In life, proper timing is everything. Proposing to your future fiancé before she’s ready could cost you. Applying for a job that you’re just not quite ready for will cost you. Swinging at a fastball too late will cost you also. I think you get the idea. When drawing down on a whitetail, timing is absolutely everything. It’s the last phase of your hunt yet it very well could be the most important one! It’s definitely the most stressful phase, that’s for sure. There’s an art to properly drawing down on your deer and only with experience will it ever get any easier. Let’s face it, it’s an extremely nerve racking moment! After waiting for a long period of time, your buck or doe shows up out of the clear blue sky and you have to get it all together. Mentally, physically and emotionally demanding it is, everything has to be timed just right by you or you’ll be busted. Being busted by your deer is not a fun thing at all! We’ve all been there. Your spirit is crushed, your hopes are vanished and most likely any other game in the near vicinity has been warned from the commotion of your fleeing “would-be” victim. You’re left holding the bag.
You feel deserted and you feel like a failure. The fun’s over baby. So how does experience aid the hunter in this situation?
Wisdom can be passed on but experience cannot. In this situation, I can explain to you how to execute a proper draw technique. Having said all of this, it’s all about body language! You must learn to “read” the deer. Calm, nervous or inquisitive deer will approach your area with a different demeanor. Taking a few seconds to determine their attitude will really pay off when it comes time to draw. Of course, the optimum time to pull back on your bow is when there are no eyeballs looking in your direction. That can be a difficult situation since deer are always moving their heads while eating, walking, etc. Trying to time it so your window of opportunity will arise can sometimes only be a second or two of difference. Once drawn, it may take several minutes for them to get within shooting range! That’s not a good situation to be in. Even using today’s bows with 80% let-off, holding a bow in the fully drawn position will wear on your body and your nerves! You have to find THAT perfect time to draw and to shoot, no exceptions.
Watching deer in all different situations will eventually educate you on how they react. It won’t take much for a nervous deer to jump! Leaves rustling, braches snapping and noises that are not common to their environment will send them flying in a heart’s beat. The sound of an arrow squeaking as it rides down the arrow rest while being drawn, can send a nervous deer to Timbuktu. The same for a noisy tree stand! Inquisitive deer, on the other hand, can be attracted closer to your shooting lanes with a little help. Calm deer are the easiest and of course and we always hope for them to show up that way. Nevertheless, one must decipher what condition your target is in and act accordingly. One figured out, your draw would follow in the proper time. The ultimate set-up is to have the deer unaware of your presence and for you, the hunter, to have an opportunity to draw down on your game without being noticed. None of this is of any value though if you don’t have ample time to release the arrow comfortably and with a steady composure. A shaky arm, a shot too early or a shot taken outside of your limitations, will only increase your chances of losing your game or worse yet, crippling the animal. Read the deer!
It’s also very important to go beyond the deer. Read the environment. Look behind your target and see what’s following. Listen to the animals in the woods! Squirrels barking are a sign of another animal (or person) moving through the area. When birds get quiet, something’s wrong. Never sleep while hunting! I mean this theoretically. Keep your eyes and ears peeled on the environment and always know what’s around you. Why? Because, when getting into a position to deliver a shot, that very movement can be detected by the other animals in the timber. Don’t think for one minute that your deer won’t notice the other animal’s warning signs. Danger is always at hand with game animals, so they are always on their toes! They also leave sign to warn the other animals that danger is present! One example is when a deer winds your presence, they will most likely stomp their hoof before running off. What most hunters aren’t aware of is when they stomp, they leave a scent from their hoof that is used only to warn other deer of danger! Once that happens, you will most likely never see another deer in that location for several hours until the scent wears away. This is just one of many ways for wildlife to communicate with each other and warn of your presence. In summary, hunt the entire area, not just what’s in front of you!
Proper timing also includes proper preparation. Your physical condition and mechanical equipment should always be ready for the draw. Physically, your arm, hands and wrist should be ready without an undue load on your body! I always pre-draw my bow several times before getting into a tree stand or executing a ground hunt. I stretch those muscles and leave little chance for a strain or a flawed draw. Never wait until you are in your hunting position to warm your muscles up. That’s a big no-no and should be avoided at all costs. If you don’t stretch your muscles before you hunt, you’ll find it very difficult to draw smoothly on your deer after sitting or standing for several hours. Prepare your body! Mechanically, test-draw your bow and listen very carefully. Notice any squeaks and correct accordingly. I will occasionally wipe my arrows down with a little bit of gun oil to avoid any noise from riding down the arrow rest. You would be surprised how a deer will pick-up ANY noise that is not common to their environment! Again, do this in advance of your hunt, it’s that critical.
Prepare for a properly executed hunt and you’ll prepare for success!