21 Bowhunting tips for a Successful Season

bowhunting tips
If you want to take down a huge buck this bowhunting season, you need to know how to successfully land that buck.
In this post, I am going to give you 21 of my best tips for bowhunting to down the biggest bucks this season.

1. Use deer urine as a lure

You can put this on grass or trees in the area where you want to lure the deer. Doe urine will usually attract both bucks and does, whereas buck urine tends to only attract bucks.
Be sure to only put out buck urine during the early-season. A deer has territorial instincts, and it will be confused if it smells doe urine while early in the season.

2. Minimize Human Scent

This is referring to your scent on everything you touch. A deer’s sense of smell is thought to be around 100 times that of humans.
If you hang scent wicks around your tree, be careful when handling the lure. Use scent-blocking soaps and deodorants, and wash/dry your hunting gear in scent-free, odor-removing detergent and dryer sheets.

3. Pay attention to wind direction

Pay close attention to the wind direction when placing your stand. If the wind carries your scent the wrong way, you could scare off some nice bucks. Study your area and the wind direction to make the best choice.

4. Choose the best height for your stand

Speaking of your tree stand placement, it’s important you choose the best height for your tree stand.
Most bowhunters go around 15-20 feet off the ground. This keeps your scent off the ground and keeps you high enough that most deer can’t see you.
Some other factors come into play as well, such as visibility, cover, and comfort level.
You want to make sure that you can see the area you want to watch while keeping good cover so deer won’t spot you. You may need to clear a couple of branches to give yourself a clear shot lane or place your stand higher if there aren’t enough branches to cover you lower.
Never place your stand so high that you are uncomfortable. If you’re uncomfortable during a shot, you will likely make a mistake that could cost you a deer. Be sure that your stand placement makes you feel safe.

5. Keep a hunters log

If you have never kept a hunters log before, you might want to start now.
A hunters log is where you can keep information about your frequently hunted areas that will increase your odds of landing a good deer.
You can note which stands saw the most deer and note the wind direction, temperature, etc to know which stands will likely produce the most action in the future. It may take a little bit of extra time now, but it will pay off later.

6. Work on your Archery form

Bowhunting breaks down to your Archery form. If your form is off, your shot will be off.
Common mistakes include:
  • Shooting too long a draw length
  • Locking your arm while shooting
  • Improper grip/torquing the bow
  • Dropping your arm too early after a shot
  • Flinching during a shot

7. Practice makes perfect

Practice as much as you can, and get really comfortable with your bow and it’s settings. Practice shooting with an (experienced) friend watching you take your shot, so they can see what mistakes you might be making. If you’re comfortable with your bow and handling it, then you will draw quicker and quieter, which will result in a better shot.

8. Take advantage of trail cameras

Place trail cameras all over the areas you want to learn. Figure out where the big bucks are, what they do, where they go, and what times of the day they look for food sources. This is especially important in early season so you can figure out the deer in your preferred area.
Trail cameras might also help you figure out where to place mock scrapes, or see how much action your mock scrape locations are getting. Which brings me to tip number nine.

9. Make use of a mock scrape

There are many good reasons why a hunter would want to use a mock scrape.

For one, you could practically control a buck’s route by using multiple, strategically placed mock scrapes along a certain route, thus leading the buck straight to you.

You could also get a mature buck a little more active by making him curious of the “new guy in town”, bringing him out during daylight.

One good technique is to take limbs or branches from another area and bring it to your area where there are no existing overhanging branches. With this technique, the branch can be placed almost vertical, be pretty obvious, and will not block trail-cameras.

Be sure to hang the mock scrapes in an obvious area where it will stand out some. If you hang it in a heavy-timber area, it will blend in and not see much action. However, if you hang it over a food plot, vertically, and where there are not many other branches and things, it will likely be a winner.

As far as making the actual scrape, mid-September is the best time to scratch up the ground. Depending on the softness of the soil, and how much time you’ve got, try to make scrapes that are about 24 inches in diameter or bigger.

