Merriam Webster defines it as the art, practice, or skill of shooting with a bow and arrow.
Someone who participates in archery is called an archer or a bowman. Anyone fond of archery or who is an expert at it is called a toxophilite.
Today, some still use archery for hunting wild game (known as bow hunting) and bow fishing has also grown in popularity. Archery is now rarely used for defense, except in leisure pursuits such as archery tag.
You might be wondering… who invented the bow and arrow and when were the bow and arrow invented? Well, we don’t know for sure who invented archery, but it’s believed that Egyptians may have used bows and arrows as early as 5000 BC.
When a skilled archer takes charge of a bow and arrow, the result can be effective and deadly. Thus, ancient bows and arrows out-classed other weapons, such as swords, that were available in the olden day.
The ability to shoot an arrow from a distance gave archers an advantage in battle over those bearing swords.
History Of The Ancient Bow And Arrow
You can’t really talk about the history of archery without examining the history of the bow and arrow. In the ancient times, the major weapons were:
• The axe, sword and mace for short range • The spear and javelin for medium range • The bow and sling for long range
A Bow had two basic parts, including the string and the body, made of pliable and tough wood. The archer would the wooden part of the bow (grip) at the center when ready to shoot.
When the simple bow was made, it had only one convex arc so it didn’t exploit the maximum pliability of the wood. So, the double-convex bow was invented to provide a greater range and tension.
The composite bow was later invented for warfare purposes, as it was made of four materials including wood, glue, animal sinews & tendons and sections of animal horn.
The wooden part of the bow was made from different trees with different pliability and the back of the bow was covered with sinews bands.
The belly of the bow was also reinforced with two sections of animal horn. The composite bow had a range of 300 to 400 yards.
Today there are many types of bows, including flatbows, longbows, recurve bows, cable-backed bows and compound bows.
Arrows were also made of three parts, including the tail, body and the arrowhead. The tail was designed to ensure the arrow stayed on course in a straight and smooth flight, which was why it was made of feathers of sea-fowl, kite, vulture or eagles. These feathers, or “fletchings,” are now sometimes substituted as plastic “vanes.”
The body of the arrow was also hard, light, straight, long and thin to ensure maximum speed. The arrowhead was the hardest part, made of metal, flint or bone.
Arrowheads could be either triangular or leaf-shaped, flat or with central rib or spine. In ancient times, the form of an arrowhead was based on the nature of the armour of the enemy that needed to be penetrated.
Today, arrows are made of fiberglass, composite materials, aluminum, wood and bamboo.
The Oldest Bow Ever Found
So how old is the oldest bow?
The oldest bows were found in Holmegard swamp in Denmark. Some date the series of bows found in the bog between 20,000-9,500 BC. The municipality called Holmegard is no longer in existence as of 2007, because it has been merged with other municipalities to form the Naestved municipality.
The first bows ever used were made of wood and stone or wooden arrowheads. In 3300 BC, the arrowhead was changed to bronze which could be shaped and sharpened with ease.
Development And Evolution Of Archery
Chinese introduced archery to Japan in the 6th century and it had a great influence on later techniques and etiquette. One of the Japanese martial arts was originally known as kyujutsu, meaning the “art of the bow.” But, now it’s called kyudo, which means ‘the way of the bow.”
Presently, modern kyudo is mainly practiced as the method of moral, physical and spiritual development. With kyudo, the archer has to perform a certain ritual movement before moving to the shooting line and shoots from a distance of 28 meters.
During Greco-Roman times, the bow was mainly used for hunting or personal exploits, rather than for warfare.
The superiority of Middle East technique and equipment continued for centuries. In 1200 BC, the iron age paved way for arrowheads to be made from iron, which allows for a deadlier shot and better armour penetration.
Archery was used for hunting, but Koreans, Indians, Parthians, Persians, Armenians, Greeks, Assyrians, Japanese and Chinese used it in their armies.
Early longbows, similar to this one, were used in war but were later rendered obsolete in battle due to the invention of firearms.
The English longbow was made from yew wood in 1337 and used during the Hundred Years War because of its ability to outreach the enemy bows.
Although the English longbows were effective, the Turkish and Asian bows were more efficient and far better than an English yew bow.
Later, firearms were developed and rendered bows obsolete, causing the use of bow to decline until the 18th century, when archery was revived as a sport. Since that time, there have been several big tournaments.
In the 1900 Paris Olympics, archery was included. Professional engineers started developing new types of bows in the 1920’s, including the modern compound bow and recurve, which are currently the most popular forms of the bow in the Western hemisphere.
History Of Archery In North America
Although bows and arrows were already in existence when Central Asian peoples crossed over to North America, the people didn’t seem to know about them. It’s believed that Native Americans did not begin the practice of archery until about 500 AD.
