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Dan Schmidt: 3 Ways to Become a Better Bowhunter

The sight every bowhunter wants to see: A blood-soaked arrow that hit its mark. (photo courtesy of Cory Johnson/Smokey Valley Archery)

The sight every bowhunter wants to see: A blood-soaked arrow that hit its mark. (photo courtesy of Cory Johnson/Smokey Valley Archery)

You don’t have to be a world-class archer to become a deer hunting machine. In fact, the most successful deer hunters are those who develop proficient shooting skills then use their woodsmanship and knowledge of deer anatomy to do the rest.

By Daniel E. Schmidt

Here are three things you can do this weekend to up your bowhunting game.

1. Study whitetail anatomy and know your exact limits when bowhunting. If your bow only shoots tight broadhead groups out to 25 yards, don’t shoot beyond that range. Furthermore, knowing where your arrow will hit is the first step to becoming “automatic.”

Download a copy of the Shot Simulator and study how a deer’s internal organs are positioned when the animal stands at various angles. This knowledge will result in clean kills and short blood trails.

2. Use razor-sharp broadheads when bowhunting. Just because broadheads are new doesn’t mean they’re as sharp as they can be. Always touch up the blades with a sharpener before every hunt — even expandables like the ever-popular Rage Broadhead. A simple broadhead sharpener will do the job.

Sharpness is the key to any broadhead. Just because the heads are new out of the box, do not assume they are hunt-ready sharp. Test each one of them. (photo by Dan Schmidt)

Sharpness is the key to any broadhead. Just because the heads are new out of the box, do not assume they are hunt-ready sharp. Test each one of them. (photo by Dan Schmidt)

Some seasoned bowhunters cringe when I offer that advice, but it’s helped me put more than 100 deer on the ground with a bow and arrow. The simple test to a broadhead’s sharpness is a rubber band. Pull a rubber band taught between your fingers. Run the broadhead blade across the rubber band. If it doesn’t snap immediately without applying pressure, the blade is dull. Sharpen it!

3. Insist on taking the quartering-away shot when bowhunting. Although the broadside shot might appear to present a larger target, it really doesn’t. In fact, many hunters argue that the quartering-away shot actually offers a bigger target because a deer’s vital area isn’t flat like a paper plate.

It is imperative to practice all shooting scenarios before you go hunting. (photo by Dan Schmidt)

It is imperative to practice all shooting scenarios before you go hunting. (photo by Dan Schmidt)

For example, an arrow that enters the paunch and angles forward might miss the near lung, but it will invariably hit the liver and opposite lung as it passes through. Therefore, the quartering-away shot allows for a greater margin of error than any other shot. If you want to practice these shots and you don’t have a 3D target, pick up an ArrowMat target and put it over your Block. It will provide life-like practice on deer-sized game.

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