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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Monday was my first day hunting with a bow, in about 15 years. I was never much of a deer hunter. My father and I always focused our efforts on small game. But now that I have a new bow, I've got the bug. Monday was the first day of the second Archery/Flintlock season in PA.

I got a late start Monday. I was hunting a steep (and I mean steep! 35degree incline, 1000' vertical feet) hill near my parents. It is bounded by a river/highway at the bottom, and a residential area at the top. It is chuck full of garden-fed deer, and not many people bother hunting it.

I thought to myself "all I'm hoping for is to get a shot" as I walked into the woods. Maybe I should have wished for even more... 5 minutes after I steped into the woods, I had my first shot (and miss.)

As I sized up the shot, I realized that this was going to be a lot harder than at the range. I was shooting over a small valley, slightly downhill, over some brush, between some trees, and in very flat light. I tried estimating the halfway point, tried picking out a feature I thought was 20yds away as a basis point, tried estimating the size of the deer... anything to give me a good idea as to how far away the deer was. It didn't help I was a little bit excited too.

I guessed long, and my first shot sailed harmlessly just over the deer's back.

An hour of slowly creeping along the hillside gave me another long, but easier shot. This time my arrow clipped a small branch about halfway to the target and sailed wide of the mark. One drawback of carbon arrows & fast bows is that the arrows don't seem to make as much noise skipping through the woods, and a miss sure goes a long way. I never found that arrow.

But just as light was beginning to fade I got one last shot. A fat doe, nearly broadsides, straight uphill, about 45yds away. A tough shot, but the deer was far enough away I could take my time and really concentrate. This time my range estimation seemed to be spot on, but as I shot the arrow she took a quarter step turn in my direction. As luck would have it, my arrow went exactly where I had aimed it, which since she moved turned out to be square in the shoulder. My heart sank when I saw that the arrow failed to fully penetrate.

I waited as long as the light would allow, and then followed the trail. I was initally hopefull as there was enough blood to make it easy to follow. But about 400 yds later I found the arrow, and after it fell out the blood trail all but dried up. The doe I was following was in a group of 7 other deer, and their trail crossed back onto their previous outbound trail, leaving a jumble of prints. It was now well past sunset, and I was forced to give up.

I hope to give it another try tomorrow. I hopefully improved the odds a bit by picking up a laser rangefinder. The weather might help too... instead of 10F with crunchy leaves and snow, it's going to be 50F and wet. At least my bowhand will be happier... that aluminum riser is damn cold at 10F.
 

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hey man dont give up, sometimes bowhunting gets the best of us and u never can seem to win, but dont give up its truley a great thing we have. and hey u never know try following that trail a bit more make some circles around it maybe ull find a few more drops of blood and head u back on the trail to your trophy, good luck and stick with it
 

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your giving up on the doe you shot.is that what you ment. 2 shots in one day . 1 at 45yds . and tomorrow youg going to give it another try . try at what to wound another deer . i dont mean to be judgemental but maybe you should sit the rest of the season out an practice :
 

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A 45 yard shot is tough at any time, much less when you haven't been shooting for awhile. You might consider a limit alot closer. Wounded animals with arrows sticking out of the wrong place just give non hunters ammunition to fight hunting. Don't give up just adjust. Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
As far as the 45yd shot goes... If I was a little more honest with myself I probably wouldn't have taken that shot. I was having a little too much fun in the woods, and was maybe a bit over-confident from all the practicing I've been doing. (Haybales beware.) I also knew that it was going to be the last shot of the day, which may have helped force my decision. The one thing that makes me feel better about it was that my arrow hit just where I aimed... her quarter turn as I shot was the difference.

The problem with hunting on a Monday holiday, is no chance of tracking the next day (due to work.) My hope is that the things will be more in my favor tomorrow. The weather will certianly help. The leaves will be soggy instead of crunchy, and my camo will hopefully be a bit more effective. With an earlier start, and lessons learned, a long weekend to hunt, I don't think I'll feel as rushed either... It will be a bit easier holding off for the better shot.
 

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Denovich - I can tell that you are very exicited about getting into bow hunting and I can relate with that. It is a completely different experience than hunting with a gun, a lot more challenging, and brings you much closer to nature. With that being said, I find myself really biting my tongue as I type this post.

I hear from far too many hunters (new and experienced), telling me about a deer that they missed or wounded. The majority of these shots they tell me about are 35+ yards. I know a lot of these hunters well and they have no business taking these shots. I am a pretty good shot and I limit myself to 35 yard shots (and that is if they are not moving and completely unaware of my presence). I will also be the first to tell you that I have missed and wounded animals at less than this distance in years past. I'm not proud of it, just being honest. I shouldn't have taken some of those shots because I wasn't ready for them at the time. I learned my lesson.