It’s believed that once they discovered the bow and arrow, that it became the preferred weapon of choice, because it took less raw materials to make than spears.
Indian tribes, such as the Cherokee Indians, used the bow and arrow to hunt for animals. They would bowhunt for fox , turkey, rabbits, elk, bear and deer. Deer were especially useful, as they provided materials for clothing and tents, as well as for food.
Indians used deer antlers to make weapons like spears, arrow heads, fish hooks, needles and other useful tools.
Native Americans apparently did not begin using bows and arrows until about 500 A.D.
During the time of King Henry VIII, archery was developed into a sport in England. At that time, men younger than sixty were asked to practice shooting with arrow and bow. From that time, people started competing with one another during festivals.
In 1900, archery was included in the Olympic Games and was among the first sports in which women were allowed to participate.
During the 1920 Olympics, archery was included, but afterward dropped because of lack of consistent international rules and lack of interest.
The sport of archery was included in the Olympic Games in 1900, one of the first sports in which women were allowed to compete.
When people again started showing interest in archery in 1931, an international governing body called the Federation of International Target Archery (FITA) was formed to establish rules accepted around the world. But, that did not convince Olympic organizers to include archery again in the Olympic program until the 1972 Olympic Games in Germany.
When the archery was added again to the Olympic Games, each archer was asked to use bows made of wood and covered in graphite. Their arrowheads were made of aluminum, with strings made of Kevlar or hydrocarbon.
Athletes were asked to use protective equipment like shooting gloves and arm guards to protect their forearms and hands.
Modern Day Archery
Unlike in the olden days when archery was mainly used for defense and war, modern day archery is practiced in different forms with different types of bows.
We now have disciplined martial artists, recreational archers, world championships, record-breaking distance attempts and Olympic level competitions. Although people still use archery for hunting game and for bowfishing, it is rarely used for war and defense.
Everything about archery in the modern setting is leisure pursuit and anybody can learn archery and become an archer.
Most archers wear an arm-guard, called a bracer, to protect the inside of the arm that holds the bow. It’s not that the bracer braces the arm; the word was formed from “brassard”, which means an armoured badge or sleeve.
Some archers (females especially) wear plastrons or chest guards on their chest for protection.
A “bracer” is an arm guard to protect the inside of the arm when shooting a bow.
Fascinating Facts About Archery
Archery has come a long way and since it is now mainly used for the recreational purpose, here are some interesting facts about archery:
1. Archery is one of the safest sports
Archery is considered to be one of the oldest sports in the world. With just one injury out of 2,000 participants, the National Safety Council has deemed archery as three times safer than golf. In fact, USA Archery claims the sport is safer than bowling. This means archery is fun and safe for everyone and you can try it too!
2. Archery is the national sport of the Kingdom of Bhutan
The Kingdom of Bhutan has made archery their national sport. Almost every village has an archery range. That is how popular archery is in the Kingdom of Bhutan.
3. An archer is also called toxophilite
Although the word sounds funny, it is legitimate. The word “Toxophilite” originates from Greek “toxon” meaning bow and arrow and Greek “philos” meaning loving. So you are also a toxophilite if you are an archer!
4. King Henry V was a toxophilite
In 1421, King Henry V of England ordered 500,000 arrows for his army and the arrows were kept in the Tower of London where the king’s arrow keeper watched over it.
5. Archery was the first Olympic game that allowed women to compete
In the past, women are not allowed to participate in the Olympic Games but archery changed that. Archery allowed female competitors in the Olympic Games in 1904. Now, you can’t talk about the Olympic Games without mentioning female archers like Khatuna Lorig and Mackenzie Brown.
6. Monarchs in Britain have banned golf, bowls and football for archery
In Britain, various monarchs have banned golf, bowls and football because men refused to practice archery because of these sports. In fact, during King Henry VIII’s reign, he ordered every man in the country to practice archery after church on Sundays! So, England was the first country to organize archery competitions in the 1500s.
7. Archery has been featured in many movies
If you have watched movies like The Lord of the Rings, Robin Hood, Rambo, The Hunger Games, Brave and some of the Korean and Japanese movies, you would understand why a many people around the world want to become archers.
How archery can benefit you
You may be asking; is archery really that important? Does it offer any benefit? Well, archery offers both physical and mental benefits. It doesn’t offer these benefits to only adults; children can learn al lot from archery as well.
The act of drawing a bow is an exercise and can help you burn calories, as well as build up certain muscle groups. So, if you are looking to stay fit, archery can be a good form of exercise.
Archery is a great form of exercise that helps provide upper body strength, confidence, relaxation and coordination.
2. Upper body strength
When you draw the bowstring, your shoulder, arms, hands, back and chest are involved. So drawing a bow can help you stabilize your leg muscles and core muscles for balance.
