blind for the next time you hunt. You will want to give yourself plenty of room in the center of your blind so you can draw your bow back without bumping into any of the brush. Remember to ALWAYS keep the wind in your face and away from the direction you expect the deer to come from.
You may find a nice dark spot where the morning or afternoon shadows conceal you even more. Build your stand about 20 yards or so from the main trail. You just need to clear out three or four shots and wait for the deer to move to those particular openings. If the wind is in your favor and you have the patience of Job, you should be able to get a nice clear 20-yard shot at the unsuspecting animal. Voila! Dinner is served.
Like anything else, learning the basics of your hobby are exactly that, the basics. You will learn more each and every time you walk into your hunting area. Try whatever method that works for you and then stick to it, at least until you are successful with it, then move on to something else. The most important thing to remember is to have fun. Leave your cares and troubles behind and step away from the pavement, at least for a while. Your cares and troubles will still be there after sunset. Enjoy the hunt.