Hitting the woods with a bow will improve your skills and make you more successful with a gun. Even if you choose to leave the bow and arrows at home in favor of your favorite rifle or shotgun, there’s something to be learned from those who make their meat the old school way. Read on and find out what you need to know.
Watch the Wind
Due to the short range and up close nature of bowhunting, archers are constantly monitoring the wind to avoid tipping off the wary noses of the critters they are chasing. Gun hunters should do the same.
Archers get close to their quarry by necessity, but gun hunters should strive to get as close as possible before making the shot. The fact that you can shoot 300 yards doesn’t mean you have to. Look for terrain features and screening vegetation that will help you move in close and you’ll decrease your chances of making a poor shot.
Practice Makes Perfect
Archers spend hundreds of hours annually practicing with their equipment, but many gun hunters don’t even pull their guns out of the case until days before the season.
Rifle hunters should hit the range and practice shooting from field positions to ensure an accurate shot when it’s a live animal in their sights. Upland hunters and waterfowlers should head for the local sporting clays course for an exciting and fun practice session.
Stay on Track
In bowhunting, the hunt doesn’t end with the shot. Most animals run 50-150 yards even after taking a well placed arrow. Following a blood trail is one of the most important skills a hunter can have, regardless of weapon choice. Go slow and be meticulous to avoid destroying evidence of a wounded animal’s escape route and you’ll recover more animals.
Archers know the importance of silent travel to and from hunting locations and while waiting for their prey to arrive. Gun hunters can get away with more noise, but should still strive to be as quiet as possible to avoid spooking big game or alerting wary ringnecks of their presence.
Know Your Yardage
The rainbow trajectory of an archer’s arrow makes range estimation an absolute necessity, but gun hunters will see more success by knowing the exact yardage to their target before shooting.
Laser rangefinders are light enough to carry around your neck and provide positive yardages at the touch of a button. Archers carry them and you should to.
Savor the Experience
Aside from adding days to their season, hunters use archery equipment to improve the hunting experience. A bow’s limited range means that animals will often walk by out of range and even if they do come close enough for a shot, the time spent in close proximity is typically quite a bit longer than that experienced by gun hunters.
Make a point to take in the sights and sounds of the natural world as you head afield and your enjoyment of the hunt will increase. After all, hunting is about being out there, not keeping score.