Hunting with a Traditional Bow

Sep 26, 2022

Traditional Archery Series Part 3: Hunting with a Traditional Bow

If you’re reading this, I’m certain you are more than ready for hunting with a traditional bow in hand and now is the time to get yourself ready to make the shot when your opportunity arrives!

For this to work, you will need to be shooting and grouping consistently with your practice points. If not, revisit the first two blogs or maybe seek out a proficient shooter/coach to help.

The first step is selecting and shooting your broadhead. Obviously, we feel like Wasp has the trad archer covered with several great options, but no matter what head you pick, the below info will help you get the most out of your shot opportunities. There are a lot of different designs out there but most trad bowhunters prefer a cut-on-contact head.

Once you have selected a broadhead that matches the weight of the practice points you have been shooting you want to set up at least a couple of arrows with them. The best way to do this is with a broadhead wrench and then you want to spin test your arrows. You can do this with a spin testing roller designed for the purpose. I have also seen people build their own by driving nails into a short section of a two-by-four. No matter how you do it, when you are spinning the arrow you want to focus on the tip of the broadhead. It should spin true and not wobble. If it doesn’t keep mixing and matching arrows and broadheads until you find the right combination.

Shooting the broadhead is the obvious next step and you want to make sure it hits with your practice points and does not have any noticeable wobble or dips in flight. Using a good broadhead target protects your blades from damage and will allow you to sharpen them if you want. Replaceable blade heads, like the Wasp Sharpshooter, offer a quick and easy fix to keeping a sharp broadhead and never shoot at an animal with a used broadhead.

Now for the moment of truth. You have an animal in range and you want to take it. Make sure it is within your personal effective range and that you know exactly where to aim. I find I typically end up aiming lower than I used to with a compound when whitetail hunting with a traditional bow. I also find that I limit my range compared to other animals like elk. Even when I feel from a distance stand point I could make the shot, I never bet against an animal’s reflexes or how a single step forward before the arrow arrives can make a great day bad.

What should your effective range be? That is a very personal question and you must always take into consideration the type of animal you are hunting as well as their current “mood”. A rutting buck may be moving a lot but isn’t as likely to spook. A doe that got a tiny whiff of something she doesn’t like is very likely to flinch at the sound of a shot. Try practicing at longer ranges than you would ever shoot an animal will help you be more accurate at the closer ranges. Effective range is such an individual thing that you should carefully think it thru both before and during the moment. The best advice I ever heard on it was simply that if it doesn’t feel right or there is any hesitation don’t take the shot.

Taking the shot from a stand or elevated position will add new twists when hunting with a traditional bow. When I first started shooting traditional bows from treestands I had struggles. There is a lot more to think about. Just the simple act of moving the bow around the tree gets a lot more complicated with a 60” long stick in your hand. My tendency was to short draw the bow and then forget about my lower limb being so much longer. Focusing more on bending at the waist and being totally aware of my immediate surroundings were key to finding consistency from an elevated position. It’s best to consider all of this when you’re hanging stands and getting set up. Drawing my bow a few times always helps me notice and correct any problems once I’m in a stand. You may also find you need to make some adjustments to your safety harness when using your stickbow. We’ve all heard to practice in your hunting clothing from the type of stand you use but I bet like me, you’ve gotten slack about that.

Now is the time to work thru every little detail so you are ready for the moment. And know that you will see deer that would be in range easily with a compound but are too far to risk a shot when hunting with a traditional bow. You have to be comfortable with knowing that. Embrace the challenge. And keep in mind, this is your journey, so don’t judge your success by others. If the urge to succeed overshadows the enjoyment of the journey stop and readdress your priorities.

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