Deer Hunting 101 | The Basics of Bow Hunting

For those of you who find a good challenge intriguing and want to pursue hunting, bow hunting is a great activity that requires an in-depth knowledge of how to survive. Bowhunting will test your strength in skills such as how to track prey, stalk big game, and be stealthy enough to get within close range of the animals you’re hunting. Not every hunt will be successful, but that’s why it is so intriguing.

There are great ways to get started but it can be pricey. If you are willing to dedicate yourself to a good budget, you can find the right equipment that will work for you. Preference, consistency, and patience are key aspects to keep in mind while preparing for the hunt. Bow hunting is very demanding both mentally and physically; staying in shape and staying mentally strong will help you succeed.


First, there are three components you will want to make sure you invest in: your bow, your arrows, and the accessories you want to add. There are two styles of bow hunting: compound and traditional, which uses a recurve or longbow. I prefer compound, but it is up to the hunter.

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Before you choose your bow, you need to find your draw length and the correct starting draw weight.

In order to be consistent, it is essential to know your draw length. This will allow you to pull your bowstring back to the right length every time. The draw length is the length from the pivot point of the bow to the nocking point on the bowstring while at full draw. To find your own draw length, measure the length of your arm span in inches. Stand with your arms out and palms facing forward. Don’t stretch when measuring, just stand naturally, then, with assistance, measure from the tip of one middle finger to the other. All you have to do after that is simply divide the number from the measurement by two-and-a-half. The result will be your draw length. A typical length is between 26 inches and 29 inches.

The draw weight is also a crucial part of archery. It affects the flight, speed, and penetration of the arrow. The faster the arrow, the straighter the arrow flies, allowing it to get a clean pass through. When choosing a poundage to pull, make sure that it is easy to pull from standing, sitting, kneeling, and bent-over positions. This will make it easy to draw back in every situation, whether from a tree stand or a ground blind.

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When choosing your bow ask yourself a couple of questions: How does the bow feel when you shoot it? Does the draw length and weight work for you? Does it make a noise? Is it light enough to carry on your hunt? If you grow or change, will it change with you? Is it in your price range? No matter the bow you choose, make sure it works for you and not you for it.



Accessories, like a bow sight, stabilizer, arrow rest, and a release, are essential. These are less expensive than the bow but just as important.

Just like a rifle, sights make it easier to shoot at different yardages. There are two main types of sights: Multiple-pin sights, with fiber optic cables, or scope-sights, with a single pin. Sometimes you have to make a quick decision when hunting, so I tend to choose the multiple-pin sights. Again, whatever you choose make sure you feel comfortable, the right choice is always based on personal preference.

With a compound bow arrow rests are a must-have. Without an arrow rest, the arrow will not fly straight and could be unsafe. With traditional bow sights, arrow rests are optional. Most traditional archers prefer to shoot their bow as it is off the shelf. Full-capture, drop-away, and fall-away rests are the most common for the avid bow hunter.

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The next piece of equipment to decide on is the arrow you want to use.

Your arrows should fit your draw length and be properly spined for your bow’s draw weight. Making sure you have a properly spined arrow is very important; an under-spined arrow on a high-poundage bow can cause injury to both you and your bow. Every arrow will flex when it flies, too much flex can cause the arrow to hit the side of the bow and shatter. There is always an arrow that will work for you and your bow.

You should practice constantly, with and without broadheads, at a variety of different yards, and during different weather situations. You can never go wrong with too much practice. Gain skill in stealth and endurance. Unlike rifle hunters, bow hunters require a closer range. Arrows are only effective up to a couple hundred yards and the average bow hunter shoots their deer between 20 and 60 yards. It is much more difficult to successfully harvest big game while bow hunting. Dedicate days to scouting your area; learn the location of water, shade, and food. Gaining as much knowledge as you can about your animal, its location and its habitat is very important.

Bow hunting is a great way new challenge for any hunter. It is very tough, but is incredibly rewarding; it is mentally and physically demanding from every aspect; choosing your equipment, practicing, and taking on the hunt. It’s important to believe in yourself and your equipment. I wish you luck in your endeavors and happy hunting!

By Nicky Fischer. Originally published in the October 2013 issue of GunUp the Magazine.

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