There’s nothing like the adrenaline rush of being in close to a deer or other wild game and releasing an arrow that finds its mark. But, what if you’ve never felt that rush? What should you know to begin the quest of being a successful bow hunter? In this article we will do our best to get you started in the right direction. Let’s just call this N1 Outdoors’ Bow Hunting For Beginners 101.
So, What Brings You To Bow Hunting?
Maybe you’ve always hunted with a rifle or other firearm. Maybe you’ve mastered gun hunting and simply want to try your hand at a new challenge. Or, maybe you’re totally new to any type of hunting and just want to learn what this bow hunting thing is all about.
Whatever your situation or age, we think you’ll find that bow hunting is not only fun (you’ll want to say “Bowhunt Oh Yeah!”), but helps teach patience, discipline, attention to detail and focus. And, there is certainly a special sense of accomplishment knowing you have been able to take an animal at close range and provide meat for your family and friends.
Hunting Education And Safety
If you haven’t taken your state’s hunter safety course, be sure to sign up and do that the first chance you get. This will help you learn safe hunting practices whether you are hunting with a bow or a gun. You will also learn the hunting laws and regulations of your state as well as learn how to identify game.
It’s possible that if you’re interested in learning to bow hunt, that you’ve already been watching videos or TV programs about bow hunting. But, if not, there is certainly no shortage of videos about bow hunting tips. And, while videos are great visuals to learn from, don’t discount the wealth of knowledge you can glean from bow hunting blogs and articles.
Your local bow shop is a great resource for anyone wanting to begin their bow hunting journey. You don’t have to look long on social media to know that there are more than a few companies pushing their archery equipment and supplies. Of course, they all look good and sometimes it’s difficult to know what exactly you need.
As a bow hunting beginner, you may be overwhelmed with the choices of bow hunting equipment that is currently on the market. Your local bow shop can help you find your way through the sea of bow hunting advertisements to equipment that’s right for you. For example, what is your draw length? What should the poundage be on your bow? And, of course, there are so many choices when it comes to broadheads, arrows, arrow rests, sights, releases, bow strings, fletches and targets. And, of course, these things can be affected by what species of game you will be pursuing.
The bottom line is that your local bow shop should provide you with a wealth of information when it comes to figuring out your equipment needs. And, of course, it’s always great to support local business, right?
Inspect Your Archery Equipment
Once you have decided on and purchased your bow hunting equipment and supplies, it’s time to do some target practice! But, before you sling an arrow, you need to inspect your equipment. Be sure you don’t have any cracks in your bow limbs, fraying of your bow string, or nicks or cuts in you bow cams. Also, be sure you have waxed your bow string recently.
You may have a local range or archery shop to shoot at, but you may also choose to buy your own target for practice at home.
If you choose to shoot at home, always be sure you set up your target in a safe location where there is no chance of an arrow shooting toward any individual. This includes never shooting towards houses, streets, sidewalks or any other location where people may be standing or passing by.
It’s also a good idea to place a backstop of some kind behind your target. This will help to block an errant arrows that miss the target. Be sure your backstop is much larger than your target.
Practice, Practice and Practice!
Once you have set up a safe target location and inspected your equipment, you are ready to begin practicing! Be sure you don’t nock an arrow until you’re ready to shoot. When you nock your arrow, be sure to point it toward the ground while nocking.
In short, never point the arrow at anything you are not prepared to draw on and shoot. Also, if possible try to be shooting toward your target at a downward angle.
Once you have gotten familiar with the operation of your new bow hunting equipment by shooting at a target, you can start to prepare for various bow hunting scenarios.
While shooting at a stationary target is certainly something to master, deer and other game animals don’t always still and broadside, allowing you to take a perfect shot. So, you should practice shooting your bow from various positions, including inclines, declines and sitting positions.
You should also practice shooting in a way that mirrors the various angles that your game may be standing. For example, a shot on an animal that is quartering away from you will require you to shoot further back, so that the arrow passes through the vitals, so that you can take an ethical shot that results in as clean a kill as possible.
Don’t Forget Your Hunting License
You may already be a hunter that is learning to bow hunt. But, if this will be your first hunting trip, be sure before you get your hunting license before your first trip.
