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Deer Hunting

How to Load and Shoot a Crossbow Proficiently

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Crossbow shooting isn’t rocket science, but it does require training, patience, and safety awareness. This step-by-step tutorial will walk you through everything you need to know to learn how to load and shoot a crossbow proficiently.

1. Run Through a Pre-shot Checklist

Everyone from Army generals and pilots to exterminators and cab drivers uses checklists, so why shouldn’t someone handling a potentially deadly weapon use one, too? Your pre-shot checklist should begin long before any shots get to take. Use the following tips as a pre-shot checklist:

  • Is your bow in good shape from limb to limb and from stock to stirrup? This includes wax and lubrication levels, tightness of the entire device, signs of wear, and a proven history of being a reliable bow.
  • Are your arrows free of cracks or bends, and have your arrowheads been sharpened? Make sure your arrows and arrowheads are compatible with your bow.
  • Are you carrying extra parts in case something breaks?
  • Where is your first aid kit and what does it contain?
  • Who knows where and how to find you in the event of an emergency?
  • Do you have enough supplies and a practical plan for the outing?
  • Is everyone in the hunting party properly trained and dressed for crossbow hunting? Apart from knowing how to use a crossbow and be stealthy, each person should have all the equipment they need to avoid ruining the hunt for others (by not bringing scent eliminator, for example).
  • Do you have an evacuation plan and do you have a reliable way to transport games to your cabin or safe house?

There is no harm in paying more attention than you think is necessary for small details because sometimes small details can become big problems.

2. Check All Limbs, Bolts, Strings, and Cables Thoroughly

Your crossbow and arrows should all be in pristine condition before you even begin to consider letting an arrow fly. Countless things can go wrong (and they have) due to easily-fixable situations like frayed strings, loose bolts, un-waxed strings, un-lubricated barrels, and cracked limbs. Keeping your crossbow in good condition and providing it with regular maintenance will make you a more successful hunter and greatly eliminate the threat of missed shots or hunting accidents.

3. Cock The Bow

You can keep a crossbow cocked for approximately four hours at a time, depending on the bow’s manufacturer and the bow-related materials you are using. Release the tension at least every four hours and then cock the bow again. If you cock your bow manually then make sure that the draw weight is equal on both sides, and ensure the bow is fully cocked and locked into place. Many hunters use cocking devices to make drawing the bow to the proper level faster and easier. When cocking your bow, place your foot firmly into the stirrup and keep the bow pointed directly at the ground until you hear the familiar “click” of the bow locking into place.

4. Activate The Safety

Some crossbows come equipped with automatic safety. Other models have a safety mechanism that must be activated manually. Either way, it’s vital that you keep the crossbow’s safety on until the moment you are ready to pull the trigger and release the arrow.

5. Load an Arrow into The Barrel

Your arrow’s shaft should fit perfectly into the flight groove. The arrow-head should rest comfortably between the riser, and the back end of your arrow should be in contact with the already-cocked strings. One of the feathers, or fletchings, on your arrow should go into the flight groove. Many arrows have color-coded fletchings to help you determine which fletching goes into the flight groove.

6. Determine Your Range

Few things are more embarrassing than having a once-in-a-lifetime shot and missing it due to the fact that you didn’t correctly assess the distance between you and the target. Use field markers near your shooting lanes, or invest in an electronic range finder in order to know your distance with the simple click of a button.

7. Aim

The exact spot where you need to aim differs slightly from animal to animal. As a general rule, you want to reach the chest cavity to give yourself the best chance of making a kill shot. Try to aim for right behind the shoulder of the animal and just below the upper shoulder joint. Remain steady as you aim, and don’t let anything distract you from pulling the trigger – as long as you know that you’re about to take a good shot.

8. Pull The Trigger

This might seem like an obvious thing to do, but trigger tension and personal anxiety have caused many potentially good shots to go to waste. Pull the trigger firmly and without hesitation – as long as you know exactly where you’re aiming and there is no risk of collateral damage to you or other people in the vicinity.

9. Follow through.

The shot doesn’t end when you pull the trigger. You should keep a steady hand, and be prepared to attempt a second shot if the situation calls for it. Additionally, you need to keep a close eye on your target to determine if and where the target was struck. If your target makes a run for it then do your best to determine where the animal is headed and look for signs like hastily-made trails, broken limbs, blood and pieces of internal organs.

10. Evaluate the results

Evaluating the results doesn’t only mean running after whatever it is that you shot (or attempted to shoot). It also entails checking your bow and all of its parts for damage. Make sure no part of the bow broke away and acted as a projectile, possibly injuring you or someone in the area.

