The hunting season is almost upon us, and I’m sure y’all are raring to go. I know we’re all excited, and I just wanted to take some time to write a quick article on 15 tips to make this your best crossbow hunting season ever. These are just short little pieces of advice to take into consideration before you get started. Hunting is my favorite way to relax, and I’ve spent a hell of a lot of time over the years and picked up a decent amount of knowledge. Take advantage of my old age and years of experience to make your next hunting trip of success. The world has changed a lot since I first got started, but the hobby has remained largely the same. There’s a lot of new technology available, but at the end of the day it’s just you, your bow, and the prey. So, let’s get started on this list of tips!
1. Master Your Weapon
All the tips on this list are pretty useless if you don’t have good control over your weapon. I’ve written several articles on the mechanics of using a crossbow, so if you’re a true beginner make sure y’all head over there to learn how to set yourself up for success. There’s more to crossbows than meet the eye, so don’t go out there unawares
2. Maintain Your Gear
The hunting season spans at least a few months, and if you’re an avid hunter that’s taking advantage of every opportunity to hunt, it’s going to take a toll on your gear. Take every step necessary to maintain your gear – especially your weapon. Read the manufacturer’s manual for your crossbow, and make sure you’re taking the time to keep your weapon in tip top shape. If the manual is unclear, a quick web search will be all you need to make sure you’re taking care of the bow correctly.
3. Get There First
Hunting is often a solitary sport, but that doesn’t mean your hunting ground is going to be abandoned. Do your best to arrive as soon as possible to stake out your spot and beat the competition. It’s not unheard of to even arrive around midnight. Find your spot, grab a sleeping bag, and be ready to go at the first sign of light.
4. Avoid Vehicle Noise
As tempting as it is to drive right up to your hunting ground, the truth is that animals spook easily. Make sure y’all are parking a decent ways away and approaching the grounds slowly to ensure your prey is caught unawares. Hunting in general is about being quiet and methodical, and taking any steps you can to avoid unnecessary noise will definitely pay off.
5. Stay Comfortable
You know how I mentioned bringing a sleeping bag in the point above? Make sure you have a comfortable bag and some sort of way to stay warm when you camp out for the night. Even in warmer locations it can get pretty darn chilly at night, so y’all want to avoid an uncomfortable night’s rest at all cost. Hunting while you’re exhausted is a surefire way to miss out on a kill.
6. Don’t Sweat It
Continuing on the point above, make sure you dress in a way that will minimize sweating. I’m telling y’all from experience, getting really sweaty can make for some mighty cold conditions when the weather starts to turn. Being wet is uncomfortable and dangerous, so make sure you’re dressing for the weather in breathable clothing that will keep you dry.
7. Avoid Pointless Tracking
If you notice another hunter tracking a deer, it’s honestly pretty pointless to do the same. I promise y’all, there’s more than one deer out there. If another hunter beats you to it, cut your losses and move on. In the long run, you’ll avoid frustrating both yourself and your competitor. On the off chance you get the kill, you’ve gone ahead and pissed off a fellow hunter. Be courteous and efficient, and you’ll see much better results.
8. Take it Slow
It’s easy to get frustrated if you’re not seeing any success when you’re on your trip, but make sure you’re taking the time to stop and wait at regular intervals. Deer are evasive and shy creatures, and if you keep moving from place to place and making noise it’s very likely that you’re never going to be able to seize the opportunity to make a great shot. I want to stress to y’all the importance of patience. Hunting is largely a waiting game, so take some time to relax and keep your eyes peeled.
9. Pay Attention to Noise
Hearing is a very important sense when it comes to hunting. This tip ties in with the previous one, in that it’s important to take the time and listen for your prey in addition to looking for them. Walk slowly from place to place and keep your ears sharp and attentive. As soon as you hear a rustle, stop and look around. It could be absolutely nothing, or it could be exactly what you’re looking for!
10. Try a Solo Drive
A good strategy that you’re probably familiar with is the idea of a hunting “drive”. For y’all that aren’t familiar with the idea, it essentially refers to placing hunters in different locations and making some noise to spook deer into moving. This is a great strategy for forcing your prey out of hiding, and it’s actually possible to do it yourself. Walk into an area with the wind at your back and make a little bit of noise. Once you’ve passed through make a circle and do it again. The deer may be confused and make some mistakes, opening you up for the perfect shot.
For the solo hunters among us, this is a great tip that may lead to some great success!
11. Clear the Line of Fire
When you get into position at a spot you’d like to camp for awhile, practice lining up a shot from each direction. Pay attention to any brush or leaves that are in your line of site, and brush them aside. Y’all should definitely take the time to do this so that you don’t miss out on a perfect shot. There’s nothing worse than spotting a deer and having your view blocked by a stray branch. It really stinks, trust me!
12. Keep Your Surroundings Safe
Before you set yourself up to wait for a good shot, it’s important to make sure your surroundings are safe. Like it or not, humans aren’t the only dangerous animals out there in the woods. The last thing you’ll want is to encounter a coyote or bear when you’re just after some deer. Consider packing a close range firearm in case you find yourself in a dangerous situation. Crossbows are good for hunting, but a shotgun is a hell of a lot more effective if you find yourself threatened.
13. Learn How to Follow a Blood Trail
Unfortunately, a lot of the times you’ll wound an animal and fail to take it down on the first try. It’s guaranteed that a deer will try to flee when injured, so it’s important to learn how to follow a trail of blood and swoop in for that final kill. You’ll wanna take little bits of paper and mark each little pool of blood you find so that you can easily follow the path. Follow slowly and methodically until you find your prey again. Just make sure you go back and pick up the paper when you’re done. Ain’t nothin worse than a litterbug!
14. Make Sure Your Prey Is Dead – Safely!
When you can’t tell if a deer is injured or dead, it’s important to take precautions before approaching your kill. On popular hunting shows, hunters will often prod their prey with a weapon to make sure it’s actually dead. That’s really stupid, y’all. The last thing you want is a spooked deer to jump up and startle you when there’s really nothing you can do about it. Pick up a stone and toss it at the corpse to make sure it’s actually dead before you start your approach. It’s super important for safety, trust me!
15. Don’t Get Discouraged
I’ve been hunting for a long, long time, and even I often end hunting trips with a disappointing result. Like it or not, the prey we’re hunting has developed a keen sense of survival. Deer are built with self preservation in mind, and it’s more than likely you’ll sometimes end a day with zero kills.
The hunting season is pretty long. Don’t sweat the small stuff, and look forward to another day. As thrilling as it is to get a kill, there’s a lot of benefits to hunting as a hobby that make it enjoyable by default. Spend some time connecting to nature, enjoy the solitude or the company of close friends, and take some time to relax. As mentioned above, hunting is a waiting game. Try to frame that waiting as relaxing rather than discouraging, and you’ll be well on your way to a more successful hunting season.
I really hope that y’all have gotten some good use out of these 15 tips to make this your best crossbow hunting season ever. By taking the time to properly prepare and taking advantage of some solid strategies, I’m confident that you can improve your odds of a quality kill.