If you’re a true beginner when it comes to crossbow deer hunting, the biggest mistake you can make is to buy a crossbow that isn’t right for your needs. This includes finding the right equipment for the field conditions you’ll be in, as well as for your physical strength and stamina. Choosing the right bow should take time. Beginners have the tendency to buy a crossbow that’s perfect for the veteran, according to all the reviews. But they find it doesn’t work for them when a deer crosses their path.
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Speaking of Practice
You’ll find a few helpful tips and details below about the importance of preparation and practice, but this is a good time to mention the subject. The most important detail is, well, details. When you practice with your new crossbow be sure to do so in conditions that are as close to the real hunt as possible. Standing in your backyard, shooting at a circle target, isn’t adequate practice.
A beginner will be well served by using a cocking rope. This device has little weight and can be a great help to the new user. Cocking by hand is fast but you need to have the movement down cold before you head out. There are crank-operated devices that will work for you if you’re not physically strong. However, this will add to your cost and the process will be slower than you might like in a hunting situation.
You could be quite successful hunting deer with a crossbow if you follow two (maybe three) steps. The first of these involves the equipment you use. As with any activity (work or leisure) you shouldn’t try to save a little bit of money when you choose your tools. Buy quality and take the time necessary to understand how to use your crossbow.
Once you have your crossbow unwrapped and you’re ready to try it out, you should make sure the sights and/or scope are set perfectly. Then, it’s time to practice. In fact, even if you have hunted with the same crossbow before, you’ll benefit from practicing on three-dimensional (3D) targets. Don’t depend on hitting a target of circles. You won’t get that in the field.
Use Life-Like Targets
Know your distance and pick a small spot on the larger body of your target. You’ll also benefit from understanding the deer anatomy. When you have this knowledge, you can inspect the impact of your crossbow bolt and know just where you’ve made your hit. While these initial steps, taken long before you hunt, may seem too basic, keep in mind there should be no shortcuts when hunting.
When you practice, do it in the same conditions you’ll be hunting in. You may not be able to reproduce the weather, but you should squeeze the trigger with gloves on, if you’re going to be wearing gloves while you hunt. In fact, you’d be wise to wear all of the clothing you will have on in the field, including cap, facemask etc. Don’t take a chance of impairing your shot because the bulk of your clothing is different during the hunt.
Steady the Crossbow
When you’re practicing, and when you’re adjusting sites, scope etc. use the same method you’ll use when on the hunt. If you’ll depend on bow rest or stabilizing bipod in the field, then use this same equipment during practice. You should allow for limbs and other obstacles when practicing so you’re ready for this as you hunt. Don’t guess or assume when it comes to your ability to hold the crossbow steady.
In the Field
Now that you’ve taken a few steps to prepare before going out to get your deer, you can prepare mentally for the things you should do every time you hunt with a crossbow. For example, as you get into position, use the first few minutes to get your range to possible target areas. Doing this now can make the difference between hitting the deer and having your bolt fall short, for example. Use a rangefinder to get distances to objects such as trees, flowers and other natural features. These will be your reference points. It’s important to know before you hunt just how far you can shoot.
Most veteran crossbow hunters make one or two trips to their blind before the season to check on one very important factor – where the crossbow will come into contact with objects around you. Practice your movements in the blind and practice out of the blind if you can. Try all the angles to the distances determined with your rangefinder. Get a good mental picture of your angles and the room you have to make your turns in the stand or blind. You’ll be glad you did.
The old saying, “Practice makes perfect” certainly applies for crossbow deer hunting. Other factors you should focus on during both practice and the actual hunt include: mechanics – don’t make noise when you use your crossbow; slow, steady squeeze on the trigger; practice holding on the target to get an idea of how much fatigue this can create.
Don’t make the beginner’s mistake of trying to shoot from a standing position, unless there is absolutely no other option. Your best accuracy will be from the sitting or kneeling position. It’s also essential that you get comfortable with the way you’re going to hold the crossbow. This may sound too basic or too simple, but being comfortable with your tools will make a difference in your success rate.
In addition to these tips and ideas specific to hunting deer with a crossbow, you should also take the time to include all the elements you have used if you hunted deer with a traditional bow or gun in the past. This includes paying attention to your scent, using effective deer scents for attracting them, and not bringing food or anything else with smell that could scare the deer away.
Wrapping it Up
With this brief look at some tips and advice on how to be a successful crossbow hunter, you will be ahead of many first-time hunters. In many cases, these non-veterans go into the field or the woods unprepared, thinking their experience with a traditional bow or shotgun makes them ready to take down a deer with a crossbow.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Details such as clothing can make a difference, because your motions are not the same as with other weapons. Practicing in the most realistic conditions you can find will help you determine your maximum range. For most crossbow hunters, this is can be up to 60 yards. But, practice determines where your sweet spot is.
It’s also crucial to be very comfortable with the crossbow model you’ve chosen. Learn all you can about draw weight. Some guidelines: Minimum weight is different from one brand to another. It usually ranges from 75 pounds up to 125 pounds. Heavier is faster, of course. But you don’t want to struggle with something too heavy. 200 pounds – maybe not!
You’re trying to bring home a trophy deer. You can already taste the delicious sausage you’ll make. Make sure you’re ready to use the crossbow effectively. Good hunting!