Conclusion

Loading and shooting a crossbow aren’t skills that you can master in one day. Practice as much as you can, watch tutorial videos online, and talk to fellow crossbow hunters to draw from their extensive knowledge. This 10-point, step-by-step guide should provide you with a solid foundation for understanding the mechanics of safely loading and shooting a crossbow. By adhering to these 10 steps you can become a more accurate archer and you can then pass your knowledge onto others.

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Deer Hunting

Crossbow Deer Hunting – The 8 Best Tips & Tactics for Success

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Crossbows are powerful and sensitive pieces of hunting equipment, and it can take years to master the art of crossbow deer hunting. It’s a skill that requires patience, a steady hand and a firm grasp of the concept of aerodynamics. Hunting deer with a rifle is challenging enough but learning how to successfully hunt deer with a crossbow takes things to an entirely new level. Below we’ve broken down the eight best tips and tactics for hunters who want to improve their crossbow hunting skills.

1. Know the law

Hunting regulations can be difficult to understand and adding crossbows to the mix only complicates matters. After you learn that crossbows, in general, are permitted you should determine if there are any equipment restrictions.

Next, you need to find out exactly when they are permitted and specifically how they are to be used. Many states have head and minimum draw requirements. If you can’t find any specific information on crossbow deer hunting in your state then look for generic archery regulations and talk to other hunters who use crossbows for hunting deer.

2. Stay ethical

Ethical crossbow hunting means displaying respect for yourself, nature, the deer and other individuals (whether or not they are hunters). Avoid hunting fawns as they will keep deer populations healthy for future generations. Don’t kill simply for sport – use as much of the animal as possible and always try to make a clean kill. Only hunt in season and avoid trespassing or using illegal baits to lure deer to you. Sticking to “fair chase” rules is what makes hunting an honorable pastime.

3. Practice, practice, practice

Your crossbow shouldn’t be collecting dust when deer are out of season. These deadly devices can be catastrophic in the wrong hands so you should practice consistently year-round. Attend archery classes and engage in target practice with fellow crossbow hunters on a regular basis. Staying in shape and in practice all year will make you a safer and more accurate hunter when a deer crosses your line of sight.

4. Make safety your primary concern

An arrow through the head is only entertaining when it’s nothing more than a novelty hat. Your crossbow’s safety should always be on until you have a clear shot. As is the case with guns, with crossbows you should never point the bow at anyone or anything that you aren’t preparing to shoot, and you should always be aware of what is on the other side of your target.

You should always have a well-stocked first aid kit on hand that includes bandages, gauze, scissors, eye wash, smelling salts, alcohol wipes, sterile pads, latex gloves, aspirin, medical tape, a tourniquet, blister pads and hydrocortisone or another type of cream to soothe cuts or insect bites. Keep a fully-charged cell or satellite phone handy too, in case you need to call for help.

5. Select the proper bow and arrow combination

Deer hunting will require you to use a crossbow with a draw of 75-125 pounds. Certain areas have draw requirements for specific types of game so be sure to look into that before choosing a bow. The draw weight determines the speed of the arrow when it is released.

Many crossbows are outfitted with dampeners and scopes, but you can also buy aftermarket parts and add them to your bow. Crossbows are available in different materials, and as a general rule crossbows that are more lightweight and silent cost more.

Arrow selection is of the utmost importance. Arrows are usually made of aluminum, carbon or a composite of both of these materials. Aluminum arrows are more precise, but they are not as durable as carbon or composite arrows. Inexperienced hunters will likely want to start off with carbon arrows and work their way up to the more accurate yet more fragile aluminum arrows. You might also want to look into full metal jacket arrows, which are more expensive but are known for being deadly accurate, fast and durable. Most arrows are between 15-23 inches long and you should check the crossbow manufacturer’s recommendations to make sure you use arrows of an appropriate length.

6. Take advantage of modern technology

You can add equipment to your bow or carry certain tools with you that will aid your crossbow deer hunting efforts. Use a scope sight because even though many crossbows have open sights a scope sight will greatly increase your accuracy. Rangefinders are also extremely useful for crossbow hunters as they can tell you the exact distance from you to the target with just the click of a button.

You might also want to invest in a cocking device to make bringing the bow to full draw easier on yourself. Another tip that expert crossbow hunters recommend is to use a rest. You can also use shooting sticks or a pod to give the bow more stability and take some of the work-load off your arms.