When you are successful in a competitive archery, you can gain self-esteem and confidence. Winning a competition and boosting your confidence can help you in other aspects of your life.
Merely seeing your arrow fly and hit the target can give you a relaxing and satisfying experience.
5. Hand-eye coordination
With archery, you can gain hand-eye coordination. When you practice standing correctly, nocking an arrow, drawing your bow, setting up your shot and releasing the arrow, you are sure to gain hand-eye coordination. If you are consistent in practicing archery, you will increase your coordination.
To achieve a good shot, you need to be precise, account for variables including power, distance and wind. Because you are required to be focused when shooting an arrow, it can also help your focus in other aspects of your life.
7. It is a cool sport
Archers are usually portrayed by Hollywood as heroes because that is how people view old and modern legends like Robin Hood and Katniss Everdeen. Archery is also considered one of the safest, if not the safest sport in the world.
Archery is a great pastime to take part in with friends. Whether you are target shooting or hunting with a bow, archery gives you a chance to connect to like-minded individuals.
Being successful at archery requires patience and dedication. So, if you are looking for a lesson in patience, this is the right sport for you!
10. It is open to all
Whether you are able-bodied or disabled, this sport can be taken part in by anyone. Even the blind can use special equipment to enjoy this sport. Archery is for everyone, whether young, old, male or female.
Maybe you’ve seen others shooting a bow and arrow, or you’ve watched movies that feature archery and now you’re wondering how you too can get started. It is easy.
Whether you want to shoot arrows for fun, or learn to become an archery competitor, there is a place for you in the sport of archery.
Archery is a great sport for youth, but there are several factors to consider when choosing a starter bow package.
Archery at its core is fun, addictive and challenging. And, with the many benefits it offers, you are sure to love it. The most important disciplines you need in archery are field, target and 3D.
You can easily find an organization that offers classes in each of the disciplines. And who knows, with practice and dedication, you might even be offered a chance to compete in competitions including national and international competitions!
After figuring out the aspect of archery you like, you need to consider the type of bow you would like to use.
Note: You can listen to the above deer sounds throughout the article as well as at the bottom of the page.
A New Deer Hunting Property
The 2010 deer season in South Carolina held some great memories for me. I had been granted permission to hunt some new property that was only 3 miles from my house!
The catch? It was bow only property. No guns allowed.
The South Carolina archery only season was already over and we were getting some consistent colder weather. But, the truth is, I really wasn’t disappointed to be hunting with my bow during gun season, because deer hunting just makes me want to say “Bowhunt Oh Yeah!” In fact, I hadn’t even hunted with my rifle since 2009.
It was a chilly, November 18 morning, and the rut was in full swing. I had seen a fair amount of rutting activity, but had not seen any bucks that got me very excited. But, when you love to bowhunt, it’s a great time to be in the woods.
I had parked my truck and was making the walk to my stand on the downwind side of where I would be hunting.
My stand location was in a head of hardwoods that contained several white oaks. I’ve always loved hunting locations that contain white oaks, especially in early fall, as the acorns are falling. But although the deer love them, by now, there weren’t any left for them to enjoy.
Nonetheless, it was a good location on the edge of a fairly large clear cut that the deer would typically transition through on their way to the other side of the property.
There was a gate opening that I needed to walk through to enter the woods where my stand location was.
I had gotten about three steps through the gate, when the head of woods I was about to enter exploded with the sounds of deer blowing. It was still too dark to see, but it sounded like a small army of whitetail had just left the building. I stopped and listened, as the sounds of their escape got farther and farther away.
PRESS PLAY ABOVE TO HEAR WHAT A DEER BLOW / SNORT SOUNDS LIKE… Deer will blow (or snort) to alert other deer of danger. Deer often blow as a result of seeing or smelling something perceived as dangerous. Sometimes deer will blow and stomp to try and get a predator (or person) that they believe is in the area to move and thus reveal their location.(This is not to be confused with a “snort wheeze” sound that a buck makes).It’s important to be as scent-free as possible and pay attention to wind direction when hunting, so you can avoid a blow/snort that ruins your hunt!MORE DEER SOUNDS FURTHER DOWN PAGE!
Well, there I was (and they knew it). I had that sick feeling that might have made one want to just go back to the truck. But, this was the rut, and I love to hunt whether the deer blow me up or not!
I found my tree and got in my stand, pulled up my bow, and got settled. By now, it was first light but the sun was not yet up.
The whitetail doe grunt
After sitting for 10 minutes or so, I thought it might be a good idea to give my grunt call a soft doe grunt. My thinking was, “maybe if they hear this, they’ll think things have settled down and are safe again.”
So, I blew on my grunt call softly, making a “social grunt” noise.
