Bowhunting For Beginners: Starter Guides & Tips

If you want to learn about wildlife or have fun or fill your freezer with fresh meat from the wild; well bowhunting provides them all. If you are new you have to learn a lot. But don’t worry, because we are here to bring you a guide on bowhunting for beginners. Let’s go.

Bowhunting requirements (Hunting laws, rules, and important things to know)

New hunters have a lot of questions in their minds. Questions like; What rules do I have to follow? How do I hunt from a treestand? What do I need to start bowhunting? And these questions are no surprise because you need to learn about them. So in this part of our guide for bowhunting for beginners, we’re going to be talking about all the rules and laws about hunting and also answering the questions you may have in your mind. So let’s get into it.

There are obviously courses on these topics. They usually take place on the weekends. But we’re going to explain things that are taught in the courses.

Some of those courses are solely based on licenses. Because in some states you need to buy a hunter’s license to hunt legally. And these courses are a prerequisite to buying the license. In most states, you need to pass a state-approved course. There are a variety of prerequisites. So check the wildlife agency’s site to know more about it.

Let’s say your state doesn’t require a bowhunting license you should still check out these courses. Because they are very educational and can help you to learn very important skills you need to learn before going into the woods to hunt down prey. These skills can boost your confidence before hunting. You can get crash courses in basically every part of hunting. Like, hunter safety, hunting basics, laws, and regulations, etc.

These courses are available at schools, colleges, archery shops, archery clubs, and municipal buildings. But make sure they are listed by your state’s wildlife agency. They list classes and places. But sign up quickly because they fill up fast.

These lessons are taught in-depth during classes. So even if it feels complicated at first you will get a hold of it soon enough. After completing the course you’ll know well about your states’ laws and regulations.

Field dressing might feel very uncomfortable and nasty but pro hunters will take you through the process.

After passing the course you will get a certificate and a hunter ID that proves that you are a certified hunter. This will allow you to buy a license for hunting. Mostly you can buy the license online and then they mail it to you or you can print it at home. However, you can also buy it from archery stores and clubs.

Completing the courses is the first step of you being a hunter.

Which prey can I hunt with a bow?

Well, if you are keen on bowhunting then the first thing you should know is about what animals can you hunt with your bow? Obviously, you can’t hunt all the animals with a bow. So there are some preys which hunters like to use. Such as:

For large game or bowhunting

  • Deer
  • Moose
  • Bear
  • Bison
  • Sheep
  • Goat
  • Caribou
  • Elk

For smaller games or varmints like

  • Coyote
  • Raccoons
  • Rabbits
  • Squirrels
  • Gees
  • Fish
  • Frog
  • Turkey
  • Shunks
  • Pheasants
  • Groundhogs

With the right setup, you can hunt all of the above with bows, too. Usually smaller games are considered to be the ones with less than 40 lbs. These provide greater challenges with fewer restrictions and also longer seasons than large games. But the trophies are not so pleasing.

Whitetail Deer

Whitetail deer is a very popular prey to hunt among the hunting community. It provides a lot of benefits for hunters. So it is great for bowhunting for beginners. So now let’s know more about this in the guide about bowhunting for beginners.

whitetailed deer - bowhunting for beginners - archercreed

Deer have the ability to smell something from a very great distance. They can also spot things that are moving and hear the littlest of noise. These seem like superpowers. And these superpowers make them almost invincible to hunters because they can find out where the hunter is before the hunter finds out where the deer is. These senses make them able to stay out of any bow hunter’s range. But with enough knowledge and good strategies you can definitely overcome the challenges that the whitetail deer gives you and secure some fresh and wild deer meat.

A deer’s first weapon is its nose. They use their nose as a primary weapon against predators. In fact, it can even perform better than a bloodhound’s nose. Their olfactory receptors and their long nose are the keys to this incredible ability. They have 800 times more receptors than any normal being’s nose. Their mouth contains Jacobson’s organ. This sorts out smells. When they smell something, they automatically recognize which animal that is.

