Most hunting seasons are closed across the country, but bowhunters still have plenty of tasks on their to-do lists that can improve their odds this fall. If you start working toward your hunting-season goals now, you’ll be well-prepared by opening day.
With last season fresh in mind, recall what you wanted to change in your bowhunting setup. Whether you want to shoot a new broadhead, or change your bow and all your accessories, it’s time to tackle the project. Being intimately familiar with every piece of gear helps you execute perfect shots at every opportunity.
The sooner you solidify your hunting rig, the more time you’ll have for practice. Visit your local archery shop if you’re unsure how your bow will perform with new accessories. Most shops will help you test equipment before you buy it to ensure you’ll be satisfied with your decision.
Flaws in shooting form can make accuracy nearly impossible. Consider working with an instructor to perfect your form. To start, simply visit an archery shop where instructors provide one-on-one, hands-on assistance. Lessons are also affordable, and provide helpful advice you can implement at your own pace to improve your accuracy long before sunrise on opening day.
To further enhance your practice, try replicating bowhunting scenarios and executing perfect shots. Although most of us can comfortably sight in our bows on level ground at known distances, flat settings are rare in the woods. Therefore, put on your hunting clothes, place a 3-D target in a narrow shooting lane, and climb into a treestand. Practice shooting while standing and seated so you’re comfortable in any situation.
To add realism, place the target at unknown distances and shoot without using a rangefinder. Have a friend time your shots, and allow no more than 10 seconds to make vital hits. By wearing your hunting garb while shooting 3-D targets proficiently, you’ll be better prepared for real shooting opportunities.
No bowhunter has “too many” places to hunt. By having several options, you can spread hunting pressure across several properties and not “educate” deer by hunting one spot repeatedly. Scout for potential hotspots by identifying properties with online mapping software like OnX Maps. The Hunt App by OnX even shows landowner information, which is helpful for gaining permission to bowhunt private property.
The app also shows public land boundaries, and lets you toggle between satellite, topographic and hybrid imagery, Next, mark your favorite spots using waypoints. Although e-scouting on electronic maps helps you to learn new areas, nothing can beat walking the land. You’ll find deer sign that helps identify treestand locations. And if you’re lucky, you might stumble across a shed antler.
If you can’t put your bow down and you want an exciting way to spend time outside, consider bowfishing. You’ll hunt nongame fish species like gar and carp with barb-tipped arrows, which connect to a fishing line kept on a bow-mounted reel. Any bow can be outfitted with bowfishing equipment. For the best results, visit your local archery shop for help converting your bowhunting rig for bowfishing.
If you’d rather keep your bowhunting and bowfishing setups separate, buy a bow package with everything needed for the water. Or you could buy a used bow and add the necessary accessories to transform it into a bowfishing rig. Either way, bowfishing is a great way to liven up the offseason while building your archery muscles. Much like practice sessions, bowfishing requires drawing your bow repeatedly for many shooting opportunities.
No matter how you spend bowhunting’s offseason, realize it will affect your fall hunts. To ensure those impacts are positive, take time this spring to tweak your gear, scout new hunting sites, and become a better shot. Don’t delay. It’s time to get to work!