10. Use a Grunt-Snort-Wheeze Call

A grunt-snort-wheeze call is used when you want to stop a mature buck who is moving faster than you would like, or is almost in range but not quite there yet. It will stop him in his tracks and give you time to take a shot.

The Grunt-Snort-Wheeze call sounds like exactly what it is. It is a grunt, then quickly followed with a snort and then a long, drawn-out wheeze that the buck would make by inhaling and crimping his nostrils. These noises are made back to back.

Aim a little ahead of deer’s location, pick your shot window, and use the call. If the buck is out of range, using the call might push him to come closer and find out what other dominant bucks are around.

Be careful not to use this call on a young buck, though. A young deer will probably be scared off by the sound of a dominant buck around.

11. Practice setting up and taking down your tree stand

Get comfortable taking your tree stand up and down, and setting it up. You don’t want to be spending a lot of time during hunting season setting up your stand, and risk making too much noise and scaring off the deer in that area.

More importantly, you want to be confident that you have properly set up your stand so that it is safe and secure. You want to be comfortable when you’re up in your stand, not worried that you’re going to fall out of the tree at any given moment.

12. Use a tree stand blind

Deer, especially whitetails, are unbelievably good at spotting even the slightest difference in their environment. It is a survival instinct. If you aren’t properly hidden, you may scare off a nice buck. This is where a tree stand blind comes in.

While a ground blind can be more easily hidden than a tree stand, they can be more difficult to hunt out of as your ability to detect deer is inhibited by the loss of height.

A tree stand blind will cover wrap around the seat and platform of your stand and conceal your movements. Hang it from the shooting rail, leaving a slit for you to climb into the seat (remember to account for any bulky gear).

A good suggestion is to get a good quality fabric blind with loose-cut leaves that mimic the natural movement of nature. Attach some branches to your blind from a nearby tree so that your stand blind blends in more naturally with the surroundings.

Be sure to leave yourself plenty of shooting lanes for close-range bow shots as well.

13. Watch out for ticks

One thing that will ruin a good hunting season quickly is falling ill due to a tick bite. Those little suckers pack some serious punch, with deadly diseases like tularemia, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Lyme disease, and more.

Thankfully, there are things you can do to prevent getting the illnesses by preventing coming into contact with ticks in the first place. Things like:

  • Use insect repellents containing products like DEET
  • Tuck pants into boots or socks and tuck your shirt into your pants (prevent ticks from crawling inside your clothing)
  • Use the middle of trails when it’s possible so you avoid brushing against branches or brush that carry ticks
  • Shower as soon as possible when coming in from a hunt or being outside
  • Spend time at the end of every day checking your body thoroughly for ticks

If you do find yourself with a tick attached, be sure to remove it properly.

  • Using tweezers, grab the tick as close to the skin as you can get.
  • Pull the tick straight out; do not twist or jerk.
  • Cleanse the site afterward with rubbing alcohol.

If you experience any strange symptoms, like a fever or rash, be sure to call your doctor immediately.

14. Don’t trim shooting lanes too late

You do not want to wait too late to trim your shooting lanes. A deer knows its surroundings and is very easily frightened. Messing with branches and leaving your scent is a sure-fire way to scare off any deer that come your way. All the hard work you put into preparing your shootings lanes, down the drain.

It is nearly impossible to not leave your scent when your clearing lanes. That is why it is best to clear shooting lanes on days when it is windy, and just before a good rain comes in. Late Summer to early Autumn would be the best times to clear.

Also, be careful not to clear lanes too much. If the deer’s surroundings change too much too quickly, they will become suspicious. Trim only the lanes you think are necessary, the fewer the better.

You and a friend could help each other clear lanes. You will both benefit by having a second set of eyes on the lane so one of you can stay in the stand, and ensure that the other is not clearing too much.

15. Wear a safety-harness

I stand by the opinion that a responsible hunter should ALWAYS wear their safety harness. Too often, hunters get comfortable and think that it is fine to go without a harness just once or twice, and then it becomes a habit.

Believe it or not, nobody is “too good” a hunter to fall from the treestand. It can happen very quickly, and the fall can be fatal. The few minutes it takes to strap into your harness are worth it to avoid the risks.

