Hunting Season: Practice Makes Perfect

September 29, 2023

K. Slye

K. Slye

It seems like it was only a few days ago that we still had snow on the ground here in Western Pennsylvania. The summer slipped by; it’s getting closer to climb up a tree to wait for the majestic whitetail. I’ve shot several 3D archery shoots this summer, but there are other skills I like to focus on while practicing. They help prapare me when I take to the woods this hunting season.

Practice for Hunting Season in the Right Conditions

Deer are crepuscular and are most active just after dawn and just before dark. I want to make sure I can take the shot when lighting isn’t the most optimal. To be ready, I practice shooting in low light conditions. This ensures I can clearly see through my peep sight and can pick a spot on the target.

deer silhouette hunting season

During hunting season, I have a limit to the distance I’m willing to take a shot. My limits may be conservative by some standards, but the distance is within my comfort zone and allows me to be more efficient and deadly with the shots that I do take. While practicing, I make sure to regularly shoot from a distance that is well beyond what I would take while hunting. When I practice at longer distances, it makes the close shots feel even closer.

Practice Drawing the Bow in Silence

Deer are quiet, it’s amazing how a 150 pound animal can walk through the dry leaves completely silent. I have been surprised by the presence of a deer that was already within shooting range many times. When this happens, it is nearly impossible to grab the bow, stand, draw, and take a shot without getting busted. Often, a shot from a seated position is necessary.

But, if not practiced, it can be very difficult. If the draw weight is too high or you lose the skill, it will be next to impossible to draw the bow without making any unnecessary movement. If it’s difficult to draw back the bow, lower the draw weight and keep practicing. Everything feels a little different while shooting from a seated position, so make sure to prepare for this scenario before venturing into the woods this hunting season.

Practice With Your Hunting Season Setup

When I normally practice in the backyard or shoot at a 3D course, I’m using field points and normal nocks. But, when I’m out hunting I have broadheads and lighted nocks on my arrows. So, the weight of the arrow varies slightly from my target set-up. It’s very important to practice with the exact hunting set-up that you intend to use. You may need to adjust the sight, or the arrow could fly awkwardly with the broadheads attached, which may require paper tuning. Take advantage of the practice tip that comes with the broadheads and make sure you are able to hit where you are aiming, consistently.

All through the summer I shoot while just wearing a T-shirt, but when it comes time to sit in the stand, it will be much cooler out and I will be layered up to stay warm. To make sure there isn’t an issue I like to take a few shots in what I would wear into the woods, from base layer to gloves.

It is very important to practice with gloves on if you intend to hunt with them. When I first practiced while wearing gloves I found that I had a hard time getting the feel I like on the trigger of my release, so I took a very tight fitting glove, it’s actually a liner for work gloves, and cut off the trigger finger which helps me get a better feel when I’m at full draw.

Keep Practicing Throughout the Season

Once season starts, I’m guilty of neglecting to continue practicing, which is equally as important as practicing during the pre-season. Why put all the hours of shooting in before season just to stop once season starts. Not only will this help maintain shooting form, it will also help ensure that if equipment is bumped off or comes loose during the hike in or out of the woods it will be corrected before taking aim at an animal.

When archery hunting, inches matter and it’s important to make sure you are prepared as much as possible. Practicing in these areas will help get you there. When that buck walks in front of you, you will have the skills necessary to fill the freezer.

Article and photo courtesy of Harvesting Nature. Click here to subscribe to the quarterly Harvesting Nature magazine. Click here to enjoy the latest episode of the wild fish and game podcast.

Read more hunting season stories on iSportsmanUSA.



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