I do not know you and I will not go so far as to say that you have no business taking these shots, but it sounds like that could possibly be the case. Bales are predictable and do not move. Deer are unpredictable and can jump the string on a 300 fps bow. Missing the X on a bale by 8" still looks like a fair shot for a new shooter. Missing your spot on a deer by 8" can lead to a non-fatal shot or worse yet, a dead deer that isn't found. The best cure for all of this is year-round practice and then when you feel like you gave got it. . . . . more practice.

I wish you the best of luck and welcome to the wonderful world of archery.
 

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flamethrower said:
your giving up on the doe you shot.is that what you ment. 2 shots in one day . 1 at 45yds . and tomorrow youg going to give it another try . try at what to wound another deer . i dont mean to be judgemental but maybe you should sit the rest of the season out an practice :
Although I think this may be a little "harsh" there is a good point here.
Maybe get as much practice in as you can to improve your confidence, and at the same time limit your shots to a comfortable range in which you know you can make the shot count.

Another big help would be use a stand until you get more experience judging distance. With a stand you can put markers to aid you in judging your distance better. Flagging tape is cheap and perfect for this.

I have gotten many of my family into bowhunting over the years and the most helpful thing is recreating your practice sessions by taking a stand at about 10-15 feet (minimizes the effect of sighting from ground vs high elevation)with a nice platform(ladder stands are great for this)and establishing distance references using markers at 10 yd intervals.

Best way to do this is use your range finder and find land marks at 10 yd intervals from your stand(I also suggest sighting in from this elevation /stand during mid day)place the markers in visible locations and use them as imaginary boundaries to aid you in pin selection.

I have found that this has helped many of my beginners "focus" on shooting the deer by having a "known range" to count on, rather than thinking about what distance and angle and everything else instead of shot placement.

I would definitely suggest trying to find that deer though...I can tell you firsthand from experience that a non-recovered deer will haunt you for a long time.
I have only lost 1 deer in 15 years due to bad shot and it was an equipment related problem and despite I knew it wasn't a skill issue, it affected my confidence the following year and I passed on several 40+ yd shots I could easily have made.

Limit your range, eliminate your range estimation problems, and practice/sight in from your stand.

PS, don't joke about giving up on the bowhunting thing...because your first experience resulted in no success you will be driven that much harder to overcome it..
Imagine if you would have taken the 1st deer in the first 5 mins you ever tried this...I am sure you would not have been as driven to improve your skills etc.
 

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Another question comes to mind...did you practice and sight in using your broadheads? If not be aware that you should, because although from a perfectly tuned bow they fly very close to field points, from marginally tuned bow you can get a "different" impact point due to planing/porpoising etc.
If you say the arrow hit where you aimed, then it sounds like you are good to go on the things being questioned, such as range estimation, tune, shot placement, maybe you shouldn't question these and should look at your broadheads.
Obviously you didn't have a pass thru, were they sharp? What kind of broadhead were you using?

What kind of bow, draw weight, draw length and arrows are you shooting?
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
tomcat said:
PS, don't joke about giving up on the bowhunting thing...because your first experience resulted in no success you will be driven that much harder to overcome it..
Imagine if you would have taken the 1st deer in the first 5 mins you ever tried this...I am sure you would not have been as driven to improve your skills etc.
Giving up never crossed my mind. As long as I learn something, my first experience can still be a success. I 'knew" a lot of things before I walked in the woods Monday... but I didn't "absorb" a lot of that knowledge until I had the experience to go with it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
tomcat said:
Another question comes to mind...did you practice and sight in using your broadheads? [snip]
What kind of bow, draw weight, draw length and arrows are you shooting?
2004 Hoyt XTec, 53# 28.5" Beeman ICS Hunter 400 arrows, 28.5" draw, 100gr Muzzy 3 blade broad heads (brand new, I keep the practice heads separate)...

Earlier this month I backed the bow down from 60# to 53# as I could shoot more consistantly at that weight. At 60# my first 2 groups would be great, but as I got a little tired they would begin to spread. OnTarget2 tells me that the arrow/point combination is a bit stiff at 53#, but they shoot bullet holes when paper tuned.

I did practice with the broadheads, but not nearly as much as I've been shooting fieldpoints (can't shoot BHs indoors where I can shoot at night after work. Have to wait for the wait for the weekend to use the outdoor range during the day.) I shot enough to confirm they were hitting where I sighted them, and that they were flying true.

Where I do need the practice is in the field... You don't have to decide whether or not it's fair to shoot a haybale on the range.
 

