Hunting isn’t just a matter of throwing some camo on, grabbing your boots, and climbing a tree. It takes passion, preparation, and work. Now, generally I’m not a big “Summer” person – I am so not made for the heat of Pennsylvania Summers – but I do honestly love it because it’s the last step before Fall, and ultimately toward deer season. So how do I spend my Summers prepping for those cool, crisp, treestand days? Shooting, hiking, scouting, and hanging cameras, of course! Shooting – specifically how to prepare for Fall – has been on my mind on this hot July day …
Shoot While Sitting
This might sound like a weird tip, but hear me out. Ordinarily when you think of hunting out of a stand you’re going to think of slowly standing as you see a deer approaching – trying not to make a sound and waiting for the right moment to draw back. But what about when a doe comes tearing through with a buck hot on her tail? I can almost guarantee that you’re not going to have time to stand, plan, and draw. More than likely you’re going to have a split second to make a decision. My two most recent buck were shot sitting down because they came through so quickly, I never would have had a chance at them if I didn’t draw back immediately.
The same could be said for if you decide to hunt from a blind or try a ground hunt. Even if you’re in a stand and a deer comes through to that one spot where you have a clear lane sitting down, but if you stood up, you wouldn’t have a chance because of branches in the way from that new angle. Shooting from a sitting position requires you to engage an entirely new set of muscles that you wouldn’t have to use while standing – which means if you’re not practicing for it, it could very well cause you to have trouble drawing back. Think about it – wouldn’t it make sense to practice a few extra hours over the Summer, just to make sure you’re prepared come Fall?
Focus On The Breath
This is a big saying in the yoga-world. You’ll hear it all the time – back to the breath, back to the breath, back to the breath. Well, they’re onto something. The purpose of focusing on the breath in yoga is essentially to ensure that you stay “in the moment” – to move away from anxiety, stress, and worries in favor of the present moment.
When I bought my first bow, I started a simple breathing exercise while practice shooting because shooting in front of other people made me pretty nervous. I would lift my bow, take a deep breath in, and then a deep breath out. Then while drawing back I would take another deeper, sharper breath in and focus on the target. I didn’t realize it at the time, but this would become one of the most helpful things to me while practicing over the Summer months and when actually out hunting all Fall and Winter. Instead of all of the thoughts that could be flowing through my mind when a shooter comes through – in some cases even the worries – I breath in, out, in and zero in on my shot placement. Sure, my heart’s still pounding, but I’m more focused. More aware.
If you haven’t been to a 3D archery shoot yet, you’ve got to try it! On regular nights, we shoot at deer targets and regular ol’ block targets. However, 3D shoots offer something that our shooting nights at home can’t quite provide – exposure to more lifelike scenarios. What happens when you’re practicing broadside shots at home all Summer, only to have to make a quartering-away shot when the season rolls around? Or, as I’m sure almost all Pennsylvanians or mountaineers can relate to, you practice eye-level shots from the ground, only to have to take a shot downhill (or uphill) from your stand?
3D shoots help to provide this kind of practical exposure and experience. You shoot at more realistic targets, in a more realistic environment, from various levels and angles, to help you prepare for the best shot possible. The bonus is that they’re a ton of fun (without being super competitive) and you can connect with other archers in your area. If your spouse or significant other is into archery as well, these make for an awesome date-day, too!
“Preparation is never lost time. The seeds you plant today will bring a harvest tomorrow”
Sarah Wehrli – Awake