- Updated: 30 July 2011
- Published: 30 July 2011
- Hits: 534
Practice, patience and persistence
...are critical to becoming a successful archery hunter. Without any one of these, your archery hunting experiences may not be pleasant ones.
Practicing is vitally important. As the season approaches, it is important to be able to consistently hit your target with broadheads. You should practice as close as 5 yards and as far as the longest distance you have set for yourself to shoot at an animal. I don’t shoot over 30 yards and try to get the animal within 20 yards. Don’t laugh about practicing at 5 yards. I’ve talked to a lot of hunters who miss deer at 5 to 10 yards because they don’t know where to hold the top pin.
Practicing is like voting in
Patience may be the hardest of the 3 P’s to master. When the first deer of the season starts to get within bow range all kinds of adrenalin is being generated. As most of us know when we get excited, sometimes the best decisions are not made. However, since shot placement is the most important part of humanely harvesting an animal, it is critical to wait for the correct angle before releasing the arrow. The quartering away shot is best, with the broadside shot next. Many game animals are harvested with other than broadside or quartering away shots, but the probability of wounding your target and not retrieving it is much higher. Only you know your skill level and comfort zone for attempting these lower probability shots. My advice is to be patient and wait for a high probability shot.
Persistence may be the most important part of becoming a successful archery hunter. The “persistence” I’m discussing here is after the arrow has disappeared into the animal. After the arrow is released life speeds up exponentially and a million things are going through your head. Did I hit it? Where did I hit it? Am I going to find it? Directly after the shot there are a few things I always try to do. First, is where did I hit the animal? Was it a good hit or a marginal hit? As the animal runs away, I always watch the animal and mark in my mind where the animal was standing when I shot and the last place I saw the animal before it is swallowed by the forest. I also listen for any sounds and the direction of the sounds. These tips can save you precious time in picking up the blood trail.
In most instances I wait one hour before going after the animal. The only time I go sooner is if I have watched the animal expires or it starts to rain. After the animal is hit I truly believe it does not know what happened and has not associated it being shot with a human being. However, once you start trailing the animal and it sees you following it, it will run until it drops and the chances of recovering it drop significantly. That is why I recommend on gut shot or other marginal hits you wait several hours before tracking the animal.
After replaying the shot sequence in my mind, I try to determine what the shot placement was. If it was good I wait an hour and start tracking the animal. I first go to the location I marked in my mind where the animal was standing when I shot. I look for hair, blood and /or my arrow. Often times no blood will be found, but it is rare after a hit that you can’t fin d hair. Should I find the arrow, I study it and try to determine what I am looking at. Is it covered with light red or dark red blood? Is it covered with paunch matter? Are there bubbles in any of the blood? I also stick the arrow in the ground straight up so I can easily retrieve it later. I then start to follow the blood trail if there is one. I always carry biodegradable paper flagging ribbon with me for trailing.
Once I find blood, I mark it by tying a piece of flagging ribbon on a close by tree limb. As in many instances, I don’t find blood for many yards. This is where you go back in your mind to the last place you saw the animal before it went out of sight. I mark it with flagging ribbon and look diligently for blood or where the leaves might have been kicked up. Most often an animal will start leaving a blood trail within 30 or 40 yards of where it was hit. Once I’m on the blood trail I continue the process of tying flagging ribbon on a limb every couple of steps. I continue this process until I find the animal or I lose the blood trail. Should I lose the blood trail I go back to the last piece of flagging ribbon and look at the back trail. Usually the flagging ribbon shows a straight line. I have found that often a wounded animal travels on a straight line or if it is traveling on a trail, it stays on the trail. I will follow the straight line or the trail for many yards looking to pick up the blood again. Often times the exit hole of a liver shot deer will be plugged with intestines. When this happens, virtually all bleeding is internal. This is where the persistence really comes into play. When the blood trail is poor or nonexistent I go over the shot again in my mind and determine shot placement. If I know the shot was good I will mark the last place I found blood and start looking for the deer and not the blood trail. If I think the shot placement was marginal, I back off the trail for a few to several hours and then commence looking for the deer.
This method worked for me very well many years ago especially with deer hit in the evening. Now because of all the foxes and coyotes, it is a fifty-fifty chance the hind quarters will be gone from a deer that is left overnight. I now carry a large spot light in my vehicle and with deer I have a hard time finding in the evening, I often go eat dinner and then go back and look with the spot light.
Only give up looking for a wounded animal if you have exhausted all of your skills and abilities. Some animals survive being shot, but many don’t. I once shot a nice buck at and watched the deer run about 70 yards, stop and walk away. It also snorted a couple times which I thought was strange. The deer were really moving that day and I stayed in the tree stand until . As I was lowering my bow I saw a 4 pointer approaching. I pulled my bow up quickly and was able to see the deer drop 50 yards from my stand. I prepared the 4 pointer and by I was on the trail of the first buck I shot. I found my arrow from the first buck. It was a pass through with dark red blood on the shaft. It looked like a liver shot. I followed the blood trail for 150 yards or so and it petered out. I thought about the shot and the blood on the arrow and knew in my mind the deer was dead. I just had to find it.
About , 8 hours after I hit the deer and after looking over every inch of the property I found that buck. It was a very nice 7 pointer. When I started dressing the deer I noticed something odd. Rigor mortis had not set in. That deer had probably been alive 7 hours after it was shot. It was a liver shot as I had thought and its intestines had plugged the exit hole. It had bled out internally, but it took several hours for it to happen. This is the day I truly realized persistence really counts when archery hunting.