7. Care for your gear

Your arrows need to be sharpened before each hunt. You should also keep an eye on your strings and cables as they can wear easily and need to be replaced regularly. Caring for your gear also means keeping everything clean and organized when you aren’t hunting. This guideline doesn’t just apply to your bow and arrows but to every single piece of hunting equipment you use.

8. Remain completely undetectable

Deer are known for their finely-tuned senses of sight, smell, and hearing. Wear as much camouflage as you can, and use rubber boots to avoid leaving behind scents that could be picked up. Your clothing should be washed with scent-free detergent prior to the outing, and you should seal it in a plastic box until you’re ready to hunt. Keep scent eliminator on you at all times and use it on your clothing, gear, tree stands, blinds, and trail camera locations.

Be aware of wind direction and stay downwind of potential targets. Keep movement and noise to a minimum at all times, and have your crossbow cocked and ready so you are fully prepared to take the shot when an opportunity presents itself.

Conclusion

There is no feeling like successfully bagging a big buck with a perfectly-placed arrow from a crossbow. We hope you found these eight crossbow deer hunting tips, tricks and tactics helpful. What strategies do you employ to give yourself a better shot at success with a crossbow? We’d love to hear your suggestions, questions and other remarks regarding this topic in the Comments here at NYBowhunter.com.

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Deer Hunting

7 Best Tips for How to Adjust & Sight a Crossbow Scope

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Shooting an arrow from a bow isn’t as easy as they make it look in the movies. Even once you’ve mastered drawing the crossbow, you still have to focus on things like adjustments, sights, arrow material, bow strength, and arrow size. In this article we’ll break down the 7 best tips for how to adjust and sight a crossbow.

1. Adjusting Your Crossbow Scope

You should shoot 500-1000 arrows before you attempt to sight your scope. If you can’t shoot tightly grouped arrows and your grouping is off then you aren’t ready to use sight. When you add a scope, follow the manufacturer’s directions. The dot at the top of the scope represents 20 yards out.  The middle and lower dots represent 30 yards, respectively. The number and type of marks depend on the scope and the crossbow’s intended use. You need to “zero” the top dot, or calibrate it, to ensure that it is set for 20 yards.

Your scope should have a wind adjustment know and an elevation adjustment knob. These knobs allow you to adjust the scope depending on height and wind conditions. Each adjustment is followed by a “clicking” sound, which represents a ¼” adjustment at a 100-yard distance, and the other click represents a 1/20” adjustment at a range of 20 yards.

To sight your crossbow, you need to make sure that the weapon does not move at all during firing. Stands 20 yards from your target. Shoot the target using the top reticle three times, and just barely pull the trigger to avoid moving the crossbow. Repeat this action three times. Depending on where the arrows landed, you might need to remove the protection cape from the scope adjustment knobs. Use a screwdriver to adjust the settings. 20 clicks equal one full inch on the elevation, and counterclockwise  40 clicks equals a 2” change in the scope’s directional pattern.

2. Mounting the Scope

Mounting the scope is relatively easy for most crossbows. It’s simply a matter of clasping the scope onto the gun, making sure it is secure, and making sure it doesn’t interfere with the gun in any way. Scopes can be removed and replaced relatively easily, though you should consider things like size, weight, detection range, night-vision capabilities and more when shopping for a gun scope.

First of all, the gun and scope should be completely clean. The mounting system you choose should be compatible with your rifle. Your scope rings should also be compatible with the device. Mount the scope as low on the rifle as possible. Usually, this is done using Torx keys, Allen wrenches or a screwdriver. Position the scope and tighten the top rings slightly, but leave them lose enough so the scope can move slightly. Make sure the scope is far enough up on the gun that you won’t get any facial recoil. When the scope is in position then tighten the ring screws alternatively for the tightest fit.

3. Know the Different Types of Crossbow Scopes

For all intents and purposes of this article, there are four kinds of crossbow scopes:

  • Single Red Dot Scope – The red dot usually represents 20 years and the crossbow should be heightened or lowered to strike the target.
  • Single Reticle Optical Scope – This scope also has a 20-yard marking, and it’s equipped with crosshairs. Upward crosshair movement equals a longer shot and this type of scope is also used for hunting animals that are on the run.
  • Triple Red Dot Scope – This scope provides you with three points of reference. Apart from the standard 20-yard marker this scope also has 30 and 40-yard markers. In many respects, the markers are simply simulated spots due to factors like elevation, wind, and movement.
  • Multi-Retical Optical Scope – This scope contains horizontal and vertical crosshairs, as well as three points of reference for distance (20, 30, 40 and 50 yards). The higher the crossbow is pointed the scope allows you to track the distance of the target.

