Top Deer Hunting Mistakes

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deer hunting mistakes
When drawing back on a whitetail, or any animal, try to avoid aiming at the entire deer. Instead, find one single hair or discoloration on his chest and burn a hole through it until your arrow actually cuts it. “Picking a spot” should be as important to your overall shot process as finding your anchor point. It’s that important. Hunter shown wearing Mathews Lost Camo.

A lot of deer hunters will be the first to admit that they've made their fare share of deer hunting mistakes. For some this is not only within the realm of bowhunting, but in every faucet of their life. Like a lot of folks, there are things you wish you could take back, and decisions you wish you could undo. But of course, you can’t. Besides, even if you could, that wouldn’t be life, now would it?

And while it may seem unfortunate on the surface, the real tragedy occurs when we fail to learn something from and ultimately become a better person because of our mistakes. After all, we’re going to screw up; that fact is inevitable. So it goes without saying that life is going to be much harder if we continue to make the same errors over and over. Bowhunting is no different.

You may be inclined to think that some bowhunters are somehow infallible when it comes to bowhunting endeavors. That perhaps all of the bowhunting experts' tree stands hang in the perfect tree and all of their shots end in short blood trails and smiling photos. Well, to be honest, that illustration couldn’t be further from the truth. Bowhunting blunders? Even the hunting experts have committed them all. Consequently, some bowhunters have decided long ago that unless they wanted to re-live the agony of each one over and over again, they needed to ensure that they made them only once.

Listed here are the most memorable, and educational, hunting mistakes of an experienced whitetail bowhunting career. They are the favorites. Do your best to learn from these examples and hopefully you can avoid the anguish and misfortune that often accompany them.

pre-season deer hunting preparation
To get the most out of your pre-season deer hunting preparation it is imperative to engage in what the author likes to call “situational practice”. In essence, this means practicing exactly how you plan to hunt. This type of training insures that all of the necessary steps, vital to making a killing shot, come second nature “in-the-field”.

Definitely Not the Last

Hunting with a friend on land they had never seen before, a deer hunter waited until first light before searching for a suitable tree stand location. Only minutes into his early morning quest, he detected deer movement up ahead. Peering through a tangle of laurel, he suddenly realized that the strange object a short distance away was actually a buck working a scrape. Dropping his treestand, he anxiously nocked an arrow and slipped into predator mode. With his back to me, the young fork-horn was oblivious to the fact that this deer hunter was drawing closer with each step.

At 20 yards he decided he could go no further and readied for the shot. However, just before he released the string the deer hunter heard something approaching from directly behind the young buck. Much to his amazement, out stepped the largest whitetail deer he had ever seen. His heavy, dark brown rack carried 8 symmetrical points, and his body dwarfed that of the younger deer. Immediately his cool, calm demeanor was taken away and replaced with a shaking, unconfident, mess of a bowhunter.

Quickly swinging his bow toward the intimidator, he let the string go before he even knew where the sight pin was. Cracking like a small-game rifle, his miss-guided arrow drove deep into a large oak tree located just beyond the mature buck. With his entire body trembling uncontrollably, the deer hunter watched as both animals were quickly swallowed up by the lonely forest. It was one of his first bouts with “buck fever”; but it definitely wasn’t his last.

trophy whitetail buck
Trophy whitetail buck? You bet! Some of the best memories don’t always include a large rack or a certain “score” to go along with it. If it makes you happy, don’t worry what others think about what is waiting at the end of the blood trail.

The two things this deer hunter remembers most about that incident was his failure to actually take aim at the buck; he simply pointed the bow and released the arrow, and, his inability to control his shaking limbs and sporadic breathing. But man what a rush! Over time he would learn to control the common symptoms associated with “buck fever”. But, he would also realize that time could only take him so far.

You see, as time passes and you experience more interaction with whitetails, the more relaxed you become around them. You still might get anxious; even when a meat-doe is the target. You will just be a little better at controlling your emotions. On the other hand, throw a Pope and Young buck in the picture and your level of control has the potential to drop like a rusty anchor; regardless of previous time spent “mingling” with whitetails. As a result, if you have any chance of enduring the wonderful sensation you both curse and love, and still make a lethal shot, you need to have a strong shooting routine. One based on solid techniques with one goal in mind….picking a spot.

No matter what you are shooting at, a 3-d target, live animal, suspicious looking leaf, whatever, you always want to try to pick a spot before coming to anchor. In a high pressure situation, like when that monster buck is about to walk out of your life forever, this one habit will take your attention off of his massive crown of horn and put it back where it belongs….choosing the exact location you want your broadhead tipped arrow to land.

But you can’t wait until you’re actually in that situation before incorporating the “pick-a-spot” technique. Therefore, from this day forward, never, ever take another shot (practice or in-the-field) without first picking a spot and then concentrating on that spot with all of your might until your arrow disappears in it. Do that for an entire off-season and watch what happens to your kill-shot ratio.

Lesson Learned: No matter what, PICK A SPOT! If you don’t, who knows where your arrow is going to end up.

Cold November Rain

Some deer hunters don't give much thought to “how” they prepare for the upcoming season. Some deer hunters figure that as long as they are “slinging arrows” in the name of pre-season preparation that is good enough. Read one deer hunters story when one cold, damp November morning, a wide horned WV buck made him reconsider that faulty notion.

This deer hunter didn’t have a lot of time to react. He simply turned his head and there he was; 15 yards from the base of his tree. All he had to do was make the shot! Quickly drawing his bow, he settled the green sight pin just behind his shoulder and cut the shot. When the bowstring snapped forward he watched in total shock as his arrow completely missed the bewildered buck. With a lightening quick turn of his body, he sprang away; never to return.

After replaying the shot over and over in his mind it finally hit him. In this deer hunter's excitement he had simply forgotten to bend at the waist. Instead, he abruptly dropped his bow arm in order to get the pin on his vitals as quickly as possible. This simple oversight was enough to change the angle between his eye and his sight pin; causing his arrow to shoot “high”.

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