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Bowhunting Tactics

Bowhunting is the most challenging form of mule deer and elk hunting, and harvesting trophy animals is very difficult. However, with a little luck and a lot of patiences, it can be done, and is done every year.

As you might imagine, there is no easy secret. It takes hard work and lots of time to be consistently successful. For the most successful archer's, the hunt almost always begins a month or two in advance doing their preseason scouting. Once the buck (or bucks) are located, then it's time to start planning how you'll get an opportunity.

A good piece of advice is to try and pattern the buck you want. Watch where he likes to bed, which trails through the thick oak or pines he might use most often, or where he usually gets his water.

Patterning a big buck is very difficult, because it requires that you see him many times, which is quite a feat in itself. Those big bucks are hard enough to find and see once, let alone several times. However, it can be done if you're willing to invest the time and effort.

Once you have a good idea where the buck beds, feeds, waters, and the trails he tends to use in-between, then you have a much better chance at getting your opportunity. You will have options such as setting up a ground blind or treestand along the trail he uses, or over the water- hole he frequents. After that, it just takes patience and luck.

It would be great if we all had the time to spend weeks each summer watching the same buck over and over, unforunately, most us don't. If we're lucky, we might get 5 or 6 days of good scouting in each summer, possibly none for some hunters. This means that we will most likely be going into the hunt a bit blind, not exactly sure where to setup on opening morning.

If this is the case for you, then your only options might be to still hunt or spot and stalk. Both of which are going to take a little more luck and skill, especially because you'll have to go to the bucks, rather than having them come to you (as you would in a blind or stand). This is how most big bucks are taken though, most likely because this is how most hunter's hunt.

Still hunting can work very well. If you're in a good area, move slow and use your binocular's often, throughout glassing into the brush and trees. The important keys are, move slow and use the bino's. Deer have great eyes and can pickup the slightest movement at several hundred yards. And, if you're walking too fast, they nail ya!

This is where using the bino's comes in. With the use of binocular's, you will be able to spot the deer at several hundred yards, you'll even be able to spot small portions of a deer through a tree or the brush at a great distance. This means, hopefully, that you'll see him before he gets too close and spots you. You'll then be able to keep a close eye on the buck as you move closer or position for a shot.

When still hunting in the hot, dry weather, such as what we've had lately here in northern Utah, hunt near water when possible. Those deer are going to need water more often, and you can use it to your advantage.

The other option, if you haven't already got your big buck patterned and a blind built over his favorite trail or waterhole, is to spot and stalk. Spotting and stalking can be a very fun and challenging, and you will usually see more deer. The key again is to use those bino's!

The idea is to spot a buck feeding, maybe wait for him to bed, and then make an attempt to get close enough for a shot.

If this is the type of hunting you'll be doing, then carry an extra pair of large wool socks with you. The socks will come in very handy as you begin to close the distance on the buck. Slide them over your boots and they'll help to muffle any sound you make.

Some hunter's just opt to remove their boots, but I learned the hard way that this can be painful. It may not be painful as you're sneaking on the buck, but the walk back up a rocky hillside can leave your feet wanting to take the next day off.

So there you have it, a few tips that might help you out this season. Remember, keep the wind in your face and the bino's up to your eye's.

Good Hunting,

Brian Latturner