Another weapon in the deer arsenal is its incredible brain. Their brain does an incredible job to decipher smells. They work in the same way as a supercomputer. They can recognize the thinnest of smells.

How to defeat the super smeller: There is indeed a solution to every problem. In this case, it is the same. The best way to beat these super senses is to use the wind against them. Position yourself in a position that wind blows your scent away from the deer. That can ensure that you are not getting yourself recognized by the deer.

When you walk, on each and every step and touch you leave trace scents too. That is enough for the deer to find out that there is a hunter. However, if you wear rubber boots then you won’t leave behind traces. Also, don’t touch any trees or branches, and try not to cross deer trails when walking. Another thing is you should never hunt on the same spot continuously.

Deer’s hearing is not as good as their scent-catching senses. Nevertheless, it is pretty good. They have ears like antennae which are placed far apart from each other. Which allows them to triangulate and pinpoint the exact location. So a single wrong move or noise can ruin your entire hunting trip. So be careful.

How to beat the super hearing: If you don’t make any unnatural noises you should be fine. But if you do, you will be in big trouble while hunting. Natural sounds like bushes rustling or acorns falling from trees won’t bother deer because they hear it every day. But unnatural sounds like metal clinging will alarm them. Because that is nothing they are familiar with.

Deer can actually dodge speeding arrows likewise superheroes. They can do it even if they are not conscious of it. They can thwart many attacks with their super fast reflexes. When they hear the releasing sound of a string their brain automatically recognizes it as a dangerous sound and alerts the body. Then they automatically drop their body and spring load their legs for a speedy escape. It can drop so quickly that a speeding arrow can just fly over it harmlessly. It happens especially when you’re shooting from more than 30 yards away.

How to defeat super reflex: If you want to hunt a deer successfully then you’ll need intimate knowledge about their behavior. The best time to hunt down a deer is when it’s relaxed. If it’s looking around and it has its head up then the deer is alert. So take the shot accordingly. If want to be good at deer hunting then you need to know its body language well.

However, deer don’t have the best vision. To be honest, if you take an eye test for a deer it probably wouldn’t even get like 20 out of 100. In short, if something is in the range of 20 feet it will see as good as a human see from 100 feet. But that is not enough to think that deer are unable to protect themselves. Seeing well is not necessary for a deer. It doesn’t need to recognize your face to detect you as a danger.

Every species have eye receptors called rods and cones. So do deer. Rods detect movement and shapes. Cones detect colors. Deer has more rods than our eyes. Which means they are more effective at detecting movements than we are. Nevertheless, they have fewer cones, meaning they are not good at distinguishing colors as we are. They have a 300-degree view of their surroundings because of the fact they have their eyes on either side of their head. So that means if you are seeing a deer’s eyes it can see you too.

How to beat incredible eyesight: Hunters should wait until the deer is looking the other way or has its vision obstructed before making any movements. Because of their incredible movement detecting ability, they can sense any movement and get away from danger seconds before the arrow hits it. Its senses allow it to detect anything in its surrounding that’s out of order. Likewise, if you walk into your house and see a piece of new furniture. You surely can’t miss it.

Finally, beating a deer’s senses is not easy but it’s not impossible either. But it can be done by paying a little bit more attention.

How to select a bow?

If you already have a bow and you enjoy using it then continue using it. You will be a lot better with an older and more basic bow than with a newer and fancier bow. I don’t have any practice with the bow than doesn’t matter which bow it is you’ll need a lot of time to get familiar with it. In bowhunting, you will have to keep thinking that you only have one shot. So “You have to be able to nail it even when asleep”.

But if you don’t have any bows then here we are going to show you some bows that you can use well in bowhunting.

