Today’s blog comes from Mike Hanback of Big Deer TV. Mike has been writing about whitetails since the 1990′s and is considered by many as an expert on the subject. For more information about Mike, you can follow him on Twitter, find him on Facebook or visit his website at www.mikehanback.com
1) Set up smart: The foundation to a good kill shot comes days or hours before you see a buck. Face your stand into the wind and in the general direction you think a buck will approach, so you don’t have to move much at all when you see him. If you shoot right-handed, angle your stand on the tree so that your left shoulder points toward the down-and-to-the-left lane where you hope to shoot the deer (vice versa for southpaws).
2) Read a Buck: Once you spot a buck you want to shoot, do not take your eyes off him for even a second. Read his body language and demeanor. Things are good when a big deer is calm and strolls along with his head down; he doesn’t know you’re there. But when a buck looks and acts nervous, stopping and starting and throwing up his head to look around, you’ve got to be extra careful and move at the right time or he’ll bust you.
3) Move! Most of the time a buck encounter works out so that the deer dips into a ditch or sticks his head behind a tree…. When his eyes are shielded, hug the tree with your back, stand up, grab your bow, turn your body and point your bow toward the deer. Make one smooth, quick and confident move. But don’t be tentative; you have to fine-tine your position to kill a buck.
4) Draw Time: When a buck trots on a line for your stand and an open shooting lane, draw your bow when he steps behind a tree 40 to 50 yards out. That will give you enough time—but not too much time—to calm your nerves, settle your bow, pick the right pin and kill the deer when he passes in a few seconds. Stop him with a mouth bleat if you have too, but make sure you’re at full draw before you bleat. But when a buck takes his sweet time working toward your stand, meandering here and there, resist the urge to draw too early. You don’t want to come to full draw about the time he hangs up 60 yards out. I let a slow-moving deer stroll into shooting range, and then take my chances. It’s obviously best to draw when his head and eyes are shielded by a tree or brush, but if there are no trees between you and the buck, let him walk a few yards past your stand so that he is looking and quartering away, then draw and shoot.
5) Close the Deal: Shoot for a quick, double-lung kill when a buck is 40 yards and in. That means firing an arrow only when he is broadside, quartering away or quartering slightly to. On a broadside animal, aim in the crease behind the front leg, a third of the way up the deer’s body. If he stands still at the shot, you clip the top of the heart as well as lungs. If he “jumps string” and drops his chest at the sound of your bow going off, you’ll still pierce upper lungs. On a quartering-away shot remember to move your sight pin back on the ribs to drive the arrow up into the vitals.
Now you’re ready. A buck is right there, sideways with his vitals exposed. Draw an arrow, pick a patch of hair, aim and release in one smooth motion. And this is big–hold your bow out and still and follow through. Watch the fletching disappear into a big deer’s lungs. There’s no better feeling.