Bow season is a lot of fun, an educational experience and an excellent way for anyone, including men, women and children to learn about nature. Practice is required before hunting, and now is an excellent time to start.

Bow season is a lot of fun, an educational experience and an excellent way for anyone, including men, women and children to learn about nature. Practice is required before hunting, and now is an excellent time to start.

Many types of wildlife go on with their daily life totally unaware of the camouflaged hunter overhead in a tree stand. You would be amazed how many species will pass by on any given afternoon.

Some bowhunters are sorry to fill their tags. Their time in the tree stand is a time of absolute peace and quiet except for the sights and sounds of nature. Bowhunters live for the time of cool autumn breezes and colored leaves. This is their time when anything can happen. Camouflage blends in hunters who become invisible components of a woodlot. Wildlife seldom realizes there is a human close by.

Last fall a hunter reported watching a young bobcat sniffing doe scent under his stand. The bobcat smelled doe urine the hunter poured from a bottle to attract bucks, then it cautiously walked in a circle around the smelly spot, occasionally making a curious cat-like sound.

The ornery hunter shot an arrow close to the curious feline to frighten it away. This sudden intrusion of the cat’s concentration made it panic and then jump up and down three times in the same spot before hightailing it to safety. The hunter admitted ruining his chances for deer that evening by laughing out loud. But what entertainment. This type of wildlife sighting is not uncommon from a tree stand.

Bowhunters occasionally find a flock of wild turkeys under their tree stand. Some purposely use a turkey call to draw gobblers, hens or young birds in close. Bow season is bad news for the turkey and good news for the hunter. Many states allow both wild turkeys and deer to be harvested on the same archery tag.

The best deer hunters who use a rifle are likely bow hunters too. Deer habits change with the seasons, making the need to learn important for bow hunters. The need for stealth and scouting is constant. Binoculars are important because they allow viewing long distances without actually walking around and scaring deer.

Bowhunters partake of a tradition that traces its roots back thousands of years. Though most modern archers use high-tech equipment, the essentials of the challenge are the same whether your bow features aluminum pulleys or wooden limbs. Arrow release and where the arrow strikes is the same as it was a thousand years ago.  

The gist of bowhunting is this: you must get within a few paces of a quarry that possesses superb senses. Then you have to place an arrow in an area the size of a dinner plate or a tennis ball on turkeys. If you forget to check wind direction or breathe a little too loud, a wary whitetail will evaporate like smoke in the wind. Turkeys disappear even faster.  

GETTING STARTED: The good news is: practicing with a bow and arrow is fun and relaxing. The bad new is: you should have started practicing months ago to be capable of killing a deer or turkey now. All hunters owe the one-shot kill to their chosen game species. Anything else is either a complete miss, or worse, an escaped wounded animal or bird.

You can get started by practicing with a simple target, then move on to harder targets. Beginning hunters should try shooting from tree stands or awkward positions like sitting on the ground or leaning around a tree. Then you have to hit a small target while occasionally off balance. Deer normally don’t provide easy, standing-in-the-middle-of-a-field type shots. Normally they are surrounded by brush, and you have to find an opening in the brush to slip an arrow through.

EQUIPMENT: You can only find out if you like shooting a bow and arrow by doing it. You might be well served to find a friend who owns a bow. Then talk him into a target range trip. This will give you the chance to try bow shooting, and you might even like their style of bow. Buying a bow can bring on problems if you don’t know what to look for.

For example, start out light on pull. Many say, you are going to hunt with a bow that pulls back 70 pounds so practice with this weight. But even if you can bench press 200 pounds before breakfast, learn how to shoot with a lighter draw weight for better control. Then, when you are hitting your target, look into heavier draw weights that will kill deer.

Most who sell bows will tell you, “You might as well buy the best now, because you will eventually anyway.” I can’t deny this, but many have spent several hundred dollars to find bow hunting was not their sport. Then the expensive bow is either sold at a garage sale or stashed in the closet.

Some bow shops that have shooting ranges will allow you to try a bow. This allows the opportunity to comfortably shoot from different distances. Some shop owners or employees even give instruction. This is a good reason to consult the Yellow Pages, make phone calls and ask questions.

Then be prepared to invest in numerous additions to your bow, a deer stand and adequate camouflage. I prefer Realtree or Mossy Oak brand camouflage. Both break up a hunter’s outline to the point where a sharp-eyed turkey or deer can’t see you.

You might even become involved in competitions. The popular 3-D shooting involves shooting at life-sized animal or bird targets. You have to estimate the distance and then make the shot. This is extremely valuable practice for hunting.

Bow hunting is not easy. But it is one of the most satisfying sports men, women or children can pursue. Once man shot a bow to survive. Now many survive to shoot their bow.