You can contact your state’s Department of Natural Resources to purchase a license. Some local outdoors shops also sell hunting and fishing licenses. You can also go online to purchase a license for the state you live in.
Time To Hunt
As you get ready to take your new bow hunting skills to the field or the woods, continue learning as much as you can from experienced bow hunters. Be teachable. Your learning curve will be much less steep if you listen well and put into practice what you’ve learned.
As a deer hunter, a whitetail deer hunter is a welcome sight, but not necessarily a rarity. But, catching a glimpse of the incredibly rare piebald deer is a scarce and beautiful sight. Every now and again, hunting enthusiasts get to witness rare images of a piebald deer on social media, discovered by a “lucky” select few hunters. This unique deer features impossible-to-miss white markings, standing out like a unicorn in a forest full of horses. In fact, many hunters focus exclusively on these hard-to-find critters – determined to add a new trophy to their collection.
But – just how rare are piebald deer?
What is a Piebald Deer?
Contrary to what many hunters believe, piebaldism is not a combination of a regular whitetail deer and its albino counterpart. Piebaldism is a genetic abnormality responsible for the piebald deer’s appearance. It’s a rare condition that affects less than 2% of the whitetail deer population.
According to geneticists and researchers, the name “piebald” originates from the word “pie” – short for magpie, a bird in the crow family. The magpie has black and white plumage. The piebald deer has a genetic abnormality, causing patches of white across its body. This patchy look gives it a mixed up appearance, in which the patches, or lack of pigmentation almost make it “bald.” Pie + Bald = Piebald!
Piebald deer come in a range of colorations and variations. There is no stock-standard. Some piebald deer look as though they’ve been splashed with white paint. Others may look almost “airbrushed” or spotted. It is believed that this recessive trait must be carried by both deer-parents, maternal and paternal, in order for the offspring to be piebald. That’s what makes the condition of piebaldism so exceptionally rare.
Piebaldism presents itself in many different forms, varying from moderate to severe depending on the circumstances. While some piebald deer can live normal, long, happy and healthy lives, most aren’t so lucky.
Interestingly, piebaldism isn’t actually reserved for deer. Throughout nature, we see many other species experiencing this genetic abnormality, including horses, certain dog breeds, python snakes, moose, bald eagles, and on some cases, even humans.
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Piebaldism | More Than Just A Coloring Abnormality
Apart from the strikingly unique coat, a piebald deer usually has other distinguishing features, include shorter-than-normal legs, an arched spine (scoliosis), and a prominent oral overbite. Beyond the surface, a piebald deer normally experiences certain organ deformities, and even arthritis.
According to geneticists, this boils down to something called “pleiotropy,” which causes one single gene to control numerous traits. The affected traits range from pigmentation to bone development and more. It’s not unusual to see a piebald deer with debilitating genetic mutations and severe birth defects. Combined, these factors make it exceptionally challenging for piebald deer to survive in the wild – let alone make it to adulthood.
In one recent case study, Missy Runyan, a New York-based wildlife rehabilitator, was called to the scene of a distressed fawn in May of 2017. The white-as-snow piebald fawn was plagued by severe birth defects, including life-threatening internal genetic mutations. The fawn didn’t live for much longer, but Runyan managed to X-Ray the fawn’s body and detect numerous internal abnormalities. The results showed internal defects that made it impossible for the fawn to survive in the wild.
Piebaldism Vs. Albinism
The genetic causes for piebaldism and albinism differ, something you can easily spot by gazing into the affected deer’s eyes. While an albino deer’s eyes are pink, accompanies by a pink nose and hooves with pink hues, piebald deer have brown eyes, a brown nose, and black hooves.
Piebald deer should also not be confused with melanistic deer, which typically lack brown or white color variations and usually appear to be black across their entire bodies.
While geneticists and scientists are still hard at work to fully understand the genetic mutation that causes piebaldism, one thing is for sure: If you see one, you should count yourself lucky. Few hunters will ever get the chance to get a glance of this rare creature out in the wild.
Piebald Deer | To Shoot…Or Not To Shoot?
