We’ve all had that sinking feeling when we realize we’ve done something to royally screw up our bow hunt.
It’s bound to happen. With all the gear required for a bow hunt and the thin margin of error deer won’t let you get away with, it’s inevitable something’s going to go wrong.
See if you’ve experienced any on this list.
1. Shoot the First Decent Buck You See
There’s no shame in killing a modestly sized buck…except when his grandaddy was just a few steps behind him.
Usually it’s at last light and you’re thinking about calling it quits. Then you spot movement. You figure it’s now or never so you take the shot and in the process spook the beast buck who was bringing up the caboose.
That’s one shot you won’t get back.
2. Forget to Turn Your Phone to Silent
It’s finally your chance to put some venison in the freezer. You draw, bring your pin up, settle in and…your xylophone ringtone goes off sending your backstraps bounding away.
Who’s calling anyways?!? Forgetting to turn your phone on silent can ruin any great day in the woods.
3. Leave Your Release at Home
“PB&J? Check. Rangefinder? Check. Release? Release? Sweet merciful crap where’s my release?!?”
There’s no feeling like being without the one piece of equipment needed to fire your bow. As a precaution, before you head out, go old-school and fire a few arrows with your fingers.
It may not feel great and you probably won’t hit your same anchor points, but at least you have an idea of how to compensate if faced with this scenario. It’s also not a bad idea to carry two, just in case.
4. Throw Caution to the Wind
We’ve all been here before. You’ve got a short window of opportunity to get out into the stand but the wind is wrong.
Do you go home and miss your opportunity to hunt or risk forging ahead and spooking deer just because you had no other options?
While it may be tempting to push your luck, hunting a stand in the wrong wind will not only decrease your chances for success that day, but lowers the odds that deer will walk past there in the future too.
5. Don’t Practice with Your Broadheads
You’re throwing some pretty tight groups in the backyard but you just missed low on a buck you’ve been watching for months. Did you practice enough with your broadheads to see if they flew the same as your fieldpoints?
Not all do and there are lots of factors that go into tuning the bow to properly shoot them. Practice before the moment of truth. A great option for a fixed blade that flies similarly to field point is the QAD Exodus and on the expandable side, the Rage Hypodermic.
6. Forget to Put Your Safety Harness On
Especially in cold weather, there’s a lot of gear and clothing to manage before you begin the walk to your stand. It’s easy to forget your harness until you’re on the platform and can’t perform your normal routine of clipping in.
Get down and start over. Don’t risk becoming a statistic to salvage an afternoon hunt.
7. Find a Trespasser in Your Stand
Ah, pre-dawn morning in the deer woods. But what’s this? A dark profile of some lump in your stand? A bear? No. It’s some dude who says he thought he was on someone else’s property.
Looks like it’s time to have some words. Conflict aside, it’s safe to say your morning hunt is ruined now.
8. Forget Your Hunting Arrows
It’s finally time to settle in and knock and arrow to begin the waiting and watching but…oh crap. This quiver’s full of target arrows with field points!
The hunting quiver is back at the truck. You’re either done now, or severely delaying the start time of your hunt. Whoops!
9. Use the Wrong Pin
The good news is it was a clean miss. The bad news is, you ain’t ever finding that arrow.
Your 40-yard pin is no substitute for the 20-yard pin you should have used. Oh well. Just another deer hunting relic for some future civilization to find someday.
10. Get Lost Getting to Your Stand
You did such a great job of concealing your treestand even you couldn’t find it. Nice job!
Now you wander the woods silently cursing every extra step you take, knowing you’re increasing the odds of bumping deer in the area. Next time you’ll drop a GPS pin and make a beeline.
There are lots of ways to screw up a bow hunt, and I’ll probably invent some more before I hang up my bow for good.
One fact remains though, time spent on a screwed up hunt still beats a normal day at work.
Photos by Tim Kjellesvik/The Thinking Woodsman