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Mistakes of Bowhunters Day 1: Hunting Trophy Deer Too Early and Shooting Too Quickly or Waiting Too Long

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Editor’s Note: Good bowhunters can be better bowhunters, if they don’t commit these deadly bowhunting sins that decrease their odds for bagging deer, especially trophy deer. Sometimes even good bowhunters – outdoorsmen who have taken several deer with their bows and who have hunted for 4 or 5 years – make these mistakes. I’ve gathered this information from some of the top bowhunters I know.

Starting to Trophy Hunt Deer Too Early:

Most bowmen want to be trophy hunters. Once a bowhunter gets into the sport and reads about Boone and Crockett ( or Pope and Young ( trophy deer and about the archers who take these types of animals, he often sets a goal for himself to become a trophy hunter. However, most of these sportsmen don’t put-in the hours or take enough deer to become good hunters – much less trophy hunters. These hunters actually are making mistakes by missing-out on a lot of fun. As a trophy hunter, the outdoorsman may hunt all season or several seasons and never see a Pope & Young set of antlers. A buck must have extremely-large antlers to make the book, and a bowhunter may search his entire life for a trophy deer that’s Pope & Young or Boone & Crockett size and never find it. He’ll have to let numbers of nice deer walk by without ever harvesting them. One of the best reasons for becoming a bowhunter is to take deer with a bow, and bagging deer with a bow is the main focus of the sport. The hunter who becomes a trophy hunter too quickly misses the best of bowhunting, because of his obsession with taking a trophy.

Also, if a bowhunter hasn’t bagged quite a few deer with a bow, he won’t be mentally ready to take a trophy, even if the shot presents itself. If a bowhunter never has experienced shaking knees and shortness of breath before a shot or been so nervous that he can’t hold his bow steady, these things may happen when a big set of antlers comes into bow range. Only by learning to deal with the emotional problems that directly affect arrow flight in the woods can a bowhunter expect to be successful. And, only by taking numbers of deer can the bowhunter learn to control his emotions at the moment of truth. In my opinion, the bowhunter who wants to become a trophy hunter needs to have bagged at least six to 10 deer (20 deer is even better) with his bow before trying to become a trophy hunter. The idea of being a trophy hunter has been overplayed. Trophy hunting isn’t the ultimate in bowhunting. I do it because I like it. However, a bowhunter doesn’t have to become a trophy hunter to be a good bowhunter.

“Learn to Take Trophy Bucks by Making Mistakes” with Bob Sheppard:

Shooting Too Quickly or Waiting Too Long:

Many good bowhunters don’t harvest deer as often as they can, because they don’t know when to take their shots. They either shoot before they have good shots or wait for the very-best shot and never get a shot. Experience is the best teacher a bowhunter can have, because a hunter must learn when to take a shot. When an animal presents you with a good shot, the time has come to shoot. Don’t ever hurry a shot. However, generally you shouldn’t wait on the very-best shot, because many times deer won’t give you the shot you want. Don’t play with a deer, don’t watch a deer, and don’t take a head-on shot. But when you’ve got a good shot, take it.

“Knowing When to Take the Shot” with Bob Sheppard:

To learn more about bowhunting for deer, check out John E. Phillips’ books, available in Kindle, “Bowhunting Deer: Mossy Oak Pros Know Bucks and Bows” ( and “Bowhunting Deer: The Secrets of the PSE Pros” (

Tomorrow: Ignoring the Wind and Overusing a Stand When Bowhunting Deer

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