4. Parallax & Accuracy

Parallax is often used in astronomy, photography, and 3D math. However, parallax is also extremely important to crossbow hunters. Most of us have two eyes and the two eyes piece together everything and send a single image to your brain. This is why one-eyed shots are preferred. You can buy parallax adjusters, which are extremely important for ling range shooters and snipers.

Accuracy is the name of the game when it comes to crossbow hunting. You want to make a safe, clean kill. Otherwise, you could injure the animal (another hunter) or completely destroy the carcass.

5. Make Sure That All of Your Equipment is in Good Shape

If your scope is of then you’re going to get an incorrect reading every time. Your laser sight should also be calibrated to make sure it’s providing you with the correct distance (new batteries and a reset button usually do the trick). You should also check your bow, strings, arrows, heads and other related equipment to ensure that a possible failure of one system wouldn’t affect the other mechanisms.

6. Wind & Elevation

Snipers aren’t just trained for accuracy in a vacuum – they have to be prepared for changing winds and elevation. If you’ve ever been crossbow hunting then you know that the wind can change at the drop of a hat. You always want to remain downwind from your prey to keep them from catching your scent or noise.

As far as elevation goes, you might be on a flat surface but what about your target and the difference in elevation between you and said target. Train with an expert to learn how to best use wind and elevation to your advantage.

7. Size, Length & Weight

You shouldn’t start off with a giant crossbow without experience. Luckily, crossbows come in many sizes and you can properly learn how to operate these devices at a relatively young age. The length of the arrow is another key point. Arrows that are too large can misfire and damage the bow itself. Arrows that are shorter than the manufacturer’s recommendations can also cause problems, so always be sure to check your owner’s manual and stock up on arrows of the right length. Most standard arrows are between 15 and 22 inches. Additionally, arrowheads can be extremely heavy depending on what they’re made of, and they could crack or break the bow if fired incorrectly. Arrows are usually made of aluminum, carbon, or an alloy of those two products.

When it comes to the arrow, things like weight and size matter, too. A heavy arrow may provide you with greater velocity, but a lighter arrow is easier to shoot but it might not be as accurate. Arrows are usually made of steel, a far cry from the wood and stone arrowheads used centuries ago.

Conclusion

Increasing your target hit rate with a crossbow isn’t as hard as it might seem at first, as long as you follow the 10 aforementioned steps. Not everyone can master the crossbow but there’s no feeling in the world like getting that perfect shot that you’ve been preparing for all season. Which tips do you find the most helpful when adjusting and sighting a crossbow? We’d love to hear your questions and suggestions in the Comment box below.

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Deer Hunting

10 Most Common Bow Hunting Mistakes – How to Correct

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Bowhunting is like golf in a lot of ways. It can be extremely exhilarating or it can be extremely frustrating, and oftentimes it’s both within just a few minutes. If you want to improve your bowhunting skills in order to get more enjoyment out of the sport then maybe you just need to work on something specific that’s common to many bowhunters. Below we’ve listed 10 of the most common bow hunting mistakes, and we will discuss each one in detail to help you improve your results when bowhunting.