More and more hunters are emerging on social media, slammed for their short-lived success at when taking rare trophy piebald deer. In various parts of North America, these rare white animals are seen as “sacred,” and not to be harmed. Certain indigenous communities see piebald deer as “returning ancestors,” serving as a “reminder that something of significance is about to happen.”
There are also various “myths” and “legends,” stating that by capturing and killing a piebald deer, you will “experience bad future hunts,” or, “guarantee your own death in a year’s time.”
Laws Regarding Piebald Deer | Check Your State Hunting Regulations
If you aren’t superstitious, do your homework by researching the rules and regulations of your state. For example, it is illegal to shoot any white deer in Wisconsin, as herds of white deer are rising in numbers, making locals rather protective of the rare animals.
While certain jurisdictions have laws in place to protect piebald deer, among other white animals, many locations allow (licensed) hunters to lawfully harvest these rare creatures without consequence.
According to Brian Murphy, wildlife biologist and the Executive Director of the Quality Deer Management Association, there is no biological reason to protect piebald deer or albinos. Protecting them should not be regulated by the state, but rather, should be the decision of the landowners and hunters.
While piebaldism is indeed rare, population problems are apparently not a concern. Emerging research shows that the act of hunting a piebald deer will have no significant impact on the deer population, let alone damage it. If you would wish to take such a rare trophy (and meat) back to your home, and if it is legal to hunt them where you live, there’s no reason not to hunt piebald deer.
Have you ever seen a piebald deer out in the wild? Leave a comment on this post or share your photos with us here at N1!
Hunting is not only fun, it’s fulfilling to be able to provide meat for your family and loved ones. However, taking the animal should not be the only goal. A hunter should always make every effort to kill the animal with a single shot, one that results in as quick a demise as possible. Accomplishing this requires a hunter to be well-versed in deer anatomy, so that the animal can be taken with as little suffering as possible.
Where To Shoot A Deer
The definition of what an “ethical shot” is when hunting deer has been an oft debated topic. Whatever your definition may be, a shot that presents the opportunity for the quickest and most humane (and legal) kill should be utilized. It’s easy for excitement to give way to poor shot selection when hunting. Unfortunately, this often leads to the wounding of an animal, resulting in unnecessary suffering.
The following are locations of a deer’s anatomy, that if properly executed, will result in an effective kill.
The Heart Shot
Simply put, a heart shot on a deer is lethal. However, while it will result in the death of a whitetail, it does not necessarily always provide the best blood trails. When the heart is hit, the flow of blood decreases and may result in less of a blood trail than you were hoping for.
A bullet or broadhead that penetrates the heart often pierces the lungs as well, which is beneficial to ensuring a quick recovery of the animal.
When taking a heart shot, it’s good to be sure that the caliber of bullet you are using is sufficient to penetrate the shoulder blade and ensure a clean kill. The downside to a larger bullet is it can result in a larger amount of unusable meat upon processing.
The Lung Shot
The lungs provide a large target for rifle hunters and bowhunters alike. While a bullet can enter the lungs of a deer and exit, shooting its lungs with a broadhead will make it difficult for the deer to breathe. Usually, that difficulty breathing will keep it from being able to run too far after the shot. Sometimes, however, simply clipping a lung or not having a complete pass-through shot can result in poor blood trails, making the deer more difficult to track.
A lung shot with a bow is often as effective as a heart shot. Just aim for the middle of the lung area. A well-placed lung shot will cause the deer to suffocate to death. However, a lung-shot attempt that hits too far back may only pierce the liver, which can result in a much slower death and more difficult to track animal.
The Neck Shot
You can drop a deer with one shot if the spinal cord is severed. A neck shot that severs the arteries in the large arteries in the neck can be particularly bloody and lethal. But, while a lethal neck shot causes little damage to the meat of the animal, if the spine is not severed, it could be difficult to recover and it may even survive.
While a neck shot can be a risky shot with a gun, it’s simply a very poor shot to take if you’re a bowhunter.
The Brain Shot
If it is well executed, a brain shot will drop a deer immediately. When you put a bullet through the brain, it will disrupt the life functions of the deer and it will lose consciousness immediately. This shot results in no loss of meat, but is a very difficult shot to make, due to the small target area. If the shot is not accurate, it can result in unnecessary suffering of the deer and you may not be able to recover the animal.