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so, are you going to do anything about that wounded deer? it sounds like you werent in a position to track it the next day. that, combined with a longer than optimal shot, combined with 'the last shot of the day'...it sounds like you shouldnt have taken the shot.
it doesnt sound like anyone is trying to be a jerk to you and im not either. but slinging arrows at deer up to 45 yrds on your first day hunting, and knowing that you wont be able to track any deer the next day that you wound, kind of makes a case for learning about being a responsible hunter BEFORE you head out into the woods. its better to hear about it on an internet chat sight rather than from some of those angry people in the residential zone bordering your hunting spot because they have a wounded deer in there yard with your arrow sticking out of it...
the blood can really get pumping and the excitement of the hunt is what makes hunting great, but being able to think things through during those times and knowing when NOT to shott will make you a better and more responsible hunter.
chris
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
So I don't think anyone is being a jerk. I certainly didn't expect to get congratulated for wounding a deer. I do think I've learned a few lessons, and that really was the point of my inital post... a cautionary tale.

When I took the shot, I thought my next problem was going to be the long drag off the hillside. It wasn't until I was confronted with a wounded deer, that I realized: That the biggest risk of a difficult shot was not missing, but wounding. That it was late and getting dark. I have to go to work tomorrow.

None of those facts were a surprise. I just hadn't thought them through, or gave them the proper weight. I've hunted (small game) for 20 years, and shot trap and skeet even longer... I didn't think of myself as a beginner even though I should have. As you said I should have figured this out BEFORE I took the shot.

I'll go into the woods tomorrow with a much different approach. The area is small enough, with some luck I might get another chance to finish what I started.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Update

I got skunked Friday. Saw lots of deer, but none presented a good shot. The warm weather had them moving all over the hill. I saw no sign of the deer I wounded Monday.

I had not planned on hunting today, but as the day wore on, I figured my ankles could handle one more day on that hillside.

I had paused in a small clearing, when something caught my attention ahead. I thought I must have spooked a deer ahead of me. I waited and saw a few deer, and surprisingly they were coming in my direction. Next thing I know I have deer streaming 20 yards above and below me. I only had two decent shooting lanes, and hoped for a deer to pause in one. But whatever spooked the deer in my direction had the deer on the run.

After at least a dozen deer passed, another group came through. One doe paused in clear view broadsides. There were so many deer I think it slowed down because of a traffic jam. I drew, fired, and... nothing? The arrow seemed on target, but I heard nothing and the doe stepped forward to be completely hidden by brush.

A few seconds later and I heard some commotion behind the brush. I had been on target. The doe fell through the brush and into view. As I had been shooting from below, the arrow had passed though the heart and one lung. There was foamy blood everywhere.

As I examined the deer I saw a cut on the front right "elbow". That's when I saw the second relatively fresh wound an inch or two below my shot.

Sure enough, it was the very same doe I wounded on Monday. I hadn't hit the shoulder as I thought, but clipped the pointy part the leg, and hit just above the breast bone, directly below the heart. I had been just a touch low.

This is the first time I have had to drag a deer off this hill. Wow. Even this small doe was a heart attack in the making going up. I fought about 10 yards straight up, before realized the much longer drag down was the way to go.

I'm pretty tickled about how things turned out. Although not a trophy, I feel somewhat redeemed, and happy to finish what I started.

Can't wait till next year.
 

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long shots

here is my 2 cents worth, I have a small clearing on the other side of a creek,that is on a major trail, now the only shot to this area is 43 yards, so I practice 40-50 yard shots the month before opener in my yard, not good enough, so what i did was put a 3-d deer in the opening and shoot the heck otta it and this year I took 3 deer all at 43 yards and each one was a great hit 1 did the crappie flop right there 1 ran about 30 feet and the 3rd turned its head and looked at me and fell over. I guess what Im saying is to practice at the distance you willl be hunting in and try and get some shots in the same conditions you will be in,
 

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I took 3 deer all at 43 yards and each one was a great hit 1 did the crappie flop right there 1 ran about 30 feet and the 3rd turned its head and looked at me and fell over.
2 deer dropped on the spot from 43 yards. Are you shooting a bazooka or arrows? In my experiences arrow hit deer don't drop on the spot unless hit in the spine.

HUNT SAFE !!!!
 

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Second Chances

Congratulations on your first bowkill. As for the trophy deal, someone once told me that any cleanly killed animal shot with a bow is a trophy, and I think you've already experienced that. I think you've already heard some excellent advice on these posts, and it sounds like you are really hearing what these guys have said, so be thankful that you were afforded that second chance to make good on that doe; those don't come around often. Again, congrats on your first clean kill.
 
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