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Bow Hunting Deer

Man Holding Bow

Bow hunting typically requires shorter ranges than hunting with a rifle. This means that bow hunters who are after deer have to be especially careful not to alert the deer to their presence. Deer are highly reactive, and can identify nearby hunters from smell, sound, or movement. Bow hunting deer gives such a thrill because it poses a real challenge to the hunter, giving you a well-earned sense of satisfaction when you are successful.


Image – deer anatomy

The lungs are the largest vital organ of the deer. This makes them the best target for bowhunters. They are behind the shoulder of the deer, and the heart sits below the lungs. If you can, practice on a deer target with your bow before going out to shoot. It’s important to take the deer in one shot for a clean, ethical kill.

Early Season

The early season is generally considered the best time to bow hunt deer. This is because deer are less afraid from the sight of humans than they are later in the season, when they have likely encountered several hunters already. Deer are also out enjoying the food of summer in the early season, so they are often on the move and easier to sneak up on.

Don’t Pressure the Deer

Deer hunting requires you to get quite close to your target. This means your chance of spooking the deer and losing your kill is high. There are a few strategies that can help you avoid spooking the deer.

First, invest in unscented or naturally scented gear. At the kind of quarters you’ll need for bow hunting, a deer is likely to smell you.

You can also look into low-pressure techniques for hunting, like using game cameras to track the deer from afar. These help you spend less time scouting, which will mean the deer are not prepared for your presence on opening day.

Plan Ahead

Steer clear of your hunting spot as you approach opening day. Ideally, you should have your strategy set at least a week in advance so you don’t have to return to your area. Other hunters without this foresight may scare deer from their areas into yours as opening day nears.

Deer typically eat food with high sugar content, like fruits, nuts, and acorns. As you are planning, find areas with these types of food, as they are likely to attract deer. You should also look for where the deer might rest. If you have game cameras, you can use them to track the patterns of the deer movement from their food source to their rest. You’ll then be able to plan your hunt so that you can surprise the deer as they travel from one place to the next.

The Rut

Bow hunting during the rut is a significant challenge, as deer are being pressured by the abundant gun hunting during this time. Some bow hunters may see this as the ultimate challenge, requiring serious skill. If that sounds like you, there are a few strategies you can use.

During the rut, follow a doe if you see one. Most hunters are focused on bucks for their antlers. The rut is the height of deer mating season, so if you see a doe, it’s likely that a buck is nearby. If you prepared for the early season, you may already know a few spots where does gather.

Keep your ears open to try to find a buck giving chase to a doe. Once you hear a buck on the move, you can stalk the buck if you have the necessary skill, time, and dedication. Otherwise, you can position yourself early in the day and listen for calls, then return to the hot spots you’ve identified later in the day.

Late Season

Late season is the most demanding time for any hunter. Deer are now highly wary of humans, and colder weather makes for more difficult days. You’ll need to be extremely stealthy, using low-pressure scouting techniques and eliminating your scent as much as possible.

Food is also more scarce as the weather changes. Deer become more confined to small spaces with food and area for rest, which also makes it easier for you to discover their movement pattern. Set up on one of their routes, and wait for them to travel so you can take them by surprise.