It’s Almost Time: How to practice in the weeks leading up to the season

With deer season less than one week away, I switch gears from my normal routine to focus on factors that will determine success. Realistic practice sessions and reliable gear will provide you with the best possible chance at success.

Practice How You Play

It would be great if every buck walked in and stood twenty yards broadside. However, most shots end up a little rushed and slightly off balance. Practice needs to simulate the actual experience. Practice with your feet aligned wrong. Or if you will hunt from a ground blind, practice turned in different directions. Additionally, draw your bow with as little movement as possible, and limit yourself to 7-12 seconds to ensure that you don’t feel rushed in a hunting situation.

Throughout the summer I practice at 20, 35, 45, 55 and occasionally 70. But, deer don’t care where you set your pins. Practice at random distances to understand your arrow flight. In addition to shooting, take your range finder with you when you are setting tree stands or checking trail cams. Practice estimating the distance of a tree then use your rangefinder to calibrate yourself.

Have you practiced while wearing your gear? I wear a Sitka facemask when I hunt, which slightly affects my anchor points below my ear. If you choose to wear gloves, wear them as well. You have likely practiced with your broadheads, but if you shoot a lighted nock, that can also have an effect on arrow flight. Make your practice sessions as realistic as possible.

Last year a doe came in right at dusk during the first week of the season. I turned on the light on my sight and drew back. The light was so bright that my pins blurred together. If you use a light on your sight, you should shoot in the evenings with it to get the feel and make sure the batteries haven’t died since last year. Even if you don’t use a light, practice as the sun goes down to understand how a shot will look and feel.

General Maintenance

When I arrived at my second elk hunting location this year, I took my bow out of the case to shoot a few practice arrows. The first time I drew the bow, the cord from my drop away to my bowstring snapped. It had been frayed for weeks, but I had ignored the early warning signs. Luckily, it only cost me a day of hunting to get it fixed. Had it snapped during my first hunt, when I was deep in the woods, I would have lost a week. Examine your bow for any sign of a problem. Check out Harrison’s quick tip video on the system he uses.

If you follow these steps you shouldn’t have any surprises when the buck of lifetime walks in next week. Thank you for reading. Good luck with the upcoming season.

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