PRESS PLAY ABOVE TO HEAR WHAT A DOE GRUNT SOUNDS LIKE… Does use this sound as a “social grunt” as a way of communicating with each other. It can be a useful call when hunting to attract does closer to your stand or hunting location. MORE DEER SOUNDS FURTHER DOWN PAGE!
A fast appearance
It had probably been only 10 seconds after grunting, that I could see a deer appear about 100 yards away, on the field edge. Even at that distance, I could see his horns and I was interested!
No sooner than he appeared, he began running toward the head of woods I was in. He got to a well traveled path at the edge of the hardwoods and slowed down, turned, and began walking toward me.
By now my heart is racing pretty good, because I can see this deer is a shooter, and I have gone from heartbroken to hopeful in a matter of minutes.
This is where I have to say that the buck walking toward me had one of the better set of antlers I had seen in my area of South Carolina. In recent years, SCDNR bag limits had been high. Many believe that these high limits, coupled with poor deer management, had resulted in fewer mature bucks in South Carolina.
All I knew was, the age and size of the deer walking toward me was not commonplace in my area.
I had my bow in my hand, but didn’t feel I was going to be able to stand up without messing something up. My archery stance on this deer was going to be… sitting down. I sat and watched him inch closer.
Prior to getting in the tree stand, I had put some estrous scent on a tree limb about 20 yards away. He walked right past it. But, the worst part was that in about 3 more steps, I knew he would be downwind of me, and be gone!
I couldn’t believe I was about to watch the biggest South Carolina buck I had encountered leave my life. But, unfortunately, it was all but over.
Just as I thought this hunt was coming to an end (for the second time in minutes), he stopped, turned around, and walked back to the tree limb where I had put the estrous scent.
I knew this was my chance. So, I quietly went to full draw. I thought, “ok, aim small, miss small.” But, there was just one, really big, problem. I looked through my peep and saw, well nothing. It was still too dark in that head of woods to clearly see the buck.
If this buck would stay for a few minutes, there would be enough light through the trees to see his vitals clearly. But, I knew with chasing does on his mind, he probably wasn’t staying much longer. And, I knew that in that particular location, the wind had a tendency to swirl from time to time.
I can’t remember everything that was racing through my mind at that point, but I know I probably prayed a few fast words. It’s amazing how fast I can get to a prayerful state of mind when a big buck is nearby (amazing and shameful!)
As I was still at full draw, I moved my eye outside of my peep, so that I could see the buck through my site pins. Then, I slowly looked back through the peep and could see the target… barely.
I released my arrow and he gave the ‘ole donkey kick. He bolted down the draw and out of sight. I sat for two hours, wondering how this whole story was going to end.
The wait and the search
So far that morning, I had heard deer blow and deer run… now, all I wanted to hear was, “wow, that’s a nice buck there in the back of your truck!”
During those two hours, I scanned the ground endlessly, hoping to see a bloody arrow. I saw nothing. Of course, then the doubts set in… “did I make a good shot? How far did he go? Will I ever find him?” It was agonizing.
Finally, I decided to get down and go look. I walked out 20 yards to where I had shot him and I saw my arrow lying on the ground, the arrow shaft and my broadhead half-covered by the forest floor. My arrow had been Just Pass’N Through!
I picked it up and immediately got some encouragement… bright pink, frothy blood on my fletches. Things were looking up!
I followed along the faint blood trail. It wasn’t significant, but it was enough to keep me moving to the next spots of blood.
After 150 yards or so, I reached a small creek that ran through the property. I was till intently focused on the ground near my feet, checking for any small clue I could find. The blood trail had stopped.
I looked up and about 30 yards away, in the creek, was the buck. I held both hands high and thanked the Lord for answering my desperate (yet somewhat shallow) prayer.
The shot turned out to be a double-lung pass through. (We love pass throughs so much, we even made a shirt about them!)
The morning started with deer blowing up the woods… but it ended with a solid buck down.
I was by myself with no one to help me drag this deer out. I could either drag him about 200 yards uphill, or try to drag him through the muddy, swampy mess of a creek. So, I chose option 2.
I was able to use the shallow creek as assistance and slide the buck through the area for the long 300 yard trek back to the truck.
A short drive and a few pictures later, I had officially sealed the deal on one of my most memorable N1 Moments.
Deer sounds: The key to this N1 Moment
Looking back, I’m glad for the deer noises I heard that day… the deer blowing, the deer running, and finally, the deer sliding through the creek bed on it’s way to my freezer and my wall.
LISTEN BELOW FOR MORE DOE AND BUCK NOISES…
Buck Grunt Sound
PRESS PLAY ABOVE TO HEAR WHAT A BUCK GRUNT SOUNDS LIKE.Much like a doe grunt, the buck grunt is a noise a buck makes to communicate socially with other bucks in the herd. It can be a useful call for a hunter to get a buck’s attention as an attempt to lure him closer into shooting range.