The most commonly used bows are compound bows. Because the compound bows allow you to pull more weight and generate more power. It also allows more time to aim accurately. With a compound bow, you can hold the draw for several minutes. These bows have more room for accessories. But shooting can be a bit difficult using compound bows.

bowhunting equipements - archercreed

On the other hand, recurve bows and longbows use older and more traditional designs. They also won’t allow you to pull as much draw weight as a compound bow. You can’t hold the draw very long either. Nevertheless, they are good for a very quick draw and release. They are perfect for wing shooting and small game hunting. They work just fine in big game hunting.

The market of recurve bows is a little thin compared to compounds bows. However, there are still a lot of options.

Crossbows are the finest and they shoot like a gun. It is also very simple to use. After the bow is cocked you just need to pull the trigger and bam. It fires arrows at a very high foot per second rate. It even requires very less movement too. So it indeed is the most accurate bow to buy for hunting. Nonetheless, this does not provide the best hunting experience. If you truly want the best experience you should go for a traditional bow. It is so much more fun.

Another great factor to consider is the cost. In brief, you need to decide whether you want to choose compound bows, hunting bows, or recurve bows. Make your choice. Then select the bow that provides quality and comes inside your budget. And be sure to shoot the bow first before purchasing it. Most of the good archery shops allow you to test the bow before buying it.

Bowhunting equipment

While going on your first hunting trip you will need to have some good equipment that goes along with your bow. Of course, it depends totally on you on what you want to get. Anyways we are going to share our personal opinion so let’s get into it.

First of you need some equipment to protect your dominant and non-dominant hand from getting clapped by the string when released. You need an armed guard for your less dominant hand. That is recommended for all kinds of shooting. You should also get either a finger tab or trigger release or a glove for your dominant hand. Now you can choose any one of these but my personal preference is wearing gloves because it is very comfortable. But many would suggest trigger release for higher accuracy.

Another crucial part is the sight you use. There are several good options when it comes to sights. But the most common is the pin sights and crosshair sights. But I personally think crosshair edges a bit. The sights play a very important part in the flight of the arrow. Also, you can use a rangefinder for bowhunting for an accurate shot.

Another important category is arrows and arrowheads. Depending on your game type you need to find the best arrows and arrowheads for your bow. The primary options are aluminum and fiberglass arrows. These are light and work great for beginners. Depending on the draw length of your bow you should choose the right arrow length. If you can’t find it out then you should contact any archery shops and they should be able to clarify that. Mechanical and fixed arrowheads are important for big game hunting. But it is not necessary for small games. But you can find special broadheads for small games.

Then there are accessories that are completely based on your own opinion. Like you can attach a quiver, a silencer, peep sight, and stabilizers. You can’t attach them to your bow or just leave it as is.

Other Accessories

Doesn’t matter which type of game you are hunting in, you need some extra equipment with your bow. The most common target in an archery game is whitetail deer. So the key to understanding more about these deer is to understand what sound it makes and also learning a bit about other deer types and where they tend to live.

The best odds to hunt a deer is to use a tree stand. Because deer can barely see anything like foods or predators above their eye level. So usually they have no reasons to look up. Thus it makes you somewhat invisible when you are 20 or 30 feet from the ground. And if you are invisible then it will be a piece of cake to hunt a deer. So to find an ideal tree for your hunting trip you have to bring a climbing stand and then mount a stationary stand in your favorite spot.

Secondly, you need a good pair of hunting boots. Because it’s essential. The worst hunting experience is when your toes go numb because your shoes are cold and wet but they don’t warm up. However good hunting boots can be used for these miserable situations. A good pair of hunting boots should be at least 9 inches long and they should be waterproof. They should also have good ankle support for rough surfaces and also a good amount of Thinsulate insulation to you warm in a very cold situation.

Additionally, you need a backpack to take all your must need items with you. Personally, I have a full backpack, a shoulder pack, and a small waist pack. The smaller your packs are the better it is. Because smaller packs take less space on the Stationary stand. Nonetheless, you still need enough space to carry all your important items and equipment.

