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 Home > Shop > How To/Pro-Tips
How To/Pro-Tips

Hold Low

Having videotaped many bow shots at deer and taken a few myself, I know a bit about "string jump." If a deer hears your bow or sees the movement of your release, it can react fast enough to cause your arrow to miss.

The first thing an alarmed deer does is crouch to spring away. It will drop several inches, almost instantaneously. We have a lot of slow-motion footage of well-aimed arrows passing just over the back of bucks about to make a successful getaway.
Bow noise is the main culprit on close-range shots. Also, deer react more violently to a threat at close range. Make every effort to silence your bow and even then hold a bit low on bucks at very close range.

At longer ranges, the buck seeing the movement of your release is the more likely problem. You can minimize this with good form and follow-through discipline. The normal drop in the arrow's trajectory helps here as well.

Duck Calling Fundamentals

There are a lot of theories about duck calling and I'm not sure that any one of them works 100 percent of the time. Sometimes ducks seem to want a lot of calling with long and nearly continuous highballs. "Put them on a string and don't give them time to think," as the old Reelfoot-style callers used to say.
At other times and places, too much calling seems to put ducks off. Maybe not flaring them but keeping them endlessly circling when they should be landing. Heavy hunting (and calling) pressure often results in call-shy birds but sometimes I think it's a matter of their mood or some other factor that we don't understand.
I favor the style of calling that puts ducks in the bag. I don't hesitate to change my style - more or less, loud or soft - when whatever I am presently doing isn't doing the job. Sometimes a simple change-up from the locally popular calling style tells the birds something that they haven't already heard.

The BIG Call

The regular and well-known deer calls, such as the fawn bleat, doe bleat, buck grunt, etc., work well most of the time. This is because deer are curious about other deer in their area. In particular, the buck grunt works well in the pre-rut when the local bucks are setting up their dominance hierarchy and territories. A strange "buck's" grunt puts them all on edge and wanting to literally put him in his place.

However, every once in awhile you've got to come up with something special. The ultimate challenge to a dominant buck is the "snort-grunt-wheeze." This is serious business and so profoundly challenging to a top-line buck that I've seen it pull a dominant buck off a doe's trail and sometimes present a shot.

However, the snort-grunt-wheeze has a downside. It can cause a less dominant buck to back off. Hearing what he thinks is local "big boss," he will avoid confrontation. That's exactly how and why the local dominant buck uses this call.

Tree Stand Safety

Tree stands and automobiles have two things in common. The first thing is buckling up for safety. Cars have seat belts and tree stands have safety belts for exactly the same reason: they save lives and prevent injuries.

The other thing they have in common is that you should never drive or climb when you have been drinking alcohol, taking drugs (prescription or over the counter) that make you drowsy, or for any other reason (like a late-night card game or bull session at camp) when you are sleepy or drowsy. If while either driving or on stand, if you get sleepy, pull over in your car or climb down from the stand.

One hardly ever finds an old car (in drivable condition) out in the woods. However, one frequently finds an old tree stand. Never climb up in an old stand of unknown age and condition. If you think it is in a great spot, tear it down and put up your own.

Late Season Strategies

After the rut has come and gone, and after lots of hunting pressure, things get tough for both bucks and buck hunters.
The bucks are worn down and undernourished from the rigors of the rut and they know instinctively that they must get back in shape to face the coming winter. This means heavy feeding on the most nutritious foods available. At the same time, they are still spooked by hunter activity and are very wary. They have to find food while still dodging bullets and much nocturnal feeding is the norm.

Hunters with an unfilled tag are dealing with super wary bucks that move at night and hole up in heavy cover.

There are no pat answers. Simply hunt hard and cautiously. A survivor buck isn't going to give you many second chances. Hunting all day ups your odds for success, because deer that move mostly at night sometimes move again during the midday hours.





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