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Deer Anatomy | The Rest Of The Story
While we’ve covered various parts of a whitetail’s anatomy that can be aimed for during a hunt to result in a kill, it’s also good to be well-versed in the rest of a deer’s anatomy, so you can become a more well-rounded and knowledgeable hunter.
All deer species have a four-chamber stomach. The four chambers are called the rumen, reticulum, omasum and abomasum. Deer are able to consume large amounts of food in a relatively short period of time. That food is swallowed and passed to the first stomach, which is known as the rumen.
The digestive bacteria in the rumen begins to break down the cellulose found in the plant life that the deer has consumed. However, the rumen cannot completely break down and absorb all the necessary nutrients, so the deer will regurgitate the food later and chew it again. This is often referred to as the deer “chewing its cud.” This allows the deer to further break down the food, so it can absorb the nutrients it needs.
Once the food is chewed the second time, it moves to the reticulum, which serves as a strainer of sorts. Foods that are more difficult to digest will remain in the rumen and reticulum chambers for a longer period of time. This can cause a “roadblock” of sorts and can lead to malnutrition and sometimes even death, all while having a “full stomach.”
After a period of about 16 hours, the food will pass from the reticulum to the omasum. In the omasum, the water from the food is absorbed. The food then passes to the abomasum, which produces acid that further breaks down the food that the deer has eaten.
After leaving the abomasum, the remaining food particles and liquid are passed to the deer’s intestines, where it will eventually exit the body as feces and urine. Whitetail typically defacate an average of 13 times per day.
It’s sometimes hard to believe how a whitetail’s skinny legs can produce so much speed and power. While they cannot maintain top speed for long distances, they can run up to 40 miles per hour in short bursts. With the use of their hooves, they are able to make sharp turns and pivots, even at high speeds. Their hind legs provide the power for their speed and jumping ability. In fact, deer are also good swimmers.
Male deer have antlers on top of their head as part of their anatomy. Although rare, it is also possible for a doe to grow antlers occasionally. A whitetail’s antlers are actually live tissue that are composed of bone. A deer’s antlers hold the distinction of having the fastest growing tissue of all animals.
Whitetails begin growing their antlers in the Spring and they can grow at an average rate of up to two inches per week! During development, the antlers are covered with a spongy tissue called velvet. The velvet contains blood vessels that generate growth of the antlers.
Antler growth typically stops in late Summer to early Fall. Once growth stops, the deer will remove the velvet from their antlers by rubbing them on the bases of trees. After the breeding season ends, bucks will shed their antlers. Shed times can vary in different parts of the country, but typically take place between January and March.
Whitetail Ears And Hearing
A deer has hearing that is far superior to human hearing. This serves a whitetail well in identifying danger in the form of humans and other predators. Muscles attached to the whitetail’s ears allow it to rotate them and hear in multiple directions without having to move its head. This helps it to determine which direction the sound or is coming from and possibly even how far away the sound is. This part of a deer’s anatomy plays a critical role in its survival.
You may have heard the saying that someone has “eyes in the back of their head.” A deer of course does not have those, but because its eyes’ location on the sides of its head, it does in fact, have a 310-degree field of vision. Almost as good as eyes in the back of the head!
Although it is hard for deer to focus on one object, their excellent vision helps them see clearly in the night-time hours.
A whitetail’s excellent sense of smell is one of its best defense mechanisms. A deer will lick its nose to make it moist. This allows it to “capture” odor particles that are carried by the wind and that stick to the deer’s nose. This not only helps a deer identify danger, but also plays a huge part in the breeding process. Both male and female deer leave scent behind via urine and various scent glands. Among other things, a whitetail’s incredible sense of smell allows a buck to know when a doe is ready to breed, or when an intruder buck is in the area.
It’s very important to not only be familiar with deer anatomy as a hunter, it’s just as important to know what your limitations are with the weapon you are hunting with. Is the weapon going to be effective in producing a clean kill? Is your skill level such that you can safely and accurately make an ethical shot? Practice. Practice. And practice!
If you pair knowledge of deer anatomy with skill and patience, success is on the horizon!