You might also want to bring decoys or calls depending on the game that you are after. Call works for almost every game animal. Calls always serve a purpose whether it’s a grunt call or a yelp call. However, decoys are not legal for all states. It is only legal in some states. So be sure to check the regulation before the game. Nevertheless, decoys can work fine for turkeys because turkeys have incredible eyesight. Using turkey decoys you can draw out a turkey from as far as 100 yards away.

Recurve Bowhunting

Recurve bow hunting for beginners can be a bit tricky at first. However, many archers still favor the recurve bows over compound bows or crossbows. The reason for it being somewhat difficult is the fact that recurve bows generate less power than compound bows and crossbows. However, recurve bow is more than capable of taking down any hunting game animal likewise other bows. Animals like moose, white-tailed deer, elk, etc.

In all those cases, your equipment should be according to the animal you are hunting. Nonetheless, in this part of the guide about bowhunting for beginners, we’re going to be focusing on whitetail deer hunting with recurve bows. So let’s get into it.

Firstly let’s talk about draw weight. When it comes to drawing weight in deer hunting it is not necessary to have an extravagant amount of draw weight. About 45 to 55 lbs. of draw weight would be more than enough. Secondly, distance. Deer’s should be hunted from a pretty close range. A distance of 15 to 17 yards will be very good. But more than that can be a bit tricky. But still, some bowhunters are able to hunt down a bow from even 25 to 30 yards out. It really varies depending on your experience and skills.

Now let’s talk about the accessories. First of all, arrows. Your arrow should go with your draw weight and draw length. Usually, hunting arrows are made a little different. They are made a bit longer. This is done to ensure enough space for the arrow to not make contact with neither the bow nor your hand. Because an arrow can easily slice your hand into two pieces. So despite all the safety features, you should always be careful.

About broadheads, for traditional hunters, it is highly recommended to use two or three-bladed arrowheads. It ensures more power and high kinetic energy.

And finally, learn and practice. A recurve bow can not produce an extraordinary amount of power like a sniper rifle. The arrows can sometimes deflect off. It not only kills the hope of hunting the deer but also hurts it for so long. So study about it either online or from books. The target should always be the heart or lung area of the deer. A sharp arrow hit can kill it humanely.

Compound Bowhunting

As we talked about recurve bows in the previous part of our bowhunting for beginners guide, in this part we’re going to talk about compound bowhunting.

compound bow hunting - archercreed

Now hunting with a compound bow is a lot easier than hunting with a recurve bow. Simply because a compound bow has a more compact design, it generates more power and is also more accurate. They also allow you to hold more weight for a longer time. That can be super helpful especially in hunting situations. They also have more mounting options for accessories.

You actually need less draw weight in compound bowhunting than actually recurve bows. You need about 40 lbs. draw weight to kill a deer efficiently. But 50 pounds

Basic Fundamentals About Bowhunting

In this part of the guide about bowhunting for beginners, we’re going to teach you some very basic fundamentals about bowhunting. Things like using the wind, shot placement on a deer, etc.

Shot Placement

Shot placement on deer or any animals is very important. For the sake of understanding, we’re going to use a deer as an example. It is very important to place a shot perfectly on a deer to get humanely kill.

The most important part of killing a deer is to shoot in the vitals. This should give a humanely quick kill. A well-placed arrow should pierce the lung or the heart and give a quick death to the prey.

The vitals are placed in the chest cavity. This allows having a pretty large target. Depending on the position of the deer you should adjust yourself for the perfect shot.

A deer usually always stands broadside at a short-range and gives you a big target. Your shot should strike just behind the shoulder to pierce both lungs.

Make sure the deer has its nearest shoulder in the forward position. If it is facing back then the shoulder will be partially blocking the vitals. So wait for the leg to move forward before drawing the bow.

Studying Body language and following blood trails

After your arrow hits the deer you should immediately start gathering information.  See how the deer reacts after getting hit. If it pulls its rear leg off the ground then it is most probably a hearth shot. If it hunches back it is most likely to be a shot in the abdomen or the liver. See where it runs and listen to the sound of its falling.

