You fire that first shot, miss and your quarry runs off. It’s happened to all of us.
We have all been there. You’re in the woods, your quarry is lined up in the sights of your bow or rifle, and you’re ready for the release of the projectile towards dinner. You fail to follow through and your deer or elk runs off.
As a respectful and ethical hunter, you head out looking for blood and hair, yet find nothing. As you contemplate what just happened, it’s time to come to the hard realization that the animal is not hurt, and you simply missed.
No doubt that this moment will play over in your head, step by step for quite some time. The first question that always comes to the forefront is, was it me or the rifle?
I spent some time speaking with a Washington State Hunter’s Education and Firearm Handling Instructor, and he has given us a few tips and tricks towards recovering from that missed shot. Let’s go through a few things that will get you back out on the hunt.
Has your firearm or bow been sighted in correctly?
If you haven’t used it for quite some time, it may need to be sighted in. Did you change up your ammunition since the last time you were at the range?
This is something that cannot be stressed enough. I knew a guy who shot at seven different deer on a limited draw. After hearing him complain about missing the first three deer, he asked me what was going on.
I asked if he sighted in his gun before he came out. He said he had, and then I told him to verify that it was on target. He headed back out, without sighting in. After missing deer number seven, he took it to the range, and it was off.
Are all the working parts functioning correctly?
Traveling long distances to hunt isn’t uncommon, and it is a good idea to check that your sights are on target and are not broken once you reach your destination.
Things can get jostled around in the vehicle, dropped, or if you are traveling by air, baggage handlers are not known for being delicate.
Is your equipment set up correctly? If you’re hunting with your bow, are your rest, string and cables all functioning properly? Check your limbs and cams/wheels.
Have your arrows been tuned? If you use aluminum arrows, are they bent? Check your broadheads. If you are able to recover your arrow, it may indicate what might have been off.
Check that rangefinder and always carry fresh batteries. If everything checks out thus far, perhaps you ranged your animal incorrectly or your batteries are low. We all know the importance of the rangefinder in a long range situation with a rifle, and when bowhunting.
Mechanics have checked out, now what about you?
You have verified all your equipment is in perfect working order, now it’s time to check the hunter.
There are quite a few human mechanics at play when targeting that trophy. Did you keep in the rifle and not lift your head? Did you follow through with your bow? Did you have the correct sight picture? Was your rifle on a good rest? Did you use the cartridges or arrows that you sighted in with?
Check out some related posts
- Study Says Smaller Residential Deer Herds Better for Community Health
- Why You’re Using the Wrong Rifle for Predator Hunting
- 5 Whitetail Deer Hunts to Pump You Up This Hunting Season
Once you have checked and double checked everything, it’s time to start again. Trust your bow or firearm and more importantly, trust yourself.
Use all of the practice time you have put in to make a clean shot. The next time that trophy is in your sights, take your time, squeeze the trigger or let that arrow fly.
We are all on the same team here, if you have pointers for recovering after the missed opportunity, drop us a line and give us some tips and tricks. We would love to hear from you!