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17 Bow Hunting Tips – Off Grid Survival
17 Bow Hunting Tips – Off Grid Survival
Aside from gardening and raising animals, a great way to supplement your food source off the land is to hunt. Bow hunting can be an effective way to kill deer and other edible animals in the wild. Also, if and when SHTF, being able to hunt will become an invaluable skill set to have (since grocery store shelves will likely be empty within a few days).
But like all things in life, it will take practice to become good at bow hunting. This article is designed for beginner-intermediate bowman who have at least some experience under their belt. If you’re a newbie with no experience, then the following tips won’t make much sense. Let’s look at 17 bow hunting tips to know.
(April 2019 Update: This is an excellent article originally posted here March 30, 2016, by a previous manager of this website. It’s still very helpful and accurate today, so we’re pleased to keep it here in the archives!)
#17: You Can’t “Buy” Accuracy
When I first started learning how to shoot a bow, I bought the most expensive model I could afford. At the time, I believed that it would make me a better shooter. But I was wrong. My skills were so bad, I wasn’t even consistent at hitting 10-yard targets. Good bow hunters (the ones who actually make kills) have above-average accuracy. That’s simply the reality of hunting with a bow. One of the best bow hunting tips to remember is to work on your accuracy. Practice hitting both large and small targets (and targets that are moving). Never try to “buy” accuracy. Instead, hone your skills and you’ll be much better off:
#16: Buy The Right Bow
A bow that works well for me may not work well for you (and vice versa). That’s because everyone’s skill level is different. As a general rule of thumb, below-average shooters should focus on longer and heavier bows, since these are more stable and easier to hold on target. Good shooters don’t need as much forgiveness, so they can get away with using a bow that’s faster, lighter, and shorter. Bow hunting tips like this one are really important. If you don’t buy a bow that matches your skill level, you’ll have a harder time hitting the target:
#15: Draw Difficulty vs. Speed
Compound bounds are built around a basic pulley-and-lever design. For this reason, the energy that you put in, will be what you get out. Today’s bows have become incredibly efficient. By this, I mean they provide more speed without increased draw difficulty. In general, faster bows are harder to draw than slower bows. This isn’t a concrete rule (there are many efficient bows out there), but it’s still something you should remember. Bow hunting tips like this one show us that hunting with a bow is about give-and-take. When shopping for a bow, make sure that you’re able to draw the string back without straining. If you can’t do this, then maybe it’s not the right one for you.
14: Don’t Sacrifice Accuracy For Speed
When hunting for animals off the grid, never sacrifice accuracy for speed/power. Many bows can be setup to maximize accuracy or speed. One of the best bow hunting tips to remember is to focus on accuracy. A speedy arrow means nothing if it doesn’t hit the target. If you’ve cranked up your bow’s draw weight (to increase speed), and you notice that you’re shooting worse, then turn it back down. All of the best bow hunters I know have above-average accuracy. They’re not “masters”, but they understand the importance of accuracy over speed. This tip sort of goes hand-in-hand with #25, which says you can’t “buy” accuracy. You’ll need to actively work on it.
#13: Use a Decoy
Using a decoy can be an excellent way to draw in animals (especially deer). Since bucks are the most common game people hunt, we’ll talk about them in this section. Using a decoy is recommended in most instances. However, there are times when it can be bad. They are:
- Poor Area: As a rule, only place your decoy in highly visible areas. Bucks don’t like to be surprised. If they’re caught off guard by a decoy, they’ll run off and likely never return.
- “Shyness” Level: Bucks that are shy and/or non-confrontational shouldn’t be drawn in using decoys. This is one of the biggest bow hunting tips people tend to forget.
- Low Population: If the area you’re hunting in an area with a low buck population, don’t use a decoy. Since they’re not used to seeing other deer, they may run away.
Deer decoys “attract and distract”, ultimately increasing your chances of making a kill. But a lot goes into properly setting up a decoy. Since it’s beyond the scope of this article, here’s a video that will show you how to do it the right away:
#12: Get a Friend
Many bow hunters like to do things solo. But having a partner can have some benefits. A solid technique to use is “Tag-Team Rattling”. At the sound of crashing horns, most bucks will circle downwind to the sound. So, when you’re rattling, you can have a friend quartering downwind from you. If the buck circles, the partner can get him. If the buck comes straight in, you can get him. Either way, you’re going to get the kill. This is one of the more underutilized bow hunting tips in my opinion. Once you start using teamwork, it will be easier to kill game. Not to mention hunting with a friend can be more enjoyable although the solidarity of being alone can be quite peaceful as well.
#11: Faster is Better (if You’re Accurate)
I mentioned earlier that it’s better to setup your bow to maximize accuracy rather than speed. Well, as it turns out, there’s an exception to the rule. If you already shoot accurately, a faster bow is recommended. But only if you’re accurate. And here’s why: a faster bow will allow you to sport a heavier arrow without sacrificing too much trajectory. This means that you’ll have more momentum on each shot, and thus, more penetration. Again, none of this matters if you’re not an accurate shooter. Focus on that first, and then you can focus on buying a faster bow. Bow hunting tips like this one should always be remembered.
