I've been thinking a lot lately about my past bowhunting deer season. I can't believe how many opportunities I had to harvest a deer but only came away with one doe. I realize I still have a lot to learn about archery hunting!
Feeling Blessed: First off I consider myself lucky. I have my health and a good business, both allow me the opportunity to hunt. I hunt both private and public land almost every season. Lands I hunt have there pros and cons but for the most part they are managed well for deer. I had deer present themselves plenty of times each day I hunted, but most were small bucks and does (I won't shoot a button buck, spike or forked point buck definitely not a fawn). I counted 18 in one day (granted I saw 6 - 300 yards away). I saw deer in the morning, midday and evening. I had deer at 20 to 40 yards. Twice, I had deer right under my tree stand!
Judging Distance: Judging distance is still my biggest issue. In the winter, I’ve always shot in a indoor archery league (20 yard range). I spend that time working on my mechanics and concentration. In the summer a shout an outdoor 3D range where I get good practice at judging the distance of various targets. I guess, I just don't get out enough, cause it seems judging distance is a ongoing issue for me. It’s frustrating too, since I’m an artist, I tote myself as a “visual” person so I would think I’d able to judge distance better? After all, it’s the right side (the artistic side) of your brain that controls the visual-spatial functions. Maybe I just need to get out to that 3D range more often? Practice makes (almost) perfect, right?
Aim High or Low: Every year when I climb up into a tree stand, after I get myself situated, I start thinking of the various ways the deer may approach. Next, I think about what kind of shot I may have based on the shooting lanes I have. Then, undoubtedly, I question whether you're supposed to shoot high or low from a levitated stand? I recently read, that if a deers 20 yards away and you're in a stand 20ft up in a tree, you put the 20 yard pin on the deer. The trick is, you don’t lower your bow arm to aim at the vitals but draw as if you were shooting directly out and then bend at the waste to line up your shot. A definite goal before the 2016 - 2017 bow season would be to practice more from a tree stand.
Shooting Position: So many times when I’m bow hunting it seems I am out of position. At least half of the time the deer seem to show up “magically”! I’m looking one way and I turn my head another way and BOOM, there the deer are! I try and keep my head on a swivel when I’m on stand, but every once in awhile, I catch myself daydreaming (this is why I designed the Gone Thinking - Hunter T-shirt) or fixating on a spot where I think the deer will come based on wind and past experience. These scenarios are just some of the reasons I find myself out of shooting position. Another is I get caught standing when I should be sitting (or vs a versa). When this happens, I always seem to freeze up. I don’t want the deer to bust me of course! As the deer moves closer, I can never decide when to stand or sit (if at all). I usually end up letting the deer past and figuring it’s better to not get busted?
I guess that’s why they call it hunting!