The first part of Michigan’s archery season is behind us, but the second portion is yet to come. With that in mind, the question is, how did you do? Were you able to get out there and harvest a deer you’re happy with in an efficient manner, or did you find that it was a bit of a struggle and maybe you went home a little bit disappointed? If the latter applies to you, then it is possible you have some work to do before part two of archery season rolls around in December.
Being able to wield a bow successfully is a skill and, like all other skills, it requires practice in order to hone your abilities. Aside from that, even the most seasoned bow hunter could use some fine tuning because something as simple as a new bow or different broadhead can throw off your game. Better to find out how to fix that now rather than when the buck of a lifetime is standing in front of you. In order to make the most of the remaining portion of archery season, take some time before you head back out into the woods and give these things a try:
1. Don’t forget to breathe. Of course you are going to be excited to have a shot at a large, impressive buck, but you have to keep your cool. In order to keep excitement from getting the better of you and compromising your shot, you have to remember to breathe. Stay calm and composed, continuing to breathe normally. This will steady your hands, and ideally your nerves, when it comes time to take your shot.
2. Practice in a realistic way. You’re never going to be able to 100% duplicate every scenario in practice, but if we’re being honest, you might as well try. You want to practice in as close to a realistic setting as possible, so shoot your bow from your actual planned hunting location, such as a tree stand. This will keep paths of travel and angles fresh in your mind so when the time comes, you won’t incorrectly compensate.
3. Don’t use practice gear. For example, instead of practicing with one bow and hunting with another, practice with the same bow that you will use for hunting. This applies to arrows and broadheads, too. The best way to know how your equipment is going to handle is to use it and get a feel for it in advance. Don’t buy a new item and crack it open on opening day. If you do, you might find yourself unpleasantly surprised by the way it flies or worse yet, discover it is defective and not usable at all.
4. Create good habits. By developing and implementing a consistent routine, you reduce the possibility of error. By going through the same motions, you create muscle memory and lower the chance that you will get flustered before a big opportunity presents itself. Instead of going willy nilly, make your shot process into a repeatable routine that you know well and follow every time.
5. Know your distances. This means taking a walk in the woods to get a real feel for the distance at which you might be shooting. It is easy to miscalculate in the heat of the moment and shooting from an elevated angle may compromise your distance judgement as well. Therefore the best way to know your distances is to get out there and walk them for yourself, marking them off so you will not forget.
If during the first portion of archery season you did not live up to your own expectations, it is time to get on top of fixing that. Take a little time to yourself and follow the steps above to give yourself that extra bit of advantage come December 1st when archery season re-opens. The deer will be there waiting, so beef up your bow skills and bring one home.