  1. Using the Wrong Bow & Arrow Combination – Unfortunately, we see this mistake made far too often. Knowing which arrows (sizewise) and broadheads (weightwise) to combine with a crossbow is as easy as opening Google or the owner’s manual. We’re not sure if it’s impatience, incompetence or a combination of the two but a lot of bow hunting mistakes could be avoided simply by matching the right bow to the correct arrows. Most bow manufacturers provide advice for the type of arrows that should be used and ignoring that advice is counterproductive and unsafe. Make sure that your bow works with carbon fiber, aluminum, and hybrid arrows, and determine the minimum and maximum lengths for each arrow. Additionally, make sure your arrowheads are compatible with the arrow shafts and the bow itself.
  1. Losing Form/Not Practicing Regularly – Legendary football coach Vince Lombardi once said that “practice doesn’t make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect.” If you aren’t having bow hunting success then maybe all you need to do is practice more – in the right way, and with the proper form. Ask someone who you respect as a bowhunter to give you some guidance, and follow their tips closely. If you notice that they do something that you don’t do then ask them why and try to emulate their form. Even if you have a solid shooting form it can be easy to lose your touch during the off-season, so prevent that from happening by engaging your practice targets regularly.
  1. Overbowing – You gain absolutely nothing by overbowing (using a bow that requires too much draw) and you could potentially be putting yourself and others in danger. Yes, you can achieve a higher arrow velocity with a higher draw. Far too often, though, hunters think they need more velocity when speed isn’t the issue. Bowhunting isn’t about who can pull the tautest bow back the farthest – it’s about successful hits. Anyway, practicing with a heavy draw might seem like a good idea in June but when December comes everything from your fingertips to the arrowhead acts differently. Use as much pressure and velocity as you need, but don’t let your ego take you too far.
  1. Misjudging Distances – If you often think that your arrow is dead on point but it goes flying far or end up short…you’re not alone. Don’t worry, though, because this error can usually be cleared up by improving on your range finding. With time and experience, you’ll become a better judge of distance. Until you learn the ropes, however, there are two tricks to correctly judging the distance from you to the target: rangefinders and pre-ranging. Rangefinders are like digital tape measures that you can attach to your bow.
  1. Improper Shot Placement – Shot placement is a concern for hunters whether the weapon is a bow or a gun; the problem is that bow hunting leaves more room for error. A lot of the shot placement mistakes made in the field have something to do with the #1, #2 and #3 mistakes on this list, but sometimes the issue is simply aiming for the wrong spot or not knowing how to aim. The best spot to hit a deer is about four inches above the first joint that’s below the shoulder. Aiming for a wild hog’s weak spot near the heart will take down these sometimes seemingly invincible animals, while the “middle of the middle” rule works for larger game like elk or bears. If your target is fleet-footed and likely to react to the sound of a bow then you should usually aim for the heart – this will allow you to inflict maximum damage whether or not the animal drops before it sprints.
  1. Getting Trigger-Happy or Waiting Too Long to Shoot – They are exact opposites yet they both cause equally bad results. If you shoot too soon then other animals might get spooked by the sound of the bow, or you might be passing up the opportunity for a perfect kill. If you shoot too late then the animal might have already detected your presence. The key to solving this common bow hunting mistake is being aware of your surroundings. Know the distance and wind conditions. Shoot as soon as you have a clear shot of the area that will do the most damage to vital organs and when you’ve completed a pre-shot checklist.
  1. Choosing the Wrong Location – There are few worse feelings than planning on a major hunt but then spending the entire time waiting. You should use trail cameras to plot out the best spots, and try to figure out where other hunters are heading, if possible. You want to be in the hunting hot spots but you don’t want to be limited by inexperienced hunters or crowded areas. You should set your tree stands ahead of time, and don’t forget to plan your shooting lines and paths. Try to find a location that proves advantageous to you as a bow hunter.
  1. Lack of Stealth – No matter how many times it’s written or spoken about, there is always “that one guy” who is seemingly always bumbling around, failing to use scent eliminator, not having his bow cocked, breaking twigs, and making noise. We call him the “Mr. Magoo” of hunting but the only difference is that the real-life version ruins things for everyone, including himself. Deer can detect a human the way humans can detect a skunk in a suitcase, so take every possible precaution to eliminate all human odors before heading out. Your hat, clothes, boots, tree stand and even your bow should leave no traces of your existence for a deer to find. One advantage of hunting with a bow is that you can shoot while keeping your location undisclosed, but you give up that advantage if you stink or are making noise unnecessarily.
  1. Failure to Arrive Early & Stay Late – The most dedicated hunters are usually the most successful. There is a definite correlation between persistence and achieving a goal, as long as you aren’t failing due to Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity, “doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” The first days of the hunting season are known as having the highest success rates because the animals have had time to “forget” that the presence of humans can also mean the existence of predators. And late in the season there are fewer hunters in the area so you have a better chance of bagging that big buck everyone’s been talking about for the last few months. You should even use the “arrive early, stay late” philosophy when deciding when to head to the stand and to pack it in.
  1. Overconfidence – No matter how good of a bow hunter you’re considered to be there is always room for improvement. Nature is always ready and willing to humble us when we think we finally “get it” so keep your head small and your broad heads sharp. Whether you think you’ve got the perfect shot or you think your archery skills are unmatchable, hunters consistently make the common mistake of overestimating their skills with a bow and arrow. It feels good when everything goes right, but don’t let that go to your head because the next time you are in a similar situation there is a good chance that things will wind up differently.

Conclusion

Have you been sabotaging your bow hunting efforts with one of the aforementioned common mistakes? If so, we hope we’ve given you some helpful advice on how to rectify the issue. Bow hunting can be frustrating and it can be easy to fall into bad habits, but the goal of this article is to aid you in identifying and correcting problem areas. Use the Comments section below to let us know if you think you might be making bow hunting errors, or if you see people committing a specific bow hunting mistake too often and you’d like us to address it in an article.

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