Doe Bleat Sound
PRESS PLAY ABOVE TO HEAR WHAT A DOE BLEAT SOUNDS LIKE. Does use bleats to communicate with each other, especially in the presence of their fawns. Fawns will also bleat when in danger, which will often attract adult deer to come looking for the fawn in distress. The bleat is a good deer noise to have in your calling arsenal when hunting, as it can draw does toward your stand location, which can also lure bucks in search of does, especially during the rut.
Estrus Doe Bleat Sound
PRESS PLAY ABOVE TO HEAR WHAT AN ESTRUS DOE BLEAT SOUNDS LIKE.Does will give estrus bleats to indicate to bucks in the area that they are ready to breed. This is a good deer sound to use when calling during the rut.
Buck Trailing Grunt Sound (Tending Grunt)
PRESS PLAY ABOVE TO HEAR WHAT A TRAILING BUCK GRUNT SOUNDS LIKE.Bucks will use this call when following an estrus doe. This grunt is in short bursts and sometimes is in cadence with each step the buck takes.
Buck Bawl Sound
PRESS PLAY ABOVE TO HEAR WHAT A BUCK BAWL SOUNDS LIKE. Bucks get lonely too! Bucks will make this sound to signal other deer for company.
Enraged Buck Sound
PRESS PLAY ABOVE TO HEAR WHAT A BUCK RAGE GRUNT SOUNDS LIKE. Bucks will make this noise when a doe they want to breed will not cooperate.
Sparring Bucks Sound
PRESS PLAY ABOVE TO HEAR THE SOUND OF BUCKS SPARRING AND GRUNTING. Bucks will clash antlers to establish dominance for breeding rights.
READY TO DIVE INTO OUR TOP 11 DEER HUNTING TIPS TO BECOMING A BETTER HUNTER?READ ON BELOW!
Deer Hunting Tip #1: Be obsessed with scent control
Never, ever underestimate the importance of wind direction and scent control when hunting whitetail deer. Their noses are sensitive defense systems that help alert them to predators… and that includes you!
Can you just roll up into the woods with a smoldering Marlboro Red dangling from your lips, randomly pick a tree stand or blind to hunt in, and get lucky? Sure, there’s always a story. But, taking this approach is not setting you up for hunting success.
If you want to increase your chances of taking a whitetail, you need to be as “invisible” to the deer as possible. This is why being obsessed with scent control is #1 on our list of deer hunting tips.
A deer’s best defense mechanism is its nose. You have to figure out how to stay stay out of its way.(Photo by Jeff Coldwell)
You smell good… or do you?
Let’s face it, you stink. Sure, you may practice good hygiene, but the truth is, to a whitetail, you are a foul odor!
There are a variety of products on the market that allow hunters to get clean without smelling like a perfume commercial.
Generously using a scent-free soap when you shower (before you go in the woods, not the night before), is a big step in the right direction. But wait, but there’s more you can do.
You need to be as under the radar as possible when it comes to defeating the nose of the whitetail deer. Scent control is an absolute must.
Your significant other may love that you shower and use sweet smelling soaps, but if you want a deer hunting date with destiny, you’d better be diligent with smelling, well, like nothing.
What about the towels you dry off with? Do they smell like a rose garden? How much good do you think it will do you to wash with scent-free soap if you immediately dry off with a towel that smells “mountain fresh?”
Do yourself a solid and take care of the scent on your bath towels. Your hunting success could depend on it.
Clothe your body with… nothing
Well, not literally nothing. What we mean here is after you have used a scent-free soap on you and your towels, be sure that your hunting clothes are as scent-free as possible.
Again, there are many scent-free laundry detergents out there to choose from. Washing your hunting clothes in baking soda is also helpful.
And, it probably goes without saying, but when you dry your clothes, don’t add a sweet smelling dryer sheet to the load and completely ruin all the work you’ve done!
When you’re not wearing your hunting clothes, store them in a bag or tote where they can stay as scent free as possible.
IF YOU’RE WONDERING WHAT YOU SHOULD WEAR WHEN HUNTING WHITETAIL… READ ON
A big part of scent control is making sure that you are wearing the right hunting clothes for the type of weather you are hunting in. A good rule of thumb when thinking through what hunting clothes you’re going to wear is this… don’t wear something that will make you sweat.
Whether the forecast calls for hot weather or frigid weather, when it comes to whitetail hunting, sweat is definitely not your friend.
As your skin’s bacteria begins to break down the sweat your body produces, odor occurs. And, of course we’ve already talked about how a whitetail feels about your B.O. So, why give them one more reason to bust your while you are walking into the woods or in your deer stand?
Be sure you wear appropriate clothing for the weather you are hunting in. Too little clothing and you’ll be too cold. Too much and you’ll sweat, be cold… AND smell bad!
