Get Ready for Your First Bow Season
Do you want to start bowhunting? You have plenty of time to prepare for autumn’s hunting season, but you have much to do. To prepare, you must learn new skills and lots about bowhunting and game animals.
To help you prepare, we’ve listed the milestones that beginning bowhunters must reach.
Late Winter and Spring
Jump into your preparations by finding a hunting property. You can ask permission to hunt a property or hunt public lands. State wildlife-agency websites provide lists and information about public lands open to hunting.
After finding a place to hunt, scout the property for animal sign and good wildlife habitat. These scoutingsessions will help you narrow your search for hunting spots.
Another important task is buying archery equipment so you can begin practicing and become proficient. Buy your gear from a local archery shop to ensure the bow and arrows fit you and match each other. Archery pro shops offer that expertise. After buying your gear, consider taking lessons to learn proper shooting techniques instead of bad habits.
Spring and Summer
Next on your preparation list is taking a bowhunter education course, which is a prerequisite for buying a bowhunting license in some states. Similar programs are sometimes called hunter-safety courses, but bowhunter education programs differ from standard hunter-education courses. Requirements for these courses vary by state, so check your wildlife agency’s website for requirements, and consider taking both courses.
After passing your bowhunter education course, you’ll receive a certification card with an ID number, which prove you’ve completed the course and are eligible to buy a bowhunting license. Most states sell hunting licenses online, and then mail you the license or let you print it at home. You can also buy licenses at some archery shops or other licensing agents.
Meanwhile, keep practicing with your bow while acquiring hunting gear, and studying hunting tactics and shot placement. As you practice with your bow, strive to shoot 6-inch groups at 20 yards. If you struggle to reach that accuracy level, consider working with a coach to help you improve.
If you plan to hunt from a treestand, practice setting up and shooting from your treestand whenever possible. Always use a safety harness when hunting or practicing from your stand.
Late Summer and Fall
As hunting season approaches, do more scouting to focus on the exact spots you want to hunt. Keep studying aerial maps, watching wildlife, reading sign, and pinpointing food, water and bedding areas.
You want to know your hunting area and understand how animals move throughout the property. Be careful not to overdo it, however. If you’re constantly scouting you’ll make animals aware of your presence, and risk changing their feeding and travel patterns.
Now is also a good time to plan what you’ll do if you harvest an animal. If you plan to process your own game,make sure you study your equipment needs and acquire everything necessary. If you plan to take your game to a processor, locate its place of business, know their hours and services, and put their contact info in your phone.
As you prepare for your first bow season, visit an archery shop for advice and local information about when and where to bowhunt. Also, read Bowhunting 360’s weekly articles, which are written specifically to help new bowhunters get started.