#10: Use Sounds
There’s a right way make noise, and there’s a wrong way to do it. When calling a specific animal, always read their body language. For example, if you’re calling a buck and it tucks its tail inwards, then stop. However, if it lifts its head (to listen), then keep calling. Additionally, make sure that you’re calling the buck before he has started to leave. Don’t let him walk away without throwing in one more snort-wheeze, bleat, or grunt. It won’t work all the time, but it’s one of those bow hunting tips you still need to try. Here’s a video tutorial showing how to call a white-tailed deer:
#9: Accessorize For Accuracy
Bow hunters of all experience levels can benefit from having the right accessories. If you set it up the right way, you’ll notice a dramatic difference in your accuracy. With greater precision, you’ll be able to hone in on your targets much more easily. I found a really great article that shows you exactly how to setup a bow for more accuracy. I highly recommend you check it out. Whether you’re a beginner or expert, you’ll find these tips very useful. Also, just because you accessorize for accuracy, doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll become a more accurate shooter. The skill aspect of it is something you’ll need to constantly work on and improve.
#8: Shorten Your Release
Are you someone who trips your release trigger with the tip of an extended index finger? Then stop doing it. It’s a bad habit that can hurt your chances of getting a kill. To solve it, simply shorten your release. That way, at full draw, you’re still able to curl your index finger around the trigger. Bow hunting tips like this one will allow you to squeeze the trigger much more easily, and with better control. Many bow hunters are guilty of shooting a bow that’s simply too long for them. Why? Because they’re trying to get more speed. But we’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: speed does nothing if you’re not accurate.
#7: “Eye” The Arrow
There are many “insider” bow hunting tips that can help you become a more accurate shooter. I’m going to share one that works very well. It’s called eyeing the arrow. Specifically, eye the shaft all the way to the target (through your sight pin) during practice sessions. By doing this, you’ll experience better follow-through on each of your shots. It will also discourage you from dropping your bow arm. Although simple, this tip can work wonders at helping you become a more accurate shooter. Try it out the next time you’re practicing.
#6: Practice in Low Light
As you’ll come to see when hunting off the grid, many of your white-tailed buck kill will occur either at sunset or sundown. For this reason, you must get into the habit of shooting in low-lit environments. This will simulation a real-world scenario very closely, ultimately making you more prepared. You don’t have to spend all your time practicing in the dark. Just a 10-20 minutes per day should be enough to keep you sharp enough to make a kill when the sun’s not fully out. Most people never even think of bow hunting tips like this one.
#5: Focus on Form
I know it sounds cliché, but you must focus on good form. This applies to every single sport in existence. The better form you have, the better you’ll do. And shooting a compound bow isn’t any different. Obviously, I can’t go in-depth as to exactly what good form is. In a future article, I may write a post about it, but for now, this is simply an overview of bow hunting tips. I will, however, leave you with a video that will teach you how to perfect your bow shooting technique:
#4: Go Long
Shooting a target that’s 100 yards away isn’t as difficult as you think. Don’t take my word for it- try it. You’ll be surprised by how close you actually get. Granted, this isn’t to say that you’ll get it on the first try. But taking a long shot may be your only opportunity in a hunting situation, so you need to practice. By practicing from 100-yards out, you’ll inevitably become more accurate from closer distances. To prove that a 100-yard shot is possible, here’s a video of a fellow bowman doing it on the first try:
#3: Master The Wind
When hunting wild game, the wind will be your biggest enemy. Wind can cause your scent to travel, causing animals to stay away. But that’s not the only reason why it’s annoying. Shooting an arrow on a windy day can make it more challenging to hit the target. First, determine what direction the wind is blowing. Then, try to guess how hard it’s blowing. Once you have this information, adjust your shot accordingly. It’s easier said than done, but it’s something you’ll need to practice since you can’t control the weather during a hunt:
#2: Shoot From Different Positions
One of the most underrated bow hunting tips out there is to learn how shoot while sitting. You’ll be doing a lot of sitting as you wait for an animal to approach. And sometimes, there won’t be enough time to stand up to take the shot- you’ll need to do it from the sitting position. Fortunately, shooting while sitting isn’t that difficult. All it takes is some practice. Likewise, become good at shooting from your knees since kneeling can be a great way to conceal yourself as an animal approaches:
#1: Practice Every Day
With enough practice, you can master anything. Bow shooting relies on muscle memory. The more you practice, the easier it’s going to be hit the target. Practicing once a week isn’t going to cut it. If you’re serious about hunting game off the grid, then you must practice every day. Even if it’s only for 10 or 20 minutes, that’s better than nothing. If you own a lot of property, set up some targets and practice there. There’s no need to travel to fancy training centers and pay big bucks to get good.
Bow Hunting Tips – Bottom Line
Being able to shoot a bow accurately is a great skill to have for living off the land. Personally, I don’t feel comfortable making wild game my primary source of food (it’s too unpredictable). In my opinion, it’s better to build a garden and raise animals and use hunting as a way to supplement your food source. For more information how to go off the grid, check out our article, How to Live Off The Land – The Ultimate Guide. Thanks for reading.
- 12 Tips For Bowhunting The Rut (Grandview Outdoors)
- Top 10 Bow Hunting Tips For 2016 (Shooting Time)
- 18 Top Deer Bowhunting Tips (Iso Whitetails)
April 2019 Note: Thanks to the previous editor of this blog for this post, originally published in March, 2016. Great tips!