Even if it’s cold weather, wearing too much clothing, especially on a long walk carrying hunting gear, can lead to sweating. Not only will you stink, but you’ll have a very cold day in the deer stand once your body temperature cools down.
One way to prevent sweating is to dress lightly on cold days when walking to your deer stand or permanant blind. You may be cold at first, but as you walk, your body temperature will rise. Once you get to your hunting location, you can add layers to your light clothing. If you’ve avoided sweating and can keep your head and feet warm, you’ll likely be ready for a long sit.
Remember, a quick stop at a fast food restaurant before your deer hunt may curb the hunger pains, but it could also undo all the painstaking scent control preparation you’ve done leading up to this point.
Hot sausage biscuit smell is not a scent that is natural to the deer woods. So, as good as that greasy goodness may sound to you early on hunting day, try an apple, banana or granola bar instead.
Your deer hunting success – or lack thereof – is often tied to your attention to detail when it comes to scent control.
Final scent control steps
So, you’ve been careful to eliminate as much human scent as possible prior to walking to your deer stand or blind… but, you’re not done yet! Scent control clothing is another layer of detection protection against a deer’s nose.
There are plenty of scent control clothing items, suits, etc on the market, so it won’t be hard for you to find some options here. It’s important to not only cover your body, but also your head and face, when possible. Remember, the goal is to have as little of your scent floating through the air or left on the ground as possible.
In addition, you can also use scent eliminator sprays to spray down your hunting clothing, boots, etc before walking to your hunting location. Again, there are many available on the market to choose from.
As we’ve already mentioned, a deer’s nose is a defense mechanism. If it smells you, it smells danger. So, you don’t want your scent blowing over areas that are holding deer (the last thing you want to hear is a deer blowing because it smelled you).
The whitetail not only sees movement extremely well, it has a nose that is made to smell trouble. If you expect to harvest a mature buck, you had better not ignore the wind.
It’s important, whenever possible, to be familiar with deer patterns on the property you’ll be hunting. Know where the bedding and feeding areas are, as well as the travel routes that deer take between the two.
Be sure the wind is working in your favor when hunting whitetail deer.Read on to find out how!
So, what is upwind vs downwind?
Maybe you’re new to deer hunting or maybe you just haven’t ever paid attention to wind direction when you hunt.
But, you’ve heard hunters using the terms “upwind” and “downwind” and you’re wondering what that really means. It’s really fairly simple.
Being “upwind” of the deer means you’re above, or upward, of their location. So, that means if the wind blows over you, everything below you would potentially be detecting your scent.
That’s not what you want.
Being “downwind” of the deer means that you are below their location as it pertains to the wind. This is what you want. You want to be downwind of the deer so that when the wind blows, it does not blow toward the deer you are hunting.
Being “downwind” of the deer you are hunting is critical to your hunting success.
If you know where deer typically bed down and feed, an easy way to remember how to stay downwind is to try to always have the wind blowing in your face as you approach those locations. This will keep your scent downwind of the deer your are hunting.
Remember, you don’t want a deer’s nose to detect you while you are hunting in the stand or in the blind, but you also don’t want them to smell you when you leave. If they do, they could pattern you and of course, avoid those locations, which means less deer for you to potentially see and kill. So, be sure that your exit route is downwind of where the deer are as well. This takes careful planning.
Tip #3: Just be quiet already!
Sorry, didn’t mean to yell that tip at you.
It seems like it should go without saying, but you are arguably a deer’s #1 predator. It’s going to be hard to be a good predator, though, if you announce you are coming.
Let me explain.
Are you walking through the woods like, well, a human? Deer know what other animals sound like moving through the woods. They also know what people sound like.
Don’t make it easy for deer to know you are there by making unnatural noises.
And then there’s the dreaded cough. Do everything you can NOT to cough, but certainly try to muffle the sound as much as possible if a cough is unavoidable. You might should stay home and rest rather than educate the deer to your presence.
Every hunter fantasizes about that perfect hunting scenario… There you are in your favorite hunting location. Out walks the buck of a lifetime. If you’re a bowhunter, maybe you imagine him walking 15 yards upwind of your stand.
Then, he magically turns broadside, presenting the perfect shot for a clean pass-through. He stands there, looking the other direction, as you stand, draw, put the pin on him and release the perfect shot, at the perfect time, on the perfect buck.
Can scenarios like that happen? Sure they can. But, what is more likely, is that there will be a lot of things that factor into whether or not you get the chance to take the deer. Are you going to be prepared for those factors?
It may be virtually impossible to think just like a deer, but hunters need to use their imagination to try and pre-determine all the possible scenarios that can happen during a whitetail hunt… and practice for them!
While rifle or archery target practice is an important part of honing your hunting skills, you also need to be prepared for the things that can happen during a hunt that you can’t control.