A full body hardness has a tether on the back of the harness that secures the bowhunter to the tree. It straps around the hunter’s thighs and chest so that it distributes pressure throughout the body.

A lifeline is a rope that is attached at the top and bottom of the tree. The hunter attaches their tether to the lifeline using a carabiner(or something similar), and it slides easily up and down the lifeline to keep them connected from the ground to the stand.

If you slip, you will only fall 18 inches max. Read the instructions that come with your harness to ensure that you are wearing it properly. Most treestands come with a safety harness or you can buy one separately at most archery shops.

16. Set up your bow in your favor

You want to be sure that your bow is always working at peak performance. Set it up in your favor by following the steps needed to keep your bow working smoothly. Some of these steps include:

  • Creating the right bow grip
  • Balancing your bow often
  • Choosing a quality drop rest
  • Choosing the best release aid

All of these are equally important because they all offer the same result: an efficient-working bow. If your bow is “built” around you and your shooting preferences, it will make your shots cleaner.

By creating a bow grip with the right amount of pressure, or choosing a release that meets your trigger preference, you can streamline your shooting accuracy, making you a better hunter. Hunting is a sport and you only get out of something what you put into it. So put time and effort into caring for your equipment, and you will reap the benefits.

17. Don’t overthink your shot

By this, I am referring to getting rid of target panic.

Don’t know what target panic is? To put it simply, target panic is when you can’t hold the pin on the spot you intend to hold it while aiming your bow.

Picture this: You raise your bow but suddenly your bow is so heavy, and you can’t raise it enough to put the pin on the exact spot you’re trying to hit. You either flip your wrist at the moment of release or flinch when shooting trying to hit that spot.

Sound familiar? If so, you have probably experienced target panic. You are trying way too hard to control the timing of the shot. Instead of confidently taking the shot, you wait for that perfect moment to release, but that perfect moment never comes and you miss the shot.

Try not to get so wrapped up in overthinking the shot. Don’t wait too long to release the arrow. Your brain will get so wrapped up in trying to pinpoint an exact spot and the next thing you know, you’re practically paralyzed, and you can’t get the pin anywhere near your intended target. Just ready, aim, and release with confidence.

18. Check your bubble level (if your sight has one)

The level on your sight is crucial to the accuracy of your bow.

The level being off usually accounts for most right and left misses. If you can keep your bow level during a shot, you can ensure that you are showing consistency in how you hold the bow every time you shoot, which is so important for any avid bowhunter.

19. Know your range

It is so important to know the range of your target if you want to take it down both quickly and humanely. This is very crucial to the accuracy of your shot.

Being off even just 10 yards can make a huge difference in your shot. It could mean the difference between a hit or a miss.

A good tip is to use a rangefinder to help you know which trees or stumps are within your range so that once a deer walks past that object, you know which crosshair to use to take your shot.

20. Keep your bowstrings waxed

The same way your car needs regular maintenance to prevent wear and tear, your bowstring needs maintenance as well.

One of the simplest ways to maintain your string is to wax it. At any given time, you should be able to touch your string and feel a slight tackiness to it. If you touch it and it feels dry or slick, or you see that the string is becoming fuzzy or “hairy”, you need to wax it.

Most bowstring wax is simple to apply. It usually comes in a stick, kind of like deodorant. You just rub it up and down the string, and use your fingers and thumbs to rub the wax into the string.

On the same note, do not over-wax your string. There should be no visible chunks of wax left on the string and over-waxing leads to separation of the serving material and can negatively affect your bows performance.

21. Use high-quality arrows

Don’t go cheap when it comes to your bow, especially for hunting season. Besides making sure that you use the right type of arrow and strings for your specific bow, you need to use high-quality accessories as well.

Cheaper arrows, such as those made from wood are not going to last nearly as long as arrows made from carbon or aluminum. Not only that but because they are made from an organic material (and prone to warping), the flight of the arrow varies each time you shoot.

Now, I am not going to say that one type of arrow would be best no matter the situation because that is not true. So take that into account as well but my main point is to think about what your situation is and what you’re hunting and make your choice from there.