CROSSBOWS OFFER A UNIQUE experience for archery hunters. Combining the stealth of a bow and the basic mechanics of a gun they can be a useful tool for hunters seeking to score on whitetails in the archery-only season.
Here are some tips that will help hunters not only to get more from a crossbow, but to get closer to wary whitetail.
• Scopes: While there are specific scope rigs for compound bows they are not very popular.
Scopes on a crossbow allow hunters to get a better look at the kill zone and also give them a better chance of taking a deer early and late. Plenty of hunters have passed on deer during the waning minutes of legal shooting light because they couldn’t make a clean shot with their pins.
A scope can give you a better look while gathering enough light to get that last-minute, clean and safe shot.
• Ground Blinds: The most challenging task for bowhunters who use traditional or compound bows is drawing back on deer. If the scent of the hunter didn’t tip off the deer, the sounds and sights caused by drawing back often do.
Drawing back in ground blinds is even more challenging because of eye-to-eye contact.
Drawing back is not an issue with a crossbow (at least on the first shot), so hunters can use ground blinds more effectively. Shoot-through ground blinds and even natural blinds formed from limbs and bushes can camouflage anglers and allow up-close shots.
Many of Texas’s best deer haunts do not have trees tall enough to set up a blind. Although tripods can be useful, they often stick out like sore thumbs in places such as cactus thickets.
A ground blind well camouflaged by natural vegetation is a great way to score on whitetails with a crossbow.
• Shooting Lanes: Crossbow bolts can be deflected by brush no matter that some might dispute this point.
Clip a proper shooting lane whether you are in a tree or on the ground. A good pruning shear can greatly improve your crossbow hunting success, yet it’s often overlooked as part of a hunter’s equipment.
• Rangefinder: Hunting in the woods compared to hunting along a field’s edge pose completely different challenges when judging distance according to TF&G Hunting Editor Lou Marullo.
“It is much harder to accurately judge how far an object is when you have no reference points. In the woods, you can see trees at 10 yards, which gives you a good indication of what 20 yards is and so on,” he said.
“Invest in a rangefinder. You will not regret it. Use it all year, wherever you go. How far is that sign or fencepost? You will soon realize that your best guess is pretty accurate.”
• Quiet! If there is one challenge, crossbow hunters face, it’s that a crossbow tends to be a little louder than a compound.
Don’t just take your bow out of the box and start hunting. Use one of various sound-muffling devices that will help you experience a double-lung shot instead of a string jump.
• Realistic Range: Some hunters get the idea that crossbows will allow them to take the game at rifle-like ranges. That is just not true.
Although top crossbows can deliver a fatal shot out to impressive distances, most hunters are best advised to keep shots within 50 yards. Certainly, if you plan on shooting any farther don’t guess. Practice at whatever range you plan to shoot, so you can make quick, clean kills.
• Dress To Kill: According to Marullo, those cold mornings when we wear something a little heavier than usual, raises the need to shoot a few more arrows.
“You do not want to wait until that big buck heads your way, then find out that you cannot draw your bow back to your anchor point because of all that heavy clothing getting in the way,” he said.
“I can attest to one thing. The older I get, the colder I get. I need to really bundle up some mornings.”
That means hunters should practice with the clothes they will wear on the hunt and get an idea about how cumbersome it will be.
Marullo said if you have confidence in your shooting ability with various kinds of hunting clothes, you will have confidence in your shot in the woods as well.
“I sit in my stand and visualize which way I expect the deer to approach. When I finally do see a whitetail coming my way, he has no idea that I’ve already shot him in my mind two hours earlier,” he said.
Archery hunting for whitetails, whether it is with a crossbow or traditional archery equipment is one of the most rewarding challenges and thrills a hunter can experience.
Hunters will often have one elk in their trophy room and perhaps a pronghorn or bear, but will have many whitetails.
White-tailed deer are the most challenging game animals readily available to hunters in North America. We should embrace the challenge and be grateful for it.
Let’s show our gratitude by using the meat. What we don’t eat should be given to the less fortunate through programs such as Hunters For The Hungry or local church feeding programs.
We should always remember to do our best to make a clean kill. Practice is not only important for a successful killing shot, but it shows our respect for the country’s most celebrated game animal.
An Owner’s Instructional video from TenPoint & Wicked Ridge on how to sight in a crossbow.
—story by TF&G Staff Report