For example, can you shoot your bow effectively from varying stances? Are you as accurate standing up as well as sitting down? Have you practiced shooting at varying heights and angles and in different types of weather?
Use your imagination and dream up all the possible scenarios that could happen during a hunt. Rely on past experiences as well. Chances are, something is going to happen on a hunt that you didn’t expect… unless of course, you’re ready for it!
It’s not enough to know where the deer are on your hunting property and simply hang a lock-on stand or to use a climbing stand. Be sure what that stand placement will look like during the time of day you are hunting.
You might have picked a location for your deer stand that is covered up with scrapes, licking branches, rubs and other deer sign. You may have even imagined what the deer you’re going to shoot looks like. But, you also need to imagine what you’re going to look like to the deer while you’re in that stand.
Be sure that your stand placement doesn’t create silhoetting or shadowing that will get you busted.
Let’s say you find a great location to hunt. So, you pick a tree for your stand placement, but it has no other trees or cover around it. And, let’s say you will be hunting that stand at a time of day when the sun will be behind you.
Without any surrounding cover, when that big ‘ole sun shines behind you, the deer could potentially get a silhouette of your body against the sunlight. A wary doe or buck may not hang around to see what happens next. And, they will likely be cautious when entering that area again.
So how can you prevent this? One way is to try and select trees that have a wide base that your body’s shape can disappear against. Trees like this obviously cannot be climbed with a climbing stand. They can, however, be very good trees for lock-on deer stands.
If you wear some good camo clothing, it will be more difficult for a deer to silhouette you when you’re sitting with your back against a tree that is wider than you are.
Trees like this might be too small to hide your shape from a wary whitetail, especially after the leaves fall. If available, trees with wider trunks can help conceal you better.
No not insurance coverage! Whether using a climbing stand or a lock-on stand, is to try to pick a tree that has another tree right beside it, behind it, or around it that can provide some cover for you. It’s important to remember that a deer’s line of sight is often different than yours. Try to visualize what you look like from their perspective.
Any leaves, branches or trees that will provide some break up of your silhouette without hindering your shot can be very beneficial in keeping your location concealed.
Contrary to what some believe, deer can and will look up. If they hear you or run across scent near your tree stand location, they might look up to see what that strange looking thing is above them. That usually doesn’t end in success for the hunter.
Hunting higher up in a tree can benefit you in a few ways. First, it can allow your scent to blow higher across the ground, and give you somewhat of an edge in the scent control game. In addition, hunting higher often makes a deer in close range less aware of your presence.
One disadvantage to hunting higher, especially for bowhunters, is that it narrows the window of a clear vitals shot. At steeper angles it can be difficult to get a clean pass-through shot. The last thing you want to do is take a shot that will not allow the deer to have as quick a demise as possible.
So, choose your hunting location after giving much thought to sun location as well as surrounding cover and tree stand height.
Hunting higher in the tree might help to blow your scent over a mature buck’s nose. But, it can also make shot angles steeper and more difficult.
Tip #6: Know thy land
If at all possible, you should be familiar with the land you are hunting. Sure, you may get an opportunity to hunt a piece of property, or even public hunting land that you don’t have the opportunity to scout prior to the hunt. However, if you do have full access to the property you will hunt, you should put in the time to be well versed in the details of that property.
Where are the deer and where are they going?
It’s hard to ignore an area of your hunting property that is full of deer sign. But, sometimes, you need to dig deeper into the details. It’s not just important to know where the deer are at a particular time… you also want to know where they’re going. After all, deer tracks tell you where they’ve already been!
Do you know where the deer typically bed down? Are you familiar with the feeding areas and water sources? Where are the travel routes that the deer typically use to move from one area to the next?
For example, it can be very difficult to sneak into and setup in a deer’s bedding area without getting busted. However, if you know where the deer typically go when they leave the bedding area, that’s important to note in formulating a plan to harvest whitetails. Then, be there waiting on the deer when they get there!
It’s important to not only know where the deer are on the property you’re hunting. It’s also critical to know where they are travelling to and from.(photo by Matt Hartsky)
Don’t forget the wind
As referenced earlier, all of this must be done while thinking about and paying attention to wind direction. Is your entry route to your hunting spot accessible without having your wind blow to the deer’s location?
It doesn’t matter how many deer you may have on your hunting land. If you don’t have a plan to approach your hunting location downwind of the deer, your hunt could be over before it even begins.
This means you should consider having multiple deer stand locations for varying wind directions. So, if the wind isn’t right on a particular day for that location, resist the urge to hunt it until it is.
When possible, take advantage of creek beds and ditches to access your blind or deer stand location, so that you can minimize the amount of scent you leave on deer travel routes and feeding areas.
