5 MORE Big Challenges with Bowhunting, and how to overcome them.

Posted by on Feb 1, 2013 in Hunting | 0 comments

Cougar tracks. I wasn't far behind this cat in Eastern Washington.

Cougar tracks. I wasn’t far behind this cat in Eastern Washington.

6. Scouting. When you only have to get to within 200 or 300 yards of an animal, your scouting can be substantially more lackadaisical. When you need to be within 20 or 30 yards, your scouting has to be as pinpointed as the shot itself. You can’t just find an “area with sign,” you have to find exactly where your game will be and when they will be there. Hunting in the National Forest is a different beast altogether, as it took me several years to pinpoint where the wily whitetail buck was going to show up. This year it paid off with a 140’s class brute. Although I have yet to employ them, game cameras are justifiably all the rage for obvious reasons.

7. Controlling adrenaline. The one aspect of bowhunting that makes it quite possibly the most intense experience you will ever have, is the same aspect that can ruin a hunt. Adrenaline rush. On one occasion just this last hunting season, I happened upon the largest bodied, thickest antlered whitetail deer I had ever seen in my life. At first glance through the pine trees, I thought it was an elk. When I realized the dark horned animal was a deer standing 50 yards away, I immediately began shaking. My heart throbbed and my breath was taken away. I had to force myself to inhale and exhale slowly and to relax. It wasn’t easy. Getting back to the practice aspect of this sport, often I sprint back and forth to the target to retrieve my one arrow, so as to get my heart going to better assimilate stressful, heart-pounding situations like this. What happened? A doe popped up out of nowhere between the giant and me, and walked off with Brutus in tow.

8. Getting close enough. All the scent control and camouflage clothing you can buy mean nothing if you are moving at the wrong time. Getting close requires almost a 6th sense, of when to walk ahead, when to move, when to breathe, and even when to blink. When still hunting or spotting and stalking, your senses must be keen, and you simply have to slow down. Observe everything, and not just with your eyes. I am even amazed at how my sense of smell comes alive after a day or two in the woods. Patience is the name of this game. I am very close to being the most impatient guy I have ever met; in everyday life. But in the woods, I can, and have, stood in the exact same spot for over 12 hours in sub-zero temperatures. It’s a sickness, I know. But if you can’t teach yourself patience under the most trying of circumstances, perhaps this sport isn’t for you.

9. Drawing. No, not stick figures. I’m talking about drawing your bow at the moment of truth without getting detected. Admittedly, this is easier for those 20 feet off the ground, but for those of us who bowhunt from the ground, the act of drawing is the most critical, most unforgiving aspect of the hunt. In the 6 years I have spent hunting mature whitetails on the ground, on several occasions I have been within shooting distance, only to be busted while drawing. The act requires cover, a quiet bow, a smooth motion, a strong upper body, and perfect timing to get it done before the animal steps out into the open.

10. Maintaining a PMA. Without getting all SNL’s Stuart Smalley on you, keeping a close watch on your Positive Mental Attitude is crucial. In fact, I will dedicate entire upcoming blog posts to the discussion of the mental game of bowhunting. I believe at least half—yes half—of the success of bowhunting can be attributed to the space between your ears. Your disposition, your expectations, what you visualize and how you visualize it, and most of all, your confidence will dictate your success as much as the best equipment and the most diligent practice combined. Because bowhunting can be so up-close and personal, and so time and energy-consuming, so exhilarating one moment and devastating the next, the sport can be mentally and emotionally taxing. Understanding and controlling what’s in your head will be half the battle.

Those of us who are committed to the success of taking magnificent animals with a bow know that dedication and hard work is only the beginning. The challenge itself is what makes it so fun to experience, and so rewarding to achieve. The better you can mitigate the 10 challenges pointed out here, the better your odds of achieving whatever bowhunting goal you have set for yourself. Now get serious, and have fun!

 

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