Updated: May 24
10 Mistakes not to make Archery Deer Season
1. Not scouting the land beforehand.
Getting in too late could mean you don't see any activity or you could scare the deer onto someone else's hunting plot. Lots of new hunters don't start getting ready until a few weeks before season begins. Deer have patterns that they follow and usually stick to them every day, but there are the occasional wanderers. Don't be fooled into thinking you have deer around your stand because you saw a rub, scrape, or some foot prints. This could be the wanderers. You know the saying, "early bird gets the worm." Same goes for hunting. Better to know where they are early so you have a better chance of harvesting one when the season begins.
2. Not practicing enough.
Sure, you were able to get a deer last year, but just like anything else you tend to get rusty without practice. It's hard enough getting close to a deer with the right conditions for a proper kill, so the last thing you want is to miss or wound it because you didn't practice enough. I will include knowing your ranges in this section as well. You could be the best shot in the world, but if you don't know how far away your deer is you could completely miss it. I practiced at the 20, 30, 40, and 50 yard lines and could hit within the vital area every time, but when I took the shot thinking the deer was at 40 yards I completely missed it. Turns out, it was 53 yards away. Put markers up of the distances in your shooting lanes and you should be fine.
3. Not knowing where to hit the deer.
Everyone thinks they know where to hit a deer, but if you actually look at where the organs are you might be surprised. It all changes depending on the angle of the deer. You won't aim at the same spot if the deer is quartered away from you. The same goes if it is facing you. If the deer is facing you, you really don't have a shot, ethically speaking anyway. Make sure you practice with your shots and account for the different angle if you are sitting in a stand.
4. Not practicing scent control.
In order to get a good shot for archery the deer need to be a lot closer to you than rifle hunting. The closer they get to you the easier it is to smell you. It might not matter that much if you are hunting young deer, but it definitely does with the older ones. Those mature bucks will turn around as soon as they smell you. Same with the older doe's. keep this in mind when setting up your stand, so you're not downwind of where the deer will be.
5. Getting out to your stand too late.
It's best to know when the deer are coming through your plot to know when to get out there. I always practice getting out to the stand at least 30 to 45 minutes before it gets light. Sometimes this is too late though. I have spooked deer this way and they didn't come back. The way I see it is it's better to be a little early and increase the likelihood of seeing a deer, then getting out there late and ruining your chances.
6. Not practicing with a full draw.
Sure you can pull the string back and let it go. That doesn't take much work, but what about when a deer comes through and you have a full draw, but the deer stands there for 2 minutes staring right at you. If you move, the deer is gone. Once the deer gives you a shot, you still have to aim without shaking too much and miss the shot. Most people take this for granted and don't even bother when preparing. I know I did. I paid for it too!
7. Not wearing enough clothing.
I can't tell you how many times I have been out there wishing I put another layer or three on. You may be warm walking out to your stand, but sitting there still for hours at a time will make you feel a lot colder. Once you get cold you can't really warm up unless you have a heater or more hand warmers. This usually leads to an early hunt and might cost you your dream buck! Something to think about...
8. Hunting an area too much.
If you were seeing a lot of deer earlier in the season pretty regularly, but have seen a decrease, it might mean you are overhunting. Deer know when you get in and out of your stand. They can hear, see, and smell you. They can smell you even after you leave. If you noticed this, maybe give it a break for a few days then come back and try again. If you have the luxury of having more than one stand, then go to one of those areas instead. Change it up, some stands are better for mornings and others are better for evenings. Alternating will take some pressure off those deer and may help get you that perfect shot!
9. Not clearing shooting lanes.
You have the perfect stand and plenty of activity, so what could go wrong? Twigs could go wrong! Arrows don't shoot through brush like they do with a bullet. One little twig can send your arrow flying the opposite direction. Especially if you have the expandable broadhead tips. I thought I had a perfect hole to shoot through, but a single twig triggered my broadhead to open on one side and flung it sideways. It's hard to see those little twigs especially when it's a little darker. Make sure you clear a path for each shooting lane so you don't have to worry about those pesky twigs.
10. Getting out of the stand too early after shooting (or missing) a deer.
Unless you see that deer drop, you don't really know where you hit it. It could have been anywhere. If you get up too early, it could jump the deer causing it to run further away making it harder to track. Most of the time it will go lie down somewhere to die. If it sees or hears you coming it will want to get further away. It also might give you another opportunity to shoot another deer, depending on the amount of tags you have. I know you are excited, but don't rush it.