Also, be sure you are aware of the prevailing winds on the property you are hunting. And, don’t just know the wind direction. Know how the topography and lay of the land can cause wind currents to swirl or move erratically. Remember, the wind can make or break a hunt. So, know how the lay of your hunting land affects it.
It’s wise to have multiple stand locations to account for various wind directions. (Photo by Jeff Coldwell)
Tip #7: Aim for low scores in predictability
When it comes down to it, you want to be where the deer are going to be when you are hunting. Hopefully, you have done enough scouting of the land and reviewing of trail cam pictures that you can predict deer movement. But, while you want predictable deer, you don’t want to be predictable yourself.
For example, let’s say you knew that a dump truck would speed by, dangerously close to your front door, every single morning at 8:05 am. You would probably be sure you aren’t anywhere outside your front door at that time of day!
Deer are no different. If you are lazy in your hunting strategy and become predictable, deer will simply avoid those hunting locations during the times you try to access them.
Mix things up. Don’t hunt the same deer stand or blind location every time, even if the wind is right. Have multiple hunting locations and multiple ways to access them. And, of course, always pay attention to the wind when you make your entry and exit.
Tip #8: Be a doe stalker
There are meat hunters and trophy hunters. This article isn’t about arguing which group is more right in its hunting approach. But, there is a hunting tip that helps both groups… hunt the does.
Sooner or later, as the rut begins to heat up, bucks will go on the prowl for hot does. It’s an inevitable part of the whitetail life cycle. And you want to know where the does typically are when it begins.
Sooner or later, bucks will be where the does are… be sure you know where that is.
Even Mr. Big Buck can throw caution to the wind when a hot doe is the prize. If you hunt the does throughout the season, he just might eventually show up in your cross hairs or behind one of your bow sight pins.
You might be a casual hunter, or only have time to hunt a few times a season. Or, you might have the luxury of getting to hunt as often as you like. Either way, knowing where the does are and how they move on a property throughout the course of a hunting season gives you a higher probability of taking a deer, and possibly, the buck of a lifetime.
Tip #9: Know that the rut changes things
Most deer hunters would probably say that if they could only hunt one time a year, they would want to hunt during the rut.
The rut is indeed a magical time of year for the whitetail hunter. Bucks that have been mostly nocturnal can show up out of nowhere, trailing or chasing hot does. But, it’s important for hunters to be aware that while the rut can ramp up deer movement and buck activity, it also brings changes.
The rut certainly provides some opportunities to see daytime bucks. But, remember that as phases of the rut change, so do bucks’ patterns and behaviors.
For example, prior to the peak of the rut, you may have hunted scrape lines and rub lines, hoping to get a shot at bucks that might be working those locations. During this time, bucks are looking to leave their territorial scent as well as checking scrapes for any receptive does in the area.
But, when bucks are locked up with does during peak phase of the rut, scrape activity can seemingly vanish. It’s important to know be aware that as the phases of the rut change, so does buck activity.
Tip #10: Don’t let technology get you busted
Communication while hunting has come a long way over the years. Hi-tech hunting used to mean having a walkie-talkie with an ear piece. Now, cell phones allow us to text our family and friends as well as take and send pictures and video… all while in the deer stand or blind.
However, if we took a poll of all deer hunters, we would probably find that more than a few have been busted by deer because they were paying more attention to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram than they were their surroundings.
If you give a deer enough chances, they’ll eventually be able to spot those busy little fingers texting away on a that wonderful piece of technology called a smart phone. When that happens you’ll wish you had been, well… smarter. Aside from that, there are so many things (other than deer) in the great outdoors that you can miss. Don’t let staring down at a screen keep you from fully enjoying the wonderful creation around you.
Be sure to take a shot that will lead to the quickest possible kill.
Tip #11: Take an ethical shot
Whether with a bow or a gun, taking an ethical shot on a deer is an important part of being a responsible hunter.
Now, the definition of an “ethical shot” has certainly been hotly debated. But, however you define it, hopefully it leads to the cleanest and quickest kill possible for the scenario.
To do this requires practice, patience and sometimes even the ability to pass up a shot that is not ideal. It’s part of being a disciplined hunter.
You want to have the best chance of a quick and ethical kill. Be sure you are familiar with a deer’s anatomy and how your angle position will impact the entry and exit wound.
Will you always succeed in a clean and quick kill? Probably not, especially if you are bowhunting. But, doing so effectively means you have probably learned some lessons by not taking some ethical shots.
When you make your shot, you might feel like celebrating, but be sure to watch the deer for as long as possible to watch its path and where you last saw it.
Whatever the case, do your best to learn from others, as well as your own experiences, to take the most ethical shot possible.
There are certainly many more deer hunting tips to be shared, but hopefully these 11 have provided you with some knowledge and insight into how to improve your hunting strategy and increase your rate of hunting success. We hope you put a hole N1!