- Look for Animal Signs. These signs include scat, food, tracks, scrapes, bedding sites, game trails, buck rubs or turkey dust beds. The fresher the animal sign is, the better. For example, a deer trail with fresh tracks or scat and rubs leading to or from a bedding area can be a promising spot for hunting.
- Scope Out Good Habitat. Place your blind or tree stand near sources of food, water and shelter that are important for your target animal.
- Consider the Best Timing. Try to determine if an animal uses an area more in the morning, evening or midday. This will help you decide when to hunt, or if you should find another location.
- Be Safe and Site Specific. When choosing a tree for your stand, the tree must be alive, healthy, sturdy and large enough to support the weight of a stand and the hunter using it.
- Use a Natural Backstop. If using a ground blind, take advantage of the natural terrain. For example, an upward slope in front of your blind increases overall safety by providing a natural backstop that keeps your arrows from going too far.
- Practice Minimal Impact. Choose a tree with the fewest branches and leaves that need to be removed to create shooting lanes. Likewise, if hunting from a ground blind, choose a location that requires minimal removal of vegetation. Branches and vegetation also help camouflage you from approaching animals.
- Create a Shooting Lane. Once your tree stand or blind is in place, make sure you have open shooting lanes by removing any branches that might interfere with your shots.
- Check Wind Direction. Always consider the area’s predominant wind direction when placing your tree stand or blind. You can have the perfect setup, but if the wind blows your scent toward approaching animals before they’re within range, they will smell you and leave the area.
- Cover Your Scent. Even without wind, animals can get a whiff of your scent. When possible, use scent-free tools and wear scent-free clothing when scouting, setting up your stand or blind, and walking to your tree stand or ground blind to hunt.
- Stay Clear of Noxious Plants. When picking a site, make sure to avoid nettles, poison ivy, poison oak, thorny bushes or other noxious plants, especially at a ground blind’s entrance. Make sure you can enter your blind as quickly and quietly as possible.
- Plan Ahead. Whenever possible, place your tree stand or ground blind long before you begin hunting to ensure animals have time to adjust to its presence. Set up your site at least two weeks in advance. The more time animals have to adjust, the better.
- Room for Equipment and Shooting. There must be ample space for your equipment and for you to shoot your bow while standing, sitting or kneeling, whether you’re in a tree stand or ground blind.
- Comfort. Bowhunting requires lots of waiting. Make sure you can stand, sit or kneel comfortably for long periods of time.
Wanna Give Bowhunting a Try?
If you’re looking to source your own meat and would love to try bowhunting, here are a few ways to get started:
- Check out Archery 360’s “Intro to Archery.” You’ll get a quick introduction to different types of bows and how to shoot.
- Read the basics on where to hunt.
- Now that you’re armed with enough knowledge to ask serious questions, find a bowhunting shop in your community and talk to an expert, get instruction and meet like-minded people.