Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz knows a thing or two about reading the football field. But on rare days off each fall, Wentz trades his football jersey for camouflage. When he’s not playing football in front of a stadium full of fans, he’s in his treestand bowhunting. Wentz takes some lessons from reading football fields to help better understand the hunting field. Here’s a few of his tips:
Review Game (Cam) Footage
In the weeks leading up to games, many teams review footage of their competitors to study their patterns. Hunters do the same thing, but with trail cameras. If it’s legal in your state, consider setting up trail cameras near potential sites for treestands or ground blinds before hunting season. By reviewing trail-camera images and footage, you’ll see which animals are in the area, and you’ll get a feel for their patterns.
Study the Players
As with any sport, you must know what you’re up against when bowhunting. Before placing your treestands or ground blinds, look for sign such as tracks, scat, scrapes, beds, game trails, buck rubs or turkey dusting beds. These signs tell you which wildlife is in the area, and offer clues about why they’re there.
Timing is Everything
It’s usually a good idea to place treestands near food, water and cover, but wildlife tendencies vary by the time of day. Understanding why animals use the area helps you figure out the best time to hunt there. Setting up multiple options to hunt at different times and in different conditions is always a good idea.
Plan the Right Route
In football, coaches carefully plan routes for each play. In hunting, the route to your treestand should also be planned. Your route in and out should be quiet and downwind of wildlife. You don’t want animals crossing your path and catching your scent.
Know the (Wind) Direction
While you wait, it’s important to know the direction the wind is blowing. If you understand how animals use the area, you’ll know if they’re likely to catch your scent. If you watched a big buck bed down, and the wind starts blowing your scent its way, you might want to climb down, back out and return another time or day.
Keep Your Head on a Swivel
Before quarterbacks like Wentz throw a pass, they look around and avoid opponents while searching for open teammates. When sitting in your treestand, you must know what’s going on all around you. If you stare in one direction, you might miss something behind you. Or worse, if your eyes are glued on one animal, you might get busted by another. The best offense often means playing good defense. Be sure to always move slowly to avoid getting busted.
Know the Yards
Bowhunters don’t always have time to use a rangefinder to judge their quarry’s distance before shooting. While in your treestand or ground blind, use your rangefinder to check the distances of nearby trees, rocks, fences, brush and other distinct landmarks. Knowing those distances helps you make an ethical shot.
Make Sure You’re Open
In football and in bowhunting, success happens in a split second. Before an animal walks into range, make sure you have shooting lanes ready. Remove branches, tall plants and other obstacles that might prevent a clear shot.
As with all sports, bowhunting teaches lessons that translate into everyday life, whether it’s patience, persistence or the importance of practice. And whether you’re a beginner or seasoned bowhunter, you’ll always learn something new while spending time in the woods.