Wait at least 30 minutes after the shot. Don’t leave your hiding spot or the tree stand before that time. If your shot was not perfect then waiting will prevent pushing the deer farther. Because if start blood trailing early then the deer might sense your presence and resume running. If you wait it will rest after a short run and die.

After 30 minutes go to the spot where you killed the deer and look for blood and your arrow. If you find your arrow give it a quick sniff. The sniff can provide knowledge about your hit. If the smell is like manure it leans toward an abdomen hit.

deer hunting for beginner

Partially digested plant matter or green bile means a stomach or intestine hit. But don’t be hopeless especially if there is significant blood. You are most like to redeem your deer back.

If you get the sign of a bad hit then wait at least 6 hours before pushing on. Tracking a badly hit deer will only push it away. If the weather is cold and the sun is setting then leave the forest and come in the morning. After coming back slowly follow the blood trail whilst assessing the information already found. Look out for blood on branches, trees, and bushes.

While untangling the blood trail stay on the side and mark each spot with flagging tape. Make like a checkpoint. If you ever get lost, return to the previous checkpoint and start again. And keep looking for any unnatural incidents like disturbed bushes, blooded trees, and overturned stones, etc. And look for the deer obviously. It can be harder than you think. Because deer try to blend into surrounding and walking past a body that is not moving is very easy.

Using the Wind as your greater advantage

Wind can be one of the greatest weapons in your arsenal. You have to use the wind to take away your scent from the deer. It is good to set up downwind for deer trail but crosswind setup works perfectly. As you may know, if read our article carefully scent is one of the most powerful aspects of a whitetail deer. It can get sense your presence only by your scent from a very long way out. But you can use the wind to fight against them.

Before you go to the woods you need to check the direction of the wind using your favorite weather report. Weather can obviously change so make sure to double-check.

While hunting on hillsides or mountains you should keep in mind that when it’s morning the air goes upwards and when the weather cools down the air comes back down. So use that as your advantage.

Where to hunt

Two basic areas of hunting are public land and private land. To find the nearby public land just visit your states’ wildlife agency website.

However, gaining access to private lands can be hard. Some states even require trespassers to carry written permission from the owner. Scouting your area and knocking on the door can eventually give access to private lands.

Little tips for bowhunting

Here are 5 useful bow hunting tips for beginners.

Start with big games and then move up to small games

Always start with easier challenges. So, starting with bigger games like deer would be a wise choice. It will help you learn and practice. Suppose you start off with a squirrel then it is more likely that you’ll miss the target and get frustrated. So be smart.

shooting a compound bow standing on treestand

Relax

Panicking can be very common. So don’t get overeager. Slow down and take a slow, deep breath and calm your nerves down. Then take the shot.

Practicing from odd yardages

You can practice from 20, 30, and 40 yards. That is very good but don’t forget to try shooting from odd yardages like 5, 15, 25 yards. It will assist you to adjust your aim.

Have a mental checklist

Having a shot opportunity can easily make you panic. Which results in a bad shot and missed shots. Not only beginners do it but also great hunters do it very often. So have a mental checklist and silently recite them while hunting. Then take a lethal shot.

And finally, enjoy it

Bowhunting is a very enjoyable sport. So enjoy it rather than stress over it. It will cause you to be 100 times better.

FAQs

What is a good hunting bow?

In the compound bow, the Mathews V3 is very good and in recurve, bows Bear Grizzly is the best.

What is the best prey to hunt for a beginner?

Whitetail Deer is the best option.

Conclusion

Bowhunting is not something I love dearly. It is a hunter’s dream to hunt good prey. Bowhunting is something to enjoy rather than stressing over it. So that concludes our bowhunting for beginners guide. Hope you learned something new from this article and feel free to drop a comment. you want to use and start your adventure. Hope you liked it, and if you did feel free to drop a comment down below. Besides, if you have any additional queries regarding recurve bows, compound bows, crossbows, archery accessories, and or archery lessons, feel free to ask below. We will include them.

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