Selecting archery equipment for deer hunting is not as complicated as some would make it seem.
There are several factors to consider when choosing a bow. What type of bow do you want to use: compound, re-curve, or long bow? Most beginners start with a compound bow. Compounds can be fitted with various accessories to increase accuracy, including sights, stabilizers, and quivers. Traditional bows such as long bows or re-curves can be outfitted with some of the same options, but most people who chose to use these types of bows usually prefer few if any additions. Traditional bows are just as accurate as modern compound bows, but because traditional bows lack sights, becoming proficient with a traditional bow requires much more practice.
Are you right- or left-eye dominant? Shooting with your dominant eye is paramount to archery, and your bow should be designed to be sighted with your dominant eye. Just because you’re right-handed doesn’t necessarily mean you’re right-eye dominant or vice versa if you’re left-handed. The easiest way to find out which eye is dominant is with an empty paper towel tube. Look through the tube at an object with both eyes open and then close one eye. If you can still see the object through the tube, the eye that is open is your dominant eye. If you can’t see the object, the eye that is closed is your dominant eye.
Regardless of the type of bow you chose, one of the biggest factors to consider is how much draw weight the bow should have. Draw weight is the amount of force (measured in pounds) it takes to pull the bowstring back to full draw. Although the bow must provide enough force to push an arrow through a deer’s hide and muscles to reach the vital organs, the force required is less than most people think. Missouri regulations do not require minimum draw weights, but 40 pounds or greater is recommended. Archery hunting is about getting close to a deer and making a good, ethical shot. Don’t feel pressured to shoot the heaviest amount of draw weight. It’s more important to hit where you are aiming.
Arrows are made of a multitude of materials, such as wood, aluminum, fiberglass, and carbon. Once you have your bow, consult a reputable archery shop to discuss which type of arrows and broad-heads you should be shooting. If you choose to go the more traditional route and shoot a re-curve, wooden arrows are a fine choice. If you choose to shoot a compound bow, aluminum arrows are a good choice for just about any archer who is just starting out. In time you might switch to lighter-weight — but pricier — choices such as carbon.
A few additional pieces of equipment may increase your accuracy, ease, and efficiency while archery hunting. A shooting release helps ensure that the string is released properly and consistently. A quiver to keep your arrows in is helpful. Be sure to practice shooting your bow with your quiver on if that is the way you plan to hunt.
Most archery hunting is done from either a tree stand or a ground blind. Whichever you use, be sure to practice shooting your bow from an elevated platform or a seated position to simulate the type of hunting you will be doing.
Accurately judging distance can mean the difference between a clean harvest and a missed or wounded deer. Practice estimating distances by picking out an object, guessing its distance, and then checking yourself by stepping off the distance or by using a range finder.
No matter how well your bow fits or how perfectly matched your accessories are, if you cannot consistently hit where you are aiming, your odds of success will be minimal. When you are able to shoot a tight group of arrows into a target, you will be able to harvest a deer. So, grab your bow and practice, practice, practice!